Mic’d Up: A Conversation With D. Sanders

With so much material out there, it can get difficult to learn about all the keynote individuals who are actually pushing the culture of hip hop forward. TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment) has been an innovator in the music industry for quite some time now, so it’s no surprise that along with talented artists they also have gifted producers.

Introducing D. Sanders (@Sondaehyun). By now we’ll assume that you’re more than familiar with Isaiah Rashad’s debut album The Sun’s Tirade. Well then, there’s a good chance Sanders produced all your favorite songs. Let’s take the time to get familiar with this producer on the rise. And be sure to have a listen to the SoundCloud playlist provided at the bottom of interview titled: Produced By D. Sanders.


Meet D. Sanders


Tell us a little about yourself as a youth.
Had a pretty regular childhood. I’ve always listened to music, whether it be from my dad playing stuff to making my own mixtapes by recording the radio. As a child through high school, I was really into sports as well and thought that’s what I was gonna end up doing. Life really turned around when my dad died when I was 15. It definitely made me rethink a lot. My mom always said, “Do something that you wanna wake up and go to work for, not drag yourself out of bed.” I really took that to heart and started making beats at 21 when one of my friends freestyled for 45+ minutes. Met BlackMetaphor and really started putting a lot of work in. Later that summer Isaiah asked me to go on The Smoker’s Club Tour with him in 2012. After music started taking off a little I dropped out of college and moved in with Isaiah in LA. That’s the shortest version I can think of.


LA Livin’


When did you begin playing instruments? How old were you?
I began playing piano at around 11-12 years old and did for 3-4 years. During that time I also played clarinet and violin.

What motivates you to create?
It’s how I express myself, really. One of the only ways I can get out of my head–what I’m thinking when words aren’t enough. Plus, music or art really can pass the mind and go straight to the heart. You can connect to people on such a high level.

What makes your music unique?
It’s really just me. I don’t really know how to explain it. Nobody thinks like you, so nobody can make the things you make. They may be able to do something like it or imitate it, but when it’s straight up from you, it is you. Everybody has their way. Formula. Process. That’s what makes everyone unique.


Makin’ Dem Beats


Which artist(s) has/had the greatest impact on you?
I listened to a lot of R&B like Aaliyah, Mary J Blige, and Musiq Soulchild when I could buy my own CDs… so Timbaland of course. I’m also a big Pharrell fan. Others would be Drumma Boy, Shawty Red, Bryan Michael Cox, Kanye West and Mike Dean.

How often do you practice? How long?
Everyday for at least a couple hours–whether it’s just messing around trying to find some sound or working towards a certain goal. Or even searching samples.


Studio Life All Day, All Night


How do you feel being an unsigned artist?
Being unsigned is great, in that, you have total control over every aspect of your career. But it can be a lot to handle at times.

What are your views on major label vs independent music?
I feel that independent music is really starting to grow and show its potential. Today’s technology has made everything so accessible. Anybody can be the next big thing out of nowhere and last, if they have the work behind it.

What is your near future looking like?
I just plan on getting my sound out more and working with more artists–especially ones I look up to. I’m flying out to Korea soon to get in the studio and work on things with some artists out there.

What can we expect to hear from you and when can we expect it?
I definitely will be rolling out some news closer to the new year. Couple surprises in store for sure. Right now, I’ll just be uploading random beats and what ever I work on through my SoundCloud. Expect some stuff from me on Isaiah’s next project.

Lastly, leave our readers with some final words.
Wake up and go chase after your dreams. There isn’t really the right way to do it, but there definitely are infinite bad ways to go about it. Stay focused and never give up. Usually when stuff seems to hit the lowest, they shoot back up. Gotta keep believing in yourself. Never ever feel like you know everything. Always be a student ready to learn. And last, make sure you are doing what you do for the right reasons.

Ab-Soul- “Huey Knew” Music Video

Solo season may be very well upon us. After dropping “Huey Knew” featuring Da$h just two weeks ago, Ab-Soul returns with the music video. The music video was released through TDE’s youtube. It’s been 2 years that we’ve been without some new Ab-Soul so we’re in for a real treat. TDE is said to be dropping a total of 6 projects from their artists this year & we’re hoping Soul’s is one of them.

