Photo: Monhand Mathurin
5 Essential D'Mile Productions: Silk Sonic, H.E.R. & Others
'An Evening with Silk Sonic' producer D’Mile revisits his career milestones and discusses his blockbuster 2021, which included back-to-back GRAMMY “Song Of The Year” Awards and multiple hit collaborations.
"He is a genius. I don’t feel like most people realize how much of a genius he actually is" producer D’Mile asserts when thinking back on his most popular project to date with Bruno Mars.
But prior to the formation of Silk Sonic, longtime friend and bandmate Anderson .Paak implored Mars and D’Mile to come together for a session. "Once we realized we were doing a group project, I think it was easy for all of us to know what kind of vibe it was going to be," D'Mile says.
"Leave The Door Open,'' the GRAMMY-winning product of the trio’s collaboration, became a hit for its groovy R&B bridges and velvety vocal harmonies — and D’Mile’s career skyrocketed. Now, he is a creative backbone behind many top artists, infusing discographies with blues, jazz and neo-R&B, while engineering for Beyoncé, Jay Z, Lupe Fiasco, H.E.R. and others. Long before earning a clutch of awards, D’Mile was disciplined in a musical household.
Dernst Emile II, a.k.a. D'Mile was born to two esteemed Haitian musicians — vocalist Yanick Étienne and Dernst Emile, an established music arranger and instrumentalist — with a wide global lineage and appreciation of the music of the African diaspora. Coming up in Brooklyn, D'Mile learned the piano from his father, and would hear his mother sing jazz and Haitian konpa around the house.
"They would always work together," the 37-year-old music producer bashfully remembers over Zoom, chuckling. "My dad [still] gives private lessons to this day. I was just always around instruments my whole life — the jam and recording sessions. I feel like I am just a younger version of him."
A young D'Mile inherited the musical aptitude of his parents, nurturing his musical roots while keeping his ear close to the ground as his career blossomed. "One of my first [producer] placements ever was actually Mary J. Blige in 2005," D’Mile reflects bashfully. That single was the title track on Blige’s 2005 album, The Breakthrough, which won the GRAMMY Award for Best R&B Record.
Nearly two decades into producing music, D’Mile applies artists' personal experiences to the music they create together, tailoring their sounds as a reflection of who they are, at the moment he meets them. "I just do what I know when I feel right in my heart," D’Mile says, shrugging his shoulders. "[But] when I do a collab with an artist, I try to speak to who they are through the music."
That insight, and ability to cohere an artist's essence with contemporary culture, has led to many hit-making moments. After having compulsive thoughts of quitting music over the past decade, D’Mile ignited an artistic flare at the beginning of the pandemic and a plethora of gold-plated accolades was on the horizon.
From 2020 to 2022, D’Mile experienced highs that accelerated career’s trajectory. At the 2020 GRAMMY Awards, D’Mile received seven nominations for his work on Lucky Daye’s debut album, Painted and H.E.R’s second album, I Used To Know Her. Following the police murder of George Floyd, D'Mile channeled racial tensions into H.E.R.'s "I Can’t Breathe"; the song won the coveted GRAMMY Award for Song Of The Year in 2021. That same year, D'Mile won an Academy Award for Best Original Song ("Fight For You") in the motion picture, Judas and the Black Messiah.
D'Mile's star only continued to rise in 2022. At the 64th GRAMMY Awards, the producer took home three golden gramophones for his work on Silk Sonic's "Leave the Door Open" — including Song and Record Of The Year. A testament to his production expertise and wide-ranging ear, D'Mile was also nominated for his efforts on Christian/Contemporary song "Hold Us Together (Hope Mix)."
"I am not saying my first accomplishments haven’t hit me yet, but it is just unbelievable sometimes to think of all of the good things that have been happening in my career recently," D'Mile reflects.
The Los Angeles-based musician is nourishing the nucleic basis of R&B, creating an environment for upcoming and celebrated artists to rejoice and evolve. The producer shared memories from some of his favorite collaborations with GRAMMY.com.
Joyce Wrice - Overgrown
Executive produced by D’Mile, Joyce Wrice's 2021 debut album is an exquisite gift to R&B buffs. The bluesy 14-track Overgrown is a delineation of nostalgic 90’s R&B and hip-hop, with pitched vocal highs and emotional lows.
