One Of G-Funk’s Most Important Producers Has Passed Away

Music producer and keyboardist Emanuel Dean died on Monday (February 4). The man Dean called his best friend, Tha Dogg Pound’s Daz Dillinger, confirmed the passing on social media. A native of Oklahoma, Dean significantly contributed to at least two hits on Snoop Dogg’s 1993 debut, Doggystyle. Specifically, Dean and Daz have previously stated that the late musician played on Top 10 singles, “Gin & Juice” and “What’s My Name?” The latter was reportedly made on the second day that Dean joined Dr. Dre’s Death Row Records production ensemble, which oversaw the album.

While Emanuel Dean’s cause of death is unknown at this time, Kenya Ware spoke with Ambrosia For Heads about the loss and the man. A close friend of the man she knew as “E,” Ware is the creator of DPG TV and mother of Daz’s first son. She is also the creator and executive producer of the upcoming reality TV series, Ladies Of Death Row. Ware says that she was among the first to learn of Emanuel’s passing, and notified other members of the Pound. “I still talked to him [regularly]; I just spoke to him two weeks ago,” Ware said by phone Wednesday afternoon (February 6). “Monday night at eight o’clock, I get the call.” Dean’s girlfriend notified Ware of his unexpected death.

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Dean’s history with Daz goes back to the 1980s. Back in Oklahoma, the two reportedly came from a musical background in the church, with Dean on keys and the DPG member on drums. The two also DJ’d together and were part of a circle that also included Adrian Miller, a veteran music executive that manages Anderson .Paak. Miller and Dean remained quite close in recent years according to Ware. Despite his critical role on the quadruple-platinum Death Row Records release, Dean spent the next 25 years fighting for proper credit, recognition, and compensation.

Dean alleged that he did not receive publishing on the songs. He is not credited for his Snoop contributions, apart from a “thank you” in the liner notes. That acknowledgment, made to “Porkchop,” referenced a title that Dean strongly disliked. “Why couldn’t it be ‘Emanuel Dean’ instead of ‘Porkchop?’ That’s what I would have really loved,” he said to interviewer Damian Zellous in 2003’s DPG Eulogy. That conversation is available below. “But I know I did ‘Gin & Juice,’ and I know Dr. Dre cannot play any music. He definitely made the beat. But as far as music, he watched. And I definitely did what I had to do.”

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In the same interview, Dean recalled being paid between $5,000 and $6,000 for his Doggystyle contributions. “I asked [Dr. Dre] for credit and money, and he said, ‘For what?’ I already had a publishing deal offered to me the day before [this conversation] by EMI.” As Death Row’s co-founder valued Dean’s contributions differently, the musician gave a week’s notice of his departure. “I still want my credit,” Dean told the DPG Uncut cameras less than three years ago.

In the same video, Daz credited Dean’s contributions on “Gin & Juice” as well. “He played all the keyboards and all the melodies. Dr. Dre, he came up with the drums, but he should’ve given him some credit or something for that [work].” Daz would involve Dean on the multi-platinum Dogg Food album two years later.

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Beyond Doggystyle, Dean produced and oversaw Militia, including their video single “Burn.” Other credits include production and mixing on Tha Dogg Pound’s 1996 cover of EPMD’s “Knick Knack Patty Wack,” co-production on DPG’s “Reality,” and co-production on Jermaine Dupri’s “Whatever.” He also worked with Jade and Christopher Williams.

“This is the man here that gave me my start in the music business, and he put me in a good position to make something happen,” Dean said of Daz in a 2018 video conversation.

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Other figures from Doggystyle have died. Singer Nate Dogg and comedian Ricky Harris have both died in the last decade. “It makes me [remember] Tupac. Tupac was my boy; I was there. When a person’s dead, everybody is coming around. [Look at] Ricky Harris. Give the people their flowers while they’re here,” she says. “I met [Emanuel Dean] through Daz, 25 or 26 years ago…I gave him all of his interviews. He was hurt.” Ware says that as Dean was bothered by his compensation and unwritten legacy, she wanted to be a sounding board. “If you can give somebody your time, time is the most valuable.” Ware says that in recent years, Dean kept a studio that he offered to other musicians.

AFH extends condolences to the family and friends and Emanuel Dean.

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#BonusBeat: DPG TV’s 2018 conversation with Daz and Emanuel: