“I worked on being as nice as I could before I reached out to people. I had to have the best bars and the best beats before I put myself out there. I couldn’t half-ass it/” HipHopGame got with one of the nicest MCs coming up outta Harlem to talk about the grind, who he is, why Dame Grease loves their music and Encino Man.
In “Honor Me,” you really took it back saying, “They’re Encino Man, I’m Pauly Shore.” I didn’t think anyone remembered that movie today.
(laughs) Yeah, man. Them stoner flicks, man. Pauly Shore is the man. I had to go back to that. It just happened to be on that day too. I’ve seen that movie a million times.
Encino Man is one of those slept-on movies.
Yep. It’s slept-on, but it’s a stoner classic. If you’re like me and you partake in what I partake in, you’ve probably seen that a million times. I’ve seen most of his movies.
Does a typical movie night with Dutch New York also include other classic ‘90s flicks like Cool Runnings?
Cool Runnings, Pineapple Express, Superbad, any Pauly Shore movies…He’s always in the catalogue. I own all the Pauly Shore movies.
So you’ve seen Jury Duty?
Yeah, I’ve seen that too. That’s another classic, at least by my standards. I can’t speak for everybody else, but Pauly Shore is the man.
I don’t think everyone shares your love for Pauly Shore.
(laughs) I know! You don’t get that kind of bad-goodness in movies these days. It’s either bad or it’s good. You don’t get both.
It’s like that with the music too.
Yeah. At first, you have to appeal to the public. There’s a lot of people trying to appeal to the public before they can appeal to themselves. What I did with my mixtapes like Katrina Flood and The Perfect Crime is I always give my story and my side of things to the public first and I try to be nice at it. At any given time you’re getting me when you listen to my music. I can’t speak for what everybody else is trying to do. The game is hard these days and people are trying to reach out and reach all different types of demographics. I try to give you me without losing me.
You talk about the art of the hustle in “Front Page.” How much of getting heard today relates to hustle versus talent?
I think it’s talent first because it doesn’t matter how many people you reach, if your talent level’s not up, it might be accepted for a short amount of time, like a flash in the pan, but it’s not going to maintain that longevity. Me, I worked on being as nice as I could before I reached out to people. I had to have the best bars and the best beats before I put myself out there. I couldn’t half-ass it. Some people have it and it only lasts for a short amount of time. I want to hit the people and keep hitting them so they can say I didn’t slack. I don’t want to cheat the people.
And that’s never hard for me because I’m going off of my own life experiences. A lot of Katrina Flood, that was from personal experiences of me being in the street and me working regular jobs. That’s easy because it’s you. The hard part is actually being nice. I already worked on that. The easy part is telling my story and being as authentic as possible. I wouldn’t feel right if I wasn’t giving you me when I step in the booth.
Do you feel like your mixtapes did what you wanted them to do for you?
Absolutely. Absolutely. The project before Katrina Flood was The Perfect Crime and that was like me letting people know that I was nice. I rapped over some of my favorite producers’ instrumentals like Kanye West and Alchemist. As I was working on Katrina Flood, I linked up with other producers and some of my best music and my best lyrics came out of that and that really opened people up to where they could say I have some shit.
One of my singles, “Poppin’ Rubberbands,” actually made it to the radio, Power 105, without me even pushing it. Somebody got hold of the record and put it on the radio. I’m still getting quoted off that song. I’m dropping another project, No Release, dropping soon. Katrina Flood hit so hard that I’m still promoting that and doing shows off that project and selling CDs. That was a big project in terms of getting me to where I need to be and speaking to you. It’s been crazy with the transition I went through between The Perfect Crime and Katrina Flood. I actually went up a couple levels and I didn’t even plan on making a project. I wrote a couple of songs and the next thing you know you have a mixtape from there.
How do you go about improving as an MC?
I got a real strong team behind me and sometimes I might feel like where I’m at and this is good, but I got people that get in my ear and they let me know that it’s never over. They keep me focused and hungry. I owe it all to my team. Sometimes I’ll be content with a song or two or a project and nah, they won’t let me be content. I owe that to my team and the public. They listen. We all keep our ear to the streets but they know where I should be so they’ll keep me from slacking and keep me giving my all. I owe it all to my team. Those are my guys.
You did a lot with Max Dollas on Katrina Flood. What’s it been like working with him?
He’s part of the Dramatix. He knows what kind of beats to send me because of the chemistry we got. He tailors the beats to me and he’ll give me a little direction for where he wants me to take it. It’s like peanut butter and jelly, a match made in heaven. Once he sends them to me, I’ll rap over them and it’s easy. I don’t have to reach too far. It’ll work and it’s rare that we ever get a beat or something that don’t work. It’s like certain producers, like the RZA and the Wu. The RZA knew that sound when the Wu was coming out. Max knows that sound. We did Katrina Flood in two or three months. That’s the fastest I’ve ever done a project because I’m real meticulous. I just started knocking the beats out real fast because they fit where I’m coming from and they fit my delivery. It’s a match.
