Say What, Say What? Dante Ross

Note: Say What, Say What? is a new feature here at T.R.O.Y., where we will take notable net-savvy hip-hoppers to task for their brazen statements and/or WTF moments. We don’t dis nobody to be somebody, we just like to spark debates to keep the readers chatting.

Philaflava: Alright, check this shit out, T.R.O.Y. readers. Dante Ross, A&R extraordinaire and one third of the production team Stimulated Dummies recently did an interview with the homey Robbie at Unkut, which by the way I suggest you check out if you haven’t already.

Thun: It’s a great three-part interview, as is par for the course at Unkut. Dante The Scrub (sweating profusely) is one of hip-hop’s greatest internet interview subjects. His anecdotes are hilarious and he’s not afraid to mix it up with former members of Hard 2 Obtain in the comments sections of interviews that mention his name only minutes after his Blackberry receives the Google alert notification. More importantly, judging by this picture he is either channeling Copywrite or finally staking his claim to being the undisputed father of Scott Storch’s distinctive brand of d-bag swagger.

Philaflava: One of his responses in this interview kinda threw me a bit because if I’m reading this right Dante actually thinks T.I.M.E. is bad record. Now, I don’t know about him, but most of the hip-hop world out there considers this to be the best L.O.N.S. album and many even label it a classic. How on earth could he possibly think this was bad? Say what, say what?

Thun: Let the record show that the man behind Everlast’s enduring reign on Billboard had the following to say about the album that had “Spontaneous” and “A Quarter To Cutthroat”:

So what happened there? I thought the brass as Elektra pulled Busta aside and said, ‘We’re gonna make you a solo artist.’

That never happened, that’s all bullshit. Let me tell you what happened, ‘cos I was there. When Leaders of the New School turned in their second album it was bad – from me to you, it wasn’t a good record. I tried to change the record, make it better. They went back in the studio, had to do it again … when we went to make the second Leaders of the New School record I had Q-Tip ready to help me make the whole record with them, like the way he did for Mobb Deep’s album. None of them dude’s were with it except Bus … I’m gonna be honest with you, making that record – when they turned it in the first time, and I knew it was wack and I sent back in … I knew the record was bad, that when they turned it in the second time I couldn’t make it no better – they would not let me.”

Philaflava: We’re not done yet folks. A while back Dante said something similar about another album, it was Del’s No Need For Alarm. I’ll put my personal opinion aside because I am one of those who actually consider this a classic, but surely there can’t be any Del fans out there who dislike this album. Dante you truly believe both these albums were weak? Say what, say what?

Thun: He also once claimed that he hated the drums on K.M.D.’s first record, but lo and behold the brothers Dumile weren’t trying to hear his input. He kinda sorta has a point, because the drums are hardly the strongest aspect of the record. But are we to blindly accept that any record untouched by Dante is somehow less of a classic than it could have been with more of his knob fiddling? No Need For Alarm, Mr. Hood, T.I.M.E. – these may be records with flaws, but are they garbage? Really? According to what rubric? Is the technician’s nitpicking really relevant to the fan’s taste? Is hip hop reducible to studio algorithms?

Philaflava: I’m asking the readers of T.R.O.Y. to lend your thoughts and for the man himself, Dante Ross to respond. Let’s just hope he was misquoted.

ADDED: There’s a poll in the sidebar. Vote.

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42 Responses to “Say What, Say What? Dante Ross”

  1. Anonymous says:

    "most of the hip-hop world out there considers this to be the best L.O.N.S. album and many even label it a classic."

    Really???? This is the first time I've heard any similar opinions on that other than the one Mr. Ross seems to have. I remember listening to it only a few times back when I bought the tape. Perhaps I should give this album a second look or was this written in sarcasm?

  2. Werner von Wallenrod says:

    Well, T.I.M.E. was pretty widely received as a dud at the time it dropped. I actually haven't listened to it in ages, but I kinda remember it being reasonably disappointing myself… one of those buy it, listen to it once or twice, and put it away forever albums.

  3. Anonymous says:

    both T.I.M.E. and No Need For Alarm are great albums. Fantastic if you will.

  4. Dinco D says:


  5. LAN says:

    wtf is a dante ross ?

  6. Roy Johnson says:

    T.I.M.E. is easily one of my favorite albums, but then again, I am a huge L.O.N.S. fan. I think that both of their albums are classics, but I much prefer the '93 versions of Dinco D and Charlie Brown. I think that Busta peaked on the first one.

