The Honest Hustle interview series highlights some of the amazing artists we have listened to and had the pleasure of supporting. We ask questions that will help people like us, (listeners & fans), learn about the artist and discover more about their music.
For the second installment we chop it up with NYC artist DKC. Check it…
LFL: Tell us who DKC is: Who you are, where you grew up, and anything you feel like sharing with us.
This is DKC…DKC stands for my original stage name “Da Kid Chance”. I changed it to DKC because I felt it was more appealing and it raises more questions when it’s heard. Like “who’s DKC” or “what does that stand for?”. It also leaves more of a mark on your memory than “Da Kid Chance”. But as for where I grew up. I was born in Brooklyn, NY and I spent most of my childhood in Bushwick and Bed-Stuy. I later moved to South Jamaica, Queens when I was around 10 years old. In my teenage years I spent most of it in Woodhaven, Ozone Park and East New York. But now I’m currently just holding my head in South Jamaica, just trying to put my hometown on where it once was.
LFL: When did you get started creating music and why?
I first started rapping when I was 7 years old. However, I didn’t officially take it to the business/professional level until I was probably like 17. Something in me always told me I was going to do something involving music. In my early youth I experimented with DJ-ing (which i was terrible at), dancing, singing (at the time I wasn’t very good at it), but then I landed on songwriting…and it changed who I was completely. I originally wanted to create music because of how powerful it really is. How influential a few minutes of words and instruments can be. Music, just like every other art form, can mold the human psyche for the better or for worse, and that concept it just captivating to me.
LFL: Almost every artist considers themselves a fan of hip hop first. Are there any influences that have stood out to you?
I am a huge fan of Hip Hop yes and they’re many rappers and Hip Hop artists that have motivated me. However, when I tell you initially who made me want to make music, it might come as a major surprise. Justin Timberlake. Justin Fuckin’ Timberlake. He began the ritual of creating DKC. I originally wanted to be a singer but was discouraged of that by relatives so I left that behind til recently. But when I did get into rapping, my Influences were (not in any type of order) : 50 cent, Lloyd banks, Cassidy, Lil Wayne, Eminem, T – Pain, Akon, Ludacris, Juelz Santana, Cam’ron, Max B, DMX, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and even Drake in his early years. The list could go on forever when it comes to Hip Hop. However, I always had a universal and versatile ear when it came to music. Most people my age are only stuck on one genre, but I love to dabble in everything. I enjoy Guns & Roses, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, and Michael Jackson. One of my favorites of all time will forever be The Weeknd. Sade and Rihanna will forever be the women my soul belong to. So you can see what I mean
LFL: Who are some of the current artists you are listening to? Any thoughts on current hip hop landscape?
I’m going to answer these both at the same time. Because of how Hip Hop evolved, I don’t listen to many artist of this era. Not because the music is complete garbage, but because most of the music just doesn’t appeal or apply to me. I’m currently listening to Lil’ Wayne still, Montana of 300, The Weeknd, J. Cole, Tory Lanez, Drake, Meek Mill, G-unit, Juelz Santana, Prince Eazy, Young M.A, Lloyd Banks, and Pusha T.
LFL: What do you feel is the best song you’ve ever released and why?
I get this question often, and the answer is always the same. This might seem stale or cliche but, I can’t give a straight answer because I don’t favoritize anything. I love ALL of my music so to make me choose is just so unfair to me. It’s like making a parent choose their favorite child. Well, a good parent that is.
LFL: How do you want to be perceived by the people who listen to your music? How can your fans get to know you better?
I’m very versatile when it comes to music, so I get why it would be hard to really understand what kind of artist I am. I sing, I rap, I harmonize, I produce, make beats and I write all of my music. I mainly point this out because I want my listeners to know that what I have is a natural born talent. I don’t say that to be arrogant, but to be real about it. I want to be noticed as that guy that says what everyone is afraid or uncomfortable to say, or even that guy that makes sense of what you might not know how to put into words.
And if anyone would like to get to know me better I recommend they just listen to my music. What I present or say isn’t a facade or a persona. This is who I really am. You can even write me on social media or approach me. I’m a human being just like you. I have emotions, I’m no saint, I hold no malice for those who don’t deserve it. I’m just trying to live my best life by any means possible.
LFL: As an independent artist, the struggle can be real…From school, to studio time, to work outside music, what’s a week in the life like for DKC?
Oh yeah, you nailed it on the head. It is an ENTIRE struggle as an Indie artist. In a matter of a week? It’s like a schedule for me. I look for my own beats, sometimes even make em. I write or try to write every day. I built my own studio in my bedroom so I record every chance I get. I work as a Audio Engineer, so I work from home which gives me a lot of time. I mix and master, and release when I see fit. Wash, Rinse, Repeat.
LFL: What are your biggest challenges as an indie artist?
My biggest challenge I would say is how manual everything I have to do is. For example, being indie is like driving stick shift. You literally have to do EVERYTHING yourself and being with a Major label is like driving an automatic. Yeah, you move the car yourself but the label does all the little things for you. I have to find the venues I’m performing in myself, hire video directors out of my pocket, purchase beats myself, copyright and publish my own works. The good thing is I make all of the money back if it’s successful, so it’s a gift and a curse.
LFL: What skills/personal attributes do you think are most important to being successful in this industry?
There are many methods that can be used, but the method I’m trying is being a likeable person. It’s less of a headache in the long run. Be unique, be yourself, be kind, but be wise. It’s a cut throat industry, but if you play it like chess you will always wind up on top.
LFL: Based on your own journey as an artist, what would you tell a young aspiring artist just getting started?
