Missions and Marketplace Podcast
Interview with Dee-1
Hello Everyone! I’m Priest Willis and this is Missions and Marketplace podcast episode number 32. I’m joined today by Dee-1. His name is David but he goes by the name Dee-1. He basically says that his rap equation is simple – it’s Soul + swag x New Orleans = Dee-1. We’ll talk about this a little bit but Dee-1 and David are one and the same person. Everything that he sets out to do, both to be inspiring and to motivate others, he does that as Dee-1 and David which I really can appreciate which is why he is only one of the few artists that I’ve had on this podcast because what he is doing transcends the music. What he talks about in terms of his rap career, what he does with his money, you know it wouldn’t be right if we brought somebody on that didn’t talk about the financial go-getterness, I just made that up right now but you’re free to use it.
Dee-1 is amazing. He has created his own lane in hip-hop by making music that motivates anyone on a mission to win the game of life. He is the voice of those underdogs who grind with a purpose. After graduating in LSU with a Bachelor’s degree, he taught Middle School for a couple of years which helped him financially pursue his musical dream and then after two years of being Mr. Augustine in the classroom, if you will, he set out by night to be Dee-1. And here we have what you see his passion being birthed today and his mission, vision, and his tour that he set to do The Slingshot David tour that we’d talk about. So, I’m inspired by Dee-1 and I hope you are too. And also, listen to what he does financially – I know we’re not rappers, we don’t have contracts that we’re signed to. But you don’t have to. because remember his mission started somewhere with the grind. So, I am honored to have Dee-1 on this show. So, without further ado, here is my man, Mr. Augustine otherwise known as Dee-1.
Welcome to Missions and Marketplace podcast. Join us as we talk to business and thought leaders to discuss their passion in and outside of business and how it drives them to give and be citizens of goodwill. Let’s get started.
PW: Dee-1, welcome to the program!
D1: Thank you for having me.
PW: So, blessed in having you brother. You’re an inspiration to many. I was looking forward to this interview and get an opportunity to speak with you a little bit. So, I’d love to just start off a little bit and talk about how you were raised. Someone that graduated from LSU and decided to go teach middle school but end up in this rap career, if you will. Let’s talk about that a little bit. How did you grow through that? So, let’s just start with, how are you raised? Most people’s perception of New Orleans is all violence, all chaos at all times but from my understanding, you were raised in a two-parent home, relatively decent neighborhood – let’s talk about that.
D1: The love that I received from my mother and my father, it outweighed the circumstances that I was surrounded by outside of the house. My mother and my father, they’re just goodhearted people. I’ve never seen them steal, manipulate people, manipulate one another. My father is a blue-collar worker. My mother, she’s a social worker. They’re in the business of serving others, in some ways they both are. And in the business of not making excuses and being lazy but just shut up and grind. That’s the mentality that I grew up with – you don’t have time for excuses as you know, you have to get it coz you got to eat. So, I was talking to my dad last night. He just retired and he was like “yeah, I still wake up at 5:30 in the morning, every morning to see your mother off to work coz that’s the time she leaves the house”. And I was telling him “Dad, you worked all those years to retire. Now, why do you still wake up so early?”
D1: And he was like, “Man when I was working I used to wake up at 3:30 in the morning. Really, I’m doing better now. I’m napping for two extra hours compared to when I was working”.
PW: [Chuckling] So 5:30 am is like super chill now?
D1: Yeah, that’ super chill for him. That just showed me that I got to leap coz meanwhile I’m sitting here waking up 9:30 or 10:00 o’clock some days depending on how late I stay up coz there’s a different lifestyle down here. I don’t go to sleep until the time he wakes up. That’s a different lifestyle but that’s how I grew up. I grew up just with two people who didn’t have everything figured out about life, they didn’t try to come across as like “I’m holier than thou or know everything” but I can literally feel their heart from the time I was a young child. I could tell they literally just wanted to provide, the best that they knew how which is being honest and coupled with integrity and it paid off. Because I didn’t actually grow up in the best neighborhood, I did not, and it hadn’t affected me. because of that, the love that I received actually sheltered me from a lot of what was going on around me. I was around yellow tape and white chalk and drugs and needles that people would use to shoot up dope and all that type of stuff and guns and violence. I was around all this and poverty. Boy, I was always endowed with positive outlook about all of this so I was into by nature encouraging people who are kind of like “yeah I know we are surrounded by this but there’s light at the end of the tunnel”. And that’s how I grew up, me David the young man. I just grew up with a positive outlook in life and then when I got to college that’s when the positive outlook turned into a Christian outlook, an outlook that was centered on Jesus Christ being the reason why I feel there’s joy and I feel there’s hope amidst all of despair around me. So, I thank my mother and father for giving me a positive outlook on life and then I thank a bunch of trials and tribulations I went through when I got to college. I thank those trials and tribulations for allowing me to fully turn to Christ like I needed to.
PW: It’s amazing how in the home, a seed is sown because your life has become a testimony for what your parents have done. There’s no doubt about that. I don’t even have to see them or even meet them to know that the fact they both were there had a major, major impact and much more influential than what was happening out on the street. My hat goes off to them all the time.
D1: Thank you.
