Girlfriend’s Fav. Producer
“Girlfriend’s Fav. MC” by MIMS, feat. J. Holiday from Music Is My Savior (Capitol):
Fireworks rip into the late-morning sunshine over the stage outside the Sprint Center. It’s October 10, at the arena’s public unveiling. On the stage, in front of a full orchestra, are country music star Garth Brooks and Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser. With one clad in denim fresh off the bubba rack at Wal-Mart and the other looking like Scotty beamed him into a black suit, Brooks and Funk look like the stars of a lost 1970s buddy-action-comedy TV show (Tenspeed and Whitehat?).
Another small round pops off.
The man yelling and laughing beside me is 31-year-old D. Baker of GetoSoul Productions. Don’t know him? That’s OK. No one at the opening knows him, either. Far as I’m concerned, though, this cat is the real star of the party.
Raised in east Kansas City and now based in Independence, Baker is a hip-hop producer with two songs on one of the biggest rap debut albums of the year.
When you buy a fresh copy of Music Is My Savior by New York rapper MIMS and look at the decal on the package, you’ll see Baker’s two songs advertised as selling points. Baker and co-producer and partner Twizz‘s “Girlfriend’s Fav. MC” and “Big Black Train” are indeed two big reasons why MIMS is hot.
The album’s single “This Is Why I’m Hot” was a megahit earlier this year, a ring-tone sensation with a now familiar chorus: I’m hot ’cause I’m fly/You ain’t ’cause you not/This is why, this is why, this is why I’m hot. Baker appears in the video as one of the star’s identically dressed crew members, and one of his songs receives an official credential in the lyrics: We hit the studio/They say they like how I record/I gave you “Black Train” and “I Did You Wrong” /So every time I
see ’em an’ they tell me that’s they song.
“Big Black Train,” the album’s seventh track, is a slow ride through the lyrical landscape of MIMS’ thoughts on his own badassness. MIMS sings the catchy chorus — about as subtle as 50 Cent‘s “Candy Shop” but less fellatial — while Baker’s chill-out beats lope along with spidery electronic effects under an almost melancholy chiming keyboard hook. “Girlfriend’s Fav. MC,” track four, with guest vocals from young R&B singer J. Holiday, is even sweeter. Baker marries airy synthesizers to a bright and funky, marching-band-style drumbeat while MIMS tackles Greek myth: The mic is my trident/I am Poseidon/And she is Aphrodite, stop lyin’.
MIMS’ cleverness has earned him acclaim and censure. The latter has come from as high up as New York rap kingpin Jay-Z, who cited a line from “This Is Why I’m Hot” as emblematic of the shallowness of modern hip-hop. “When a guy says ‘I could make a million saying nothing on a track,’ you know you’ve reached a bad place,” Jigga told RollingStone.com last week.
That seems pretty far away from Cowtown. But last Wednesday morning, Baker kept getting texts about the Jay-Z dis (specifically, a version that appeared on AllHipHop.com). I asked him what MIMS said, and Baker paraphrased, “He’s just saying … ‘D, we gonna keep our heads up right now and make the best music that we can make.'”
That won’t be a problem for Baker. The producer who used to sell his tracks on the streets of Kansas City at $250 a beat is not only in with MIMS — he’s going to score music for upcoming episodes of CSI: Miami. Additionally, Baker knows a prominent Midwestern lawyer who’s building an $11 million recording studio and loft complex in St. Louis. Besides being a 10-percent investor, Baker will also lay down tracks in the hip-hop side of the studio, Hit Syndicate.
“MIMS is just the tipping point,” he says.
As the fireworks clear, Baker — who’s a bit intoxicated by the evidence of urban renewal — asks me whether I think the city would welcome a downtown hip-hop street party featuring national acts. I don’t give a straight answer because I’m cynical about the city and I don’t want to quash his enthusiasm. But the fact that this beatsmith with tracks on a top-selling mainstream rap album is envisioning things for his hometown — our town — to me, that’s way more exciting than nine Garth Brooks shows.
And this is why D. Baker’s hot.