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Mark Ronson Digs Deep Into The Crates

Even if the name Mark Ronson doesn't ring a bell, you've likely heard some of his productions. Though only in his early 30s, the multi-instrumentalist has produced records for many renowned artists, including Grammy-winning singer Amy Winehouse.

Ronson never had a set career path in music, though. From drumming in bands as a kid to interning at Rolling Stone magazine and writing for heavy-metal fanzines to DJing at hip-hop clubs in the 1990s, he didn't find his feet as a producer until he was well into his mid- to late 20s.

Sean "P. Diddy" Combs once said of Ronson, "He wouldn't just play the regular DJ Red Alert James Brown set. He would go even deeper than that in the crate. ... He was educating people on good music and how good music is all related."

Ronson's appreciation for and knowledge of music is apparent on his third studio album, Record Collection. Judging by the eclectic mix of musicians featured -- from Boy George of Culture Club and the London Gay Men's Choir to Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan -- Ronson clearly has a diverse record collection.

"When I started [as a DJ], I probably amassed maybe five or six thousand records over the course of the years," Ronson says.

Unlike his last album, which consists of covers and is heavily influenced by Stax-era soul music, Record Collection is more electronic and synthesizer-driven and influenced more by '80s club music. It's a clever fusion of hip-hop, rock and synthesizers, and as Dick Clark used to say on American Bandstand, "It has a good beat and you can dance to it."

"Because I became associated with a certain style of production, I knew I had to do something different for me," Ronson says. "[My collaborators and I] weren't really striving to make something that nobody's heard before. But when you're combining the influences of all these people, it all gets put together and becomes something new. ... It becomes its own color as a unique combination."

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NPR Staff