PW: But when you go to college, like all of us, we have certain challenges, whether you’re a man or woman and temptations of sorts and all that kind of stuff. How do you get to a point where you decide to turn your life and receive salvation and decide that “you know what, I’m a just take my life in a completely different direction? I’ll accept Jesus Christ and this is how I’m going to do it”? Most people, when they go to college, that’s the time that they act most a donkey and then when they get out is when they receive Christ. There was something mature in you in that and again I think that was the seed from your parents but what was the catalyst for that? Did you have some real trauma or something? I mean, it must have been one night somebody – What was the story that put you that path?
D1: Right. It was a series of events at college. I call it big four. And the four big events happened very early in my college career that it made me say “I have to do something different”. One was my best friend growing up, he actually got murdered in cold-blood and lawlessness. I say my best friend, but actually my real best friend got murdered four years after this first dude. The first dude that got killed, I just put him on my top five. He was definitely in my top five best friends. He got murdered, I found out I was in class, I’m just starting college I find out through a text message. A mutual friend hit me up, and I just remember sitting in English class reading that text message that my boy just got gunned down. This was one of the other dudes from the ‘hood, from where I was from, who went to college. We grew up around a bunch of people that did not go on so well at this point in life unfortunately. And when it came to higher education, he and I are the only ones who went to college. His dad and my dad were the baseball coaches at the local park where we played baseball at from the time we were five until college. So, I knew this dude like the back of my hand. We went to church together and we’re Catholic. We went to church together, we get confirmation, we get first communion, we did all this together. This means all the rites of passage that we experienced together. Sunday school every Sunday – all this stuff. Yeah, that rocked my world. So, that was one. Second was my girlfriend who I had been with since tenth grade, we went to college together. The only reason I went to that college was because that’s the only school she could get into that was on my list that I was like “okay, I wouldn’t mind going here”. But I really got full scholarship to several schools around the country. Some for basketball, some for academics. I was a great basketball player in high school and had great grades as well.
PW: I’ve read you went to Ben Franklin, it was one of the hardest academic schools in Louisiana or known as one of the hardest academic school and you were a basketball starter too, right?
D1: Yeah. Yes, sir. I don’t shy with that man. All my friends went to McDonogh 35, McMain, Edna Karr, Warren Easton. Some of them went to St. Augustine, that’s a private school down here. I went to Ben Franklin because I got in. It was a test you had to take and once I passed that test, I was the only one in my whole clique who passed the test to get accepted in Ben Franklin and my mom was “boy, you don’t have a choice. You’re going to Ben Franklin coz you passed that test”.
D1: So, I went there. I didn’t go to any of the schools where I had full scholarships. I went to school where, ironically, I didn’t have a full scholarship. I don’t know why I didn’t get a full scholarship coz it wasn’t even as academically highly ranked as some of the other universities that I got accepted into. But for whatever reason I went to this school. I had to take out student loans to go to this school. But I went behind this girl. Long story short – freshman year, she ended up cheating on me. We would’ve been together for almost four years at this point and she ended up messing over me with one of these football players.
PW: Oh, man.
D1: Yeah. So, I just – I experienced that and when I tell you, I didn’t even see other women at this time. And I was pretty popular man. I was very popular in high school and even beginning college, I was starting on the route to being popular again instantly but that didn’t matter because I didn’t care about other women at all. Like I was all about this one girl. So, that rocked my world when she cheated on me. So, that’s number two that really shook up my world view. Number 3, was the fact that I really lost my whole city to Hurricane Katrina.
D1: I literally saw my whole city almost get wiped out in the that. I definitely saw my crib and my belongings and life as I know it, in my hood, get washed away.
PW: Were you at school during that time or did you literally come back to see the death and destruction that it caused?
D1: That’s a great question. So, August 29th, that was actually the first week of school. So, school had just started and when I will come home, I’ll be home for the summer. I wouldn’t go up to school until right before school started because that’s when I can move into the dorm rooms and all that kind of stuff. Literally I was in Baton Rouge which is only an hour away from New Orleans and I was away from the eye of the storm and the heart of everything but Baton Rouge was only an hour away. I became a man during that time. That’s what I really see me because my family their cellphones weren’t working during the hurricane and it was hard to get in touch with anyone. Because I was away from the eye of the storm my cellphone working for whatever reason and I was the first that heard about it. I was calling to check in with one another so they were relaying messages to one another through me because I was the one who had a consistently working cellphone. So, I’m here and being the man, and my family who I look up to being a broken, crying on the phone and “God, it must be bad down there”. Coz these are some of the strongest man I know and I’m seeing their spirits being broken during this tragic time.
D1: Yeah, man. I housed a bunch of family members where I was staying at the time at Baton Rouge. I actually housed my home bro who I grew up with. He’s a pretty popular rapper dude now – I kind of miss him. He stayed with me at the time coz he didn’t have anywhere to go. He was signed with Cash Money Records at that time – I’m sorry with Young Modern Records. And I was like “man, we’ll let Lil Wayne know he’ll bail you” and he was like “Man, they’re not answering their phone”.
