« Some people have issues with me and rap. But me and rap, no issues, we’re together for ever… »

 Interview : Tokyo, April 20th. Doseone new album, G is for Deep, will be out May 29 / Anticon

Where we talk about his new album, his project with Patton & Tunde Adebimpe, rap school, cats, Asap Rocky, music these days, and cats, cats, cats.

dat’ : So with your new album coming out soon, it seems that its the first time that a Doseone solo album isn’t being released confidentially… ?

Doseone : Well to be honest, records like Ha and Skeleton Repelent were records I did in between my “band’s album”. It was the things I couldn’t keep in. It wasn’t a side project, but only stuff I did when I was home alone, some nights with my cats, collecting songs over 4 years… and eventually I was like “oh, I’ve got a record here”. But for G is for Deep, I wanted to make something for me. I wanted to make songs I wanna whistle, songs I wanna get through every week.

dat’ : Yes its seems more open, less experimental. Because of the music you made with 13&God and Subtle ?

Doseone : No… its just me. I wanted it more direct. There are less words, less thoughts. It’s just like “I’ve got to say this, no matter what” . I played 10 beats, one at a time for hours, and I drank a lot, and I just sang on it. I just did every song drunk. And the next morning, I’d go through it sober, with coffee, and being aggressively critical. The thing is, I’m a rapper, so I don’t have music training. If you just give me a mic and ask me to sing something, I really can’t. So I needed to be myself, feel my shit and cut loose every night. And in the morning, I’d re-do all the stuff I did drunk the night before… So, pretty much everything is pure… some of it is still weird, and intense, but its less coded, I’m not hiding behind what I’m saying.

dat’ : Yes, G is for Deep sounds pretty Hiphop, but also funny, with pop and everything, compared to your last solo albums which sounded like something completely different than what you did with your other bands… how could you define this new album ?

Doseone : Well, I’ve grown. I try to make something which feels natural. Its really new for me, I’ve never produced my own shit before, but it was just the way I needed to express myself. How can I define the album ? Well, I don’t know what the fuck is it to be honest (laughs). I think its r’n’b. Normally I hate lots of r’n’b, but this is like “Doseone-drunk-r’n’b” (laughs).

You know, I broke a lot of ground in Hiphop, rock, art… and nobody cared! So fuck off, I’m just doing my own shit now, I don’t give a fuck, I’m done. You know, I’ve nothing from my music. Only debt. And that’s OK, because I did it for the right reasons, but I’m at a point now where the music need to be for me and my people. Not in a selfish way uh, when I say “me”, its anyone who likes my music. But in the same way, I’m not fuckin’ around anymore, I really like this new LP, thats all, thats the point, I don’t care about the rest.

– Yes well, when we see you performing your new LP live, its seems that you’re really into your music !

Doseone : Yeah, well, it took me a long time though. Be on stage, I’m there, this is totally me. I’m just so happy, I’ve one hour to live what I love. Tonight was different, because it was the first time I was all alone on stage, so it was a little bit stressful. And the songs, you know, when you play them 20 times, they begin to be what they’re supposed to be. So tonight was the beginning of this process. But its kinda cool. After a while, you can get sick of playing some of the songs, but right now, its all brand new, so I’m really happy (laughs)

« Basically, you know how Clouddead worked? Well I tried to take what I learned from that, and make it perfect »

– Ok, let’s get serious… You talked about Nevermen in some interviews before, your band with Mike Patton and Tunde Adebimpe of Tv On The Radio. But still no real news about it. Is it still in process?

Doseone : Yes ! Well the only rule in Nevermen, it’s like Fightclub : Don’t rush the fuckin’ music. (laughs) So we are taking our time. But its coming out ! I hope it will be released this year… You can guess that Mike Patton is busy, so what happen is, that it’s just the three of us on vocals, and Patton and me are producing it. So right now I did all the initial work, and I gave it to him. So we’re waiting on Patton to give it back. And after we will do another round of singing…  In this record, there are no solos, everything is done with the three of us. All the singing’s shared and together.  I think we don’t even do a whole verse alone. Basically, you know how Clouddead worked? Well I tried to take what I learned from that, and make it perfect. For people like you who like Mike Patton, Tunde and me, I want your head to explode, like “aaaaarg yes its everyone !!” (laughs). But we really want to take our time… we don’t wanna rush it. We don’t wanna do like the N.A.S.A dogshit record (laughs).

