“The Truth” (listen/download)
“First and foremost, any leader at one point had to be a good follower, or a good soldier. I also know that I carry a certain aura, I can get people’s attention and can command a room with confidence. You also have to know when to take the wheel, and when to give the directions, entrusting others with driving on the road to success. You have to have thick skin, too, and be able to react to certain things with a calm demeanor and level head.” – Dukalion (On Being A Leader) / Dukalion is an offbeat thought provoking emcee who is originally from Milwaukee but currently resides in Los Angeles, California. He also happens to be a proud member of Milwaukee based Hip-Hop faction, SAFS Crew. He recently reached out to the site to provide some insight into who he is and dish on a few details about his pending debut album. Find out what was on his mind after the break.
The Illixer: Your bio states that your stage moniker is derived from author Dean Koontz and his version of Frankenstein. Can you elaborate a little bit more on how you chose your name?
Dukalion: Well, in Dean Koontz’s novel, he picks up roughly about 200 years from where Mary Shelley left off, except the “monster” in this case is actually the hero, who chooses the moniker of Deucalion. Being born in a laboratory due to the infamous lightning storm, Frankenstein’s creation carries the ability to manipulate the time / space continuum, meaning he can be in France one minute and take one step into Harlem the next. Also, he has a remarkable healing trait, super strength, and speed. After further research, I found the origin of Deucalion to stem from Greek Mythology, who was the equivalent of the Judaic- Christian prophet Noah, the ark builder. I felt that the name was perfect at the time, because Hip-Hop was becoming over-flooded with bulls–t and I planned on saving it, smell me? (lol)
TI: Growing up you immersed yourself in: battles, cyphers, and poetry. In what way do you feel those three things helped prepare you for your career as an emcee?
Du: To this day I’ve never been a great battle emcee like the guys on SMACK DVD or King Of The Dot, but it pushed me to want to out-write anyone, my idols included. The same bodes true in cyphers, but cyphers to me are less about a competition and more-so about sharing / spreading my gift & message with A-Alikes with a common passion for Hip-Hop music. And poetry is where I started. I’ve always been into music and performing, and since I couldn’t sing but I could write poetry, it was a natural transition. I actually helped start the Poetry Club at Riverside University High School, and poetry open mics were the platform where I honed my performance skills, being able to use my words to move crowds without music.
TI: How did you come to be a member of SAFS Crew?
Du: I met Blizz McFly through Direc, another member of the crew, after they opened up for Nas back in October of 2008. And after that, I ended up doing a show at The Miramar Theatre with both Blizz and RTystic the following January of 2009. Blizz and I shared a mutual respect for each other’s craft, so he called for a meeting with me, RTystic, & Direc, and the rest was history.
TI: How do you feel your career would have been different if you would have stayed in college and obtained your degree in Music Business?
Du: I probably would be the CEO of Def Jam by now; Lord knows they need some help! (Lol, just kidding) but I might’ve searched for an industry job, making a couple grand a month promoting some cookie-cutter artist and feeling unsatisfied and ashamed to do so, honestly. I’m happy with the route I chose, though. For one, I’m not indebted to a school for thousands. And the industry is forever changing, so I feel it’s easiest to learn hands-on in the field versus writing notes from someone who’s never went wood in record sales.
TI: What are some of the pros and cons of transitioning from the Mid-West Hip-Hop scene to the West Coast Hip-Hop scene?
Du: Well, I’ve definitely been blessed to have been able to connect with some really great artists out here, as well as get myself into some pretty good venues. Another pro is that I have a totally different, and I’d even go as far to say more diverse sound than a lot of the artists out here. In no way is that meant to put down West Coast Hip-Hop, I love the music out here. But Milwaukee is a melting pot of each coast as well as the Dirty South music, so we take those influences and run with it!
The only con I’d have is that it’s like starting all the way over building a fan base. But even that is a welcoming challenge. Oh, and maybe the fact that I’m only out here with one other crew member, so I don’t have the same strong support system I had back home. I’m tryna convert them fools to this West Coast living though! (lol)
TI: You classify yourself as a leader. What is the cause or movement that you are leading for?