D1: So, he came to stay with me for a moment. So, those were the three things that really shook me and honestly. The fourth thing was my basal friends, my foundational friends, who I really find myself being drawn to they all got to college. I’m talking about one dude in particular, specifically my roommate. When we got to college, we’re being a high academical form. He was just like me coz so we went to the same high school, played basketball together. So, our life was about playing ball, making good grades and just being young and enjoying ourselves. It went from that to we get to college and all of a sudden…
PW: He turning up…
D1: … more than that. Dude was selling dope at our dorm.
D1: Yeah! And I’m talking about I wake up in the middle of the night I see guns on the dresser. You hear me.
D1: And this is my dude who I was part of at that time. And then he got a girl coming in the dorm where I’m holed. We know her, we went to high school with her. But for him, she’s like Halle Berry or Beyoncé to him and because he started being a bad boy she was drawn to that. He started bringing her around and she’s trying to sow the seed between he and I. That’s basically like “oh, David he’s lame” or “David, hey we’re not on a relationship” or whatever. I was “look man, we’re not sleeping in my bed. I don’t want you four feet away from me for heaven’s sakes”. As a matter of fact, I don’t want this girl in the room when I’m here. That’s when I started being all so lost where I should. We didn’t get into any fights or anything but I didn’t feel comfortable living with him anymore. I ended up requesting a switch, a room switch and the week after I requested that room switch, the police ended up busting him in the room and arresting him. We found out about that, and it wasn’t me! I’m not going to lie; I didn’t care and I’m not proud of it coz I know people on the streets say “don’t snitch don’t snitch”. It wasn’t that I went and told anyone but perhaps I…
PW: It’s just the way it unfolded.
D1: Yes, the way it unfolded. But now that I think about it, the definition of snitching is – if I would have been taking part in that stuff – in selling drugs and doing that lifestyle- and then went and told someone on him, that would be snitching. But the fact that I wasn’t doing anything, if I would’ve went and alerted the proper people I actually wouldn’t have been wrong for that coz it’s almost like “this is not even wrong to you bro the fact that you’re doing this”. I thank my mom for that coz without telling her what was going in, I just talked about it in cold language. And I was like “Ma, my boy…” and she knew him very well and I was like “he was just changing on me, right before my eyes” and she told me “you know how I raised you and you know what to do if you’re around that, you eventually become that so you don’t want to become that. You need to step away from it”. And a week after that’s when the police bust in. He had a bunch of fines and that just started the downward spiral for him. So, those were the four things that really happened to me, that shook me up. And this is all like in a 12-month span of me beginning college. That right there that made me see everything built my identity off on – my girlfriend to being a star basketball player, by the way I got cut in the basketball team. The more I talk the more I remember. Everything was going wrong but…
PW: But you know what’s funny about our journey is sometimes it’s like paint by numbers, right? When you’re just kind of painting the numbers, you can’t see where your life is leading you. 1996 I accepted Jesus Christ but my mother passed away, I went to the same scenario with a woman where I was cheated on. You know you go through these processes and you don’t really know where its taking you. Now that I’m 41 and I look back to what I experienced then which hurt at the time – it was painful, physically painful. Now that I look back I’m like “yeah this made me every bit of the man that I am today”. And that’s something now that I can stand on coz I beat it and it didn’t beat me. and I think that’s why as you’re talking about it, you’ve kind of pushed it to the side because you’ve been defeating it and just grinding and move ahead. But that’s powerful coz all of those things can capture anyone. Especially leaving off to college and you get a little more freedom than what you had previously. And I don’t know what you had previously but when you get that much freedom. That roommate is the example of how somebody can just back a fool when they get that out.
D1: Oh, yes, it is. So, all of that stuff broke me down to the point where I know that no other woman – it wasn’t in the arms of another woman, it wasn’t anything. It wasn’t a New Orleans tattoo on my arm like some people try to do to remember the city.
PW: Yes, brother
D1: It wasn’t a New Orleans tattoo, it wasn’t another woman, it wasn’t anything that I could really do that could fill that void and that sense of my identity being shattered. It wasn’t anything except for Christ and that is when I finally stopped having knowledge who Jesus Christ was and begin having a relationship with Christ. Because I always grew up in the Church and I definitely had knowledge of Jesus Christ and God and His Love for us but knowledge of versus a relationship with – there’s no comparison.
PW: Powerful. Dee, you graduate in 2008. You begin to teach middle school then you did it I believe for a few years, a couple of years. Is it during this time that you started to – or have you been kind of rapping all along and you just happened to get into teaching because you felt like “well, teaching is my actual call but I sure do like rapping”? How did you evolve from this teacher to getting on the rap stage?
D1: That’s a great question. When I was teaching, I saw how much my students look up to rappers and I saw one of my students; he had an M.O.B tattoo that he came to class and he was showing to all his friends. And I said “bro, do you know what M.O.B stands for?”
D1: So, this boy was in sixth grade at that time and he had that look on his face. He was a little fake, I remember and I want to admit.