– I asked the same question to Raoul Sinier last time : you have a very strong link between your music and your art, with your paint and everything…

Doseone : Well, its a part of the music really. I think that’s where I get my music and my lyrics from, it comes from everywhere. So the art is just a part of that. I put all my thoughts and emotion in music, but also into art… But for the the new album, someone else did the artwork, its the first time ! No skulls on this record! (laughs) That was a decision I had with Shaun, the guy who runs Anticon, because I’dput so much effort in the music, and I was tired. And since this record feels like me so much, but in a new way for the music, I felt that trying something new with the artwork also was a good thing…

– Are you still continuing the rap classes you did, as a “rap teacher” ?

Doseone : It got cancelled because of money, one year ago… It was a city program, and it ran out of business. It was all charity thing you know. It was great… One day, someone asked me to speak to the kids, but they told me they had a freestyle class after me. So I was like “what ? a freestyle class ? can I stay ?” and after that, I started teaching. For 4 years. I set these kids on fire, it felt extremely natural, it was really great.

– What did they think about your last Themselves record ? It was really hiphop, but pretty weird at the same time…

Doseone : My kids ? Maybe they… think I’m insane (laughs). Actually, I never really asked them. I think that for them I was a freestyler, so for freestyle, you need to cut loose, so I tried to make them learn that. But now, since that class is cancelled, I’ve a gorgeous classic 80’s Boombox, we go to downtown San Francisco every couple of weeks, and we just Cypher on the streets, and that’s awesome. Sometime its 10 people and sometime its 200, surrounding us. There’s lots of battles, everyone wants to fight me cause I’m white (laughs). But its not really about battling you know… freestyle, I love it, its really me. Its like, in a relationship, sometimes you really do have to talk, cause there is miscommunication or something is wrong. But for me and Rap, we’re fucking together to death. The past few years, you know why I made lot of pop music ? Because I was fucking  rapping in the streets. That’s all. Call me whatever you want,  Stupid, Old, Gay, Pop, Sell Out… pick a name, I don’t give a fuck, I don’t care, I rap, its pure. Rap and I have no issue. Some people have issues with me and Rap. But me and Rap, no issues, we’re together for ever. Anyone who met me, any rappers I’ve met, no matter if they’re black or white, or tough, or young, they know that, they see that in me.

The only thing I’ll be always struggle with, is : I sing, I rap, and I’ve done that for fifteen years. But people come to me at a different point, so they always want what they first got. So If I was rapping when they first saw me, they want me to rap. If I was singing, they want to hear me singing again. But its ok, because everything I’ve done before, I’ll do again.

– So its not the first time you’ve come to Japan, right ?

Doseone : No. First time was because of Dj Krush, he fell in love with the Anticon crew when we were really young. So he brought us to japan. In fact, he first fell in love with JEL. But JEL had the whole Anticon family behind him so… (laughs). Problem is that my japanese is terrible, and Krush’s English is just ok, so I never had the chance to really communicate with him. But I’m a Krush fucking fan. My first rap, it was on Dj Shadow and Krush songs. There was no instrumental hiphop before. With the band The Prunes also… those guys worked with the Beastie Boys. So with those 3 beatmakers, for me, it was the beginning of everything. And when Krush brought us to Japan, I met the  Popgroup guys, and they’re my motherfucking friends, like brothers.

I love Japan. I think there is some trouble here, like, socially, its sometimes weird… but that being said, the Japanese, with their appreciation of the whole world, are the best. I don’t know, its hard to say, but the rest of the world is not like Japan. And for a weird musician like me, its perfect to come here sometimes! About Japanese music, its hard to know much, because in America, we don’t hear about Japanese music. But when I come here, I love the shit, lives and stuff. They do everything they want. Ningen Ok, the band before my live, was super nasty for example.