"The first time Joyce and I met in the studio, I was picking up on who she is as a woman and her vision for Overgrown," says D’Mile. "I got close with her and I would gather information off of what she would play me. I feel like when I make music, that's me kind of examining who you are."
Throughout Overgrown, the San Diego native sings about the pains of healing from heartbreak and unrequited love. The album is also a celebration of womanhood, where a confidently independent Wrice embraces the mental strength she discovered while finding herself.
Buddy - "Happy Hour"
Compton-raised rapper Buddy released his sophomore album, Superghetto, in 2022 and D’Mile produced one of the most popular tracks from the project. "Happy Hour" is an ode to letting loose and treating life as joyously chaotic as ordering a drink at a crowded bar on a weekend night.
"Buddy and I created this song a couple of years ago," D’Mile recalls, thinking deeply about the track's origins.
The single can be seen as a sequel to T-Pain’s 2007 anthem, "Bartender" — and fittingly so. Adds D'Mile, "T-Pain hopped on the track maybe a few months before it was released. I can’t take credit for getting that feature on the song, but it did make all the sense in the world."
H.E.R’s "Fight For You," "I Can’t Breathe" & I Used To Know Her
In 2021, D’Mile got together with longtime collaborators H.E.R and singerTiara Thomas to create socially-charged songs that highlighted the atrocities of police violence against Black Americans.
"The creation of these songs started with a conversation," D’Mile says, smiling as he reflects on the trio's tight bond. "H.E.R and Tiara were talking about what was going on in the world. H.E.R. is an artist that really cares about people and cares about what's right."
D'Mile recalls that H.E.R. picked up a guitar and played "I Can’t Breathe." "I remember tearing up when I first heard the song and I just knew exactly what I needed to do to help."
The producer also assisted on the tearful tune "Could've Been," which was also born from this session and later appeared on H.E.R’s second LP.
Victoria Monét - Jaguar
D’Mile had his hands in all processes behind the production of Victoria Monét’s debut album, Jaguar. The supersonic 2020 project is a funky unification of fun R&B with sultry pop melodies.
While Monét has penned lyrics for Ariana Grande, Nas, Chris Brown and others, Jaguar was the Georgia native's first full-length foray as a solo artist. The performer, dancer and recent mom is also using D’Mile’s musical compositions on her next album. D'Mile says he's excited for Monét’s next musical chapter, which incorporates her experiences with motherhood and more sass.
"We dug a little deeper. She is an artist that I feel really comfortable with," the producer says of Monét's forthcoming record. "There might be a couple of songs that you wouldn’t expect from her, and then there are songs that are just incredible records."
Silk Sonic - An Evening With Silk Sonic
The breakout group of 2021 were undoubtedly the nostalgically catchy vocal duo Silk Sonic — a project of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak. D’Mile executive produced the entire An Evening With Silk Sonic album, which swept the 64th GRAMMY Awards.
D’Mile related immensely to Bruno Mars, who is also a producer, and found commonality in .Paak's interest in older R&B originals from the likes of Michael Jackson, Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder. The stars finally aligned in 2020 when Anderson reached out to D'Mile about a collaboration.
"It took us two years to create the vision and we all just kind of love that era of music [that Silk Sonic is emulating]. That's what we grew up on," D’Mile reminisces. "'Smoking Out the Window' was a song that Bruno and Anderson sat on for five years until the right moment came. It feels like a blur because we were just having so much fun together."
Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
Everyone's A VIP At Clive Davis' Pre-GRAMMY Gala: From Travis Scott To Jimmy Jam To Brandi Carlile
Pass through the velvet rope at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles for an exclusive look at the star-studded 2019 Pre-GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons
On Feb. 9, on the eve of Music's Biggest Night, the 61st GRAMMY Awards, artists from across genres and decades gathered at the glitzy Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. for the 2019 Pre-GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons.
Less than 24 hours before the big red carpet walk today, the likes of current GRAMMY nominees Ella Mai, Dua Lipa, Diplo, Shaggy, Alice Cooper and Weird Al Yankovich, and GRAMMY winners Melissa Etheridge and Quincy Jones, brought their vibrant energy and killer looks at the annual celebration hosted by the Recording Academy and Clive Davis. Onlookers tried to spy the glam looks on the red carpet as they peered into the hotel's glass—we'll let you past the velvet rope and walk it with us as at this exclusive music industry event.
Dua Lipa & Ellie Goulding | Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images
This year's who's-who of music gala celebrated iconic industry veteran Clarence Avant, known as the Godfather Of Black Music, as the honoree of the evening. Like event host and fellow legend Davis, he helped launch the careers of many great artists, working with the likes of GRAMMY-winning greats Bill Withers, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis of The Time.
The video celebrating Avant had countless heroes such as Former President Barack Obama, Jones, Diddy and JAY-Z sharing how much they love Avant, the powerful impact he's made on their lives and music, and how he always knows the right thing to say. Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow introduced him with a fitting complement, and a huge one given the company they were in: "You're the ultimate music person." The Time properly brought the funk on stage to celebrate Avant with a performance of their '80s hits "The Bird" and "Jungle Love," dancing as if no time had passed.
Current GRAMMY nominee Travis Scott set the mood opening the evening's performances with "Goosebumps" and "Sicko Mode," while sisters and fellow nominees Chloe x Halle brought home a rousing cover of the late GRAMMY-winning Queen Of Soul Aretha Franklin's "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves." Brandi Carlile, another current GRAMMY nominee, returned to the stage to join the duo, along with past nominee Valerie Simpson and Broadway star Keala Settle, ending the evening on quite the high note.
Chloe x Halle | Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
Other musical guests for the evening included current nominees Bebe Rexha, Florida Georgia Line and H.E.R., along with past nominees Jazmine Sullivan and Ledisi, plus GRAMMY winner Rob Thomas. Sullivan and Thomas offered a powerful duet, belting out Aretha and George Michael's "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)."
As the evening rolled on, Davis made sure to highlight all the countless legends in the room, as the crowd continuously burst into applause and often up on their feet to celebrate the likes of music greats Barbara Streisand, George Clinton and Dionne Warwick, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Apple's Tim Cook and even former-L.A. Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Don't forget to tune in to the 2019 GRAMMYs live from Staples Center today. Start with the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony at 12:30 p.m. PST/3:30 ET, then follow us to the red carpet at 2:00 p.m. PST/5:00 p.m. ET—both will be live streamed right here on right here on GRAMMY.com.
Then the moment you've all been waiting for, the 61st GRAMMY Awards, hosted by 15-time GRAMMY winner Alicia Keys, will air live at 5:00 p.m. PST/8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT on CBS.
Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
BET Awards 2018: SZA, Migos, Jamie Foxx, Janelle Monáe, J. Cole & More
Find out who turned up, who turned heads and who took home the prizes at this year's BET Awards
Los Angeles' Microsoft Theatre played host to the 2018 BET Awards on June 24, and the action was non-stop. Over the course of the evening, some of the biggest names in pop, rap, R&B, soul, gospel, and more were honored in between a barrage of blockbuster performances.
GRAMMY winner Jamie Foxx served as host of the festivities and opened the show by joining Jay Rock for a revved-up performance of Rock's new single, "Win." Foxx then delivered his monologue and invited Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan to the stage to recite some of the most powerful lines from the film.
DJ Khaled, Rihanna and Bryson Tiller took home the night's first award for Best Collaboration for "Wild Thoughts" from Khaled's 2017 album Grateful. Khaled brought his son Asahd to the stage to help him accept the award, and gave him a shoutout in his speech.
SZA received the Best New Artist award, further solidifying her arrival as one of her generation's sharpest talents. The singer expressed gratitude and encouragement in her acceptance speech, saying, "Believe in yourself, 'cause I didn't even believe in myself, and things like this happen to me, so it this can happen to anybody. God bless everyone."
The show's lineup of performances was full of surprises. Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, delivered an impromptu snippet of "This Is America." Meek Mill premiered a new song called "Stay Woke" featuring Miguel, and Migos recreated their "Soultrain"-inspired music video for "Walk It Talk It," with Foxx helping out in the roll of TV show host.
YG, 2 Chainz and Big Sean joined Nicki Minaj for a run of three songs, including "Chun-Li," "Rich Sex" and the crew's newly released single, "Big Bank." H.E.R., real name Gabi Wilson, made a splash with performances of "Focus" and, calling upon Daniel Caesar for help, the sweet and soulful love song, "Best Part." Janelle Monaé performed "Jango Jane" from her latest album, Dirty Computers, and turned heads on the red carpet with her vibrant rainbow pride dress.
