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Veteran Hip-Hop and R&B Producer Now Finds A New Home at LIU-Brooklyn

By Kenya White, Contributing Writer

The Notorious B.I.G., Will Smith, and Diddy are just some of the biggest names in the world of hip-hop whose music was produced by Tony Dofat, who recently became a faculty member at LIU Brooklyn.

In the 1990s, Dofat was a leading producer in the hip-hop and R&B scene. At the age of 9, the Mount Vernon native, already knew how to read and write music. He was also playing instruments like the trumpet and the piano. By age 17, Dofat graduated to a keyboard and drum machine. “I was just making music for fun,” he said. “But all my friends kept telling me I had the potential to become something big.”

As an intern at Uptown Records, Sean “Diddy” Combs was introduced to Dofat by a mutual friend and they immediately started making records together. Dofat was known for having a speciality in blending hip-hop and R&B. Once in the studio together, they got some additional help from producer Tony Maserati (who has since handled plenty of mixes for artists like Beyonce and Lady Gaga).

Tony Dofat has worked with many iconic musicians, including The Notorious B.I.G. and Will Smith. Photo Courtesy of Tony Dofat.

Tony Dofat has worked with many iconic musicians, including The Notorious B.I.G. Photo Courtesy of Tony Dofat.

“It’s funny how we all started together. We were in the studio, put a track together for a new artist and it just took off,” says Dofat. The first song they remixed was the 1991 chart-topper, “You Remind Me” by Mary J. Blige. Dofat, who was an engineering major at Westchester Community College, says his 27 years in the music industry has allowed him to grow in his career.

“My ears are tuned, so I can hear when the sound is off. I know keys, which is why my music has a different sound,” says Dofat, who has worked with major artists like Tina Turner, Queen Latifah, Heavy D, and Ja Rule. With over 171 song compositions, 42 gold record plaques, 15 Top-10 Billboard hits behind his name, the Grammy-nominated producer is also an author.

His self-published textbooks, “Business and Fundamentals of Music Production” and “Introduction to Digital Audio,” are not only must-reads for his classes, but have also received plenty of attention on several music industry blogs.

In 2015, Dofat became an assistant professor at LIU-Brooklyn. But he isn’t new to teaching after years spent lecturing at Grammy Award-related panels and music events around the world. “I love the students and the energy here at LIU. There is so much talent out here in Brooklyn; it’s amazing,” says Dofat.

The producer has many accomplishments that have not gone unnoticed. On Oct. 19, “Tony Dofat” was proclaimed based on his contributions to the Mt. Vernon community. Next year, Dofat says that he plans to hold an annual fundraiser to give back even more to his hometown.

Honest Look at Hip-Hop Today

For more than two decades, Dofat has had the opportunity to watch hip-hop evolve. Hip-hop was created from the New York City street culture of the 1970s. Everything from graffiti to the big gold chains and breakdancing were a part of hip-hop culture. Rappers used to tell stories about the world they were living in, as a way to express themselves. They used music as an outlet. Fast-forward to today and many critics say that the hip-hop industry has lost its way.

Dofat has also been recognized for his civic work in Mt. Vernon. Photo Courtesy of Tony Dofat.

“Hip-hop went from being fun to now almost [being] a liability,” says Dofat. “Drugs like heroin and coke were mainly found in genres like rock and roll. [But now] rappers are now telling you that you have to be high in order to create musical content. Many rappers will get high and start to rap and say it’s hip-hop. In reality, you are just a junkie [who] raps.”

Lessons of The Music Industry

In order to be successful in the music industry, Dofat says that passion is the main thing you need to have. “I say the word passion at least thirty times throughout my lectures. Anything you want to do in life, you have to have passion for it or you are bound to fail,” he says. And Dofat loves the word “passion” so much that it’s the name of his clothing line. Another major lesson that he’s hoping to share with students is one that he learned firsthand in the music business. “You are more valuable when you can do more things. That’s why [Diddy] kept me around for so long. I could produce, engineer, and play instruments. I knew all of the software required,” says the producer. “Always be an asset. No one wants a liability. That is the key to longevity in the music industry.”

Professor Dofat will moderate a panel about song production and music copyrights at LIU’s Brooklyn Campus on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Spike Lee Screening Room, LLC 122.



Category: Arts | Entertainment