Houston, Texas has created some of the rap games biggest stars as well as a selection of well respected artists who seem to have a longer career than some. From Geto Boys, DJ Screw & S.U.C, UGK aka Bun B and Pimp C (RIP) to more underground acts such as K-Rino, Klondike Kat. S.U.C, and KB Da Kidnappa, to more well known names such as Z-Ro, Lil Flip, Devin The Dude, Trae, Slim Thug and Chamillionaire, Houston is one seriously talented place. Now we get chance to hook up with Dirty & Nasty, a duo that look set to do damage and like all those other names rep H-Town. Big up to Tricksta at Park Street PR for hooking up this interview.
Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you’ve released so far and other interesting stuff you think our readers would like to know!
DIRTY: We are Dirty & Nasty, a rap duo out of Houston, TX in USA. We met at the University of St. Thomas, and while there, we began doing music together ever since. It’s going on seven (7) years now, so we have been at it for a minute. Interesting fact: The way we met was over a baseball cap that I (Dirty) was wearing, an Oakland A’s (a Major League Baseball team) cap to be exact. It sparked the initial conversation.
So long have you been making music and what or who got you into music?
NASTY: I have been creating music since 2004-2005, but I got into music in 1999. Really into hip hop culture in general. I was initially drawn in by the graffiti world, then breakdancing, and after that DJing. Rap was the last thing I wanted to do or thought I could do but I started doing it just to be able to say I had tried all aspects of the culture. The rapping stuck.
DIRTY: I have always been around music from as long as I can remember. Church music, singing in the choir with my mother and my other family members was a big part of my childhood. Also, my uncle was a DJ as well, so he would always have not only the latest records that he would play at parties, but he would also play things that were from the golden era of rap and even before. He was the first person that I KNEW that had every record for every song that would come on television. It wasn’t until I got older that I began to make music, maybe around 6th grade or so. I would make “radio mixtapes” (or Start/Stop mixtapes as they are sometimes called), and I would learn the music and began writing alternative lyrics over the beats as best that I could. Long story short, I dropped rap in 1999 and got back to it in 2007, after I linked up with Nasty to begin the group.
What was the first record you ever brought?
NASTY: Beastie Boys -Hello Nasty (in cassette form)
DIRTY: I would have to say that the first record that I can remember buying for myself was “Are You Still Down?? Remember Me.” By 2PAC. Also in cassette form.
So why do you rap and what’s your main motivation and inspiration?
NASTY: I rap as a creative outlet or release. I’m inspired by people. Their hopes, dreams, aspirations, disappointments, trails, tribulations, experiences, conversations, etc. everything I’ve ever written has been inspired by a conversation with somebody.
DIRTY: Oh you didn’t know? It’s to get these girls! (laughs) Just kidding. I rap because it is fun and it allows me to have a creative release. I feel the same way about writing music on guitar, but LATELY, rap has been my main outlet and I am not mad about it. It gives me an opportunity to affect change, in a form of expression that is readily accessible through its sheer popularity in mainstream society. I tend to be inspired by books I read, films I watch, and very much like my partner, conversations that I have with friends and family, and even complete strangers. Experiences in my own life make for great songs as well.
How would you briefly describe your latest release to a first time listener?
NASTY: Intense. No holds barred. Pissed off. Righteous indignation. A 4 alarm wake up call. A return to consciousness.
DIRTY: Something that is on the mind of every working class person that is pissed off with their current situation. Period.
If someone reading this had not heard of you before and only had time to listen to one track of yours which track would you play them and why?
NASTY: “Down by Law” is the song that best captures what we bring sonically both live and in the studio. It encapsulates the fire and energy we bring and the rhythmic elements we put into tracks.
DIRTY: Definitely, “Down By Law” is a great track for people to listen to because it represents a _____________ in our career. We feel that we have always made great music, but in this stage of our creative process, we are making awesome music. We are curating dopeness, as our fellow rapper, Killer Mike of Run The Jewels would say.
If you weren’t involved in the music industry what do you reckon you’d be doing instead?
NASTY: Taxes or sports writing.
DIRTY: I would either be a full-time actor, a streetwear boutique owner, or an educator at the collegiate level.
Do you think the recession will displace bling-era rappers in favour of more well-rounded ones in the mainstream?
NASTY: I think “bling” rappers have already been replaced, but not with more “conscious” rapper but with more “trippy/get high/fashionista” rappers. But the truth is more rhyme based Emcees have already replaced the “bling” rappers in a way thanks to the blogs and festival circuits. Kids now and days have many alternative to the radio that we didn’t have as teens due to the internet and streaming. There are two different worlds: radio and indie. The indies have really learned how to make profits and viable careers for their artists without compromising integrity. The radio/label model is a decaying dinosaur but it is tradition and standard so people still look to radio for validation equivalent to a college student graduating and getting a “good job” with a “reputable” company with benefits, 2 weeks’ vacation, and a pension. “Good jobs” are few and far between now, so the entrepreneurial spirit is rewarded in today’s economy in all sectors.