Rapper J. Cole chose to perform the lead-off cut from his latest album, KOD. His rendition of "Friends" featured cameos from Wale and Caesar as well as a dynamic performance from Cole, dramatic lighting and even a memorable dance sequence from a group of children. Snoop Dogg closed the show with a set of his classics mixed in with tunes from his new gospel project.
Additional notable awards went to Beyoncé for Best Female R&B/Pop Artist, Kendrick Lamar for Best Male Hip Hop Artist, Cardi B for Best Female Hip Hop Artist, and Lecrae and Tori Kelly for the Dr. Bobby Jones Best Gospel/Inspirational Award for their duet "I'll Find You." BET also honored two legends in their own right as GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter Anita Baker and the company's influential president Debra Lee each received a lifetime achievement award.
With a captivating mix of bold social statements, reverent award presentations, lively and heartfelt performances, up-and-coming stars, and musical icons, the 2018 BET Awards honored the best-of-the-best from both today and the past while also providing illuminating insight into the future of music.
Find Out Who's Nominated For Best R&B Performance | 2020 GRAMMY Awards
The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best R&B Performance. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which songs have been nominated for Best R&B Performance.
"Love Again" (Performed by Daniel Caesar & Brandy)
Released in July, "Love Again" is a duet between GRAMMY-winning pop/R&B icon Brandy and GRAMMY winner Daniel Caesar, taken from Caesar's second album Case Study 01. Caesar won Best R&B Performance at the 61st GRAMMY Awards for "Best Part."
"Could've Been" (Performed by H.E.R. Featuring Bryson Tiller)
"Could've Been" was the first and only single taken from H.E.R.'s I Used to Know Her: The Prelude and was later included on the singer's second compilation album, I Used to Know Her. Last year, at the 61st GRAMMY Awards, the perma-shaded artist earned five nominations, including one for Best New Artist. She also won Best R&B Album for her compilation album H.E.R., as well as Best R&B Performance for "Best Part.
"Exactly How I Feel" (Performed by Lizzo Featuring Gucci Mane)
"Exactly How I Feel" shows up on Lizzo's empowering third studio album, Cuz I Love You.
"Vulnerability and strength is what this album is all about," she recently told the Recording Academy in an Up Close & Personal interview.
"When you write these songs you get really excited about them and mind you, I had a song like 'Juice' just under my armpit in the darkness and nobody knew what it sounded like," the singer continued. "Or keeping it a secret that I had Missy Elliott on a song, at that point you just want to explode and when the album was out, I was so excited to just share the songs with people and the world."
"Roll Some Mo" (Performed by Lucky Daye)
The New Orleans R&B singer's first single "Roll Some Mo" is taken from his debut album, Painted, which dropped in May.
"Come Home" (Performed by Anderson .Paak Featuring André 3000)
GRAMMY winner Anderson .Paak brought former OutKast member André 3000 on the opener to his fourth studio album, Ventura, which came out last April.
Gary Clark Jr.
Photo: Recording Academy
Gary Clark Jr. On His Admiration For Prince: "He's The Best Guitar Player In The World"
The GRAMMY-winning "This Land" singer honors his hero at The GRAMMY Salute To Prince, which airs on CBS on April 21
"He's the best, the pinnacle. When I think about true artists and expression, unapologetic and free, Prince is that to me," the GRAMMY winner told us backstage at "Let's Go Crazy: The GRAMMY Salute To Prince."
"As a guitar player, I think he's the best guitar player in the world. I don't think anybody could touch him, and I'll fight you on that. It's just what I want to be, really," the "This Land" singer adds with a smile.
During the special tribute concert, which airs on CBS next Tues., April 21 (the fourth anniversary of Prince's death), Clark performs "Let's Go Crazy" with H.E.R. and Sign O' the Times deep cut "The Cross."
Tune in to CBS (or stream on CBS All Access) on April 21 from 9-11 p.m. ET/PT to watch Clark pay tribute to his hero, as well as many more powerhouse covers from Prince's musical treasure chest, brought to life by Sheila E., The Revolution, John Legend, Common, Dave Grohl with the Foo Fighters, Earth, Wind & Fire, Juanes and other greats.