The Blast Interviews #4: Dyme-a-Duzin
A soli 21 anni, il giovane performer (così si autodefinisce) Dyme-a-Duzin, da Brooklyn, New York, è l’ultimo protetto in ordine di tempo del mammasantissima Dante Ross, uno degli A&R più abili e ammirati della storia del rap. In attesa del debutto per la Atlantic, Hip Hope, che, oltre alla supervisione di Ross stesso, avrà come executive producer niente meno che Plain Pat ed Emile (le menti dietro il debutto di Kid Cudi), abbiamo sentito per voi il giovane MC.
Hi Dyme, thanks for being with us. Do you want to introduce yourself to our readers that might not know you yet?
Oh, for sure. My name is Dyme-A-Duzin, and I am from Brooklyn, New York. I am an MC, producer, writer: just a performer, entertainer. I started doing this probably when I was 10-11, and never stopped since. I am a rap artist and I have got a new album Hip Hope, coming soon.
You come from Brooklyn, a place that has always been the epitome of “style”. I am interested in knowing how Brooklyn has defined you as an artist, and how it has shaped your music…
Any place you grow up is definitely going to have a lot of impact in the way you see things and the way you act, because the people around you are what you see, your experience. So, around me I have a lot of Brooklyn cats… obviously, because I live in Brooklyn! (laughs) This is thee place where I was brought up, so it definitely had a lot of influence, from the style to the musical aspect. Everything from flow… Listening to Biggie and Jay and Talib Kweli and Mos Def back then, and still listening to them now!
Brooklyn artists like me, we definitely look up to those artists, we definitely are inspired to do things because of these artists and the people from Brooklyn. Brooklyn definitely had a lot of influence on me.
So in a way you are paying homage to these people you mentioned, and Kane as well…
Oh yeah, definitely. From the first track I put out, on A Portrait of Donnovan, “I’m a product of Jay, Biggie and Kane”, that’s on the New Brooklyn record, you know? These guys raised me in a way: I didn’t really have a father figure growing up, and listening to rap, which I wasn’t even able to listen to until I got a little older, in my double-digit years, these guys taught me a lot, gave me a perspective on things. So I am definitely paying homage to them, and I am looking forward to making them proud.
Do you feel part of any “New Brooklyn” scene, with people like the Pro.Era crew and so on? What do you think you have in common?
I went to school with those guys, and the only thing we probably have in common is that. I don’t really consider myself that type of rapper: I am looking at myself as somebody that is trying to take Brooklyn worldwide, even though Brooklyn IS worldwide. I am trying to keep it that way and be an artist that comes out of Brooklyn but has a universal appeal. I am not trying to be like anybody out of Brooklyn, I am not trying to be in a click or a scene, I am all about bettering hip hop from a Brooklyn perspective.
Do you currently like any up and coming New York rappers?
Yeah, I like Action Bronson, definitely. He is dope. You have to pay much respect to the (Flatbush) Zombies, they are doing their thing. But I don’t really listen to people like that, ‘cause I don’t want to be influenced by anybody, I just want to keep moving forward and do my thing, not being distracted by anybody’s sound. I definitely have respect for anybody coming out of New York making noise, because that is what needs to be done. New York needs to come back.
You mentioned the fact that you don’t want to be distracted in your creative process. Do you want to elaborate on that? How do you approach the writing phase of your music?
As I am getting older and experiencing new things, I have realized that the best music is relatable music and the best way to relate is to tell your story, because we are all humans, we are all the same, in a way, and we are all connected. So if I tell my story, I am sure that people can relate, you know? It’s all about sticking to living your life and telling what your story is about. When I say that I don’t want to be distracted, I mean that I don’t want to come from the same place where somebody else is coming from. Regarding other people from Brooklyn, I don’t want to rap like those guys, I just want to be me.
