The Doppelgangaz Interview
Matter ov Fact and EP have been collecting passport stamps the way hermits collect cats and stamps. From their first official Dopp release, The Ghastly Duo EP, each release has showcased a growth in their sound while staying true to the Black Cloak lifestyle. At the same time, with the release of their latest album Peace Kehd, the Doppelgangaz are quickly becoming what’s been missing in hip-hop – an album group. Don’t expect corny freestyles, half-thought EPs, and other assorted garbage. The Dopp crew moves as they wish and answer to no one, which makes their music, which is a mixture of witty jokes spit with a level of seriousness that makes you wonder if they’re really joking over EP’s straight-up banging beats. EP and Matter ov Fact sit down with HipHopGame to talk about all things Dopp Life.
On the album and in a promo, you made a point to shout out the women with the strong ankles. Where does that appreciation come from?
Matter ov Fact: It’s just nice when someone can support a big structure. And also, you gotta be looking in the future, they can lift a man up. We’re out to change the traditional roles and have the woman lift up the man.
EP: They serve many purposes, definitely.
You guys didn’t do a whole lot of promo for the Peace Kehd album. Do you prefer to do it that way as opposed to talking about it for a year?
EP: Yeah. I wouldn’t want to be promoting for three years in advance. I feel like as artists, we would probably get tired of the music and probably get bored with it. We can’t even handle waiting until March. But we started the promo about two months ago, now, and we went on the tour in Europe. We’ve had some decent prep, but anything more than that, I don’t think we can handle that. Our tactics are still being worked out since we’re still getting used to the whole publicist game and having a concrete marketing plan. All that stuff is still kind of new to us. I feel like we get impatient, man, and just want to get the stuff out.
The Doppelgangaz is still relatively new as a group, but you’re getting a great response from media outlets and growing a strong fanbase. Is this all happening faster than you thought?
EP: I would definitely say so. When you don’t know anything about how the game works and you’re just putting music out, you literally just have to get used to making a post about something and having it fall on deaf ears or get denied. Some people get it easier than others, of course, but for people like us, who don’t have any connections to anybody, the big number that stood out for me was having 2,000 likes on Facebook and now we’re up to damn-near 15,000 and none of it is fake and none of it is paid for. It’s kind of crazy. We’re able to go on tours and we’re still under the radar. But for that many people to find out about us, that’s crazy.
Matter ov Fact: The numbers definitely lie. Some people have brolic numbers on different sites and then it doesn’t actually translate into actual fans. I think we’re definitely like an oddity in that we’re able to get people to come out to shows and have numbers. People probably think our numbers are higher than they would expect but we’re definitely hyped and we can’t wait for those numbers to increase.
It seems like you have a diverse fanbase as well instead of just the diehard boom-bap fans.
EP: (laughs) I feel like we’ve been so social with the people who have reached out to us that they really feel like extended family, man. We have open discussions on our Facebook page all the time and I feel like it just opens people up to who we are and we don’t try to stay in a box. People can get a better idea of who we are when they converse with us. All that “I’m this type of hip-hop fan” is out the window. They like what we’re doing and we have a conversation and they can get an understanding of what we’re about and their idea of what hip-hop should sound like goes out the window. They can like what we do and they might not like something we do. It’s cool. The people we relate to, I don’t know what else they listen to. It’s not one of those things where you can just say, “I know what type of person that is.” We’ve definitely developed this cool, core foundation.
When I saw all the different social media outlets you guys are on, I couldn’t believe the list. How important has the social networking been to building your fanbase?
Matter ov Fact: I think it’s everything nowadays. It’s a pretty bland experience to just have an artist put something out. I think people want to get to know you and what you’re about and I think that makes people want to support something more when they know something about it. We always felt like our personalities were bigger than just being artist and we like to showcase our personalities and just let it fly. I think that helps us because if we were just enclosed and we were like some hermit crabs, then people wouldn’t get to know what we’re about. We like to showcase the personalities 100%, definitely.
I’ve been following your Instagram for over a year and the images are always interesting. How do you decide what makes it, from fan pics to high-class dining?
