Dixson has been blessing the music industry with his talents for almost a decade, and now he’s stepping into the limelight as his own artist.
Themulti-instrumentalist, producer, vocal arranger, and recording artist has worked with all of music’s elites, from Chance The Rapper to Vic Mensa to Pharrell. Currently signed to Roc Nation, the Atlanta native remains passionate as ever about creating music and touching the souls of the masses around the world.
Beyond his current resume, which includes producing and arranging nearly half of Chance’s The Big Day album and vocal arranging for Justin Bieber on the acoustic version of “Holy,” Dixson is inspired more than ever to establish his name in front of the microphone, versus behind-the-scenes. Most recently, Dixson released the official music video for his newest single “KREAM,” a flip off the Wu-Tang Clan timeless hit. The romantic ballad sees Dixson stepping into his prime when it comes to R&B, serenading the attraction and intimacy between a woman and man.
AllHipHop: How was it growing up in Atlanta?
Dixson: It was dope. I was lucky to be around for a few different big moments in Atlanta music. I definitely got to learn a lot being in the studio community there. It was dope. It’s always good music coming out of Atlanta whether it’s on the R&B side of the Hip Hop side, always some good s### coming out of the city.
AllHipHop: You’re putting on for the R&B out there right?
Dixson: I’m trying very hard to infiltrate the space. I love what’s out there, but I have some new things to say. Some new approaches to the R&B space. I feel good about it. I feel confident that people are going to love the music the more and more they get to know me.
AllHipHop: Your new single “Kream” is out now, how are you feeling?
Dixson: There’s no real way around the subject matter. I’ve tried to skate around it in interviews, the song’s about sex. The song’s about intimacy. The song is about women and the complex nature of those relationships. I hadn’t heard R&B in awhile from a male artist speaking about what having a strong powerful woman in their life does for them. Instead of saying what I’d do to her for the entire time of the song, I like to flip the perspective a little bit and talk about what having her in my life means to me. It’s a fresh approach. It’s a very sexy song so I tell people to tread lightly. Be careful with that one because it’ll put you in that state of mind, but that was the aim. The goal’s to get people feeling good about themselves, especially women too. Writing a song for them that makes them feel good about themselves and the power of their capabilities. It’s a sexy song, but also an empowering song.
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AllHipHop: Who inspired it?
Dixson: I keep my love life pretty private. [laughs] I’m a very private person in that regard, but it’s a million things that inspired it. There’s obviously a lot of conversation around women empowerment. That’s a big motivator for me, on my team especially. For the video, the director is a woman. My attorney’s a woman, the co-president of my label is a woman. There’s a lot of powerful women around, that’s a big inspiration for me. Musically, I’m always inspired by Prince and Usher and all the R&B heavy hitters, but I bring my own sauce to it. That’s important. I love the music that’s out there, but sometimes a lot of it is the same. I’m trying to do something different.
AllHipHop: Talk about flipping the Wu-Tang record, that’s an iconic record.
Dixson: To be honest with you, I was surprised that we pulled it off because I know it’s a huge record. I don’t have a million followers, I’m an up and comer. I guess they liked the song enough to okay it, that meant a lot to me because I’m a big Wu-Tang fan. I make R&B but I love Hip Hop. If I’m DJaying, I’m definitely putting that song in the rotation. To be able to use that sample in a cool way, for them to even allow me flip the first letter, that shows a sign of mutual respect as musicians. Obviously, I didn’t want to do it without them cosigning it. That was a big deal, I’m really proud of that.
AllHipHop: Clearing samples is a headache!
Dixson: It’s the worst. As a producer not even for myself, but I work with other artists way bigger than me: clearing samples is usually the worst part of the process. Damn that sample sounds so good, but they have the power at the end of the day to say yes or no. Sometimes, it’s not even a money thing. Sometimes it’s “I don’t like the record you made.” [laughs] It’s a touchy situation with samples but I’m really really lucky in my career I’ve been able to finesse a little bit and get people to like the records I make from their samples.
AllHipHop: What sparked this? Were you listening to Wu-Tang?
Dixson: I was listening to it quite a bit actually. It’s on one of my Hip Hop playlists, one of the first or second songs on one of my private Spotify playlists I listen to to get inspired. One day the hook the actual song I put out just hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m like “why am I singing it that way?” I know why, it’s because I’ve been vibing to this Wu-Tang record. Sometimes the record will end and yo, I gotta run that back. Really the opening of the record is the part I really sampled. The opening of the record is what inspired my record. There’s this woman singing in the background super faint in the distance on the Wu-Tang record, I’m like “I gotta get that!” When all those little pieces culminate, it makes the record such an incredible body of work on its own. I’m really glad I was able to not taint it, I was able to take it and move it to the next space. I’m very very glad about that.
AllHipHop: What did you learn about yourself from being on The Voice?