New Joint: Schoolboy Q – Groovy Tony (@ScHoolBoyQ)

Late last night it was announced that we’d get some new music from the TDE camp. Twitter went crazy, we didn’t know what to expect. Was it more stuff from Kendrick? New music from Ab-Soul? New SZA? The rumors started swirling. In my mind I had a feeling it would be something new from Schoolboy Q but no one was really sure. When I was notified that it was indeed something new from Q, I was nervous as hell. Wasn’t sure what to expect. You never know what you’re going to get from him. In my opinion he’s one of the most diverse artists in the TDE camp. When I saw the artwork and pressed play on this Groovy Tony  I had a feeling that this was going to be exactly what I wanted from Q. That dark, sinister, high energy gangsta shit. That’s what I love most from Q, so the fact that we have that with an amazing visual in tow. You can’t go wrong. I’m not sure when we’ll get a full project from Q or what it’s going to sound like but if this is the first song we’re getting from the project, I could just imagine what’s next. It’s about to be a really lit summer.

New Joint: Isaiah Rashad – Smile

Isaiah Rashad has been pretty quiet as of late. Then out of nowhere we were greeted by a new song and video from Isaiah called “Smile”. This sounds like something right up The Smokers Club alley. Nice melodies on this, he’s snapping all over the place on this one too. I’d imagine this sounds great in a ride with a nice speaker system, burn one and ride out to this. Not sure what else Isaiah has up his sleeves but if it’s anything like this, we are definitely paying attention.

New Joint: Kembe X – Work Week (Squad Day) (@Kembe_X)

Kembe X reminds us to always fit in a squad day no matter how hard our regular work week is. This track is definitely for the turn up, something to bang your head, shake your imaginary dreads and get wild to. Don’t let the high level of energy confuse you though, Kembe is definitely spitting gems on this one, keep a lookout for the slick wordplay and metaphors played all through this one. Keep your eyes open for more from Kembe X soon.

New Joint: @IsaiahRashad – “Nelly”

After announcing that his upcoming album is completed during Jay Rock’s 90059 campaign, the Chattanooga emcee & TDE newcomer returns with his new single, “Nelly.”

Produced by frequent collaborators Antydote, Jowin and Chris Calor, stay tuned for more info on Rashad’s forthcoming project as well as more new releases which I’m sure will be surfacing soon.

New Joint: Jay Rock Featuring Black Hippy – “Vice City”

Jay Rock of the TDE crew recently released his long awaited LP, 90059 last week to much praise. Clearly one of the albums standout cuts is “Vice City” which features all of his Top Dawg brethren, collectively known as Black Hippy. Watch the trippy visual for the track below. “90059” is available on ITunes now.

420 Mu$ic – Kendrick Lamar – “Money Trees”

Who isn’t blasting and rolling the dank to Kendrick’s good kid m.A.A.d. city?!  We’ve truly seen K. Dot grow from an emcee from Compton to being one of the hottest in the game. Shouts to the whole TDE squad and congrats to K. Dot. Light it up to one of the hardest tracks on the album.

Kendrick Lamar & Schoolboy Q Perform at MTV’s “The Hive”

During the time of SXSW festival, Black Hippy members K.Dot & Schoolboy Q performed for MTV’s “The Hive” with an intimate performance, in a living room-like setting. They ran through joints like “ADHD” and “Hands On The Wheel” in this special performance.

Ab-Soul – “Pineal Gland” (video)

Ab-Soul just released his trippy visuals for “Pineal Gland.” The TDE MC is prepping to launch his next project, Control System, May 11th.

RockSmith Presents: I Am Kendrick Lamar (Video)

I Am: Kendrick Lamar from Rocksmith on Vimeo.

We had the privilege to spend the day with the west coast rising star Kendrick Lamar. He touches on multiple subjects such as his team at TDE, his recording process, working with new talented people and more. You can currently catch Kendrick on the Club Paradise along side Drake & Asap Rocky at a city near you.

Good Read: Schoolboy Q Interview


Shouts to the homie Legend over at FreeOnsmash who sat down with Schoolboy Q and gets us some insight on what we can expect from his next project which I personally can’t wait to hear!

Habits & Contradictions is due out next week on January 14th!

Read about it HERE!