D1: And he was like “no, Mr. Augustine, I don’t. What does it mean?” And he was dead serious. He really didn’t know what it meant. But he literally had it tattooed on him. I told him what it meant and then I said “why did you get that?” “Because it’s the same rapper Lil Wayne had it tattooed on his chest”. Once he said that and he actually admitted that, I was like “oh goodness! The way they are drawn to rappers”. It’s actually scary to see how much celebrities influence all of our youth. I saw that and this was also around that time Nicki Minaj really starts bursting on to the scene in hip hop and for a young female, especially young black females, she was charismatic enough so that people are all eyes and all ears, like “yo! What is she sing next? What is she going to wear next? What is it coz we’re just soaking it all up”. And I’m seeing a lot of girls in my class start to emulate Nicki’s behavior, her speech, and all that type of stiff not in a positive way. That’s what motivated me to at least be able to – coz we’re big on home-grown pride down here. So, in Louisiana, I taught in Baton Rouge but I’m from New Orleans. In Louisiana, we’re big on “yo this person came from Louisiana and made it” or “this person set an awesome example and he’s from the crib”. We take pride in who’s-who. It doesn’t matter if somebody from California accomplished it, we would be more drawn to the person from Louisiana who accomplished half of the that. But because they’re from the crib it means more to us like “yeah, this person from the crib did this”. So that being said, I literally could not think of an example of a hip-hop artist who had ever been from the crib and made it on any type of no-word from the devil in the game and they would point to him and say this was a man of God or this was a woman of God who has not compromised in what they believe in but they still made it and you can see their success like its actually visible. They have been on television, they have real fans, they have traveled and they have toured. I couldn’t think of one! So, at this point….
PW: Coz at this point you only have Lil Boosie, Master P and I don’t even know if Lil Boosie is Orlando or New Orleans – He’s New Orleans.
D1: O yeah I know. He’s definitely from Baton Rouge so that was their hero. Lil Boosie was their hero. When I taught in Baton Rouge, Lil Boosie was their hero – so Lil Boosie, Lil Wayne, Master P, Birdman, the Hot Boys, all that stuff.
PW: So, from those listing, you can get an idea what they are saying that if you listen to their music, there’s no level of inspiration. Well it depends on what kind of inspiring you need, but there’s no level of positive inspiration from those people I just named.
D1: Correct and that’s what motivated me right there. I said “man, I dibble and dabble with rap stuff and it’s a little high to turn me on the side”. But you know what, I want to make it. Just so that I can be an example for another group of youngsters that are coming up. But even the group that I commonly teach, just so that they can see that it’s possible. And I did believe in the possibilities coz at this time Barack Obama has just gotten elected. He has been in office for a couple of years.
D1: And I said for better or for worse, whatever he accomplishes during his time as a president or his multiple terms, at least a young teen growing up can see that all is really possible for someone other than a white male to be president. And at least they feel that it is possible. So, I think that’s the best part about Barack Obama’s election as president is it shows people that it’s possible. Because if you’ve never seen him before, he has an element of the unknown that people are like “man, it might not just be able to happen”. You know for someone other than a white man to be elected. Barack Obama made it somewhere. You can say that it’s impossible and I wanted to be the one to make it to where you can’t say that it’s impossible to be from Louisiana, to be a man of God, to be positive, make clean music, be educated and have any of that stuff and be a Christian but still make it in hip-hop and that’s what I wanted.
PW: So, did you ever try to go to the established artists – some of them that we already named like No Limit, Cash Money and say “hey let me link up with you as a clean Wayne to your brand. So, I can be kind of the front of gospels and to write word but the Good News…”
D1: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Great question, great question! When it came to Lil Wayne, he and I we had, although we’d never met, we had a checkered past because I put a song out called “Jay, 50 & Weezy”. This is while I was still teaching that I put this out and this ended up being one of my biggest songs of my career. It’s about JayZ and 50 Cent and Lil Wayne. It’s where I’m essentially writing a letter to them and I’m calling them out saying “yo! You got this house, the paper, the power and the platform to have a positive impact on people. And I feel like you’re wasting these opportunities, you’re wasting this platform by not taking that turn that you know needs to be taken coz you all aren’t currently selling dope. You all aren’t currently out here, living this life of crime or just being a gangster and shooting people. You talk about it and you’re living but you aren’t doing that.”
PW: That’s right.
D1: And you got the money and you got the fan base to where that if you did take a bold turn in a positive direction, it might catch people off-guard but trust me, you wouldn’t fade into oblivion tomorrow. You would still have a sizeable fan base; you would still be able to monetize what you’re doing. So, when I made that song about Lil Wayne, it kind of positioned me locally as anti- Lil Wayne. So, that was like, “okay, we think Dee-1 or we think that’s what Lil Wayne could be if Lil Wayne was a Christian or Lil Wayne went positive with his craft. So, me getting Lil Wayne, I knew that was always part of some impossible. But ironically a couple of years after that Cash Money Record did try to sign me and they reached out and they were definitely recording me. I was getting dealing with Lil Wayne, I was dealing with Slim, that’s Birdman’s brother who’s the co-CEO of Cash Money and they would give me the 5-star treatment. Honestly, they threw some money in my pocket man, they flew me out there to Miami where they were based at, I got a studio for the recording but I was being sheltered from Lil Wayne the whole time. Literally I didn’t even meet him and they were trying to sign me to his label essentially.
PW: So, they had known about that previous record that you made and tried to sign you on one hand but also try to keep you apart, not to cause any rift or whatever the case is. Is that what you…?
