Matt Dike, co-founder of the influential Los Angeles hip-hop label Delicious Vinyl and a noted producer and mixer who worked on the Beastie Boys’ groundbreaking 1989 album “Paul’s Boutique,” has died. He was 55.
Delicious Vinyl’s web site reported Tuesday that Dike died at home in Los Angeles after a brief illness.
Co-founded with Michael Ross in 1987, Delicious Vinyl was hugely influential in proving hip-hop’s pop crossover potential, thanks to three enormous rap singles Dike and Ross produced in 1989: Tone-Loc’s double-platinum “Wild Thing” (No. 2 pop, No. 3 R&B) and its platinum follow-up “Funky Cold Medina” (No. 3 pop, No. 7 R&B), and Young MC’s platinum “Bust a Move” (No. 7 pop, No. 9 R&B).
Dike was born Dec. 2, 1962 in West Nyack, N.Y. As a youth, he rebelled against the strictures of his rigorous Jehovah’s Witness parents, and dove into the New York music and art scene, where he DJed and sometimes played. A club encounter with then-underground artist Jean-Michel Basquiat led to an enduring friendship.
He relocated to L.A. in 1980. While DJing at the local hip-hop club Rhythm Lounge in 1983, he met UCLA student and fellow club DJ Ross. Dike attracted attention spinning deep cuts at such L.A. hot spots as the Nairobi Room and the Park Plaza Hotel’s Power Tools. On the strength of Dike’s DJing, Power Tools soon became notorious enough to attract visitors like Andy Warhol and New York hip-hop figurehead Fab 5 Freddy, and featured an early West Coast performance from the Beastie Boys.
After Power Tools closed in 1987, Ross and Dike founded Delicious Vinyl with a $5,000 loan. The label struck paydirt with one of its very first signings, the gravel-voiced Tone-Loc. His second single for the label, “Wild Thing,” peaked at No. 2 on the pop singles chart, with its microbudget Tamra Davis-directed video, a parody of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love,” becoming a hit on MTV. (Dike came up with the song’s title, taken from a line in Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It.”) Follow-up single “Funky Cold Medina” continued the momentum, and the rapper’s debut LP, “Loc-ed After Dark,” became the first album from a black hip-hop artist to top the album chart.
Dike and Ross subsequently turned to USC student Marvin Young, who had contributed lyrics to both of Tone-Loc’s hits, as the next Delicious artist. Recording as Young MC, his single “Bust a Move,” and subsequent LP “Stone Cold Rhymin’,” were both top 10 hits.
Dike gradually began to cede control of the label to Ross, leaving in 1992, but he was also active as a producer and mixer on sides by such Delicious Vinyl acts as the Pharcyde, Def Jef, Mellow Man Ace and the imprint’s hard rock signing Masters of Reality.
He played a key role in the making of the Beasties’ sophomore album “Paul’s Boutique,” released by Capitol in 1989. Much of the album, produced by the Dust Brothers (Michael Simpson and John King), was recorded in Dike’s apartment. He is credited with bringing to the table many of the layered samples that distinguished the album’s dense, wild sound.
Peaking at No. 14 nationally, “Paul’s Boutique” was considered a commercial flop after the Beasties’ chart-topping debut “Licensed to Ill.” Dike himself noted in 2014, “The album was a complete and utter failure at the time. It didn’t sell s–t!” But its reputation soared in later years, and its status today as a rap classic is unchallenged.
Questlove was among those who remembered him on social media.
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Dog. This is crazy. So upset I never got to meet up/chat w #MattDike. Proprietor of @deliciousvinyl records. Creator of some of the most timeless fratty party hip hop ever (“Wild Thing” “Funky Cold Medina””Bust A Move”). Signing some stellar artists that were out of the norm at the time: #BrandNewHeavies #MellowManAce #ThePharcyde) but man, imo his crowning achievement was as one of the producers for one of THE greatest timeless hip hop albums ever #PaulsBoutique. It simply gets better with time (will be 30 years old in 2 years) it took 10 years to go double platinum and was considered a flop at the time of its release. But EVERY creative agrees that this album was not only @beastieboysofficial finest hour —but one of hip hop’s finest hours as well. It was my dream to nerd out and ask him (& the dust brothers too) about how they defied the laws of sampling gravity & made some of the most groundbreaking work ever. Rest In Beats.
Dike became a reclusive figure after selling out his interest in Delicious Vinyl to Ross in 1992. According to the label’s site, he withdrew to a mansion formerly owned by silent comedy star Fatty Arbuckle in L.A.’s Echo Park neighborhood.
He is survived by his brother Lane and sister Vikyana and a nephew.