What’s your song-writing process like?
The first thing I do is I get the beat. Once I get the beat, I don’t even listen to it until I’m ready to record. Once I’m in the studio, I’ll put the beat on, roll up some sour and I’ll walk around. I can’t sit and write. I’ll walk around until the first couple of lines pop in my head as far as where I want to take the song. Once that comes I’m on autopilot. Once I got my first couple of lines and the concept, it’s over and I’m on autopilot. I’ll write my verses and the hook and record that. Chill, smoke and take a break and come back and write the second verse and then it’s on to the next one. That process goes on and on until I’m finished.
How do you balance releasing music to stay on fans’ minds while still holding back quality material for later?
Well, certain songs, you know the public’s just gonna have to pay for it. There’s life situations that I put into some songs that I can’t just give away. I record all the time so I got music for you to have. That’s no problem. But when I start chipping at my exterior and I’m giving you my whole life from childhood to talking on the phone with you now, you’re gonna have to pay for that. I’ll let you know how nice I am all day, but you’re going to have to invest in me to learn who I am. Everything I give you is going to be crack, but once you want to really get to know me, I expect you to support.
As long as I keep that fine line of balance, I can give you free music all day. It doesn’t hurt me because I record as often as possible. I have classic material and I expect people to invest in that. It’s like investing in art. You can cut pictures out of magazines and hang them up on your wall and your wall is going to look fantastic, but when you spend $1, 2, 3 million on a Picasso painting, you’re going to see the difference between that and your collage. That’s where I’m at.
When are we going to hear the more personal songs?
Those songs are coming out on my No Release project. I’m almost done with that, like 80-85% done. That should be released around the end of February, beginning of March. But I’m definitely chipping away at the exterior and you’re going to see a different side of me. You’re definitely going to learn who I am and it’s more than me from my perspective. You’re going to learn about me, what makes me tick, my family, my life…You’re going to learn everything. You’re going to hear my whole life. I’m really baring everything on this No Release project.
You also have your group the Stack Boys. How did you guys come together?
Oh, man, we’ve been together, like, we grew up together and we’ve been doing this since we learned how to rap. This is what we do. We’ve been putting together projects relentlessly. We just released Stack Boys Season 2 and that’s hosted by Dame Grease. We all record music the same way and we’re all over each other’s projects. We’re trying to smother the game with music. Everything is high quality. Everybody got heat relentlessly. Everybody got endless studios so you’re just going to keep hearing Stack Boys projects.
Dame Grease sounds like a true believer in your music.
Yeah. He linked up with Pistol Da 1 and they were working on his mixtape and I came through for a feature and he played me some beats and there was one beat that I really liked that I got for my album. The beat was so crazy that it was automatic. And we go the clubs and we’ll be on one side and he’ll be on the other side. It was just meant to be. We learned a lot from him. Big shout out to the homie Dame Grease. He held us down with a lot of good music.
What did it mean to you to be on the “I’m From Harlem (Remix)”?
Oh, man, that was a major look. It goes all the way back to Rob Base and Big L and Cam and Mase and Dipset. There’s a whole new group of dudes coming out from Harlem that’s carrying the torch and I just wanted people to know that there’s a new batch of dudes that’s a force to be reckoned with. Everybody did their thing and that’s a major look. That’s just letting you know that Harlem’s got unity all the way down. We got more in store. Shout out to the Dips. Shout out to Mase and all them and everybody who put on for Harlem before. It’s a new generation. If you peel back the surface, there’s a lot of us doing our thing right now.
In your opinion, who are the greatest rappers to come from Harlem?
You gotta put Cam up there. You gotta put Mase up there. Big L, of course. Big L set the standard. It’s just crazy, man. I’ll go with the Paid in Full movement, Mob Style…That’s all I’ll say right now. I’d go with McGruff also and Children of the Corn. Those are my picks.
How did the name Dutch New York come about?
Well, my name is Dutch like the Dutch settlers, the first people to come in from New York and the part that I smoke a lot of bud. That’s part of it. And the New York is because I’m good in every borough wherever I go. I get love in every borough. I’m paying homage to every ‘hood I go to. I’m universal like that in my state. I’m paying homage back to the state.
What’s the next move for you?
You’re definitely going to see the No Release mixtape. We’re dropping another Stackland mixtape and we’re in some talks for distribution, so hopefully you’ll see that in April or May. I’m setting up a tour for New York, Philly and Connecticut. We’re going to be out there doing shows and I want the people to be looking for that. We’re going to keep shooting videos and I’m trying to shoot a movie for my No Release project. I’m doing a lot of work for 2011 but it all starts with the No Release project and it’s going to be a snowball effect after that.