By Daniel Paiz
There are a lot of underrated rappers throughout the Hip-Hop world right now. A nice thing about the underground scene is how many different kinds of Hip-Hop truly exist. There’s really lyrical and driven artists, there’s artists focused on the beats, and those who are passionate with a particular message. In this interview, I sat down (remotely of course) with none other than Louisiana’s Dee-1. Let’s learn a bit of background before diving into the interview.
Who is Dee-1?
Often times an emcee is doing something other than rapping in their earlier days. Dee-1 rapped during high school in New Orleans, then at college at LSU, and then afterwards as a math teacher. From 2008 towards the end of 2010, Dee-1 was teaching middle school mathematicians while creating music like this:
And let’s not forget this track that garnered national attention for the Louisiana native:
Dee-1 has been very busy during the 2010s. In the past decade he’s put together eight mixtapes, an EP, and three studio albums along with countless singles. Touring and learning from artists like Lupe Fiasco, Murs, and Killer Mike along the way only enhanced his nose to the grindstone approach. By now you’re starting to get the picture about Dee-1 and his music. Let’s jump in below.
And now, our feature presentation
1. What was your process in creating this newest album, Timeless, what were the main pieces of inspiration?
To be honest brother, I just made history. I did an experiment and it worked. I put out a collection of songs that I recorded almost 10 years ago and I wanted to see how people would react to it. And people love it. They think it’s all new music. That’s why I called the album “Timeless,” because when you make Timeless music, it never gets old. This has been amazing and shocking to see everyone’s reaction to this “new” project (laughs).
2. What’s been the biggest challenge of running your own independent label, and what lessons from being signed with RCA have you applied to Mission Vision Music?
The biggest challenge running my own Independent label has been to pace myself. I want to put out so much music because I was held back so long when I was signed.
3. You’ve been writing and performing for over a decade; what are your biggest inspirations to continue to write and perform?
If you don’t use your gift, you lose your gift. And I have so many ideas in my phone for songs that I know will entertain and motivate people. So it’s a must that I see these ideas through to completion. As far as performing, that is the reward for all the hard work. Performing is so fun and fulfilling, that feeling is always something I want more of.
4. To jump into the creative process a little further, what is your writing process when creating a verse?
It varies. Sometimes I write verses with no beat. I’ll just use my hands to make a tempo while I’m beating on the table, and I’ll lock that tempo into my brain and write a verse from that. Other times, I get a beat and it instantly inspires me to write a verse that compliments it. Some verses are completed in a few minutes, and sometimes I may write until I feel like I’m forcing it, then I leave it alone and come back to it another day.
5. Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
Early Lil Wayne, Nas, Lupe Fiasco, DMX, and Juvenile.
6. You’ve shared stages with Lupe Fiasco, Big K.R.I.T, Killer Mike, Lil Wayne– what have veterans like these taught you/advised you of as your rap career has continued to grow?
Lupe Fiasco has taught me the most. Especially about never letting this game strip away my artistic integrity. In other words, DON’T SELL OUT FOR THE MONEY AND FAME. There are plenty of fans who will appreciate you for keeping it real. He has also taught me a lot about continuing to perfect my craft and not getting comfortable. Actually be a student of the game if you’re going to be in the game.
7. What’s the most important thing you want listeners to take away from your music?
I want them to be entertained and also motivated to grow closer to God because of my music. Life is hard, and we all need some entertainment and some direction to get us through. That’s what I call #MissionVision.
8. Is there anyone you haven’t collaborated with musically that you really want to, and who are they?
Lil Wayne, Nas, J Cole, Kendrick, Lauryn Hill.
9. What’s your biggest piece of advice to artists who are just starting and are navigating who they are/what kind of identity they’re presenting?
No one is going to tell you this, but your message is more important than your music. There is life and death in the power of the tongue, so I would encourage everyone not to glorify negativity. Even if you come from a tough background, you can explain it and describe it without glorifying it. It makes a world of a difference.
10. As I’m a writer of verses myself, would you write something completely off the top right here??
I’m actually about to watch a movie (laughs), but Timeless album is out now. Go stream/download that on all platforms. And for exclusive Dee-1 content like online concerts, my Mission Vision Podcast, unreleased music, motivational videos, and more, subscribe to my Patreon today: Patreon.com/Dee1music.
There you have it, a deeper look into the New Orleans rapper Dee-1. It’s up to the fans to push forward acts like this who are putting out positivity. If you liked what you learned, check out his music above. Supporting artists and the sites that highlight them is the best way to bring this kind of music to the forefront of the rap game.