D1: Correct. That was awkward to me and I didn’t see it right. And then I actually didn’t feel right in general like the energy. Slim is a good guy, I can honestly say I caught a good vibe in Slim but I know that Slim wasn’t the sole decision maker over there and because of that I was like “nah. If I were to sign into a label where part of the executive branch of this label probably hates me and probably has no love for me and all, that’s unhealthy. Coz I didn’t know how Birdman felt about me. I didn’t know how Lil Wayne felt. But my gut told me neither one of them really rocked with me because I was positioned as the dude that called Lil Wayne out. And that song got big, that song got huge especially locally, that song became a hit. So, that happened with them and then the other one Master P. I definitely have a relationship with Master P to this date. He told me he wanted to be to me what Dr. Dre was to Kendrick Lamar, what JayZ was to J. Cole which is like that person that introduces you to the masses and try to get you to co-sign. I think that with P, and I respect P man, I really rocked with P. I had a chance to be with him on a personal level more I did l with Slim from Cash Money so I understand P’s heart. But I also know that P is conflicted and sounds like the man he is and the music he makes – they’re not in alignment and with that being said I just felt like that would take me down a path where everything had to be in alignment about me in terms of my lifestyle and David Augustine the man but also my music as Dee-1 artist. And what would it look like if I was signed to someone who there was a clear difference between where they are as a man and their maturity level versus the music that they make. That’s ultimately why I didn’t felt like that would work. But it’s crazy because when I tell you like I got love for a person you know Master P the man – the man that id been exposed to we’ve had a transparent conversation. I have – my big brother, my man Mac, was actually signed to Master P and Mac was totally Master P’s most talented artist but Mac got caught up on a bogus murder charge and he’s serving thirty years for a murder he didn’t even commit. So, Master P we had a very transparent type of relationship because it’s like “yo, my man was signed to you. And you had been through a lot with people that are very near and dear to my heart”. So, me and P got more than just a surface level type of relationship.
PW: Well that’s admirable that you’re making business decisions ultimately on your integrity and not about the money or notoriety coz obviously, we just named a couple of people that not only blew up in New Orleans. They’re nationally syndicated and still names that we know and legends just in the culture and general. So, that’s extremely admirable. As you continue to go in on your journey, on Facebook a very close pastor friend of mine, he just put on his wall Sallie Mae Back and I thought “okay this is maybe just a guy rapping about laying back in his Maybach”. But then again it was Sallie Mae Back. So, I started watching the video and here you are, the beat is banging, the start sounds like ice cream like “Dum, dum, dum” and I’m like “okay what is this?” and then you get in to “you know you doubted me”. I’m like “Oh!” and then it went into the music and I’m like, “who is this guy?”. So, I started digging into stuff, I’m talking to the pastor and I’m like “is anybody… “and then I started looking at you. And by this point, previously – So a lot of people act like Dee-1 was just noticed when Sallie Mae Back came out but with all due respect you’ve been on tours with Killer Mike and other people along those lines. So, people would know that you’ve put in some work before that point. But it seems like it all came to a head on this video and it spoke to a lot of people. I don’t care how hard you are. If you’ve had any loans, but just in general, to grind and pay off the loan committedly the way you did was impressive and to put it in word playing rap, sing in, do the word play on Sallie Mae Back coz everybody knows about the Maybach. I was like “okay, this dude. He’s okay. Help me”. So, then as I’m looking into it, I come to find out you did end up getting a record deal with RCA and then I think that alone Mr. Dee, you’re separating yourself from a lot of people because you’re creating a lane that I don’t think any of us have seen. We’ve heard about conscious rappers but even them get caught up into another side every now and then. But you’ve…
PW: …have created a lane that’s entirely separate, entirely positive. Let’s talk about this though. Rap and hip hop is known as flashy. Here you are talking about paying off a loan. How did you break from that? And even if you go one step further and you look at his Instagram page, you guys that are listening here, he still drives around in a 98 Hunter that he doing videos in an and he’s constantly driving in, taking pictures.
PW: How do you stay humble within your finances? What drives you there?
D1: My mom – before I knew what a credit card was and a credit score and debt, my mom would always just complain and be stressed out about all these bills that she had. And in my head, I was like “Yo. You all are making money. Both of you work”. I don’t get it; I didn’t get it. We don’t have an expensive house and just as a young man, I did not get it. I had to ingrain it in my head people have always said that whatever David is, he’s careful with his money. And that is because I had a fear of making money but being broke because I know my parents were making some money, they both had professional careers. But literally, it’d be like “no, we don’t have money for this”, “no, we don’t have money for that”, “no”. I can’t relate to the people that grew up wearing Jordan’s or they grew up – even where I’m from. Where I’m from, the dress code, we all grew up listening to, No Limit, Cash Money, the Hot Boys. The dress code was, the Hot Boys they wore tee’s, bo’s, and ree’s. What that means is you wear white t-shirt, Jabo jeans and Reebok on your feet. Jabo jeans were expensive. I remember Jabo jeans might have been $72 or $68. I remember these numbers on a price tag.
PW: And back in my time they did come pre-ripped which my dad couldn’t wrap his mind around like “so you go and pay for a jean that got holes in them brother”?