    By the way, for those that are interested, check out the T.I.M.E. demos that Vincent Lopez recently unearthed:


    That's the post that gave Vince the #1 slot on my Top 50 Blogs list. I almost gave the #1 slot to Werner, for what it's worth. Had to go with Vince for the L.O.N.S. demos, though.

  7. Jaz says:

    oh the infamous Dante Ross, the man that asked me for mp3s of music he produced when he saw them on a dedication post from my blog and then later on totally jacks one of my blog posts about Brand Nubian without any credit whatsoever on his blog, oh yeah mad credit due , maybe De La were right Dante is a scrub

    For the record No Need For Alarm and T.I.M.E are great albums, I don't know what crack you are smoking Dante.

  8. vincentlopez says:

    Wow! Thanks for the shout out Roy. I'm not even #1 on my own list! More like 39 or so.

    But anyway, I liked all of those albums so Dante confused me a little with his interview. Maybe he expected greatness with every album he was involved with but they were good in my opinion. I hope the T.R.O.Y. people can get him to do another interview and clear up these issues for us.

  9. Philaflava says:

    Roy, you meant #2 right?

  10. Roy Johnson says:

    The blog that I'm a member of was excluded from the list, of course. 🙂

  11. Thun says:

    @Werner – I definitely disagree that T.I.M.E. was widely received as a dud. Though the reviews were a bit mixed, none of the major rap publications referred to it as a dud, and I know this because two years ago Roy Johnson typed them all up and made them into a pdf file. While the album was not widely heard and sort of fell off the radar quickly, your characterization of its reception is simply not accurate. Also, you did yourself a disservice by dismissing it after a cursory listen. It's an ambitious and very dope album. I mean, you own the entire UTFO discography – you couldn't give this one a fair chance?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Bring One Emcee two emcee three emcee bring any emcee,it dont matter to me!
    C. Boogie Brown, Milo in the dance, Dinco D and Busta Rhymes along with Backspin and others on the beat created a wonderful record. If anyone in the world can flow how these guys did on that album, oldschool with a 90s angle, I wanna hear it. A unique, piece of hiphop art.

  13. Boothe says:

    I'm gonna repeat comments made in the Domino post, to add to this conversation

    I kinda agree with Dante regarding this album. I think it's held in such high esteem because most people got into Hiero through 93 Til, and this was their first Del album.

    Personally, I think it's inferior to his debut album. There are great production moments on this album, but I think Del was a bit too angry on this album, and his rhyme flow wasn't as spot on as it was on his debut.

    There's also a number of less than outstanding tracks on this album. Not wack, but definitely fast forward material.

  14. Anonymous says:

    i used to be a big del fan back then, and i never really liked no need for alarm though..

  15. Boothe says:

    Regarding T.I.M.E.

    I thought the first half of the album was solid, but lost a lot of energy towards the end. I remember not being down with the darkness of this album. I also hated the fact that Milo was on most of the tracks.

    Props to C. Brown though, as I thought he really stepped his game up on this album. He came with the A game, but unfortunately, the Busta train was already moving full speed ahead and his (Brown's) contributions went unnoticed by the masses.

    3 out of 5 rating in my book

  16. Reggie says:

    I don't think any of those albums are classics, but they are certainly solid. He has a point about the drums on KMD's first record, but it's still a great album so gives a fuck. Ross comes off in interviews worse than A-Rod, he should really just stop giving them.

  17. Max Kellerman says:

    First let me say this is one of my favorite blogs. I do not dislike Dante Ross but these are my honest opinions about the man.

    Ross has always seemed to be wrapped up in the celebrity than the actual producer. John Gamble has been rumored to actually be the talent behind the SD50's, while Ross played the Puffy role throughout the years taking most of the credit and putting his face out there. Rumor yes, but I always feel there is truth to them and in this case it's not really that unbelievable.

    I think Dante has an impressive resume but I wouldn't exactly say all his acknowledges were truly earned. Friends in high places. Right place, right time, whatever you want to call it. His personality has always been a turn-off like the way he comes off in interviews. His never ending campaign to attach himself to everything, like where he recently made claim that he had an indirect involvement in the signing of 2Pac. Let us not forget the appearance on The White Rapper Show where he was at his finest too. It's a shame talented guys like V.I.C. and Sam Sever are practically unknowns, yet are way more talented than Mr..

