Dtheflyest has what most artists can only dream of: a Lil Baby feature. Beyond that, the official music video for “Fugazi” currently hails over 19.6 million views on Youtube and counting — completely organic and independent. The record itself is a certified banger, with D showcasing his ability to rap with trap melodies in his bars and hooks.
The crazy part is, the Brockton, Massachusetts native only started rapping two to three years ago. He states, “I have a passion for rap, feeling the music.” It was his manager who out of the blue one day told him he should start rapping. While he claims he wasn’t good to begin with, after practicing and practicing he began to get better and become more comfortable.
D is adamant on using his voice to do something positive and create change, doing his part when it comes to the recent acts of racism and police brutality. AllHipHop caught up with Dtheflyest in downtown Los Angeles to discuss how he got his start in music, the epic studio session with Lil Baby, love for fashion, goals, and more!
AllHipHop: Being from Boston, what was the household like growing up?
Dtheflyest: Well my parents are from Cape Verde in Africa. We used to listen to a lot of Cape Verdean music. My mom’s a young head so she liked hip-hop too. She really mixed that in, I got a bit of both cultures. I was a fan of music, I liked music. Growing up, I listened to Jadakiss, 50 Cent. As time went on, kept listening to more and more music. I listened to different music too, I listened to old R&B. I was listening to Tyler the Creator. I have a variety of music I listen to, don’t stick to one genre. I don’t want to crowd my thoughts with one type of music. I’ve been listening to jazz too, I like to catch a vibe.
AllHipHop: At what point did you hear yourself and think, “I could record too”?
Dtheflyest: When we started gaining a fanbase back home. People actually like my music and what I’m doing, so I turned it up a notch. Kept turning it up every chance I got. Now I’m so comfortable with music, I go in the studio: 15 minutes, banging out records. 40 minutes, banging out records. I don’t even write anymore, I just freestyle.
AllHipHop: You used to write?
Dtheflyest: I used to. Not necessarily I don’t write anymore, I jot down s##t. My recording process: I go in the studio, let the beat play, catch my melodies and go off of that.
AllHipHop: How did you start promoting yourself?
Dtheflyest: Word of mouth is our best promotion. We used to put music out on Soundcloud, videos on YouTube, go around and tell people about it. We’d go around to little shows and do little showcases, it worked out that way. I’m with a group [Bandits The Label], so it’s easier for us to gain some momentum because it’s a bunch of us. We got a whole city behind us. I’m from Brockton, 20 minutes out of Boston. The whole city was fighting for us to do what we have to do, ended up working out in our favor.
AllHipHop: Ace told me your homie EK is locked up. Talk about your crew.
Dtheflyest: No, he’s on house arrest now. We got EK, Flee, Grizz, and Dre. We got in-house producers too: Cru and Mike Congo. It’s a strong team, we got our manager Fab. We all got our heads on, all doing good things. EK’s about to be releasing more music but other than that, we’ve been recording. Saving what we got, getting ready for the summer.
AllHipHop: What’s the meaning behind Bandits The Label?
Dtheflyest: Through our regular lifestyle, we’re all bandits in a way. It only made sense. One of my friends owns a sneaker store, that’s one of the things he came up with: Banks n Bandits. We bandits too, how come can’t we run with that? We ran with that and it stuck, it’s more of a family thing.
AllHipHop: How’s your fanbase back in your hometown?
Dtheflyest: It’s beautiful, I love my hometown. It’s not really much out there, not much to look forward to. To have something for people to look up to and look forward to, it makes sense. People like it. We’re doing something positive for our city, giving us a good light so now people don’t be looking at us for all the negative s##t. It’s not that bad, but it’s bad at the same time. Shining the light on something positive really helps me sleep at night, knowing we’re doing something different for the community. Knowing kids have somebody to look up to. Growing up, I had no one to look up to. I looked up to all the dope boys. Now they got somebody positive to look up to, it feels good giving back to the community.
AllHipHop: AllHipHop: How old were you in the streets?
Dtheflyest: I’ve been in the streets since I was 15 years old. I don’t glorify it, but it’s part of my past. I’ve been in street situations, but I never let that stop me from doing anything. I’m never afraid to talk about it nor regret anything that I did. Because without them obstacles, I wouldn’t be who I am. It helped me grow up fast and keep my head on. Now when I’m maneuvering through this s##t, I really move like a grown man. I move on morals, I grew up on that.
