Dahi, 33, grew up in a devout Christian household in Inglewood, CA. He was the oldest of six. He attended UC Santa Cruz, where he majored in film and American studies and learned to DJ. A few years after graduating from college, he enrolled in audio engineering school and began his career as a music producer. While he no longer DJs, his college career as a party DJ lives on in his approach to making beats.
"My sound has a lot to do with DJing in a sense," he tells HNHH. "I kind of look at my records as I’m DJing a party and I try to adapt to that style. So I think it was a natural progression [from DJing to producing]. It was like, 'Oh, I like that groove. I know how to make the people feel, you know, have energy. I know how to make the people feel like they want to go party.'"
Dahi describes his musical taste as "scatter-brained" and mentions that he's been bumping a lot of '90s rock lately. "I think for me music is just a mood," he explains. "I didn’t really realize that until I became a producer because I think you realize that naturally we should all be listening to a bunch of different things just to help our expansion, like have a certain type of meaning and understanding. I think for me, music is all about colors and what you can see and what you can feel. So if you hear a record that’s nostalgic or has some type of feeling that familiar, I think you can kind of put yourself in these places that aren’t necessarily here in the present."
Dahi's eclectic, wandering musical interests contextualize but do not fully explain his versatility as a producer. Unlike someone like Metro Boomin, Dahi has few recognizable sonic signatures. One might point to his frequent use of vocal samples and his fondness for pitched-down hi-hats, which appear on both Drake's "Worst Behavior" and Travis Scott's "Mamacita", two of his biggest records. But you'd be hard-pressed to listen a song he produced and say, "That's a DJ Dahi record."
Dahi co-produced three tracks on Dr. Dre's Compton, a feat he humbly chalks up to "good timing." The construction of Compton essentially comprised of Dre supervising a team of master builders. It was a setup that deepened Dahi's belief in the power of creative collaboration.
"The biggest thing I learned from [Dre] was that I think you just have to be confident and know when you’re directing you have to not be afraid to tell an artist when they’re doing great or when they’re not doing great," Dahi says. "You have to be honest. I think Dre had to be honest in his approach to what he’s trying to make and also to helping guide people when they are off beat or don’t know what they want. He’s a mentor in a sense, and I think that’s what producing is. You kind of have to mentor the artist to help them figure out what the hell they want."