Dixson: I’ve been performing my whole life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been on somebody’s stage playing an instrument, singing, or directing a choir. The Voice taught me that no matter how big the stage is, there’s something unnerving about singing live on television. I’ve been to areans, I’ve been everywhere. The Voice was the battleground where I learned how to really overcome my fears of performing. When that red light on camera hits you and you know the viewership of The Voice is out of the roof — millions of people watching you and it’s live, there’s no do-overs — you’re really depending on the entire crew of that show to make your 3 minutes on air go smoothly. You have to put a lot of trust in people you work with, putting a lot of trust in my team.
I’m a newly signed artist so putting a lot of faith in the label, in the people around me that’s trying to help me grow and become this artist they all see the vision for and I see the vision for. Throwing that fear away and leaving that s### at the door. Once that light’s on you, you can’t really go backwards.The main lesson I learned is I was built for this. Once you complete that task on The Voice of doing that first live show, I watched not just myself but my classmates and their confidence level shot through the roof. A realization that we’re there to do that all along. I learned a lot of things from being around Pharrell and the other coaches but on a personal note, that’s what I learned.
AllHipHop: What was the best memory from working with Chance the Rapper on his The Big Day project?
Dixson: There’s some good ones. I’ll never forget I had laid some piano down on a record that had Randy Newman on it, the famous guy from Toy Story that wrote “You Got A Friend In Me” for the movie. That’s such an iconic voice. His whole thing is he sings and plays piano. When I came back to the studio one day, I was listening to the record and I heard my piano under Randy Newman’s voice. It wasn’t the progression he played, wait a minute, are they about to leave my piano under Randy Newman? Everyday I’d come to the studio and they’d play it down. I’ll walk in and they’d put Randy’s piano back, but it was one of those things that made the album. I fanned out over Randy.
The second biggest moment for me was getting a feature on the album. I wasn’t expecting that. Chance is a very generous person but being so young and so new in the game, I wasn’t expecting to get a feature. Let alone a feature with Nicki Minaj that sampled Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. None of that makes any sense to me how it worked out that way. I was very lucky to be in a space where I wrote a really good verse. Shout out to all the people watching over me that dropped that on me at the time. I played it for Chance and I remember him sending me a text message saying that verse really brought him to tears and it stuck. I’m grateful that it stuck.
AllHipHop: What are your studio essentials?
Dixson: I go back and forth, depending on the situation. If I need to be extremely creative, I gotta have Blue Dream. That’s my strain of choice when I’m trying to be creative. I gotta have a gram or so of some Blue Dream around so I can spark some new ideas. The other thing for me is candy, my dentist probably hates me. I’m terrible. I don’t really do chocolate like that but Sour Patch, or gummy bears, anything that’s full of sugar, I’m game and always have in the studio with me. I used to order them on Amazon but the Twizzlers Pull ‘n’ Peel, the strawberry ones! Something about being able to fidget with those while I’m working that makes me feel like I’m being productive, so that’s a necessity. Another thing I have to have is a lot of water. My team and anybody who’s been in the studio with me knows there are random open bottles of water all over the studio. I always buy a case before I go to the studio to have it around. It’s a nervous tick for me, but I also stay hydrated in the process so it helps.
AllHipHop: What was the highlight of working with Bieber on the acoustic version of “Holy”?
Dixson: The big highlight was we never saw Justin during the process, though he did FaceTime Chance while we’re in the studio. I was cutting a record with Chance for my project, I had to stop in the middle of that because they needed vocals for “Holy.” It came very naturally. We’d done a live show version of it for Chance, Chance had really liked the arrangement that we did but we had only done it live. We never recorded it. Chance and Chance’s music director Peter CottonTale, called me and said “we need vocals for this live arrangement, would you be down to arrange some vocals?” We stopped everything. I was working with Chance on my stuff but I try to be there for my friends. It was a really cool, really big opportunity. I never had any Justin records before so it really sparked some new ideas for the song. I really loved the way the acoustic version came out, it was beautiful. People love that one as much as the original. The vocals on there are beautiful, they take you away.
AllHipHop: What can we expect next from you?
Dixson: A project, it’s coming out very soon on Valentine’s weekend. What’s beautiful about the project is I made it all during the quarantine. I had a completely different direction I was going to go in for my first project on Roc Nation. Being at home and getting creative, trying things out in the studio, I came up with some new concepts and new ideas. “Kream” came out of it, I built a whole project around it. I’m very excited, it comes out February 12th.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let the people know?
Dixson: I always tell people to be kind to yourselves. There’s a lot of people out here who aren’t as fortunate as we are to be creating everyday and creating opportunity for ourselves. The world’s in a crazy place but always remember to be kind to yourself, be kind to others as best you know how. Don’t spread any negative energy out here, it’s enough of that going around in the world. It’d be a much better place if we all take a moment and when we’re thinking about it, be kind to each other. Give yourself a lot of grace. The world ‘ very different now that we can’t go out and see one another, so give yourself some grace. Give yourself some time and some space. Check in with yourself mentally and be kind.