Slacker Logo

Dan the Automator

Advertisement
Advertisement

Biography

Dan the Automator is a San Francisco-based hip-hop producer whose work with "Kool" Keith Thornton on the latter's Dr. Octagon project shot him to acclaim in 1996. With a series of ever more elaborate conceptual projects since then, Nakamura's wildly imaginative productions and offbeat sense of humor has made him one of the leading figures in the underground of alternative rap. A classically trained violinist in his younger days, Nakamura instead fell in love with Kraftwerk and old-school hip-hop, as well as R&B and rock & roll. He began DJing as a teenager but was discouraged by the advanced skills of some younger Bay Area DJs (i.e., the ones who would go on to form the legendary Invisibl Skratch Piklz collective). Nakamura instead turned his attention to crafting his own productions, accepting gigs around the Bay Area during the early '90s, which eventually culminated in the Dr. Octagon project in 1995. A lo-fi fusion of hip-hop beats and bizarre atmospherics on par with some of the weirder exports from the U.K. trip-hop scene, Dr. Octagon was released by the tiny Bulk Recordings label in 1995 and achieved a level of overground success increasingly rare in hip-hop's pop-monopolized marketplace when it was reissued by DreamWorks a year later. Propelled by Thornton's pornographic rhymes and mind-bending meter, the record owed its success in equal measure to Nakamura's inventive production, which wed loping, downtempo rhythms with, by turns, weeping violins, space-born bleeps and wiggles, and heavy metal guitar riffs. Not Nakamura's freshman effort by a long shot, the two had actually worked together (with Thornton appearing as Sinister 6000) on Nakamura's debut Automator release, the Better Tomorrow EP, appearing on SF's Ubiquity label in early 1996. Nakamura's studio, The Glue Factory, also served as the workshop for recordings by Mo' Wax's DJ Shadow and for various artists on the latter's Solesides label (most notably on Latyrx's The Album). When Thornton decided not to tour behind his Dr. Octagon alias, Nakamura racked up a host of other mix and production credits, including Primal Scream, the Eels, DJ Krush, a collaboration with Dust Brother Mike Simpson for Cornershop (several tracks on 1997's acclaimed When I Was Born for the 7th Time), and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (1998's Acme). Nakamura then teamed up with former De La Soul producer Prince Paul as Handsome Boy Modeling School, a reference to an episode of the Chris Elliott sitcom Get a Life. In 1999, the duo released an album titled So...How's Your Girl?, a freewheeling hodgepodge of old-school hip-hop, new-school trip-hop, crazed sampling (including plenty of Elliott dialogue), and all-star cameos. The record marked Nakamura as a figure to watch, and that reputation was confirmed with 2000's Deltron 3030 project, a collaboration with rapper Del tha Funkee Homosapien and DJ Kid Koala. The trio's self-titled debut was an elaborate science-fiction concept album set in a bleak and distant future, and Nakamura's detailed, cinematic production offered a rich and believable soundtrack. That same year, Nakamura issued a retooled version of his debut EP (with several extra tracks) under the title A Much Better Tomorrow on the hip-hop-oriented label 75 Ark. In 2001, Nakamura snared his widest audience yet with the cartoon band Gorillaz, an eclectic collaboration with Blur's Damon Albarn, artist Jamie Hewlett, Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori, and former Talking Heads Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth. Their barely classifiable self-titled debut was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, going platinum in the U.S. and spawning Nakamura's first major hit single, "Clint Eastwood." Next, Nakamura returned to his Nathaniel Merriweather alias (from the Handsome Boy Modeling School album) for Lovage, a lounge-flavored, Serge Gainsbourg-influenced project that featured vocalists Jennifer Charles (Elysian Fields) and Mike Patton (Faith No More). The Lovage album Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By was released before the end of 2001. Nakamura kicked off 2002 by releasing his first-ever mix album, the well-received Wanna Buy a Monkey?: A Mixtape Session. Despite the fact there were many promises for a solo album, titled Omakase, label issues caused it to be shelved, but in 2004, the Automator teamed up with Daryl Palumba to form Head Automatica (at least in its initial conception) and release Decadence. In 2006, he produced the tracks for 2K7, the soundtrack to the video game of the same name, which featured performances from E-40, Ghostface Killah, and Slim Thug (though of course an instrumental version was also offered). ~ Sean Cooper & Steve Huey
Read All Read Less

Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   Champions
  3.   Here Comes the Champ
  4.   2K007
  5.   Lifeboat
  6.   Book of the Month
  7.   A Better Tomorrow
  8.   Anger Management featuring Jennifer Charles
  9.   Make the People Sway
  10.   Koala's Lament
  11.   Strangers on a Train
  12.   Baller Blockin'
  13.   Anchor Man
  14.   Bang the Ball
  15.   Perhaps (Someday the Roof Will Get Fixed) by Charlie Parker
  16.   Sleep
  17.   Stroker Ace featuring Jennifer Charles
  18.   Koala's Lament featuring Jennifer Charles
  19.   Sex (I'm A) featuring Jennifer Charles
  20.   Lovage (Love That Lovage, Baby) featuring Jennifer Charles
  21.   Lifeboat featuring Jennifer Charles
  22.   Book of the Month featuring Jennifer Charles
  23.   Lies and Alibis featuring Jennifer Charles
  24.   Ladies Love Chest Rockwell featuring Jennifer Charles
  25.   Fade Away
  26.   Lyrics to Go
  27.   Catch Me
  28.   Ball Til You Fall
  29.   Don't Hate the Player
  30.   I Love This Game
  31.   Steeplechase
  32.   Destiny
  33.   Lies and Alibis
  34.   To Catch a Thief
  35.   Everyone Has a Summer
  36.   Anger Management
  37.   Pit Stop (Take Me Home)
  38.   Ladies Love Chest Rockwell
  39.   Archie and Veronica
  40.   Stroker Ace
  41.   Tea Time With Maseo
  42.   Sex (I'm A)
  43.   Lovage (Love That Lovage, Baby)
  44.   Herbs, Good Hygiene and Socks
  45.   A Better Tomorrow, Pt. 2
  46.   Archie & Veronica featuring Jennifer Charles
  47.   Everyone Has a Summer featuring Jennifer Charles
  48.   Strangers on a Train featuring Jennifer Charles
  49.   To Catch a Thief featuring Jennifer Charles
  50.   Herbs, Good Hygiene and Socks featuring Afrika Bambaataa
  51.   Intro
  52.   Pit Stop (Take Me Home) featuring Jennifer Charles
  53.   What Makes the World Go Round? (Money!) [From the Motion Picture "Money Monster"] by Del the Funky Homosapien
  54.   Fried Neck Bones and some Home Fries
See Fewer Songs

Related Stations & Specials

Artists Related to
Dan the Automator

Deltron 3030

FEATURED

MF Doom

FEATURED

RJD2

FEATURED

Dr. Octagon

FEATURED

Danger Doom

FEATURED

Cut Chemist

FEATURED

Hieroglyphics

FEATURED

Aesop Rock

FEATURED

Jurassic 5

FEATURED

Blackalicious

FEATURED

Danger Mouse

FEATURED

Mos Def

FEATURED

Atmosphere

FEATURED

Madlib

FEATURED

The Pharcyde

FEATURED

The Roots

FEATURED

El-P

FEATURED

Murs

FEATURED

Talib Kweli

FEATURED
See All Related Artists

Loading Sliders...
  1. + -
  • GUESTS
  • CHAT
Some UserSample Msg
Advertisement

Advertisement

LIVE STREAM... SOCIAL RADIO STREAM...

LIVE STREAM... SOCIAL RADIO STREAM...
Casting to |