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Dee-1: ‘We Hear You, Dee’

“Dee-1 is like the brother I always wanted. He’s the ultimate hustler, he’s driven, and talented. That’s an unheard of combination in hip hop right now. I watched him take a thought and turn it into a career. I told people he was going to take over the hip hop scene. No one believed it. Now I’m like the proud brother saying “I told you so!” He’s destined for greatness; it’s already written. I’m glad I got a front row seat.” – Shamarr Allen

How often do you hear lyrics from a music artist that make you think – really, really think? When is the last time a song was etched in your memory, not only because of the beat, but due to the intelligent, thought provoking words wrapped inside of an incredibly smooth delivery? If you were listening to any of the music put out by New Orleans rapper Dee-1, that answer would be an easy one.

Yea, so picture I had this dream right?
That I walked into this office building,
And the receptionist came downstairs and said:
“Dee-1, your party is ready upstairs.”
So I hop off the elevator, and I see Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and Lil Wayne
Sitting at a round table.

I hope they hear meeeeee!

What up Jay, what up Fif, what up Weezy, I’m Dee
I ‘preciate ya’ll for having this conversation with me
I know that I’m the brokest person in the room yo
But money don’t matter here, because I’m rich with ideas (Ooo!)
First off, I grew up listening to all of ya’ll
From “The Block is Hot” to “Get Rich” to “Blueprint” I bought it all
I paid twenty for “The Block is Hot” at ‘Peaches’ Wayne
And Hov I bought Volume 2 because I loved “Money Ain’t A Thang”
Fif, you had it locked in high school, huh
You’re the reason I stopped buying Ja Rule
But I graduated from that train of thought
So that’s why I’m here today, not to fuss but to talk.
Here we go, look…

50: You’re a marketing genius and you’re stupid rich
Let’s come up with a scheme and give the game a super fix
I seen you slaughter the careers of other men
But they were all brothermen, so that’s just another win
For the other team, entertainment is what it seems
But black on black hatred is the underlying theme
Paid, powerful, and popular, you got it all
Use that to fight the real enemies and make em fall
Other rappers might not understand, but so what?
The game probably got em bending over doing a toe touch; it’s raping em!
So Fif, I know you got a heart, homie I don’t doubt you
But trust, the movement’s gon move on with or without you.

Lil Weezy, flow off the heezy
But we don’t feel your presence down in the Big Easy
Shouting out New Orleans at the Grammys, that’s cool
But how bout donating some cash money to help the schools
Wealth is cool, but not if you’re a selfish dude
(Get at him Dee!) -Nah, let’s help this dude
Every statement that I yell is true
So take heed to it Weezy, this ain’t coming from no jealous dude
I know you’re smart son, you went to McMain
Now everything you say and do got kids trying to be Wayne
Friend or foe, it all depends on how you manage your talents
So what you gon do: Step up or step down from the challenge

Young Hov, Jigga, H to the Izzo
It’s truly an honor for me to meet you my nizzle
It’s impossible to belittle your impact on the game
You got the hottest chick in the world wearing your wedding ring (That’s right.)
You know most of these lil rappers are wack
They spitting poison, they hurting the culture, they’re holding us back
But I’m trying to see how you feel, cause when you speak, people listen
Do you agree with me, disagree, or you feel indifferent?
With all that you done sold, now you can afford to be
Lyrically, Talib Kweli
But truthfully you ain’t gotta rhyme like Common Sense
Just be down for the cause and don’t ride the fence, ya heard?

Eh man, but hold up, while I got ya’ll here right fast,
Let me umm, let me look through my notebook.
Cause see I was writing a rap about this same topic,
I just didn’t know ya’ll was gonna show up to the meeting to day ya know?
I know, I know ya’ll busy. Hold up, hold up Wayne, hold up.
But uhh, let me just, cause I’m still unsigned,
So let me at least rap this for ya’ll.
Eh, but my stuff’s on iTunes tho… Alright here we go…