Fair enough. What I find interesting in your work is the fact that you can easily switch from boom bap-inspired beats to less NY-centric type beats. In which direction are you going to push your sound in the future?
I am glad you brought that up, because I do that on purpose just to show that I am not moving backwards. I am not trying to be the past, you know? I am very inspired and I naturally do music that is reminiscent of the past – late nineties, early 2000, when New York’s sound was really prominent – but I look at it like this: I am pushing hip hop forward. I want to go forward with hip hop, I don’t want to say “Hey, this type of music is wack, we don’t need to be doing that, let’s go back to boom bap”. No, how about we do this: we take boom bap and the feeling of that, and we mix it with what’s current today, and give you the same feeling? It’s about compromising; it’s about fusing things. Just making better music by adding to it. The sounds of today are dope. People are reacting to them, so why not continue that, and at the same time bring what we love from the past and fuse it and make it better? I think that’s how good music is created and has always been created.
I agree. It’s not possible to just go back to boom bap…
That would suck! (laughs)
I don’t know if that would suck, because I am an old school head, but…
But that’s not old school, though, is it? I would understand if the argument was about a new Mobb Deep or Big Daddy Kane album, but you have guys that were not even born at that time trying to make records like that… Nooo! Do you, that’s all I have to say about that.
You have a working relationship with legendary A&R Dante Ross? How was it working with him? What did he bring to the table in terms of your development as an artist?
Dante Ross taught me a lot, especially about the industry. I was his first signee at Warner Records, and he gave me that idea for the New Brooklyn record. I was actually really challenged, I did not know what to say. You know, Brooklyn is my home, but I was like, “What can I say about this that peope don’t know?” and he really helped coming out with that record. It took a little living with it… he gave me that record and I did not write until a month after. Dante taught me a lot, he has just been a dope mentor, and he continues to help me out a lot.
Has he been tough on you?
Yeeeah, definitely. He’s coming from a man’s perspective, and a man who’s been in the industry for years. And the industry is really cutthroat. He tells it like it is, he says how he feels: I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, but he has a lot of good points! (laughs)
He is an opinionated guy, isn’t he?
Yes, definitely. But that’s good. We need that. (laughs)
What is the situation with your major debut with Atlantic? Do you want to tell us a bit about the new album? Main concepts, producers, guests?
The Hip Hope project, my new album, will be my first release under Atlantic, where I came recently because of the whole merger of Warner Brothers and Atlantic. Most of the urban acts are on Atlantic now. The project is coming out great, we have got a few dope producers on there, like Illmind, another guy called Triple Darkness, Dot the Genius, who is part of WZRD and produced Kid Cudi’s Day ‘n’ Nite. I looked up for him for a long time and he approached me for working and we got in the studio, and we are still in the studio, finishing up these records. I am working mainly with my producer PreedomWorld: he’s helped with my first mixtape that came out in 2007, and I am just sticking with my main guy. There are definitely some cool features: we have got Astronomical Kid, who is doing a verse for me right now, we have got this girl Little Simz, she is from London, where she is blowing up right now, and she is blessing me with some bars. We have got my boy Raz Fresco from Canada. It’s some close friends and some new industry guys: we have got Plain Pat on there, and it’s going to be a dope project.
The single, White Girl, is pretty uptempo, which I thought was a pretty bold decision compared to “club bangers” now…
White Girl is a track that I have been working on for a few months: like I said, I don’t want to sound like anybody, I am not trying to sound like anybody, I am just trying to get good music to the people, regardless of if it has that bounce feel or if it can be played in the club. I just want to get people a good feeling, spreading my vibes as well as I can. My boy Matthew Bias helped me out with that joint, a while back, and me and PreedomWorld just structured it out. I had a lot of fun doing it…
(Laughs) I had a lot of fun doing that record, and that is what is most important to me, because, like I said, music that can relate to people, I think it’s the best music. Just like you said, you can tell that I was having fun, and I hope that people that listen to it will have the same fun.