EP: We’ll just flick away, man. We’ll just be out there. The biggest thing, especially, is that we’re on tour and I know it’s been four times since we’ve been to Europe, but there are spots that are new to us and we want to make sure other people experience it. From anything like the backstage spread to the crowd to some weird-ass shit going on in the street or how a hotel looks, good or bad, we just want to post all of it and just go in. It’s new to us and exciting for us so we figure that if you’re following us, we’re going to let you in as best as we can. We just take a whole shitload of pictures and the way it is in Europe, we don’t have service, just wi-fi, and then we’ll take a bunch of pictures, go back to the hotel, get the wi-fi, and just go ham and just post like 20 pics. Fuck it, man, we just want everybody to experience it.
Peace Kehd plays like a cohesive album that flows really well. How did everything come together with this one?
Matter ov Fact: We just like to do things organically. For us, we just work on stuff and I can’t even really explain how it comes together. We just go on how we’re feeling at the moment and then we piece things together. It’s not really anything planned out ahead of time, like we wanted to have something a certain way. It’s nothing really planned beforehand. Even with the length of the album or anything like that, it’s not really a plan. We just kind of go with how we feel at the moment. Our next piece of work can have double the amount of tracks and I guess there’s really no telling. It’s just how we feel. But we get a strong feeling when something is done and when we need something. We just feed off of how we feel when we’re playing it back.
I love how seriously you guys take the production and the craft of making a dope hip-hop album, but also how you incorporate humor and sarcasm at the same time. Does some of the humor get missed?
Matter ov Fact: Yeah, yeah, definitely. But again, I think that’s kind of just an extension of us. We’re the type of people to say stuff to people and they don’t get it. They don’t get the joke or they think we’re dead-ass serious when we’re joking sometimes. That’s just how it is in everyday life for us, so I think it’s only natural that it translates to the music world. I say all types of wild shit and people think I’m dead-ass. I might have messed around and talked about how I got, like, eight kids, joking around in the context of the convo, and then someone asks how my kids are, fam.
From hearing the evolution of the Doppelgangaz sound, even going back to your last group, Fab Nickel, it’s definitely changed and stayed the same at the same time. How would you describe your musical growth?
EP: I think it just comes with us just learning more and being more in tune with learning techniques. As years go by, you learn how to use a program better and how to make better use of Reason. As years go by, I feel like you find more of a comfort in yourself. Instead of taking an influence or an idea of what a rapper should sound like, you really become who you are. As those years go by, you’re really honing your craft as you. You really should be getting better. It’s crazy that somebody could get worse. You just try to improve and take things and build on them and get better. You just try to get better at your craft.
EP: I feel like it’s not that crazy. At least for us, maybe. It’s just a lot of drug use, a lot of hookers, and a lot of just randomly pressing on pads and something just happens. A lot of times we don’t even remember the laying down of vocals. When we wake up from the wild coma we’ve been in, the drug-induced coma that we’ve been in, there’s a finished product.
Matter ov Fact: We don’t know how it got there. We don’t even know if we made it.
EP: We feel like oru manager Scoob and Big Josh, our VP of Operations, might just be doing some of it.
Matter ov Fact: We just see the files on our desktop.
EP: I’m cool with it. I’ve never been disappointed with the outcome, so I don’t think I’m going to change it.
Matter ov Fact: The formula works so we’re just going to keep it as is.
If MF Doom can have anyone do a show for him, I think you guys are probably okay.
EP: Milli Vanilli made the biggest mark with that. I feel like people don’t care if anyone’s actually laying down their lyrics or performing or anything. Everything is accepted these days, it seems like, which is great. You could literally not do shit and I think somebody would defend you.
If Mac Miller ever needs a stand-in…
EP: (laughs) Here we go!
I figure it’s probably been about 20 minutes since someone’s told you that.
Matter ov Fact: I walk with this man in the street…
EP: What about Matt looking like Wiz?
Matter ov Fact: I’m down. We’re going to just start booking shows like that and just see what happens. We’re going to get a quick 250 racks before we get caught.
Y’all can mix in some Dopp songs in between.