D1: Right, right.
PW: This is used jeans, Jabo’s. Now Jabo got to become a little bit cleaner and they had a nice cut, nice pocket cuts and stuff but that would mess my dad up that these jeans would cost $70 and they would be pre-washed and ripped and all – that kind of stuff.
D1: Yeah man. And because of that though I literally didn’t have any of these stuffs. So, I don’t even feel like I was really from New Orleans coz it’s like “ma, I can’t even get some Jabo jeans?”. And I remember Polo was popular at that time and I’ll figure “ma, I didn’t have any of these stuff”. I had one pair of Jabo jeans my whole childhood and I had to beg my mom for that. And she finally got me a pair of Jabo jeans and then anything else – Polos, Jordan’s, Tommy Hilfiger. Man, I had Wrangler jeans from Walmart. I had whatever shoes were on sale right now.
PW: [Laughs] That happens too.
D1: Yeah, I had whatever shoes were on clearance aisle at the time in these stores. And for shirts and I did have whatever t-shirt was lying around that fit. But Walmart was where I went to get clothes and with that being said, I knew that once I started making money I just want to be responsible with my finances. That’s where paying my loans off when I signed the record deal. That’s where not feeling this pressure from society to have to drive a certain type of car because I’m a rapper. That’s where that came from and that’s why I’m still loyal to my 1998 Honda Accord and that’s where just being financially literate became something that prioritized because growing up I was confused about the fact that I didn’t feel like my parents were the most financially literate.
PW: That’s really good. That’s really good to hear that you’re learning from those lessons and it’s made you better versus going the other way coz most people would rebel against that and If they couldn’t get it one way, they try to find it and they either take it from you or do some things that didn’t make sense to go out and get it. But you just decided “you know what, I’ll just go up my grind a little bit. I’m going to be responsible how I do it”. So, do you budget at all?
D1: I definitely budget. Keep in mind I have a business that I essentially run so I have expenses every month that are not even “David, all this personal expenses”. I have business expenses. I have payroll – I have people I have to pay. This is something where I have to budget my money in terms of my personal expenditures as well as business. So, there is no way I’ll just freestyle all of this and keep my head above water.
PW: So, what do you splurge on?
D1: What do I splurge on? Well I think that, based on experiences, there’s not an experience that I would ever deprive myself from if I wanted to attend a certain concert or go take a trip. If I want to go to Hawaii tomorrow, that will be something that I can go and do. You know what, let me rephrase that. I don’t think that’s splurging on anything. But I’ve positioned my finances to where I can get anything I want at any time. And then if I have that impulse, if that impulse purchase kicks in to where it’s like “oh I have an impulse desire to consume something”. Like I just bought three – I’m not saying its splurging – but I just decided to buy three basketball jerseys the other night online. I just saw and I was like I’m a huge basketball fan. A lot of my boys play in the NBA at this point. I said instead of just trying to rap for the most popular player in the league, I want to wear my boys’ jerseys. So, these jerseys cost a few hundred dollars apiece coz they’re customized when you got to go online and get the jersey made. And I’m not talking about the replica, I’m talking about the official, stitched, real NBA jerseys.
PW: Yeah that’s splurging a little bit. You said “I’m not saying its splurging”. I’m letting you know that for some folks that’s splurging for sure.
D1: I just wanted to do it. I felt like man that would be awesome to be able to rock these jerseys which I love NBA jerseys. But be able to rock them. My personal friends who are in the league rip them and rock their jerseys, There’s a decent price tag on it. but yo I actually have the money to where, I’m not going to miss this money at all. And that felt great to be able to do that. And if I wanted to do that again tonight like I’m thinking about doing. Coz I was like man I only got three of my friends. I got three more friends who I think will feel left out. I might even do this. But that’s the type of stuff you got to find joy. And other than that, I like to splurge on other people. I haven’t seen my mother in a few weeks. I’d been super busy being ready for this tour that’s coming up, the Slingshot David tour. I’m going to link up with my mom after work today and I just need to think of something real cool, real fun to do with her, real relaxing so we could spend some good quality time together. And luckily, price isn’t an issue for me. My grandparents, they’re older now. They don’t cook as much anymore. So, I can go to a real awesome restaurant and just go pop-up and bring them lunch and dinner for the rest of my life – just little things that I knew we didn’t have the opportunity to do growing up. Like eating out wasn’t a thing where once a week or once a month we would go out and eat as a family. We would try to eat out as a family twice a year or maybe once a year and I remember it because it was so few and far between that I was like ” Dad, we’re actually going to a restaurant to it?”. And that stood out so much for me. We went on one vacation that I can remember – my whole childhood. Things like that, I know that Lord-willing, if the Lord says the same, I’m setting myself up and my finances are setting themselves up to where I can do those things for my loved ones – future wife, future kids and even parents and grandparents to where it doesn’t affect me. It doesn’t affect my finances.
PW: You looking for your wife Dee-1?
D1: I’m looking with a telescope man, I’m looking with goggles, I’m looking with a magnifying glass – yeah I am, I am.
