D.Black raps with the intent to provoke thought. He wants you to consider what he's saying, to consider situations, to stoke your brain. He's inspired with a want to inspire and to get at the true truths of these lives we live. His faith in Messianic Judaism is strong, and, without overpreaching, he delivers positive, revelatory notions. On this oracular tip, he fastens messages to the bolted cement of his beats. Beats raised for consciousness. D.Black is a "good" guy. He's an antithug, who brings it big and clean, and he has a new digital EP called The Blackest Brown coming out on home base Sportn' Life Records. D. spoke from the studio amid production:
So much of rap and hiphop culture and the lyrical content is based on drugs, women, guns, money, and the dark side of the game. How do you live and thrive in the world of hiphop and stay true to your faith? Is it a struggle?
To be honest, it is hard. Sometimes it feels like there's no merit in it at all. It can be an attack on your personal character. Other times it's incredibly rewarding. Sometimes, I feel shut off, like nobody can truly identify with where I'm at spiritually. I feel like I exist in another realm or dimension where people can see me, but they can't feel me. It might be the greatest struggle I've ever faced. I'm not in fear of compromising my faith by staying true to it. I'm very grounded. Baruch Hashem. The issue is the feeling of... Why am I here again?
How do you maintain hiphop and rap cred and be a good guy? You are the antithug. Is it ever hard to write music that resonates within a fan base that is so supportive of the bad guys?
I don't think too much about this stuff, man. The credibility/good-guy/bad-guy thing ain't my thing. I hate poli and tics. I don't put too much thought into it; I just get going. I write with the situation at hand in mind: the hurting child, the single mother who strives to make ends meet, the father in prison who wants nothing more than to be home with his children and has truly repented of his former deeds but still won't be able to find a job to help support. I do for the people. Truly.
Where are you recording The Blackest Brown? Who's producing?
We are recording at the Pharmacy in Seattle, of course. The production is being done solely by B.Brown and myself—mainly him. It's a group project, not a D.Black project per se. It's me and my brotha from anotha. We actually been boys since kindergarten, grew up, and was doing our music thing. Then we married sisters. Now we live in the same apartments. Our daughters where born a year apart during Passover, same Torah and same outlook. There's maybe not a day that we don't see each other. We named this EP The Blackest Brown to play on our names and races. I'm black; he's Mexican. We wanted to do something with some songs we had lying around and add some to it. B. and I had been talking about doing this project for a long time; it was only a matter of time before we knocked it out.
How has the recording been? Did you have a specific sound or feel in mind for the EP when you started recording? Or does it have a life of its own?
I began recording these songs a while back. My whole intention was to have a sound that was a reflection of where I was at spiritually. I was growing so fast, and I really needed a lighter sound. I was still performing the songs of my previous album, Cause & Effect, which had a much darker sound. I went in and knocked these out, and it was a relief.
What's the D.Black process for writing and recording? Where does the magic happen?
D.Black is not a sorcerer [laughs]. That's a tough question to answer. I just say "Baruch Hashem." Nothing is my own; it's all the Creator's. I typically pray before I write. I always want it to sting where it should sting and bring comfort where it should bring comfort.
How did your new song "On the Go" come together? From start to finish, lyrics to beats to composition to arranging to recording to mixing and mastering? Please walk us through the life of this track.
"On the Go" was an interesting one to put together. We came in the studio, and J.Pinder was in there going over some things for his project. I love listening to his stuff, and he loves playing it for me. He trusts my critique, which happens rarely. Anyway, we switched places. B. had been waiting to play me this beat for a little bit—I had heard it over the phone and didn't have anything positive to say. B. knows me real well and waited until we were both in the studio. Of course, he played it and I began writing almost immediately. I finished the first verse and gave Pinder thelook. It's called "the look for the hook." He was tweeting on his BlackBerry at the time and didn't see the signal. So I hit the spacebar to stop Pro Tools and petitioned. I ran through the verse one time for him, and he understood the entire concept of where I was going. This song really came from my heart—I didn't have the words, they came forth by divine providence and spoke to me, and confirmed some inner issues I had been at conflict with.
What is something about D.Black that we might not know?
D.Black is nothing. Period.
What's the very first concert you ever went to?
This I can't remember for sure, maybe the KUBE 93.3 Summer Jam with LL Cool J, Nelly, Usher, Ludacris, and who knows.
You wear such fly clothes. Where do you get your stylie look? I believe some of it is faith-based.
I don't have one place I shop for the yarmulkes and tallitot; I'm always looking around for the best deals for quality. I don't think too much about what I'm wearing onstage; the religious wear is all a part of my being at this point. To me, it's not that cool. I think whenever I did worry about what I wore onstage, it never worked out in my favor. I'm definitely not a fashion guy.