While in town to open for Young Thug’s Hy!£UN35 Tour, Atlanta-based rapper Dae Dae chopped-it-up with WOHM contributor Michelle Tran.
When I spoke with soft-spoken rapper Dae Dae, one of many upcoming artists from hip-hop’s cultural mecca, I was also met with his relaxed crew. They all looked like touring veterans despite the fact that this is the rapper’s first venture outside the surrounding Atlanta area. When asked if he had explored Portland at all, Dae Dae gestured to some canisters with an obvious look: “I came out here for this,” he joked.
“Did you go out to a bunch of dispensaries already?” Ibeth, the event-runner for Chapter’s Alumni and my guide for the night, asked him.
“No,” he replied, “I didn’t really go. I sent my friend, but I liked it.” We all nodded and continued to chat about the insane ease of access to legal weed.
His first single “Wat U Mean” was created in 2015, but it wasn’t until the accompanying music video was released this past April (through World Star Hip Hop) that it climbed its way to one of the Top 100 Shazamed songs in the US. The lyrics are surprisingly somber, but relatable. His goal has been to create music that helps the listener acknowledge their emotions while also dancing to a great beat.
As if it couldn’t get better for him, just last week a video featuring a teen dancing to his song quickly became viral within hours and currently has over 100,000 retweets. With this exponential buzz, it’s pretty clear that Dae Dae’s internet notoriety will easily translate into a mainstream career, along with fellow tour mates, Young Thug, Lil Yachty and Rich the Kid.
Read through our short Q&A below:
How did you get into music?
Well, I always was rapping; rapping and doing sports. The rap world was just another option. I ended up doing football and basketball in middle school and high school. When I got to high school, I started you know, playing around a little bit so you know, I ended up getting put out. I didn’t have sports no more; the only option I had left was to rap. Around then was when I got my income tax money [from my dad] and that’s when my dad was like, “Man, you need to spend your money on a studio.” I was like yeah, great idea man so I went and bought a studio, I set up a studio for my home and that’s when I started rapping.
How old were you then?
I was probably like, 15.
So you were 15 and you bought your own studio?
I want to talk about your popular single, “Wat U Mean.” Can you tell me about how you thought of the lyrics and the production?
Yeah, that song came about when I used to work in concrete and flooring. I used to grind, so I would be doing these jobs. I had this big grinder and so the grinder be loud you know, and I’d have my earphones in. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I listen to instrumentals. This particular day, I was freestyling in my head. So I was just freestyling and I just happened to think of two hard bars. So I cut the machine off and I pulled my iPhone out and I wrote them two down. I put the machine back on and start grinding, and then I came up with two more. So I cut the machine back off and I wrote them two, and I just got to a point where I’m like you know what, I’ll just call my producer. So I call [Young Mercy] and I’m like “Man, look, I got these four hard bars, we need to get in the studio.” I ended up going there that night and he told me to say what I wrote in his ear. He was liking it, so when he was on the beat machine, he was just making the beat right then and there in front of me. By the end of the night, we had it all.
You rap a lot about serious content. Even in “Wat U Mean.” Is there a reason you might want to take that approach?
I mean, I try to get very personal on my music. I try to tell my story, just be straightforward with you. I don’t wanna beat [around] the bush. If anything, by the end of the song, I’m just going to tell you how it is. I’m going tell you my situation that I been through, Imma tell you the ups and downs. Imma tell you about how I was when I was broke. Imma give you facts. If I’m not telling my story, I’m going to put it in a way to make you feel better. If you good, but you’re still going through things, I’m trying to make you feel like it’s okay.
You also mention your family a lot. Who is your family?
I got 5 kids. When I first had my little girl, I wasn’t really there for her, I was in the streets. But you know, it got to a point where my dad pulled me to the side and was like, “Hey man, you need to be in your little girl’s life and be there more, just like I was there for you.” It stuck to me. I then started forming a relationship with my little girl at about four or five months, and I just fell in love with her. After her, I planned another one, and then another one, and another and another. [laughs]
So you have this hit single. It’s going viral with all the dance videos, but what’s going to be next for you?
Another single. Another mixtape. I already got another single in rotation and it’s going crazy already in Atlanta. That’s almost number one. We’re just going single crazy. When the second mixtape drops, all of them’ll be singles.
Besides the dispensaries, did you do anything else in Portland?
Um, no. [beat] I went to Applebee’s! [laughs] Applebee’s was pretty good. I just took it home and ate it in my room. I was really just out for one day, but I like it out here. Really quiet.