PW: [Laughs] There you go ladies; he’s searching so get it right. So, you talked briefly about the Slingshot David tour. We’ll go and talk about that in a minute here. Things have picked up for you – I’ve seen on Instagram where you announced the tour, then you got the tour dates selected, then you told people “hey we’re going to make another run on tour day”, so you’re going to be running. So how do you handle the pressure of business mentally and spiritually? Now I know spiritually where you keep yourself grounded. But how do you unplug a little bit and just get into David versus Dee-1? How do you draw that line between what it’s still Dee-1 a business in some sense right? You just said you had a payroll and other things so that’s still a business. How do you focus on David a little bit?
D1: I think it helps me because Dee-1 and David are really one and the same. Dee-1 is just thrust into the spotlight so Dee-1 is popular and Dee-1 has to be an entertainer by nature. But luckily David is, the foundation of who Dee-1 is, is David.
PW: I like that.
D1: So, as Dee-1 is growing, David has to grow as well.
PW: I like that.
D1: Yeah that’s honestly what I do man. It’s all woven in together. So, for me for example, reading the bible is staying grounded and rooted in the word. That’s doesn’t just benefit Dee-1 so that Dee-1 can recite different Scriptures in interviews or in corporate agencies or music. That’s benefitting David the man as well. It’s like “yo, we’re both able to grow – Dee-1 and David” and reading the bible helps me in my personal as well as my professional life. Things of that nature – having a ton of partners. That benefit Dee-1 so that Dee-1 doesn’t start falling off in terms of faith as a Christian. It’s helping David as well because David being in a peaceful state allows Dee-1 to operate without a glitch and hesitations. So, that’s what it is.
PW: I really like how you brought up how David the man, when he grows Dee-1 grows or vice versa. And you talked specifically about what you may do off where you read the Scripture and you’re like “hey, I’m not just riding scriptures to get lyrics”. One thing that I’ve never really pitted you in and you know I’ve listened to a lot of what they classify as Christian rap and all these other stuffs. But I’ve never really seen you in that lane even though you come with positivity, you don’t curse in your raps, you don’t do any of that stuff, you’re willing to talk about Jesus in your raps. Even before we got on, I was watching one video specifically where it says “I’m not perfect (I’m Christian)”. That video’s out on YouTube if you guys want to go and check it out. So, it’s bit all of the stuff and you’re talking about the principles of Christianity but I never see you as a Christian rapper. Do you stay away from that title “Christian rapper” or are you just like “hey, I’m a rapper who’s a Christian that’s all”.
D1: Yeah. Uh neither one. I don’t get to the point where I try to define what it is that I do because I think that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So, the beauty of what I do may be seen and interpreted from two different perspectives based on who’s listening and who’s watching. So, for one person he may say “this brother, he is a Christian and this brother is definitely not shying away from his faith and his belief in Jesus Christ and his admiration for Christ”. So that being said, “He is a Christian rapper. He is a part of something that I can play for my youth group at my Church and I love it. I love his faith. I love how he does what he does”. And for that person, if that’s the lanes that they see me my music through and listen to my music through – that’s fine. The next person might say “Man, do you know that dude from the hood like me and who has experienced trials and tribulations in his life? And like you said He’s a God-fearing man but I look at him as more of just a positive dude but a dude I can literally relate to. So, I look at him like J. Cole or Kendrick Lamar who does encourage. Because those people talk about God in their music too but they also curse and they may have some songs where flip-flop what they stand for and what they represent and this dude doesn’t flip-flop”. They may look at me like that and neither one of those people are wrong.
PW: I would say you’re consistent in your message for sure because there are people that I’ve talked to ahead of this interview and I’ll say one of them publicly I talked to Wendy Day and she was like “oh, Dee-1? One of the best guys I know” and I’m like “Wow”. Coz we were talking about talking to some other artists about the direction of hip-hop and this hip-hop poison in the community. One of the things that stuck out at me was I see rappers that, if you ever remember New Jack City’s Nino Brown, he sells all this poison in the community and then during thanksgiving, he hands out turkeys, white CDs, rappers and I won’t say names that will essentially put out poison music. And to your point they’ll send their kids to college and they’ll live away from the hood but they’ll preach that stuff so that’s why I call it poison and yet they’ll hand out backpacks and all these stuff. So, I told her that that’s not really the people that I’m looking to talk to, I want to talk to such and such. And she’s like “oh Dee-1 is an amazing guy”. So, your character precedes you brother, for sure. So, what you’re rapping in your words are, from what I hear from a few people, is the real you and when you mentioned David being Dee-1 and Dee-1 being David, that’s spot on for who I hear you are.
