Signing Story: Dee-1

Hip-hop, at its best, shares storytelling sensibilities with genres such as folk and blues. It can be a means to express struggle and triumph, hope and hopelessness, and basically what’s going on in and around the artist’s everyday life. New Orleans-based rapper Dee-1 expresses all of that perfectly.

Dee-1 has been remarkably prolific, putting out 11 mixtapes and one independently-released album since then. Describing his sound as a rich combination of Nas and New Orleans rap collective The Hot Boys, Dee says, “It’s a mixture of New Orleans culture, feel and dialect, but with the intelligence, the sophistication and the perspective of someone like Nas.”

That’s a fair description, and it makes sense when you consider the cultural and artistic melting pot that New Orleans is right now. It’s producing some insightful, cutting-edge hip-hop, and Dee-1 knows how fortunate he is to have emerged from that scene.

"It’s cool that I established my own lane––that’s the exciting part," he says. "I’m not worried about trying to ride on the coattails of what’s hot at the moment. I just try to do my own thing, and it’s proving to be the best route to take.”

Dee says that his deal with RCA came about simply because of his own hustling—a number of labels were interested in signing him. “The meeting with RCA felt the best in terms of the energy and the ability for me to actually be in control of my destiny creatively, and that’s what I wanted,” he says. "That’s why I partnered with them.”

That partnership begins with latest release Slingshot David (The Album), a record of which Dee says he fought with everything in him to ensure that no part of the artistic vision was compromised. It’s a concept album, taking the parable of David defeating Goliath with a slingshot and applying that to real-life struggles and obstacles.

“Your Goliath can be anything from poverty, to racism and discrimination to community violence to depression, anxiety and things of this nature,” Dee says. “You have to identify your slingshot. I’ve had my ups and downs but I discovered what my slingshot is. Once you’ve figured that out, all of a sudden you don’t feel like an underdog. Life doesn’t feel so intimidating anymore because you know what you can defeat Goliath with.”

That’s just good advice.

Date Signed: October 2014
Label: RCA Inspiration
Band Members: Dee-1
Type of Music: Hip-Hop
Management: Marlin Hollins
Booking: Marlin Hollins
Legal: Marlin Hollins
Publicity: Tasha Stoute,
A&R: Jeremy Castro