Hip Hop is Alive & Well // An Interview w/deM atlaS
With a lot of younger hip hop artists fitting into this new pocket of “mumble rap” it is beyond refreshing to come by someone who has the skills, drive and intelligence to actually call himself a rapper. It takes a special kind of creativity and knowledge of the spoken word to create something exceptional. Add skilled delivery and we have a recipe for excellence.
deM atlaS is just that and more. He has came through Boise twice now. The first time was last year at Reef Boise with our very own Earthling, Axiom Tha Wyze opening for Eligh and earlier this month, opening for Rhymesayers record label mates Brother Ali and Atmosphere. These are all artists whose authenticity and drive have kept them relevant in an industry that has begun to praise simplicity and mediocrity. Real recognizes real.
After the recent show at the Knitting Factory we were able to link up with him and get to know a little bit more about who he is. Keep reading for honest answers about things like dealing with bullying, being in school band and his latest release mF deM.
SR: After you released the Charlie Brown EP you performed as much as possible, stating in another interview “sometimes 3 shows a week” for anywhere from 2 people to 200. Has performing always come natural to you or is that something that the three shows a week previously prepared you for?
deM atlaS: Yeah, that helped a lot in regards to jus gettin used to performing by myself. I was in the very early stages of jus discovering my voice and talents but even before that, I was really into acting in school and I was in a rock band so performing wasn’t totally new. I’ve always been drawn to the stage.
SR: In another interview you talk about getting picked on about things like sports to the color of your skin. As a rising artist who has worked hard to make a name for yourself and has risen above their ignorance. What advice do you have for others who deal with similar issues in their hometowns?
deM atlaS: Yeah I don’t have a lot of good memories of my interactions with kids in school. There were a few people I could kick it with and feel safe being myself around and I’d say to those going thru the same shit to find a good network of individuals who are about something, who are encouraging, and who you can be real with. Surround yourself with those people. You can usually find them when you find yourself doing things that make you happy.
SR: Your Bandcamp bio says that you were the front man for a high school band. Tell me more about that? What was it called? What made you decide to go solo.
deM atlaS: We got together my freshman year of high school. I knew a couple of em real well and we got up and jammed and it was great. We called ourselves The Argonauts. I had always been into music and as I got older, became more and more drawn to the idea of creating songs on my own. Since I couldn’t do it on my own at the time, the band became a haven for me to create. The most important thing I took away from that experience was learning about the creation and birth of a song; song structure, melody verses bridges and hooks. At times I felt frustrated with it all though, cuz I’d have ideas and no one really took em serious.
As high school drew to a close, I sensed that my mates began to take it less and less serious until it completely fizzled out by the end of high school. By then I felt confident enough to go solo, that way I could hold myself and only myself accountable for what I created and how serious I wanted to be with this music. I believed in it.
SR: You’ve said that you can relate to comic books better than people and read a lot of Calvin and Hobbes. What other comics do you dig and what do you think of Luke Cage?
deM atlaS: I watched Luke Cage in like, 3 days and I loved it. I’m the youngest out of 2 brothers and a sister and I remember our after school ritual consisted of having a snack and turning on the tv and watching cartoons til it was time to go to bed pretty much. My favorite comic book character besides Calvin and Hobbes though is the Peanuts. I most specifically relate to Charlie Brown cuz he’s human in the sense that you can feel this happy/sad battle going on in his head throughout the entire script. He may fail rather horribly at things but he tries and tries again and I admire that.
SR: You talk about you and your mom being close. In 2012 you quit school and moved out of your mom’s house to pursue your music career. How did she respond to that? Has she ever seen you perform? Do you think you will ever return to school?
deM atlaS: My moms is my rock and she knows me through and through, so when I told her about my plans and how serious I was about it she supported me and just said, “Do what makes you happy.” She’s seen me perform many times and I get the feeling that she’s rather proud. I hope she’s not tryna big up my head by saying I get better every time, but even she is, who cares? haha still sounds nice in the moment. School? Life and books is all the school I need so nah, I don’t plan on it.
SR: I really love the metaphor you used in another interview. You said “I see emcees as jazz players. I see emcees as the modern day trumpet players. I mean, obviously there are still trumpet players around, but I see the voice like an instrument.” In your last release you rap, sing, yell and land in variations in between. Is this something you considered when recording for mF deM?
deM atlaS: I floated on the music with that project. DOOM is one of my favorite producers/MCs of all time and I consider him the ultimate jazz player, but with mF deM I let the music completely dictate and tell me what to do. It was like having a convo with an old friend.
deM atlaS will still be touring through December 3rd. If you are unable to catch him on this tour run I am sure you will have plenty of other chances. This is one artist that is here to stay. Until then go cop any (or all) of his releases. You won’t be disappointed.
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