AllHipHop: Did your parents raise you right?
Dtheflyest: Yeah, my dad was around. I was lucky to have my father around teaching me things, but I really picked up things around me. Whatever’s in my environment, I took it and soaked it in. I took what was best from it and applied to my daily life. I grew up around a lot of people with morals and principles, I couldn’t be around if I wasn’t following them same morals and principles around. I’m glad they instilled it in me at an early age.
AllHipHop: How’s the independent grind?
Dtheflyest: It’s hard, but it’s fun. The hardest part is the marketing, trying to find new routines, new methods to get a new listener. Walking down the street, no one’s going to listen to a random person saying “listen to my music.” You have to find new ways for people to get attached to the music, to become a fan of you. Other than that, it’s fun. Getting to eat all the money.
AllHipHop: Is a major label something you’re looking for?
Dtheflyest: It’d be good to have the help, but I like the grind. It gives you a goal. If you get the recipe, you get the system down pat, you can help someone else come up on the independent grind. You help build a timetable for everybody so everyone eats, instead of you going to the label like everybody else and you’re losing out on them. Ownership is big, especially now. If a label comes to the table and it makes sense, I won’t back away from it. If it doesn’t make sense, what’s the point?
AllHipHop: “Fugazi” has over 19.5 million views on Youtube. how’s that make you feel?
Dtheflyest: It makes me feel good, but it still feels unrealistic everyday. It doesn’t feel like it really happened. I got 19 mill with no label push, no major, no buying views, none of that. We got that naturally. It’s good to have something like that under your belt. Especially being an independent artist, I can go certain places and people know me. It made my grind a lot easier. I got work people can put behind my name, rather than you go listen to a bunch of my music I put out. The fact I have a song with 20 million views, it gives me something to bring up in conversation. I have a song with Lil Baby, he’s the biggest artist in the world.
AllHipHop: How’d you link with Lil Baby on “Fugazi”?
Dtheflyest: Lil Baby had a show in Boston, one of my people ended up knowing someone who worked for the show, they needed someone to open. They said I was the hardest artist in Boston, wanted me to open up. I opened up and the crowd reaction I got was crazy, nobody expected it. He’s like “who’s this, who’s this?” We started chatting with Lil Baby, they end up putting us on the rest of the tour.
AllHipHop: Was that when Baby dropped Harder Than Ever?
Dtheflyest: Yup. It was an eye-opening experience, it felt good. We ended up in the studio in Connecticut, made the record. He posted me on his Instagram an hour after we did it. It blew up from there, took its own life. I appreciate Baby for everything, real solid individual. He even brought me out to perform the song last time he’s in Boston, we performed it twice. He brought me out at a nightclub, then he brought me out at his show.
That studio session looked lit in the video, what was the environment like? I had the verse and the hook already, he put his verse on. A crazy environment because it’s someone I listen to on a daily basis. The fact he’s right in front of me, doing something for me, I’m watching him with my own eyes, it’s history. It was a great moment. He’s like “look at the camera, I’ma post this on my Instagram.” I didn’t think he’d actually do it, but he did. It made me feel completely different, an experience I’ll never forget.
AllHipHop: What was the best memory from the tour?
Dtheflyest: The tour was really fun, my first time being on the road. First time smelling the roses and performing at different places. It was fast too, I’ve only been rapping for 2 years. That was the first year and a half in. The fact it happened out of the blue, it gives me motivation everyday. When I lose motivation, I look at that video and how far I’ve come. It brings me up.
AllHipHop: What’d you learn from Baby, being how big he is?
Dtheflyest: I noticed how to move when you’re a big star. I learned how to perform, engage with the crowd. Everyday’s a new learning experience. People on tour were giving me tips on how to perform, giving me tips on how to engage more, I learned so much. I still apply it to my daily life today. It keeps me going, it’s all a learning experience. The more you experience and learn, it pushes you forward.
AllHipHop: Were you nervous?