Du: I was talking with one of my old-heads today about the 90s. I realized a while ago that we’ll NEVER be able to replicate that era, but I’ll be damned if I don’t try to match or surpass that level of creativity, artistry, and attention to detail in my music. As well as to know how to make good music that will reach who it needs to reach. My little cousins were just being born or still in diapers when Nas & Jay-Z dropped Stillmatic & The Blueprint, so they don’t know that feeling first-hand like I did. And they didn’t see the quality in music drop after that era because all they knew was what was being played on the radio or T.V. I had Outkast in their glory years, they got Lil Wayne and Soulja Boy. I want to give the younger generations that Aquemini, since Kendrick Lamar just gave them The Chronic 3.0, which is a great start in the right direction.
TI: Live performances seem to be a huge staple in your career. How do you go about getting set up for a show and what has been your most significant show to date?
Du: That’s a secret. Nah, it’s just a matter of knowing the right people, and putting yourself out there for people to see your hunger, and being a real, humble human being through and through. To date? I got the chance to open up for a nationally renowned Hair-Metal Cover Band, Steel Panther. I performed with a group called Clean Corruption, and it was before a packed Memorial Day crowd at the House of Blues in Hollywood on the main stage. A bunch of Rock fans who probably gave two shits, maybe less about Rp music, and I came in over a Rock song, slightly out of my element, and I had that place going hard (as a mothereffer, too). But luckily, it led to an even bigger show, my debut solo set at the House of Blues on Feb. 7th, 2013. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes!
TI: Name four ways that you’ve improved as an emcee since your debut EP, The Boiling Point.
Du: Well, first off, I’m way more comfortable in the booth. I’m so in love with live performances that I never really cared for recording, but it is essential that I coax listeners into wanting to go see me live in the first place. Secondly, my songwriting. I’m starting to work with more singers, so it’s not just this one-dimensional, raw, underground-only Hip-Hop sound on all of my records. Girls wanna sing-a-long while their boyfriends rap along, y’know? (lol) Thirdly, I have a more focused direction on my music, where the first EP was more so just a sampler of songs I put together. And lastly, I’d say I know better when to tone it down, and when to smack them out the gate with metaphors and Google-worthy references now, and how to balance both.
TI: You are getting ready to drop your first full length album, The Journey Of The Lost Ark. Briefly describe what all went into the creative process for the album and share what it is you want people to learn from it.
Du: It started off as just another compilation mixtape of old songs, hence the title. But after many setbacks and new material, I was more eager to release a fresh, more cohesive project. I also wanted to showcase the art of storytelling rap, from my point of view. Whether the songs are fictional and fun (“The Day Curiosity Killed The Wack Shit”) or more biographical (“Reggie & A Miller”), I just wanted to bring something different that a lot of artists from my city aren’t doing, or mainstream acts aren’t doing period. And I just want to make the people dance, laugh, cry, think, overthink, and vibe out to my music. Learn that real Hip-Hop doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all boom-bap, and learn that you can get lyrical over “trap” beats, or make party records over traditionally “backpacker” music.
TI: What are some promotional ventures that you have in store once your album drops?
Du: I’m trying to hit every single blog like the ever-so wonderful Illixer blog, do as many shows in as many states as possible, and drop a lot more visual and accessible content than my fans are accustomed to from me. The year 2013 is going to be my biggest year yet. Until 2014 or until the day I max out at 250+ on a scale a couple of decades down the line.
TI: Any final words of wisdom that you would like to bestow upon the Hip-Hop community?
Du: Sure, don’t be afraid to be yourself. And don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone, either. And sometimes an accident is a blessing in disguise. It couldn’t have been on purpose that someone came up with the peanut butter & jelly sandwich. I refuse to believe that. Also, SAFS Crew / 8 Centz & A Nickel will run the game, and with me in the middle, we’ll ruin the shine-time for the “wack shit.” P.S. That last part was corny, but so the fuuuuuuuuuuh what?! (lol)
**My Two Cents: This was a very forthcoming and fun interview. Dukalion has been a sold supporter of the site since his SAFS Crew family started gracing the pages. So it was cool to be able to give him some shine. Readers can get a sample of his music by checking out the tracks above. My fave of the two is “The Truth” but both are dope. Also, they can continue to keep up with Dukalion and all of his happenings by liking him on Facebook. -MinM