  18. blockhead says:

    that's mad interesting. i know everyone loves "T.I.M.E" nowadays but i've never really given a shit about it either. i wouldn't say it's wack but it's hardly an album i've gone back to. it was all over the place. i will say that towards the second half of the album busta completely goes off on some next shit but i never liked the majority of the beats and , aside from busta, most of the rapping was not my shit.
    i dunno if it was a "dud when it dropped but i remember people (not critics but actual people who bought and owned the album) being pretty "meh" about it. i definitely don't recall people saying it was a classic when it dropped.
    "no need for alarm" is a little different though. i liked it a lot when it dropped. i recently went back and listened to it again and it didn't hold up as well as i thought it would. a lot of the beats were kinda boring and del's style, although at the time i loved it, has definitely worn thin.
    i still prefer "i wish my brother georgie was here".

  19. MD says:

    Never heard T.I.M.E., but I remember everyone I knew hating the video single and pretty much declaring LONS wack after it came out.

    Maybe it was the shirtless Busta.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I rate them as follows, T.I.M.E. was ok, last time I listened to it or any part of it was 3 years ago. No Need For Alarm, rocked two cuts from it while making a nice little Del mix when he dropped Stimulus Package. Same as Mr. Hood, while making a Doom mix I snatched a track off of it. So LONS, ok. Del, classic, still gets play today. KMD, classic, even with the soft drums. PEACE

  21. Anonymous says:

    Four dope albums Mr. Ross maligns (any more?):

    Del "No Need for Alarm" (1993)
    Hard 2 Obtain's "Ism & Blues" (1994)
    K.M.D. "Mr. Hood" (1991)
    Leaders Of The New School "T.I.M.E." (1993)

    "…I never really liked [Hard 2 Obtain] either, I thought they were kind of wack actually and I kept saying that the whole time."
    From: Manifest Destiny

  22. Kevin Beacham says:

    I always liked the T.I.M.E album. I still regularly listen to it. Overall I prefer it to the debut album. I actually liked the beats and I was impressed with Dinco's rhyming on that album. I have heard people dismiss that album for years and years and found myself defending it. I get what the issue was and it's the same issue with the Del album too. They both are very different sophomore albums. There's a good chance if you loved the first you would be "questionable" of the follow I feel. I didn't really feel that way but a lot of people I know did. As for the Del album, my situation is similar to Blockhead: I was into it in when it dropped but i recently went back and found myself skipping a lot of tracks. There's some really fresh joints on there but hasn't maintain the replay value for me. As for KMD "Mr Hood", that album is a masterpiece to me. I'm not mad at the drums at all. They may not be the highlight but that's just because everything else about it is so great… H2O weren't "wack" but they weren't "great" mcs but they had flavor and made good songs, but the highlight to that album is the beats for me.-Kevin Beacham

  23. Anonymous says:

    dante ross is a pseudo hipster

  24. young_ says:

    Del "No Need for Alarm" (1993)
    Hard 2 Obtain's "Ism & Blues" (1994)
    K.M.D. "Mr. Hood" (1991)
    Leaders Of The New School "T.I.M.E." (1993)

    All of these albums are on my short list of "albums inexplicably given way too much love by denizens of the hip-hop blogosphere" No Need for Alarm had 3 very good tracks though but if you think these albums are classics, you must think there are at least 1100-1200 other "classic" albums out there too.

  25. Werner von Wallenrod says:

    "you own the entire UTFO discography – you couldn't give this one a fair chance?"

    I listened to it a couple of times…. how often do you listen to albums you're disappointed by? It's 1993, are you gonna kep retrying an album you feel that way about, or give 36 Chambers another spin? 😉

  26. Dev4Mil is here says:

    I look at it like this: when you're around people who've made great albums, and then you hear something like 'T.I.M.E.' which is honestly just decent at best, it'd probably come off as bad to you. He'd probably been around Leaders enough to know they could do better than that, as opposed to us who just sat around and listened to music. I don't remember that album being a favorite of mine either. I liked "Whats Next", "Spontaneous", and maybe one or two others that I can't remember right now.

    And yeah, Hard 2 Obtain weren't exactly setting the world on fire either. They were pretty run-of-the-mill as it relates to the time during which they came out.

  27. Robbie says:

    The second LONS had some great production and took some much-needed risks, but it was also incredibly self-indulgent and commercially impotent. Still, the 'Spontaneous' beat > Anything LOTUG ever did.

  28. young_ says:

    Robbie, are you saying that "T.I.M.E." was better than "Here Come the Lordz"?

  29. Roy Johnson says:

    I feel like "T.I.M.E." just gets better and better as I get older, whereas, in '09, I try to avoid LOTUG despite the fact that I used to love 'em in the mid 90s. I played their first two albums out to the point where I can still recite the lyrics to pretty much all of their songs, but I don't consider any of that stuff to be timeless, and I've found that a lot of people in my age bracket feel the same way. I love the K-Def instrumentals, of course.

