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DANGEROUS D: A Pioneer of Regional Hip-Hop Returns with a Bold New Sound

Posted In:Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, Artist Feature | From Issue 750 | By: | 28th June, 2012 | 0

DANGEROUS D:  A Pioneer of Regional Hip-Hop Returns with a Bold New Sound

 Since the early days of the Saginaw Rap music scene, Dangerous D has served as a pioneering force that helped shaped the early contours of the music by stretching the borders of the sound and chilling ill-informed stereotypes associated with the idiom.

In 1995 he released his debut album Method to My Madness with the first single from that album, Boom, resonating throughout the Midwest; and two years later his sophomore release Indestructible earned him numerous Review Music Awards honors, along with earning him a slot on the UBEU produced Well Connected Compilation Album, featuring heavyweight artists such as M.C. Breed, The Dayton Family and Top Authority.

But 10 years ago in early 2002, Dangerous D headed south to set roots in sunny Jacksonville, Florida; and now he has released his latest and perhaps most incisive project to date entitled Hater Kryptonite consisting of 12-tracks that decidedly re-establish his reputation as the Maestro of the Microphone.

Insofar as this is the first we've heard from Dangerous D in a decade, how did this latest outing start to percolate between the grooves? “It was December 31, 2001 and I remember it like it was yesterday,” he explains. “I had been laid off from my job, and the music grind had me tired and burned out.  An opportunity presented itself to move south, so I packed the U-Haul and left Saginaw for sunny Jacksonville, Florida.  I pulled off in the middle of the night during a nasty snow blizzard and didn't look back.  It was time to begin a new chapter, and music was not in the plans.  I worked hard, played hard, and had more than a few ups and downs until 2007, when I landed a great job opportunity in South Carolina.  Things have been fantastic ever since with the exception of one thing, my music.  About a year and a half ago, I decided to build a recording studio in my basement and get back to recording.   Dangerous D was back!”

Obviously, a lot has evolved with music and Hip Hop in particular since 'D' first started laying down tracks.  What about the evolution of his own sound? “My personal feeling is that some of my writing on this project is some of the best that I have done,” he reflects. “I suppose that just comes from growth, maturity, and having an ample amount of life experience in the vault.” 

“I think evolution as an artist goes hand in hand with the evolution of self.  The effect of personal growth will naturally reflect in the art.  There is also the freedom that comes from having my own recording studio.  That alone has had a big effect on the work as well.  Anytime of the day or night, whenever something hits my mind I can walk downstairs and put it down.  No scheduling, no paying for studio time. Hell, I can even record vocals in my boxer shorts while sippin' Crown Royal if I want to - and I have!

With an imminent focus in his sound that is at once harder, digitized and denser than his earlier work, there is also a renewed compassion and conviction that comes through in terms of coloration. What does 'D' feel has impacted or shaped his creative vision for this latest effort?

I'm not sure if I can pinpoint any specific examples.  I think that I just came to a point where mind, body and soul were all in a really good place.  From there the voices in my head just kept telling me that it was time.  Once I made the decision to do it, the creative storm rolled in full force.  For me, the creative part has always been like some kind of phenomenon.  It is strange how that process works.  When your energy is right the magic just happens.  It's a beautiful thing.”

D says that with this latest album the ball started rolling with two songs written a year ago. “When I got the studio finished and set up, I put together some music and laid these two test tracks down first.  From there things just began to manifest and I wrote and produced the rest of the album as I went along.  People will sometimes ask me “How long did it take you to write that song?" Or, "What do you do first, the lyrics or the music?"   Speaking for myself, song creation has no set length of time or particular order in which the elements are put together.  Of course, there is a formula, but you can get there any number of ways.  I have written songs in 30 minutes, and I have taken a lot longer on others.  It all just depends on how wide you can crack the door open to the creative universe at the time.  Overall, I would say it took me approximately 6 or 7 months of mostly weekends to complete the entire project.”

All artistic projects pose their own sets of challenges, but what was the most challenging component that Dangerous D encountered in shepherding this work to fruition? “Probably the most challenging part for me was doing the entire project solo (writing, producing, & mixing).  With my first 2 albums I worked directly with the super talented UbeU team.  Not only did they bring additional production creativity to the table, but I also had direct access to a talented pool of local artists.  If we felt a certain song that we were working on needed a distinct singing voice or if I wanted to invite one of my skilled local rapping cam padres to drop some heat on a cut they were just a phone call away.  Living in South Carolina for the last few years, I just don't have a local network to access quite yet.  The results of that left me in a position to where I had to step out of my comfort zone and push my boundaries further than I thought I was capable of.  It was a very challenging and gratifying experience.  I definitely feel that this factor made me a better artist.”

