Bigg D: The Next Music Mogul

You might think you don't know Derrick Baker. But if you are a hip-hop head, you're wrong. He's a local studio genius known as Bigg D.

You got a copy of Pitbull's debut, M.I.A.M.I.? Those are D's swag beats and synthy spikes on "Dammit Man." How about Lil Wayne's Tha Carter II? Well, Bigg D was behind the boards for "Best Rapper Alive." Then maybe "Murder Miami" off Rick Ross's Deeper Than Rap? Our man again. And really, if you let them, the credits will just roll forever — Trick Daddy, Trina, Jamie Foxx, J.Lo, Jay-Z.

It's been a long trip, though. Born four decades ago in Miami, Bigg D grew up in Carol City. His father, Sam Baker, performed alongside R&B duo Sam & Dave while his mother, Barbara Baker, played piano in church. From them, D learned the guitar, eventually logging road time in the '80s with gospel legends BeBe & CeCe Winans and Shirley Caesar. "I just been into music all my life," he says.

But there's a reason Bigg D scored notoriety in the studio and not onstage. He explains, "Growing up listening to Earth, Wind & Fire and Prince, I always wanted to produce music." And he got a high from masterminding tracks that playing backup couldn't match. So D hung around Miami's Criteria Recording Studios, taking detailed mental notes, watching the producers and engineers do their thing, and even laying down rap cuts with his brother Sean.

Then Sean met a tragic end. On May 11, 1996, D's brother died along with 109 other passengers aboard ValuJet Flight 592, which crashed in the Everglades. "It was always me and my brother playing music together," he remembers. But D pushed forward with production gigs for local rap crew G-Shorties and the 305's home of the hits, Slip-N-Slide Records. Soon he was heading up all of those chart-crushers for Pit, Weezy, Ricky Rozay, and the rest.

Lately, Bigg D has been recharging and restrategizing. Splitting his time between the Hit Factory and South Beach Studios, he has also begun experimenting at his Weston home with Logic Pro and MIDI music techniques. But don't expect him to go all digital. "I'm an old-school producer," he admits. "I love the live instruments and I love the analog sounds." So more than anything, it's just a part of D's next reinvention.

And now working with his own roster of rappers and artists — such as Chicago-born, Miami-based Veronica V, who recently signed to Cash Money Records — Bigg D is making a move toward mogul status. He's even going back to work with Lil Wayne on Tha Carter IV. "That's really what I been doing for the past two years," D explains. "Concentrating on making my own personal mark in the game."

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