    To me, "T.I.M.E." is so much better than anything LOTUG-related that I can't even put it into words. It just doesn't seem like a fair comparison, but again, I'm a huge L.O.N.S. fan, and I've listened to their sophomore LP several hundred times (as opposed to just once or twice, and then forgetting about most of the tracks on the LP).

  30. Robbie says:

    "Robbie, are you saying that "T.I.M.E." was better than "Here Come the Lordz"?"

    ^ Yes, but I can't see myself listening to either ever again. Milo In De Dance had no business rapping on every song.

  31. Anonymous says:

    RE: the KMD "Mr. Hood" drums… I think Dante is onto something. Listen to the album version of "Peachfuzz" and then listen to the "Last Chance for Radio" version of the same song on the "Nitty Gritty" single (which I'm assuming was done after the album version.) The drums on the "Last Chance…" version blow the album version out of the water.

  32. Strategy786 says:

    I'd second Roy's comments exactly. I loved both back in the day, but I listen to T.I.M.E. regularly now, and have had no desire to listen to LOTUG again. (I'll give em another try today.) T.I.M.E. is to me an all-time classic; bangin, creative beats, and dope, skillful lyrics. Hardly a dud, all the cats I used to be around back then were loving that album.

    As for the drums on Mr. Hood, they perhaps could knock a bit more for my taste, but the joint is CLASSIC nonetheless. Dante gets mad props from me, but in this interview he comes off as someone who's just unjustifiably arrogant.

  33. T.R.O.Y. says:

    ROFL. Oh, okay.

  34. Roy Johnson says:

    You're my hero, Dante.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I didn't think it was possible but Dante just managed to out douche himself once again.

    Could god have taken Ross instead of ODB?

  36. Anonymous says:

    For fuck's sake, man, straightening your brim– at the very least– could possibly earn you one measley shred of credibility back. That pic is P-E-R-F-E-C-T fodder for http://www.hotchickswithdouchebags.com

  37. Anonymous says:

    "Go ask Domino and Ice Cube if you need verification"

    hold up … calling Cube right now … … …

  38. Horse Daddy says:

    I been paging Crooked I all day to find out, but Tim Allen just called me…..said the rumors are true.

  39. Strategy786 says:

    Whoa. On the real Dante, I don't know you personally, but I got serious love for you for all the work you put in on hip-hop. Some of your stuff was crazy tight. Don't get offended if some of us think T.I.M.E. was dope. It's natural for some people to disagree, that don't mean folks hate you. I didn't perceive that cats was hating on you in the comments, but your long post self-proclaiming your exalted status is not the best angle for showing folks your good qualities. Your tight with a lotta stuff, and famous people will verify, okay, okay. Just let someone else say that stuff, and go ahead and do your thing.

  40. Dev4Mil is here says:

    let's just be real… some of y'all caught feelings cause y'all know Ross is telling the truth. When you think about it, it's not like he's some outsider with no right to speak on these projects. He was there for all of this shit while we bought (or in some cases) were just dubbing them. If we have a right to exalt our opinions on them, then why shouldn't someone who actually WORKED on them? At the end of the day, he probably knows what the LONS rough copy sounded like moreso than any of us do. He probably knows it wasn't good, just like he knew the Brand Nubian album WAS good. He really hasn't said anything about these albums that nobody else has ever said. From day one, homie from Hard 2 Obtain was kinda seen as Puba-lite. Obviously the second LONS album didn't make the same impact as the first one, and their relevance was clearly leaning on Busta's popularity by then.

    I'm not saying this as some kind of Dante Ross groupie or anything… I just think that people INSIDE the projects probably know better than the people who did nothing but listen to them once they were done and shipped off to the stores. I love "Ready To Die", but I bet I couldn't tell anyone more about it than say, Chucky Thompson could. I love "The Sun Rises In The East", but if Premier says Jeru did a couple wack joints that didn't make the cut, I'm prone to believe it.

    I'm just sayin'…

  41. Dev4Mil is here says:

    one more thing… if, to use the Ready To Die example again, Chucky Thompson said something like "I didn't really like a few of those records in the middle of the album", I might disagree wholeheartedly. But I'd AT LEAST respect his right to that opinion. I wouldn't just say he was some kinda arrogant asshole because he doesn't feel like I do about my beloved Ready To Die album. Again, just sayin'…

  42. Anonymous says:

    wow, can't believe I missed this post the first time around….Max Kellerman and Dante Ross in the same comment section goin off….LOL, nuts…

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