Picture this, we got the blind leading the blind
Man, how stupid can we get, I just couldn’t let it slide this time
Besides, my people need this
And I ain’t on a major label, so they can’t delete this
Ha, let’s go in:
Now every rapper needs to lose their deals and earn em back
Most of em done let the industry take em and turn em wack
I be spitting from the soul, so they feel ya boy
I want your EAR and your HEART, like Amelia, boy
Stop Snitching. That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard of
That’s why nobody spoke up when my dawg got murdered
Everybody trying to stay true to the rules
Forget the rules if the rules was devised by fools
Most rappers is puppets, that can’t be avoided
Being used for their stupidity, then getting exploited
By a man with a different color skin
But homie we grown men, so that’s why I blame us and them
Me and you, we’re David; the industry’s Goliath
I’m here to fight it, & all that trash, I don’t buy it
When I was lost, I used to look up to these cats
Now I pray for these cats,; How you love that?
A young, dumb, desperate, money hungry rapper
First a label sees him, then they go in for the capture
Precisely what they’re after, another pawn
Talking bout the people you killed, Pop pop pop pop… Hold on
They also like it when you talk about your drugs
How much you sell em for? 18.5, oh that’s what’s up
I’m trying not to point, but I hope you get the point
These cats ain’t running the game right, I’m a get the point
Fight him, battle him, the media stay instigating
To us it’s real beef, to them it’s instant ratings
Then when somebody get shot, it’s such a problem
That same media’s now saying WE should stop the violence
Ancestors of ours are screaming from the grave
Cause physically we’re free, but we’re still some mental slaves
Ancestors of ours are SCREAMING from the grave,
Cause physically we’re free, but we’re still some mental slaves…
So what ya’ll think?

Dee-1 loves his city and his fans – and they love him back. He is a young entertainer who is wise beyond his years, but one who can draw a crowd like a veteran performer. He pays tribute where tribute is due, and intelligently admonishes leaders of his generation, whom he believes could do more for their communities and genre alike.

It is often said that we are a product of our environment – and so it is with Dee-1. He is living proof of what encouragement and support can do for a person.

The Heat Magazine had the pleasure of attending Dee-1’s performance on the Congo Square Stage the final day of this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. We were even more fortunate to have caught up with him afterward, while he was meeting fans and autographing CDs.

Dee-1’s performance was as real as it gets. He seems to have a better understanding of politics and social ills, than just about any seasoned activist or individual from any political arena. His lyrics speak truth and enlighten the mind, while entertaining the masses.

Dee-1’s Jazz Festival performance was a rousing one that included a guest spot from New Orleans’ own Shamarr Allen, an amazing trumpeter who puts his own unique, hip hop twist on the duo’s collaborations. It was an energy laden, fluid performance that will never be forgotten. I have been fortunate enough to check out each performing separately, and can honestly attest that together, they put on an extraordinary performance, custom made for their fans – rivaled by none.

“I would describe Dee-1 and Shamarr Allen as Brothers not by PARENTS, but BY WHAT’S APPARENT …. Their love for music and support for one another.” – New Orleans Motivational Speaker, Seven Johnson

When The Heat Magazine spoke with Dee-1, here’s what he had to say:

THE HEAT MAGAZINE: Who is Dee-1?

DEE-1: Dee-1 is a man on a mission to entertain and inspire people to better their lives. I’m the One Man Army.

THE HEAT MAGAZINE: Tell our readers about the One Man Army movement.

DEE-1: A One Man Army is anyone who is in the pursuit of a better existence for themselves and for those around them. It’s all about having what I call “Mission Vision”. Mission Vision is really just a level of focus where you’re able to block out the distractions and you’re able to overcome obstacles, you’re able to rely on God, rely on your own talents and abilities, and just to get up every time you fall. That’s really a straight forward way of approaching it. The whole One Man Army and Mission Vision – they all have like a battle between good and evil. I do feel like I battle between good and evil and I just want people to feel the power about being on the good side. I don’t want people to feel like it’s ever too much to overcome or I don’t want them to feel like being on the good side is lame or corny.

THE HEAT MAGAZINE: At what age did you realize you had such a gift to entertain and educate at the same time?

DEE-1: When I was 19. I was a sophomore in college. That’s when I realized it because that’s when I did my first performance. I performed in a talent show on campus. I only did one performance – I did two songs. I did this song about New Orleans. I did a song called, “Let Me Be Your Voice.” I just knew. I said, “Wow, this is … I’m on to something, you know?”

THE HEAT MAGAZINE: That was at LSU?

DEE-1: Yeah, that was at LSU.

THE HEAT MAGAZINE: You’ve been such a blessing to New Orleans and Louisiana. We’d love to hear your plans for the future, especially how it involves keeping a positive light shining on New Orleans.

DEE-1: Everything that I’m doing right now is just the beginning phases of what I want to accomplish, so I still feel like I really haven’t done much. What I’m continuing to do is just putting out the music I’m putting out – positive vibrations. I feel like eventually, that’s going to bounce off of people – my goal is to be reaching people and inspiring people that I’m not even aware of – that’s what I want to do and I want to inspire the people of New Orleans to seek a better existence for themselves. I want them to really strive to be better than the previous generation. That’s why I want to continue to obviously grow in stature and grow in my musical endeavors because I think we need better leaders. They need to be held accountable and I don’t mind being held accountable.

THE HEAT MAGAZINE: Where will we see Dee-1 in 5 years? Where will you be, what will you be doing and what will you have accomplished?

