(AllHipHop Interviews) For all the talk about the current state of New York Hip Hop, there are a number of rising artists from the culture’s Mecca that need to be recognized for putting the city on their backs and offering a new wave of NYC rap. One of those young voices is Brooklyn’s Dyme-A-Duzin.
The 21-year-old emcee’s first introduction to Hip Hop came around the time he was nine years old when he discovered a gospel rapper at church. That faith-based performer eventually took a pre-teen Donnovan Blocker under his wing and mentored him in crafting raps. Fast forward a decade later, Dyme signs his first record deal with Warner Brothers Records.
Now part of the team at Atlantic Records, Dyme-A-Duzin is working on his debut album Hip Hope due out later this year. The Phony Ppl affiliate believes that the follow-up to his 2013 mixtape A Portrait Of Donnovan will be the project that allows him to break out while also inspiring his listeners.
AllHipHop.com connected with Dyme to discuss his upcoming Hip Hope album as well as which artists have inspired him, what producer is on his collaboration bucket list, and why he no longer reps Brooklyn’s Beast Coast Movement.
Can you talk about your upcoming Hip Hope project?
Hip Hope is the album. Hip Hope is the movement. It should be coming out this summer. When people hear “Hip Hope” everybody jumps to their own conclusions, but I’m definitely bringing my side of really good New York Hip Hop music. I’m trying to push Hip Hop forward and simplify it. Just make it blend the past and the present and push forward toward the future. Most importantly to give people hopeful music that they can live their lives to, get through their days with, and give them motivation and inspiration.
You mention music of the past. Who are some of the artists that have inspired you?
I wasn’t really exposed to Hip Hop in my early years. When I was able to really listen to it I was a big student of the game. I did a lot of research. I listened to a lot of music. Some of my first influences were Eminem. Eminem was introduced to me by my brother-in-law. The other guy was Kanye. I watched his career from day one. LL [Cool J] – I use to sneak and watch his music videos. When we didn’t have cable I would just watch that one 12 o’clock slot when Soul Train came on. I would peep some of the artists on there. Artists like Jay Z. When I got a little older I was able to understand Jay. He was an inspiration coming up.
Speaking of Jay, you embraced the idea of “Swank.” What was your reaction when you heard Jay use the “Hilary Swank” line on the “B**ch, Don’t Kill My Vibe (Remix)?”
I’m not sure if he used it because we use it. I don’t know if he was inspired to use that line because me or guys that I know use it. If it was, then that would be dope. I will definitely have to ask him when I meet him.
You kind of rose with the whole Beast Coast movement. What is the status of that relationship now?
I don’t consider myself part of the Beast Coast. I’m part of the East Coast. I’m not really a part of the brand “Beast Coast.” I feel like they’re trying to create their own clique and brand themselves as the Beast Coast. I don’t really understand how you can claim a whole coast to yourself, but I’m definitely an East Coast rapper. I’m representing my movement which is Hip Hope.
I don’t have a problem with anybody. They’ve definitely embraced me at some points, and I definitely appreciate the unity that has been going on in Brooklyn. I’ve always wanted to be a part of the unity, support it, and make sure that people know it’s important for us to all come together. I don’t know how it goes for other people. I feel like other people have their own ideas on how they want to do things. I just really represent the East Coast.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you wouldn’t be willing to collaborate with some of those artists like Pro Era, The Underachievers, and Flatbush Zombies?
Oh no. I’m a supporter of guys coming out of New York. The main reason I did the “New Brooklyn” record is because I was at Fool’s Gold show and Pro Era, Underachievers, and Flatbush Zombies were there. Issa Gold from Underachievers pulled me up on stage and said, “Yo Dyme, you’re Beast Coast. Get on stage with us and perform.”
That was a legendary day for me and really inspired me to make the “New Brooklyn” record which was one of the reasons I got Underachievers and Flatbush Zombies on the remix as a unified thing. But I feel like some people don’t want me to be a part of it. So I’m not going to try to force my way into a crew or try to be a part of something when some guys are saying, “You’re not a part of it,” and nobody’s really checking them.
That feels unorganized to me. I don’t really want to associate myself with something that I’m not officially a part of. Flatbush Zombies have been in interviews saying that me and my crew are, and then other people say I’m not. So I’m East Coast and rep my Hip Hope movement.
On the Hip Hope album cover there’s a picture of you walking off a cliff. What does that image symbolize for you?
It’s just hope. Confident knowing that that gold balloon is going to help you fly. Walking off, but knowing that everything is going to be alright. I went to !llmind’s house. He has a band called Smokey Robotic and that painting was actually from art that was hanging up in his house. When I saw it I automatically felt like that was the cover. It was based on a Smokey Robotic lyric.
That guy knows what he’s doing. He’s walking off the cliff, head straight up with the gold balloon in his hand, and he knows that he’s about to soar. That’s what I plan to do – soar, take off.
You’ve worked with !llmind and other well-known producers like Harry Fraud, Plain Pat, and Dot Da Genius. Are there any producers that you haven’t worked with yet that you’d like to?
I would love to work with Easy Mo Bee. I don’t know if he’s still producing or if he has any joints in the stash the he could lace me with, but I’d definitely love to work with him. From tracks like “Warning,” “Machine Gun Funk,” “Flava In Ya Ear” – that sound is very New York to me. I feel like New York needs that. That would be dope to have a beat from Easy Mo Bee.
You’ve recently partnered with Puma and LRG. How would you describe your personal fashion style?
I always say Swank, because that’s always my state of mind. My style is just on some very relaxed, natural vibe. I’m a skinny guy, so you got the fitted jeans, high top sneakers. I even throw a blazer on. I can get suited up. I can wear my streetwear. It’s a lot of options when it comes to my style. I just keep it Swank.
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How was your experience performing at SXSW?
It was dope. It was my first time out there being 21. Last year I was 20, and I wasn’t able to drink at my own parties. I’m not much of drinker anyway, so I didn’t really mind. My biggest problem was that I wasn’t able to get into some of the joints. But now that I was 21, it was definitely a dope experience. Next year I hope to be out there doing way more. I did six shows this year. I feel like I’m going to double that next time, and I’m going to some of the main events. The album will be out by then, and hopefully I’ll see the fans that will love the album. I feel like this is going to be the one for me.
Do you plan on touring?
I already have some tours in the works. Europe has reached out to me. They want to get me back out there. I’m also planning an American tour.
You have a song on you’re A Portrait of Donnovan mixtape where you say, “I just want to wake up free.” At what point do you think you’ll be able to wake up free or do you think you’ve reached that point?
I feel like every day is a learning process. Every day I’m getting stronger. Every day I become more free just by learning more, just by being in this industry and seeing what goes on, just by becoming a better person. I feel like on my last project, A Portrait of Donnovan, I was more depressed because of the things I was going through. I feel like this project is more of a real project but lighter because those experiences made me stronger. Hip Hope is coming out of that pain, breaking out, and being even better than I was. As far as that goes, I’m feeling real free.
Watch Dyme’s video for “White Girl” below.