Skip to content

Dilemma: Finding The Magic Moment.

March 13, 2014

DilemmaOnlineText by Ashley Coleman. Images by G.W. Miller III.

Late in the evening, music producer Dilemma walks in the B room at MilkBoy The Studio and slaps five with fellow producer/engineer Joe Gallagher, a.k.a. Joe Logic, who is laid out on the peanut butter-colored couch, gearing up for a long night.

When most people are winding down for the day, Dilemma’s work is really just beginning.

“I stay up all night in those late-night studio sessions because there is something called ‘the magic moment’ that happens, usually after 3 o’clock and before 8 o’clock in the morning,” Dilemma says and snaps his fingers. “At any given time, the magic spirit will come by and whisper something in your ear and that magic happens, everything comes together.”

Sometimes the magic moment is when Dilemma finds the perfect sound to complete a track, or when he gets in the booth and lays a melody of gibberish over the music that may be used as a guide for the artist to finish the song later.

Reaching into his book bag, Dilemma pulls out his laptop, plugs it into the console and begins playing tracks that he worked on this past week. He scoots up in his chair, adjusts his rose-patterned hat and hits the space bar on his keyboard as Gallagher listens and gives his feedback on each one. The two speak in production language, which sometimes includes words like “warmer,” “fatter,” and more often than not, just sound effects instead of actual words.

You can’t identify Dilemma by what has become a watered-down definition of a “producer.” Not just a “beat maker,” he excels at vocal production, songwriting and engineering. He is a creative ball of energy, full of ideas that come to life in his music. He’s thinking about it all the time and even puts down ideas in an app on his phone.

“One of the things that he does really well is his understanding of arrangement,” Gallagher explains. “It comes from him being a talented writer and performer.”

The University of the Arts is what brought Dilemma to Philadelphia in the early 2000s. He played saxophone and studied to become a music teacher. The idea of becoming a producer had never crossed his mind. It was there that he roomed with longtime friend (and now musical director to the stars), Adam Blackstone. He taught himself how to produce on equipment left behind by Blackstone while he was away touring.

Working diligently at perfecting his craft, Dilemma eventually became a part of the resurgence of Sigma Sound, helping to bring the studio back to prominence within the Philadelphia music scene. He was one of the first in-house producers at the renovated studio, and has worked with some rap juggernauts like Meek Mill, Black Thought, Chill Moody (below) and Joe Budden.

IllvibeChillMoody04Dilemma recently put out a remix project that is a unique mash-up of Nas’ Illmatic and Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, entitled illkidmaticcity. He even had the opportunity to share the project with one of the original Illmatic producers, Large Professor.

His production has opened numerous doors for him outside of the music industry, as well. He produced the theme music for TV One’s new series “Verses and Flow,” which just entered its third season. He also just wrapped the first season of Fuse TV’s “The Hustle After Party,” where he served as co-host/DJ.  Dilemma created all the music played during the live performance and interview-based show.

With a TV show, noteworthy production credits and finding himself instrumental in the movement of the next generation in hip-hop and R&B music in Philly, Dilemma remains in awe of the power of music.

“You never know when you are going to make that record that could possibly change the world, or get to that person who hears it and goes on to change the world,” he says. “That makes the late nights worth it.”

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: