Since the early & formative years of the Hip-Hop & Rap scene when groups such as NWA and The Beastie Boys were laying down a new musical standard for popular music, Dangerous D served as a pioneering force on the Saginaw scene that helped shaped the early contours of the music by stretching the borders of the sound and re-defining typical stereotypes that were associated with the idiom.
In 1995 he released his debut album, Method to My Madness, with his 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 a slot on the UBEU produced Well Connected Compilation album, which featured major heavyweight artists such as M.C. Breed, The Dayton Family and Top Authority.
Then in early 2002, Dangerous D decided to head south to set roots in sunny Jacksonville, Florida, where then years later he made a major return with his 2012 release Hater Kryptonite that received major traction and decidedly re-established his reputation as the ‘Maestro of the Microphone’.
Now ‘D’ has a new follow-up disc that takes the dimensions of his musical vision even further. Entitled Digital Immortality, the sound is straight up, heavily rhythmic, with a majestic production that incorporates top-notch musicianship and beats designed to keep your feet moving. Yet from a lyrical standpoint, this new endeavor breaks further ground by thematically incorporating the contemporary realities of the ‘Digital Revolution’ – not only from a musical context, but from the human context of how we are all – to one extent or another – defined by the digital presence that we create, which leaves the imprint of the words we express, images we share, or thoughts we invoke committed to the ‘collective cloud’ for posterity.
In many ways this is also the most personal release Dangerous D has created, drawing upon his early experiences in a heavily autobiographical manner that remain more current as opposed to reflective through the musical energy and creativity that emanates from the digital grooves, especially on such tracks as Supafly and Way Down South.
Recently I had the opportunity to explore the genesis of this latest project with Dangerous D, along with his thoughts about the current state of the Hip-Hop scene and where the digital revolution is taking us.
Review: What are some of the musical objectives that you are striving to achieve with this latest release and how do you feel it extends, broadens, or focuses the messages - both musically & lyrically - that you've been striving to achieve throughout the expanse of your career?
Dangerous D: As far as objectives are concerned there is one that has been constant throughout and that is making sure I feel good about what I’ve created. The second most important objective is to connect with the listeners on some level. Anything positive that manifests after that is just icing on the cake for me. What separates this album from most of my past work is that the foundation of this record is more autobiographical in a sense. The song My Come Up is the story of my childhood growing up and evolving into an artist. Way Down South is about my move from my family and friends in Michigan down to the southern part of the country and life in the south. Inspiration for the song A Beautiful Day came from things and experiences going on in my life at the present time.
Review: How did you approach this project in terms of thematic structure? Did you have the entire album conceived before you went into the studio; or did the songs evolve as you moved through the recording process?
Dangerous D: The concept of Digital Immortality evolved through observations of our current times in the digital age. Digital technology has changed and continues to change life as we know it. Essentially, once anything (videos, pictures, music, etc.) is captured digitally or converted into a digital format and introduced into the cyber infrastructure it will be there for eternity, or at least for as long as cyber space is in existence.
As far as the recording process is concerned on this project, the concept was developed first and then the writing and production went into effect. I wrote and produced the majority of the album first; and then what I always love to do is bring in some of my homeboys to drop their flavor on the record. Ryder Miller came down to my studio in South Carolina for a weekend and put a hot verse on the track Eat Breath Hustle Grind. Then to finish up the project Don Q flew in from Texas and produced and rapped on a couple of tracks, This Winding Road, Input HD and co-produced Shake It with Tommy Bradshaw. After Don Q left I mixed the project down and that was a wrap!
Review: As one of the musical pioneers & veterans of the Hip Hop/RAP scene for over two decades now, what are your thoughts about the evolution & growth of the genre? Do you feel it still carries the same weight, power & impact, or has it become overly commercialized and trivialized - similar to many forms of popular music?
Dangerous D: I’m old school, so I have a bias towards artists that have been around for a while and own some life scars. It’s rare that I hear something from a new artist that moves me. It happens but not often. That is definitely not to say that a lot of these new cats aren’t talented because they are. It’s just my personal preference. I can say the same for what I do, not everyone is going to be a fan and that’s okay. Speaking for myself, a nice beat is great but if there is no real substance in the lyrical content than it doesn’t hold my attention very long.
I feel that the hip hop / rap genre will never carry the same weight or have the same impact as it did when it was a couple of decades old. That is just the natural process of things. The art form has been taken to so many different levels that it is difficult to blow somebody’s mind these days. Just to reiterate, I said difficult, not impossible, it can still be done!
Review: Do you still perform live very often and are there plans for touring behind this release?
Dangerous D: I haven’t done anything live for a little while due to my personal schedule. At this stage I don’t feel the need to perform live for the sake of doing it. However, that doesn’t mean that I no longer love performing, I’m just much more selective with those opportunities. I would definitely love to put something together for this release but it is going to have to be the right situation at the right time. I can say that whatever is put together will be done on a high level; otherwise it just doesn’t make sense to me.
Review: I like the way that thematically you tie much of the sub-text on this new release into the realities of the digital world; and also the dehumanizing components associated with it (i.e. people spending their time in front of screens instead of talking face-to-face with one another). Tracks like 'Supafly' also are quite autobiographical - relating your personal history with the benefit of hindsight & wisdom gained since the years that you broke out. What are some of the important issues and topics involved with this CD that you are hoping audiences connect with?
Dangerous D: On this record most of the writing is in fact autobiographical. So, more than addressing any specific issues, I wanted to share with the audience some personal cliff notes from my life vault. I tried to keep most of the R rated stuff locked up in the vault but of course I couldn’t keep it all clean because those that know me understand that is just not my style LOL!
Review: Many of these tracks are also very danceable. Musically, do you feel this is a benefit in terms of reaching more people with your topical material?
Dangerous D: On all of my album projects I always like to do at least one track with a club type of feel to it for some of my DJ brothers to spin,” Funky” Frank Medel, Scoey D, Adam Gonzales, Craig Chambers and DJ Psycho to name a few. Musically some people like a hot beat and the lyrics are less important just as long as that bass is dropping, especially in a club atmosphere. So people that may not otherwise get exposed to the Dangerous D sound might get hit with it in a club somewhere. If it gets some of the party animals to the dance floor then the mission has been accomplished! “Keep spinning’ that Shake It track fellas!”
Review: Feel free to add any additional thoughts on any topic I may not have touched upon.
Dangerous D: The new album can be sampled and purchased on Pandora Radio. Digital downloads are available on most major sites: itunes, amazon, google play, etc. or if you are old school like me and would prefer the physical CD experience you can get it through my website: dangerousdmusic.com, cdbaby.com or it can be ordered through most retailers.
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