Dtheflyest: Hell yeah, I still get nervous going on stage. Definitely nervous because I didn’t know what to expect, no one knows who I am still. You’re in front of people, you have to figure out a way to engage them. We learned how to engage, using those tips when we perform. I still get nervous sometimes, nothing wrong with being nervous.
AllHipHop: How do you get over your nerves?
Dtheflyest: I take a shot of liquor, go on stage and do what I do best.
AllHipHop: How’d you get your name?
Dtheflyest: I’m into fashion. I like getting dressed up. Dtheflyest was a natural name. I started calling myself, I’m Dtheflyest. I had that nickname for a long time, since 2013. It used to be my Instagram name, I ran with it and it stuck.
AllHipHop: What brands do you like?
Dtheflyest: Right now I’m on my local brand wave. All the local brands in my area, I tap into that. I’m more about pushing everybody up. All these companies get enough money. I buy my certain accessories from certain companies. I’ll buy Amiri jeans but other than that, I wear a lot of white tees and tank tops. Whenever I want to get dressed, I put on one of my French store shirts, some Amiris, some sneakers, keep it pushing.
AllHipHop: Baby definitely raps about Amiris.
Dtheflyest: A Boogie put me on Amiri, he got mad Amiris. A Boogie’s the Amiri king, he talks about Amiris a lot. I’m cool with everyone at Highbridge, shout out to them.
AllHipHop: How’d you tap in with them?
Dtheflyest: One of their homies found out I’m one of the hottest new artists from Boston, wanted to bring me out in Boston. Don Q brought me on stage to perform, that relationship built on its own. I ended up making a song with Don, got a couple songs. I ended up meeting Boogie, I got a song with Trap. I built with the whole team, they’re like family. I spent my damn near summer in Highbridge. Was there all the time, chillin’ on the block.
AllHipHop: What can we expect next music-wise?
Dtheflyest: My album’s already done, putting the final touches on that. Hopefully after this COVID nonsense, we can drop it in the streets. Right now, I’m not into dropping music. There’s so much going on, I don’t want to take light from that. Push everything that’s going, push all this police reform, help with our voices in any way possible. Worry about music after.
AllHipHop: Thoughts about everything that’s going on?
Dtheflyest: It’s crazy. When you see it everyday, it’s really instilled in your mind. It’s so normalized. Another name another day, we’re so used to that. This is really happening in front of our eyes, people not getting consequences for it. The fact that racism still exists, we’ve been on Earth for how long? We’re still going through the same issues. We need to use our voices to make changes. We have the energy to change the narrative. Once we can change the narrative, we need to push forward on that.
Music can wait, music’s going to be there for a long time. This day in age, we’re living in the history books. Put your stamp in the history book. Use your voice for something powerful, for something different. It makes no sense for me to release music and take the eyes off of what’s going on in America. They already killed that man in Atlanta for sleeping in the car, this still happening? I’d rather use my voice for something effective. The money’s going to come regardless. We have the chance to change history, why not be a part of that?
AllHipHop: How are the protests back home?
Dtheflyest: I’ve been involved in all of them. We’re trying to set up things we can do in the community, change the narrative, to push forward and create a system that’s equal and fair. Where I’m from, the system isn’t fair. Everybody I know has been to jail at least once, has been arrested. Driving in the city, you can get pulled over. At most it’s 15 minutes. They’ll tell you what your tickets for, that’s it. When I get pulled over, it’s an hour. They take me out the car, they search the whole car. Put you in cuffs like you did a crime, even though you didn’t on a simple traffic stop. Things like that need to change.
AllHipHop: Have you had your run-ins with the law?
Dtheflyest: Of course. Always, they’ll bother you just because. They cancel my shows, the police shut it down. I don’t let that stop me any time. I use my voice for something positive, not contributing to the negative. I could go on the internet and post negative things but that’s not what I’m here for. I want to use my voice for something effective and worth it. You gotta stand for something or else you die for nothing.
AllHipHop: Goals for yourself at this point of your career?
Dtheflyest: To become an established artist and create a pipeline from my community, my state to the masses. There’s so much talent where I’m from that goes unheard, I want to break down that door so everyone can eat and enjoy this lifestyle because everyone deserves it. We can use our voice to create something legendary, to do something when it mattered most. Use my voice for something positive.