Photo by Luxrad
Any student of Chicago Hip-Hop has surely heard the name Dug Infinite. A storied producer, who was part of the South Side braintrust that included legends such as Common, No I.D. and The Twilite Tone. Dug is credited with giving Common some of the best beats of his career (“1, 2 Many,” “Real N**** Quotes,” “Like They Used To Say”) and worked closely with No I.D. on his debut album, Accept Your Own and Be Yourself (The Black Album) in 1997, and collaborated with the executive/producer on a two-album package The Sampler Vol. 1, which dropped in 2002.
But other than producing songs here and there for local artists and industry stalwarts such as Masta Ace, Dug largely stepped away from the spotlight. He never stopped working, and moved to San Francisco to start a family and focus on other ventures.
He’s recently had a change of heart, however, as in the summer of 2016, Dug reemerged with a brand new instrumental project The Sampler Vol. 2 — the proper follow up to his 2002 joint-effort with No I.D.
The pre-order vinyl of The Sampler Vol. 2 has amazingly already sold out, but you can still try your hand at it right here. On the heels of the release, we thought it was only right to sit down with Dug and let him tell his story, and talk about his journey in the music business. His history goes deep. Is his return permanent? Read and find out.
FSD: Dug, for those that may not know, or for those just hearing your name for the first time, can you tell us a little about yourself? And your history in the Chicago music scene?
Dug Infinite: So I go by the name Dug Infinite. Some of you may know my music, others might know me from Underground Wheels skate shop in Ford City Mall. My friends renamed me Infinite cause I tried to do everything. I never set limits on what was possible or impossible.
Before that I went by the name Chill M.D., a name I started using when I was b-boying with the Tornado Crew and briefly with Future 3 dance troop. My first record as a producer was as Chill M.D. for Sudden Def on Jay-Chill Records in 1991, but as emcee it was with Smooth O.Z. and at that moment in time I was the Big Chill. It was a cassette single with the songs “Who’s the Motivator” and “Armed and Dangerous” — probably in 1989.
I started freestyling around 1983 when I got exposed to the hip-hop culture from a guy named Pat from Noble Square; we would Breakdance after school everyday. I was already DJing in ’83 but the only hip-hop that I could find at Imports or Loop records. I would stop there on the way home from school and get a list of records that just came out and collect them. I did a few parties but not many people were into hip-hop at that time, so I mostly just spun hip-hop out my garage for B-Boys.
I’ve been lucky to produce music for some pretty amazing people over the years but most people know me for my early work with Common and No I.D.
FSD: I’ve made it no secret that my favorite Common album is One Day It’ll All Make Sense — and you produced two of my favorite joints on there. How did that come together?
Dug Infinite: Oh Thanks! [I did] “1,2 Many” and “Real Quotes.”
A DJ I went to school with, Fearless Frank, hooked me up with Common’s producer No I.D., who brought Common around to a studio I used to own with some friends. No I.D. and I used to hook up two SP 1200’s between a mixer and play beats while a whole list of who’s who would freestyle over them, all night, including Common. I wonder who has those tapes? No I.D. was a people magnet and he brought every one with him.
Common always asked if I had any joints and gave me plenty of opportunities to submit beats. No I.D. and The Twilite Tone were the main producers at that time and there were only a few slots for new producers. Sean Rhythm and other cats like a young Kanye were nice with beats too, so it wasn’t easy. But I got a chance to play some joints and after playing what felt like 100 beats, he took a few. It had to fit the project though, that was the key. I think doing the hooks with Common, helped me get those placements, and also having a unique style.
FSD: What was the name of your studio?
Dug Infinite: Jay-Chill Records. It was at 2141 W 95th Street, right down the block from Slangware. It was another idea of mine to do a studio on the south side, to give kids a safe place to go and be productive. Juke and I started the studio then we hooked up with Lenzy, Stacy, and Rick to try and push Sudden Def.
FSD: Who were some of the Chicago heavyweights to record or freestyle there?
Dug Infinite: There’s too many to name but I’ll try, forgive me if I left you out. On any given day you could find myself, Common, Kanye West circa 13 years old, No I.D., The Twilite Tone, Spliff Crew, Sean Let, Just Ro, Sean Rhythm and the God Squad, He who walks three ways, Children of Reality, Busy Styles, Stoney Island, Papa Doc, Dane Uno, Vice, Euphonix Crew, Slang and Rell, BBC, Nuttin Nice, and so many more. It was insane actually, kind of like a big community center — but it taught me a lot about business. I wasn’t making no money on the sessions so I started selling pop, chips and candy during those freestyle sessions to cover the bills. That’s what gave me the idea for the skateboard shop and it’s mostly because No I.D. would invite the whole south side over. Yep, you should ask him, we laugh at that all the time.
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