Given that Dangerous D was an early pioneer of Rap & Hp Hop in the Great Lakes Bay region, witnessing a lot of shifts and changes with both the music and the scene, what is his take on the current stage and health of the Hip Hop/Rap scene?

I think the scene is alive and boomin' locally, nationally, and worldwide.  I've been selling loads of my first CD "Method 2 My Madness" over in Japan. It's crazy.  The Internet has made the world a much smaller place and has created countless avenues that did not exist 10 years ago for independent artists.  Probably one of the only downsides to that is over saturation, and that's one of the biggest factors that stand in the way of getting heard.  That is why I strive to write some stuff that hits the listeners from a different angle.  It's easy to get caught up in writing about the same tired 3 or 4 subjects. I feel like you need to have something a little different, even if it's one or two cuts.  The talent is everywhere though man, wow.  With the avenues mentioned above, it gives me the opportunity to listen to independent cats all over including the Mid Michigan flavor.  There was a wealth of talented M.C.'s up there when I left, and from what I've heard there is a slew of new artists that are layin' it down.”

As for his own personal favorite tracks on the new release, 'D' points to I Can't Wait to Get Home. 

The best way I can describe it would be that it's  "a sinister tale with an unexpected ending".  Another favorite is the track It's Been A Long Time.  This one pretty much summarizes what's been goin' down in D's world for the past decade, why I put the mic down, and why I picked it back up again.  Another cut that has been getting some really good feedback is Born 2 Fly featuring Mr. Riddlin' and Ryder Miller.  This one is hittin'em hard.”

“I haven't done anything live yet.  Right now I've been consumed with marketing and working on a couple of videos, but I have a couple of promoters that are trying to get me to Florida for a few shows as soon as I'm ready.  Ideally I'd like my first show to go down in Michigan but we'll see how things unfold in the coming months.”

'D' has been receiving a fair amount of play on Internet radio with his new release, but says there is nothing like good old fashioned street promotions to get the word out. “I just had a conversation with rap artist Astray on this very subject. We talked about all the advantages that the Internet has offered the independent artist to market their music to the masses, which is absolutely amazing.  But we agreed that there is nothing like rolling up your sleeves, getting in the streets, and spreading the word.  I have just recently started doing some street promotions in some pockets here in the dirty south and plan to ratchet that up. In Michigan I'll be working with my cousin Kattar Baz (Comachee Comachee Productions) and his street promotion team in the coming weeks to get it poppin' up there. I'm also working with local legend DJ Frank Medel (TCT Entertainment) on various promotional endeavors.”

“I don't have anything live set in stone up in Michigan just yet, but it is in the works, and I'm really excited about getting back up there.  We plan on having some of the local heavy hitters on the ticket.  We will definitely put the word out when we get it all together.  I promise it will be one that you won't want to miss!”

As for what he feels exists about his music and sound that distinguishes it from other artists exploring and creating in the Hip Hop & Rap arena, 'D' points to 'originality.' “The last thing I want to do is sound like someone else.  But it's not just the sound; it's also the subject matter.  For me, probably one of the best compliments I could get in regards to my music is "Wow, that's original".  I have received that type of comment from several fans that have heard my music on Internet radio. It makes me feel good to get that kind of feedback.  I want the album to be a ride for the listener... a crazy ride!  If I can provoke more than a few different emotions or reactions out of the audience, whether it be shock, laughter, tears, or whatever, then I have succeeded.  I truly believe that this album will definitely get some of those reactions out of most of the listeners.” 

“The real challenge is just getting them to listen.”

“Apart from that. I'd like people to remember that Love and Hate are both contagious!”

Dangerous D's new disc 'Hater Kryptonite' is locally available at Records & Tapes Galore on Court Street in Saginaw, with a free poster that accompanies the CD purchase. You can also listen to and buy the album online at dangerousdmusic.com, facebook.com/dangerousdmusic, itunes, cdbaby, amazon, and emusic.

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