DIRTY: Bling is out. Fashionista Hooliganism is in. I never understood how a person can swear they are selling dope and shooting people, but swear that they are putting in work in the studio at all hours of the night. That is humanly impossible. Better yet, I can’t understand the exponential in-flux of all these man-children that are in the industry, those are, people who are walking around with LOTS of money but NO DIRECTION. In the States, Black people have a term for it: cooning. I am not saying that cooning didn’t exist during the golden age of hip-hop; however, there, most certainly was a balance of the diametrically opposed ends of “conscious rap” and “gangster rap”. I guess what attracted me to rap so much was the fact that I could listen to 2Pac, who, to me, was the embodiment of those “opposing ends” of rap music.
What’s your take and views on Hip-Hop at the moment?
NASTY: Speaking from an American perspective, I dig a lot of it or at least the energy of it and there are a lot of dope lyrical artists out there, but a lot of it is nonsense too. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good nonsensical song to party to but when the airwaves perpetuate that one party and bullshit segment of hip hop is all of hip hop that is a problem. Also, the plight of minorities in the States in relation to the Police, education, and employment is outta control and for mainstream stars to remain silent while their fans, family, and friends are targets of police aggression in their old neighborhoods or victims of a misguided education system is bullshit. Whatever happened to Hip Hop being the Black CNN? All these rappers throw up this hood and that hood and this click and that click, but when it comes time to stand up for their hood, they are nowhere to be found. There needs to be a balance and whether they like it or not, rappers have become representatives of the community, so if you’re a joke how are the powers that be to take the rest of us seriously? This is a culture in every sense of that word and the representatives of our culture suck right now. Real talk. They’ve gotta do better.
DIRTY: I think that Nasty has said everything; however, allow me to say that this goes back to one of my other answers about the displacement of “bling rappers”, there was a time where we had balance. I think that the pendulum is swinging back toward lyrical content and poise on the mic, if not within the mainstream, definitely within the underground sector. I would like to think that the mainstream is trying to align itself with the underground, like it is in many other ways (like fashion, slang, etc.), but the harsh reality is that we have to continue to press forward, even if that synchronicity never happens. Part of me wishes that it did, because that would mean more artists with substance would get a shot at having a BIG BUDGET, but part of me also wishes that the two sides (mainstream and underground) never meet, due to one tainting the other. And, yeah, whatever happened to Hip Hop being the Black CNN? (laughs)
What’s been your favourite Hip-Hop release of the year so far?
NASTY: Run the Jewels 2. Say what you REALLY wanna say rappers. Big KRIT and all of the Black Hippy releases get honorable mentions too.
DIRTY: I think Run The Jewels 2 wins by default. There hasn’t been anything else that was released in the mainstream of note this year, aside from PURPLE & GOLD, a remix project that we dropped with our friend and comrade, Purple Bastard, on June 27th. By the way, shoutout to OG Point Blank, a South Park Coalition / Screwed Up Click member & Houston Rap Legend, for gracing us with his presence all over that project.
Success is a very broad word nowadays and it means different things to different people, but what’s your definition of success?
NASTY: The Dave Chappelle definition of success, which is, “If I can make what a school teacher makes per year doing hip hop, then I have succeeded”. Also making memorable music and making good memories doing music.
DIRTY: Dang! Nasty took my answer. That Chappelle quote from his interview on “Inside The Actor’s Studio” is GOLD! Success to me is knowing that all of the hard work, time and dedication that we put into this pays off in the end, whether that is positive recognition from our idols, financial gain, traveling to places, or a combination of all three.
Do you have a website, if not what’s your other website links?
Before you go tell us something really interesting or funny about yourself that no one knows or might not know!
NASTY: We don’t ever write our verses together so my first time hearing his verse is always in the studio. We on a topic and go our separate ways to write and it always comes together eerily sometimes. We have a song on our upcoming EP called Kurt Cobain and it was basically a song without concept and without a name, just free verse. We both ended up mentioning Kurt Cobain in our verses so that’s what the song ended up being called. That sort of thing happens a lot with us.
DIRTY: He is correct: we haven’t written our verses together ever. A thing about myself is that I own about 200+ baseball caps. Ironically, the cap that we had our conversation over in the beginning is no longer in that number (it got very old and smelly) (laughs).
Much respects and thanks to Dirty & Nasty… much love for taking the time to do this interview!