Read the full interview on AllHipHop.com!
Dee-1 says he’s the solution to the negative stigmas that shadow hip-hop, which comes to life through his music.
Hailing from New Orleans, the self-conscious rapper doesn’t curse in his music on purpose, promoting love and positivity in any way he can.
Most recently, he unleashed his new project God and Girls, a testament to who he is as a person, as an artist, as “a man on a mission to change the world through music.”
He jokes, “Dee-1 should be your favorite rapper.” Beyond the music, he’s a leader, a revolutionary figure, and activist, and as authentic as they get.
With over 225K followers on Instagram alone, the lyricist has been steadily growing his fanbase with each release, each visual, each project.
AllHipHop: Being from New Orleans, what were you seeing growing up?
Dee-1: I don’t want to sound like a typical rapper like “man I saw all this murder, all these drugs.” I lived in the hood, so I did see enough of that, but I also went to a really good school on the other side of town. I got to see black, white, Asian, Hispanic ethnicities and cultures. Being in New Orleans, I got to see a bunch of jazz music and second-line dancing. Just a bunch of culture, life was real colorful. A bunch of great food. A bunch of big smiles and a bunch of deep frowns at the same time. I saw heaven and hell growing up.
AllHipHop: Talk about being “the solution to the negative stigma that shadows hip-hop.”
Dee-1: People want to buy into something real and authentic. People don’t want to buy into a preacher who’s pointing at them, telling them how bad they are. Because people stereotype me all the time. I’m from New Orleans, I got dreadlocks. I’m a dude that you’d think is about glorifying a bunch of negativity but in reality, I don’t curse in my music. I go out my way to make sure that nobody is going to go to hell for listening to Dee-1’s music.
I’m at peace on the inside and because I’m at peace, I don’t wish bad or evil on anybody. I don’t want to put that out there. The only reason why so much good, positive stuff comes to me is because I put that out there in the world. God is real. What do I look like using a talent that God gave me to do something God didn’t intend for me to do with it? Which is perpetuate a bunch of negativity and all that.
AllHipHop: At what point did you realize this music thing was for real?
Dee-1: I realized music was for real the first time I got paid. [chuckles] I got paid $150 to do a performance at a club. At the time, I had a job. I was a middle school teacher, so that’s more money than I made teaching for a whole 8-hour day in the classroom. I made $150 by rapping for 30 minutes. At that point, I’m like “you know what? This is real.”
AllHipHop: Do you feel real hip-hop is hard to be seen nowadays?
Dee-1: No, a lot of real hip-hop is winning. I do very well. I’m blessed. Me, Kendrick, J. Cole… who else? Big Sean. Honestly, Drake, Big KRIT, Wale. There’s a bunch of people who are really winning and really doing well. The whole “oh people don’t want real hip hop” thing? Maybe a few years ago that was the case. But now, people want that real.
AllHipHop: Do you consider yourself a Christian rapper?
Dee-1: No, I really consider myself whatever people call me. If people think I’m a Christian rapper, I’m a Christian rapper. If people think I’m a conscious rapper, I’m a conscious rapper. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some people think Mona Lisa is smiling. Think about that, that’s how art is. It’s not my job to tell ya’ll what it is, it’s up to you. When you listen to my music, I’m curious as to what you’re thinking. Have you heard my music?
AllHipHop: Yeah, I listen to God and Girls.
Dee-1: Dope. So what do you consider it?
AllHipHop: It’s positive music, I like it.
Dee-1: That’s what I hear a lot, it’s positive hip-hop. But I hate that some people are really afraid to listen to something that may not be getting co-signed by the biggest people in hip-hop. I’m independent, I got a diehard fanbase. But the main thing I go against is some people won’t listen to my music if they haven’t heard somebody really famous co-signing it. I just want people to think for themselves. Once you listen to it, it’s going to speak for itself.
AllHipHop: What’s one thing you want fans to get from God and Girls?
Dee-1: I want people to know that God has a plan for all of them. The first song is called “I know God,” it says “I know God has a plan for me, but I don’t know what it is, I’m just out there trying to handle my biz.” Those are the realest statements on my whole album. God has a plan for everybody, but we don’t always know what it is.
Until then, we have to wake up every day and get on your grind. Handle your business. Keep going, that’s the main thing. So many people give up. I just hung up with a woman I know in Atlanta 2 seconds before I walked in here on the phone. She’s ready to give up on her dreams, I can tell. If would’ve given up every time, I wouldn’t be here right now.
AllHipHop: What are your thoughts on Kanye West & the controversy surrounding Jesus Is King?
Dee-1: I love what Kanye’s doing. I’m supporting Kanye real tough right now. I went to Sunday Service out here at The Forum, and I went to the one 2 days before that in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I flew home because the church he did it at in Baton Rouge is the church I used to go to in college. That’s the church where I actually gave my life to God. The irony of this… I flew back.
It was amazing. Amazing, literally. I knew the people who threw that event so I had all access. By me being so close to Kanye that day, I could tell that this is authentic. This is legit. I’m supporting Kanye. If you believe in God, especially if you’re a Christian and you don’t support Kanye right now? You have to question yourself: why are you hating?
There’s a lot of people in the industry who don’t profess to be Christians or don’t really care that much about God or spirituality. I hear a lot of people saying “this is his worst album, we think he’s falling off.” I don’t expect anything different from them because they don’t have a moral compass. If you don’t have a moral compass, you’re going to look at this like it’s lame. For me, my moral compass makes me a fan of the direction that Kanye’s moving in.
Just because I don’t listen to a bunch of gospel music doesn’t mean I can’t be a fan of the direction he’s moving in. This dude had people in The Forum Sunday who I could tell, they came in with Life of Pablo merch on. They came because they’re attracted to Kanye West.
But by coming, Kanye West exposed them to the word of God. I’ve been praying for years that more celebrities would use their influence to push people in a positive direction. Closer to God, all that. How many other people are doing it? Jay Z is starting to do it, but there’s not that many more rappers who are doing it. So I’m riding with Kanye.
AllHipHop: Who’s in your Top 5?
Dee-1: My personal Top 5 of all time: Nas, Tupac, Juvenile from New Orleans, DMX, and the fifth one is Lupe Fiasco.
AllHipHop: What are the pros & cons of being independent?
Dee-1: The pros of being independent is I’m the boss. I can do things when I want, how I want. That feels amazing. Oh that feels amazing! The cons are you have to wear so many different hats that it can be overwhelming if you don’t have the right team around you.
AllHipHop: Talk about getting Kevin Gates on your first album.
Dee-1: When I was in college, I put my first album out called David & Goliath. Me and Kevin Gates were both living in Baton Rouge at the time. We used to always be in the club together. We were always out promoting our music together. Me and Dreka both went to college together. I got Gates on the song. We had each other’s number, we were just cool. Kevin Gates came and pulled up to the studio in North Baton Rouge, it was on North 31st Street.
Dee-1: Another rapper in Baton Rouge had just got killed, his name was Nussie. Me and Kevin Gates both knew who Nussie was. I had a song I wanted to get Nussie on. When Nussie got killed, I’m like “man, it’d be dope to get Gates on it.” The name of the song is “I Hate Money,” it’s the remix featuring Kevin Gates. He came and pulled up, right there in the studio we did it together. This is before he went to jail the first time for 2.5 years. We were cool. We’d keep in touch and everything. Every time we see each other, it’s all love. Brotherly love.
AllHipHop: Is there anything else you want to let us know?
Dee-1: God and Girls streaming everywhere right now. God and Girls Tour starts December 7th, get your tickets now at missionvisionstyle.com. Follow me on social media @Dee1music.