DEE-1: In 5 years, I’ll still be recording music and putting out albums. I’ll be touring the world. I’ll be global, but I’ll still be local. I’ll be touring the world, putting out albums, but I’ll be firmly entrenched in the community. I’m going to have a whole army of One Man Armies and One Woman Armies for unified behind a positive mission. I just think that’s my calling. When I get these people unified behind a mission that’s obviously positive, it’ll be enriching. That’s something positive. That’s the mark I’m going to leave around the world.

THE HEAT MAGAZINE: We know how many problems are faced by our inner city youths that are not being addressed. If you were put in charge and you had to narrow down what you would work on in order to bring an end to the killings and violence that is happening, in order to have our youth be educated rather than incarcerated, where would you start, being that you seem to be very aware of the problems? Where do you think the first change needs to come about?

DEE-1: I think if you’re speaking of the youth, the change needs to come about in the homes. That’s where it starts and that’s the inherent problem to me. In the homes, they don’t have stable leadership or they aren’t coming into the classroom with a good support system at home, so it’s hard. I was a teacher and I was defeated because no matter how much I inspired them or tried to do my part, it wasn’t being reinforced. It doesn’t matter if they come to school already feeling like, “Well, this isn’t done in my household,” or “I’m not used to seeing a dominant male figure,” or things of that nature. They already come with these preconceived notions of what’s normal in the world – in their world. I just really think everything starts at home and obviously, part of that is broken families without 2 parents. Part of that is very young families, so that’s why I think it has to start very early with educating and enlightening the minds of these kids so hopefully they can grow up and make wiser choices that will affect any decisions – obviously better decisions when it comes to making babies and things of that nature.

THE HEAT MAGAZINE: Obviously you had support growing up. I saw how you exited the stage at Jazz Fest to go talk to your parents and family. How big of an influence was your family on your career and on your choices in life?

DEE-1: Yeah. That’s the beautiful thing about it. That’s why I know that structure’s important. It never dawned on me until I was in college. I think I was a freshman and I was like, “Man, my daddy never even went to college”, but I really didn’t even have a choice but to go. It was never even an option because they raised me – they gave me the confidence and they invested time into me and into my education. They made me feel like I was obviously smart enough to go to college from day one. I never saw myself as someone who would say, “Maybe college is not for me.” If I was struggling in school, they would do what was necessary to make sure that I was able to rectify any problems. They made sure that I went to good schools, despite where we lived. When I was 5 years old, my dad camped out overnight to make sure he secured me a spot in this really good public school that was all the way Uptown. We lived in the East. That’s like totally opposite ends of the city. That’s the school I went to from kindergarten to eighth grade. I grew up in the hood around a lot of foolishness, but I would go all the way across the city to school. I was around a mixed environment every day. It was enough to shape my world view – my perception on everything. I would see more than just the hood that I lived in every day and I think that shaped my personal goals for myself .  My goal was never “to graduate high school” – it was always, “Of course I’m going to graduate,” and “Which college am I going to?” I just never accepted mediocrity. They were there for me to cheer me on when I was doing well and when times were hard. I remember having to cry on my mom’s shoulder or like, really have heart to hearts with my dad at different times growing up. That kind of stuff just felt good. When I was on the education side, I had a whole different battle to fight when I chose to do this music full time, because I felt like, “They may not support this decision because they invested so much in wanting to see me stay on the straight and narrow and now I’m breaking away from the traditional path in wanting to be a rapper,” and of course, the connotation that comes along with saying that you’re a rapper. Once I explained to them what my decision was and they saw the passion that I had and heard the content of the music, they fully supported me and that just feels so good. I really can’t complain regardless of how things are going or are not going in my career or in my life, because I truly have the support of the people who matter to me – I know that for better or for worse.

 

Check out Dee-1’s website at www.dee1music.com. Follow Dee-1 on Twitter @dee1music. For booking or inquiries, contact 504.383.3318 or dee1management@gmail.com.

 

Arlene Culpepper, Asst. Editor-in-Chief
Arlene Culpepper, Asst. Editor-in-Chiefhttp://www.mikodreamz.com
Vice-President & Asst. Editor-in-Chief of The Heat Magazine, Arlene is a Louisiana native, Certified Paralegal, Publicist, Owner of MIKODreamz PR, co-owner of 504Diffusion, writer, producer, and jack of all trades, who is heavily involved in her community as well as serving as Media Advisor for New Orleans Union for Entertainment (NOUE), Member of the NOLA Music Awards from 2012-present & Member of the Press Club of New Orleans. Her work is published across the web. Her PR work has been highly recognized & awarded. She was/is publicist for the late great BTY YoungN, 0017th and more. She is also working on her first novel & aspires to turn it into a film & is currently writing the authorized biography of the legendary Pimp C of UGK. She can be reached via email at Arlene@theheatmag.com. Follow her on Twitter - @CategorySeven & Instagram - @hurricanearlene.
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