D1: Thank you man. I appreciate all of this. Honestly I’m just trying exist in such a way that people can see my flaws and they can see that none of this is scripted when it comes to me man. Some people they put so much thought into trying to construct a character that they want to buy into – a story or a persona that seems like if it fits in this box or it doesn’t fit in that box. And my thing is I’m not in this game to be scripted. I don’t want my delivery to be scripted – I always wondered man, I promise always wondered. I was like I used to always sit down. I don’t always fit in to any of these cliques. I see fraternities in college and I’m cool with these dudes as individuals but I don’t feel like ill fit in to the clique enough to really feel related to go in Joh Wong. I would see different people and I’d be like “yo I like these people as individuals” – my teammates when it comes to sports or whatever. Okay I’m part of the jock clique in high school but I really want to go hang with the outcast, the dude that people are making fun of, I see beauty in that dude, and in his story and the fact that not everybody rocks with him. I see beauty in that and I want to go and kick it with him, go to the opposite of what everybody else who play for ball and basketball wanted to do. And I just started saw that type of stuff and didn’t understand it ever why it didn’t fit sit in and I think that its translated into “I never really felt fully I fit in to this clique rap-wise or with this group”. I never really felt like that and I think that that became a song that I’m embracing now. Whatever everyone else would be doing, I would always try to feel a little different about it. Now, I know the box that they want me to fit in and exist in but something about me doesn’t feel like I fit in those boxes. I think that translates for some people, that is the best, most authentic thing in the world and that’s why they rock me.
PW: Talking about rap and what you do, you have the Slingshot David tour which is coming up very soon. You’re getting prepared for, you’re constantly putting out updates on Instagram and all that kind of stuff. I think you put one out yesterday; shout out to Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill Triangle Area. Chapel Hill and Dallas right now is the two fastest selling tickets. I know Chapel Hill’s going to be sold-out. There’s no doubt as I’m speaking it if it has not done already. That will be September 25th, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham, dee1music.com his website. But let’s talk about the Slingshot David tour. This is your first tour that you’re doing on your own. What was the catalyst for this? What does this mean? I mean let’s just get in to the whole tour here.
D1: This is my step into manhood as an artist coz it gets real when aren’t opening for another artist, or you aren’t packaging yourself with a group of artist and going out together. This is when you see who’s really supporting you on the level where they’re coming out because it is your show. They’re coming out because they have a sense of your music, your movement. There’s no beating around the bush at that point. And that’s what I’m doing right now. So, I put out the Slingshot David mixtape which you can download online right now anywhere that mixtapes are available for free download and free streaming. Slingshot David is also the name of my App – which will be forthcoming. That’s the Slingshot David tour just makes sense because I’m going to be performing a lot of the new music from the freshly released mixtapes. So, I encourage all the fans when you come out I want you to know the lyrics of the songs. Don’t just come out and be like, “well, we want to see what he does”.
D1: I want you to be invested into the music. Let’s makes this fun for both of us coz when I see people rapping my lyrics that really does something for me that the only thing I can compare it my grandma cooking apple crumble. Grandma cooking apple crumble, that does something for me that I’m like “Owwww”
D1: “This food is…” That’s the only thing that I can compare to when I see people rapping my lyrics. So, it’s going to be something where I’m going to be giving so much of myself on this tour and these shows. We’re going to be celebrating life. That’s what it is. it’s a celebration of life and the fact that we’re here, we made it.
PW: So, you’re taking off at New York September 3rd. You’re hitting a lot of spots here. It looks like you go on to New York – Denver – Houston, Texas – Austin, Texas. Two phenomenal spots, college town for Austin Texas. Dallas Texas, House of Blues – Oklahoma City. I mean brother you got a lot of tour spots here. So, you guys should go to dee1music.com/tour to look at the tour dates and the times in your area. So, that’s right, right? It’s kicking off September, that’s your first tour apparent.
D1: Correct. So, make sure you go, like you said, dee1music.com/tour. You can get your tickets and just spread the word for me. For the people who do have tickets, at that point I’ll say, just spread the word if you have friends in your city or even in other cities where I’m going to. Just spread the word because this is something where I look forward to being able to bless everyone that walks through those doors. And I think that that’s what I was putting to do is to do the blessing of being able to do what I love, to be a blessing to others. And it’s just a relationship where we reciprocate the love and support for one another. People that enjoy my music they say it helps them, they in turn support me by coming to my concerts and getting tickets and spreading the word. Therefore, when they do come to the concert, I may be able to return the favor to them by blessing them with the energy and with the message that they receive, then they’re able to go and be a blessing coz they take what I give them and they spread it coz you want to talk when you experience something great and we support one another at that point. So, let’s do it
PW: Yeah definitely. Again, check out dee1music.com. He loves what he does. I got four tickets, I’ll be doing a giveaway for the Chapel Hill concert. Dee-1 this has been such an honor to talk to you brother. I am so blessed to have you on as a guest. What can we look from you in the future? Is there anything you want to share? Anything that you’re putting out? Or is your focus now just the Slingshot David tour? What else do you have on deck?
D1: Oh, yeah. Right now, it’s all about three things. One is the Slingshot David mixtape because that’s out, that’s new and that’s fresh. That is important right now so people could go and download the Slingshot David mixtape. Number two is preparing for the Slingshot David nationwide tour. That is consuming all of me. That has all of my attention at this point. And number three, my album – Slingshot David The Album, will be releasing soon after the tour. I’m still finishing up the album as we speak. So, those are the three things that have all of my attention from now until the end of 2016.
PW: It’s been a pleasure having you on. Again, I’ve been honored and I look forward to talking to you in the future.
D1: My man. Thank you so much for your support bro. I saw you purchased those four tickets. That means a lot, I have to show love and post you on my Instagram to show the world that my man Priest Willis is represented out there North Carolina. So, thank you brother.
PW: Thank you brother. Much love to you.
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