Matt Dike, who founded the hip-hop label Delicious Vinyl who worked closely with the Beastie Boys on Paul's Boutique, has died. He was 55.

The label posted the news on its website, saying that he'd had a brief undisclosed illness, and passed away with his brother and sister at his side.

Born in West Nyack, N.Y., Matt Dike grew up in a house where heavy rock music was forbidden for religious reasons, but that didn't stop his older brother Lane from taking him to a Mott the Hoople concert in New York City in 1974. Six years later, he moved to Los Angeles and began a career as a DJ, spinning funk, rock and disco records in nightclubs, and working at an art gallery.

By 1987, after a pair of nightclubs he ran went under, he and Mike Ross, a similarly minded DJ he met four years earlier, decided to form Delicious Vinyl. As Rick Rubin had done at Def Jam, the pair created rhythm tracks by sampling rock songs, and quickly became one of the most successful indie labels in hip-hop. Their first major hit, 1988's "Wild Thing" by Tone-Loc, lifted parts made famous by Eddie and Alex Van Halen on "Jamie's Cryin'" for its hook.

"He was really inspired by the Rick Rubin rap/rock thing," house engineer Mario Caldato Jr. said, "and I guess he was trying to emulate that kind of vibe. He brought a West Coast vibe to it. Nobody would do something like that, but he just used the intro and the little guitar hits. He actually came up with the concept of the track 'Wild Thing.' He’d seen Spike Lee’s movie She's Gotta Have It, and they say the 'wild thing' in there, and he’s like, 'That’s it right there, we got to do that.'”

Its follow-up, "Funky Cold Medina," was built from guitar parts from Foreigner's "Hot Blooded," Kiss' "Christine Sixteen" and the cowbell from the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women." Both Tone-Loc tracks reached the Top Five on the pop and rap charts and went platinum. "Bust a Move" by Young MC, who wrote the lyrics to both Tone-Loc songs, continued the momentum through 1989.

By this time, the Beastie Boys had parted ways with Rubin and went to Los Angeles to meet with labels for a new deal. There, they reconnected with Dike, whom they'd met a few years earlier during his DJ days. Dike was hanging out with two of Delicious Vinyl's producers E.Z. Mike and King Gizmo, who were known as the Dust Brothers.

"They were playing this music like, I don't know, like four breakbeat records playing at the same time," Adam Horovitz wrote. "I was talking to this guy I just met that was friends of friends of mine, Matt Dike. I asked him what the music was, and he said that he had made it. Him and these two other guys, the Dust Brothers, had been making these hip-hop tracks with all these ill loops. ... So basically we just stayed in Los Angeles and made a million songs with them that became the Paul's Boutique record."

On the strength of the samples Dike created, Paul's Boutique was an artistic triumph, with samples from all over the map, including Donovan, Pink Floyd, Mountain and the Sweet. It's since been regarded as one of the most important albums in hip-hop. But it was a commercial letdown after the runaway success of their debut, Licensed to Ill.

Dike left Delicious Vinyl three years later, putting Ross in sole control of the label.

 

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