EP: Yeah, we gotta turn people on to our music, but I got no problem doing their songs. We’re fans. But they’ve definitely gotta hear about us.
I remember when those comparisons started and how it took on a life of its own. Do you guys still laugh about it?
EP: I would never get annoyed. I just think it’s crazy when someone says, “Hey, you look like,” and someone goes, “Hey, don’t say that!” I don’t care. That doesn’t bother me.
The IT guy at my last school looked kinda like me. Obviously I was better looking, but when one of my sixth graders asked if we were brothers, he started yelling that we weren’t related.
EP: (laughs) At the end of the day, it’s hilarious. Besides, for me, that’s how I get in the clubs.
Matt, do you drop any “Do you know who I am” lines or do you just have to wait outside for E?
Matter ov Fact: He takes a couple of the pictures, but he charges money. I wait for him to finish the transaction and if I’m lucky, I might get a couple of dollars if they think I’m Wiz. But I wasn’t even with E and my hair was a little longer than it is now and I had a kid come up to me and say, “Wiz Khalifa,” and I just said, “Taylor Gang, my dude” and gave him dap. He was like 13 years-old.
EP: Yeah, you don’t wanna ruin it for him.
Matter ov Fact: To this day he probably talks about it!
Digga is someone who really looked out for you guys early on in your career. Are you guys still in touch with him?
EP: Diggs, he’s actually in the new video. We would never let this get severed there. That’s just a good human being. That’s the first person to ever give us a shot. When he took us under his wing, he was working with Jay and 50 and he was Grammy-nominated and he didn’t have to work with us. He took the time out to listen to our stuff and critique it and was a good friend and mentor. He was living in Atlanta and it was hard to meet up with him but he’s back in the Tri-State area. He’s teaching kids in Harlem about the music business and the production side and everything. It’s a really cool class, man, that he’s teaching. I got nothing but love and respect for Diggs.
You guys have considered certain managers, but you’ve kept just about everything in-house with the exception of publicity. How important is that to you guys?
EP: It’s been amazing, for a couple of reasons. You don’t want to mix friends with business a lot. And I know initially, we were scared about doing that. But it’s just amazing how people that we’ve grown up with have taken the reins. Me and Matt are just so impressed with Scoob and Josh how they’ve stepped up to the plate and just delivered way beyond what we thought we’d be doing as a unit. It’s just crazy. You don’t expect life to work out like that. You figure you have to track down somebody else to help you get things going. I can’t say enough about them. They had the interest from the jump and all of us were new to it in the beginning and it’s just amazing how this fully-functioning business has come together over the years. I can’t tell you when it began but it just kind of took form. It’s amazing, man. We definitely can not get the stuff done that we do without them. No question.
How much of your day is devoted to The Doppelgangaz music and business?
Matter ov Fact: It’s hard to calculate because it just kind of never stops. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. As your day goes, it’s hard to calculate how many hours a day, but we definitely devote the majority of our time towards it.
EP: We used to pray for the day when we would have our day fully encompassed with just music-based stuff. I can’t believe that it’s here. If we’re not working on some sort of music, we might be working on some press stuff or going on a tour or going over some more business stuff. It’s just crazy. I just didn’t think that it would get to that point. It’s crazy how it all kind of crept in.
Are you guys looking to get overseas again soon?
Matter ov Fact: We’re in the process of trying to make it happen. There’s a lot of festivals in the summertime. We’re hyped for the festivals, man. Definitely excited for that. And I think for us, there’s a lot of places we want to hit up, both abroad and in the States. People hit us up and want us to come through, and our plan is to go everywhere we have fans so we can just do shows for everybody. That’s the biggest plan and that’s what we’re focusing our energy towards. We’re going to hit up a bunch of places overseas and here, Australia, Japan…Too many places on the list.
What do fans get from a Dopp show?
Matter ov Fact: A lot of shirtless men fronting. A lot of stagediving, crowdsurfing, with the crotch out. A lot of bottomless crowdsurfing. A lot of physical contact. Very intimate. I think afterwards, people just smoke cigarettes and go to sleep.
Cop The Doppelgangaz’ Peace Kehd here or on iTunes