As cliche as this may sound. Just keep grinding. There are risky short cuts like being gimmicky’, but the faster you get to the top the faster you shall fall. Be patient and accurate. We all know the saying: “patience is a virtue”. In this industry everyone has their time to shine. Just wait in line and keep dropping your work. Even if it seems like what you say or do is going unnoticed or unheard. Trust me, all ears and eyes are open. Pride just silences the masses. Take advantage of the free technology and play the cards you’re dealt well. YOU WILL PROSPER!
LFL: From an artists’ perspective, what does social media mean to you? As an artist, do you think there are more pros or cons with it?
A few years back I actually was asked this in an interview. Social media is a double edged sword for artists. It’s good because it allows us to promote our works to EVERYONE at a fast rate. A few years back you had to travel to get your music heard in different cities but now, all we have to do is use the right hashtags to get seen in a different country!
The bad thing is the mental damage too-much social media can do. We live in a world where a website is now part of our daily lives. Us as humans now need certification to feel valued. If we put a post up and it doesn’t get many likes we feel like we failed, and as an artist, having a tool that lets us see how many likes and shares another person gets, it kinda’ forces us to compare each other. It’s mentally toxic. So, in short, it’s good for business but bad for health.
LFL: If you were start your own label, what are you looking for in your first artists?
I’m looking for pure talent that doesn’t come off arrogant or obnoxious, a good business mindset, and a charismatic personality. If you’re a beautiful, talented and intelligent upcoming artist…call me now!
LFL: What does being an artist/singer/emcee mean to you?
In my opinion all three of those are different things. So I will break those down.
Artist: To be an artist to me, you will have to be as creative as possible. Show me something I haven’t already heard or seen. Be unique, ambiguous and consistent.
Singer: I understand all singers are inspired by prior singers and it’s okay to resemble their sound/vibrato, but to woo me you have to have something unique about you. Maybe a genre, or a vibe. Mainly be yourself. We don’t need a Michael Jackson duplicate, or a Chris Brown copy. We want to hear and see someone new succeed.
Emcee: Now to be an Emcee you have to be original. You have to write your own music and have to come up with your own flows. There is nothing wrong with being inspired by another but leave it at that. Just INSPIRED. Being an Emcee is telling your story with both your swagger and your words and when you do, Nobody can take that from you.
LFL: How long were you working on Take A Chance 2: Barz is Back? What is your goal with this mixtape?
The Take a Chance series was never meant to be a major project. Take a Chance is mainly an appetizer for the real big project that follows. Take a Chance 1 was made to hold my fans off until A Child Called Chance 3 : My Last Chance released. Now with that being said, Take a Chance 2: Barz is Back! was made to hold my fans off til The Ocelot Blues LP drops. However, with how hard I went on TAC2, I think I might need to bring Ocelot Blues back to the drawing board.
LFL: Are you a one man show? Any other credits on the mixtape? Favorite talent to work with?
Unfortunately, Take a Chance 2 : Barz is Back! had zero features. So…you can call me a one man show on this one, but my favorite talent to work with would have to be Nvshid. We’re the same content wise but our approaches are night and day so we mesh out really well.
LFL: When listening to your records, it seems almost like a collab of hits, songs that if a big label artist sang, would get praise from radio listeners…Is that you’re mentality during the creative process?
I focus mainly on the quality of the record before I release it. I like to make records that sound like they could be in a big budgeted movie or a record. I feel like I can be legendary as soon as it’s released.
LFL: Do you write for any artists currently?
Not yet, but I do intend to start writing for others real soon.
LFL: Can you shed some light on your songwriting process?
There’s a saying that “the lyrics come before the music”. However my process begins backwards. I first, find the beat but I don’t just look for something that sounds popular or sounds like a remake of what’s hot right now. I mainly look for Jazzy, Popish or Electronic beats. But, I listen to the beat with my eyes closed to see what the beat itself says to me. Each beat produced has a story to tell. Some more vivid than others but each have something to say. Then, I listen to that specific beat 3 times.
The first time to decode the vibe and message the producer put into the beat.
The second time to decide what kind of flow the beat asks of me.
And a third time to see what kind of energy the beat requires.
Then I just write based off all three depending on how I’m feeling when I’m writing.
LFL: Born and raised in Queens ourselves, what does being an artist from Queens mean to you? Favorite Queens bred artist?
Being an artist from queens sets you with a high bar to reach with all the previous successors and that second question is just asking for me to be judged by my peers! I know the politically correct answer I’m supposed to give is Nas…However, if I’m speaking on behalf of myself it would have to be Lloyd Banks. He inspired me more than any Queens rapper.
LFL: Aside from music, what other things are you passionate about?
As some can already tell, I really enjoy Japanese culture. Especially Anime. I am what some call an Otaku, but I’d like to call myself an Anime Connoisseur. Some of my Favorites are Yu Yu Hakusho, My Hero Academia, Gantz, AKIRA, Naruto, Dragon Ball Z of course, and Another. If you ever need Anime Recommendations I am your guy.
LFL: Shameless plug time….Tell the people what’s next, what’s coming for DKC. Where can they find your music? What you have going on? Stage is yours.
I will be performing August 2nd at 7pm at Blackthorn 51 in New York City along with other artists on The Showcase Tour. My latest single “Violation” will be dropping the same day of the tour. It will be available everywhere on August 2nd after 7 PM. You can find me on Soundcloud for my Mixtape work at Dakidchance4. For Music videos, subscribe to DKC Da Kid Chance on youtube. But for now I’m going to promote my Debut Album The Ocelot Blues LP and work towards my next mixtape called A Child Called Chance V : DKC Therapy. Stay Tuned!
Such a good interview !!! Great questions even better thought out responses. I love reading the other side of an artist in the reality of this creative energy.