“Music is weird now, its like water, people are taking it like its free and always will be free”

– And what do you think about the Hiphop everyone’s talking about these days, like Death Grips, Asap Rocky, Danny Brown, Odd future…

Doseone : Well, what I really love in that whole scene is that they are young and black, and have lots of originality. Because its been a while since black people made real rap. I’m not being weird here, ok ? its just, guys like Biggie Smalls made rap huge, but talked about money and only money, and for 10 fucking years, rap’s been only about money – possessions, and all that dogshit. There is a lack of personality today. When I was young, rap was…  you wanted a funny rap, a porn rap, a violent rap, a happy rap, horror rap, street rap, gangsta rap… there was everything. So what I like about those new rap cats is that its deviating from the money conversation. Well, for Asap Rocky, I’m disappointed, because it’s beginning to be only about “I got a driiiiink, I got moneeeey” (laughs) like Soulja Boy… weak ! Even if Clams Casino’s beats are fucking nasty. For Asap, the guy doesn’t go to the gym enough ! He’s cool but you wanna say “come on motherfucker, lift the weights, do some good, dont just please me” (laughs)

Now about Odd Future, Earl and Tyler are incredibly talented and gifted. If they go too big, they might suck forever. But, if they get lucky and Earl can manifest that originality again, without being deluded by the popularity, they might be really brilliant. Odd Future beats are often meh, but their charisma is stellar. You know, I teach 14 year old kids how to rap, so I’m happy this kind of “young rap” is back. Right now they’ve got the hype, they get magazine covers even though they’ve only released an EP on the Internet, or even just a song. But if they respect the game, they’ll grow. Artist grows, actors fake it ! And for Death Grips, well, they are just awesome.

– Why do you love cats so much ?

Doseone : I don’t know. They are real, that’s all.

– Have you been to a Cat Café in Japan ? its a place you can have a beer, but surrounded by cats

Doseone : No ? What’s this, are you fucking kidding me ? Where is it? I wanna go now! Or tomorrow? Are they open in the morning ? I’ve this live tomorrow, but after I’m up for it. I can’t believe what you’re saying, I wanna live in this place (laughs)

– Ok, so sorry about this, I know everyone hates this question at the end of an interview, but can you give us 3 records or artists to listen to?

Doseone : Well, Shabazz Palaces, you should buy all of it. Seregenti also! He’s my favorite rapper, he’s a genius, he’s fucking inspiring me. And what else… (long pause) well… let’s say… Hey, I love Baths, his music is beautiful. If you don’t listen to Baths, you’re an asshole (laughs). Ok two of those artists are on my label, it’s a little tacky, but hey, its true.

– Last question, I saw on your facebook that someone told you that Grrrnd Zero, live house of Lyon, was closing, so something to say for them ?

Doseone : Yes I saw that ! Well yeah, save Grrrnd Zero !  Don’t be a bitch ! Like what you have before its gone… You know, its like all those record- shops closing, it make me sad…

You know that I had to get a job this year ? Because I make no money, I’ve a day job, like, a real corporate job. And I have to do it because I have massive debts from music. And its not like I bought a Corvette and lots of cocaine. Its just that I had to pay my rent, and it came to a point that I couldn’t do music for a living anymore, it fucked me up. So I’m not trying to be depressing here, but I do music cause I fucking love it. So now I’ve got this job, I’m like a kid again ! After work, I’m like “I’ve got to make a fucking song right now” (laughs). But you know, to create the music you like, you’ve got to put money in it. It doesn’t come from nothing. People have to understand its like that. But music is weird now, its like water, people are taking it like its free and always will be free.

I hate to sound like a asshole, but it’s disrespectful to steal my music. You know, I had a journalist coming over to me for an interview, and he was like “I got all your records” “whao cool thats nice” “found on internet, but I pay for two of them”. So I did the math, and I said “you owe me 150 dollars, you wanna do the interview and pay me later ?” (laughs) . But how do I navigate that without being an asshole ? You know, stuff about stealing my music and everything, it was making me very upset. I don’t like that. If you go to a gallery and just take a painting and go out… its the same ! Everybody is like “music is better than ever we all have to share it for free” and I’m like “please nooooooooooooo” (laughs). So now I just make the music I wanna make, without thinking of this sharing free music and stuff, its crazy and impossible to understand for me.

I think there is no solution to this problem in the future. You just have to be resilient. Hey, by the way, talking about cats, do you know about Breading Cats (laughs) ?

Photos : Doseone live (April 20th) in Tokyo + Cat Café (April 21th) :

Doseone – Last Life (G is for Deep)

Doseone interviewed by Dat’ / Chroniques Automatiques

Photos by Dat’ / Chroniques Automatiques


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