Oct 25, 2008 - 10:22 PM
With the recent release of his latest EP, The Skinny, Oh Dang! was given the opportunity to sit down and get the skinny on him, his love for music, working with the youth, and a few things in between.
Listen to "The Band Played On"
Oh Dang!: Why hip-hop? What does hip-hop mean to you? Where did your passion for rapping come from?
Do D.A.T.: I think I get my passion for music from family. I am the youngest of a family of six: two older brothers and an older sister. My mom and dad are jazz and blues heads, Motown and stuff like that. I’m young and I’m listening to all of that and absorbing all of that. Then my sister is more pop, like Prince. My brothers they like hip-hop—my closest influences. I have been a writer my whole life. Before I started rapping, I was doing poetry, short stories; I was on the school paper in elementary. I like to write because you can express yourself and I think hip-hop affords people who do not necessarily have the materials or the funds to get into this stuff. It’s something you can do in your spare time and it allows you to speak your experience, to tell your story. I feel that in communities and the places that we come from, hip-hop is important because of our culture, or the culture we press out—it doesn’t allow you to express yourself.
OD!: What is your inspiration?
Do D.A.T.: My inspiration is life. My inspiration is injustice. My inspiration is love, my nieces, my nephews, and my inspiration is being inspired to quote my sister, Isis G.
OD!: What message do you want people to get from your music?
Do D.A.T.: It’s sort of hard to explain because I feel that I make art. I feel like art is something you interpret for yourself. I present you with my perspective and you look at my perspective, and you take whatever corresponds with your experience. I hope people would get a sense of wanting to express themselves and wanting to really look at what’s going on around them. Also, look at me as an example of somebody who is actively analyzing what’s going on internally and take that as an example of what they can do. I know for hip-hop, it has been the most consistent thing in my life even more than my family and more than my friends. I can always turn on my music and it will always be there for me. I hope to be that for someone else. I hope to affect change to impact on somebody.
OD!: Rap isn’t a very stable career. Do you think rappers should have a plan B? What is yours?
Do D.A.T.: Hell yeah. Rappers are a commodity and they are toys. You can package them up and put them in the store, get a bunch of Flo Rida figures, and they are brands. You can make another Flo Rida tomorrow. All you need is the right image … The industry doesn’t give a fuck about rappers. The industry outside of money doesn’t give a fuck about hip-hop culture. As soon as the next dude is hot, as soon as Plies is hot or the new Soulja Boy, whoever with the new gimmick, you done, you finished. I don’t wanna sound judgmental, because I don’t believe in “real hip-hop” or “fake hip-hop” and all that. I do believe that mothafuckas in the industry definitely manufacture rap music—I wouldn’t necessarily call that hip-hop. They get rid of you real quick ... My plan B is music education … As long as I can make my music, I can write and record and even put stuff out, then I’m happy with that. My passion and soul is in making music and I want that to be my life and I wouldn’t be happy doing anything other than making music to my full capacity.
OD!: Do you think rappers should be role models? Why or why not?
Do D.A.T.: Rappers should take responsibility for the role they play in their listeners' lives. If we’re going to better the community, one person, one genre or one place, there has to be that same action in the home and school … It’s like hip-hop gets scapegoated for so much shit. Our generation, the young generation, gets scapegoated because we don’t know … The generation before that is all fucked up on crack and poor economics, Reganomics and all that shit. How come nobody’s talkin’ about that?
OD!: Lastly, Obama or McCain?
Do D.A.T.: Does it matter? Obama because he’s black. But in saying that, I would hate to get sold out by a black man. That would be so scandalous … [Imagine] what Obama could do for the psyche of the world, how America sees or America views, how America is viewed around the world, how black people view themselves—where we’re not just rappers anymore, we’re the mothafuckin’ president?! … I don’t want to be a skeptic, I don’t want to view that brotha that way, but this country has done worse. It could be much worse, so just be aware of that, “for the entertainment of it” Obama. His swagger is so stupid (in a good way) right? He’s like the Jay-Z of politics. It would’ve messed you up if I said McCain, huh? I should’ve said McCain.
Do D.A.T.’s The Skinny is available now. For more information, go to myspace.com/datamen.
An alumnus of the 2007 Bay Area Multicultural Media Academy, Brittany Stewart is a humorous freshman journalism major at San Francisco State University who loves writing and is very passionate about her craft.
Suzy Salazar is a freelance contributor to Oh Dang!