In the Spotlight: Chicago Rapper-Producer Dorian
1. Dorian, it’s great to connect with you! Please tell us a bit about you & your music…
With this being my first project, I was really exploring myself as an artist and a producer. I knew I wanted to speak on social issues and I wanted to help people be confident in who they are by giving them my story, but I had to figure out how to deliver it without it being too backpacky or too similar to what is already out. I’m a middle class, black male from a two parent household who has two degrees and was Division I college basketball coach. I’m also a person who has been sued, fired, almost got kicked out of college for academic probation, has 170k in student loans, has had an engagement end, whose mother has rheumatoid arthritis in both of her eyes and at one point had 88 cents to my name. I’m open. I’m vulnerable. And I’m secure. And I’m still here. Speaking to you. We all experience problems. We all have negative energy thrown our way. But it’s about what you do once the obstacles hit. Are you going to stop? Are you going to turn around? Are you going to hurdle? Or are you going to just bulldoze it over? My music gives people insight into all of those perspectives. From my own personal experiences and from stories I tell.
2. When did you first start producing music?
I bought the software on 2/14/2014. I taught myself off of YouTube and through trial and error. I had my computer, my 25 key midi keyboard and my infantile creativity. I gotta give him a shoutout because his Youtube Channel helped me more than you can ever imagine, so “MusicTechHelpGuy” had a complete series on how to use Logic Pro X. Now, my ears are attuned differently to music and I hear things that I wasn’t that conscious of before. I excited to see where my production goes in the future.
3. Can you tell us what you’re working on for this year?
Right now we are just working on the promotional cycle of this album. Being independent, you have to do everything so we are in full blown marketing mode at this point. I know what I’m probably going to do next, but once that creative energy consumes me to the point where I can’t focus on anything else, that’s when I’ll start working again.
4. Who is your biggest inspiration when making your music?
I’m inspired by the people who don’t have a voice. By the people that can’t articulate themselves like I can in a written or verbal form. By the people who feel all of these negative emotions about themselves, their families, their friends, their enemies, the world, etc. and they have don’t have a therapeutic outlet to express how they feel. I was thinking about these people before I even wrote my first song or made my first beat. We are put on this world to leave it a better place than it was handed to us and I just want to help people become the best versions of themselves through my art. I’m the voice of those who are drowning in student debt. I show you all of my sides so if you intently listen to the lyrics, you have to connect with something.
5. What is like being an independent artist nowadays?
I like being in control of my business and I don’t trust anyone so it’s been great for me so far. My business partner, C. Rice, is the only person I trust with this right now and we are making serious moves to be two cats from Indianapolis with no direct musical connections. You are rewarded for your hard work and we are outworking everybody right now and that is an addicting feeling. Most artists think they are going to make a dope track, post in on Youtube/Soundcloud, text their friends and then virally it is going to happen. It doesn’t work like that. We aren’t idiots so the climate of the music industry plays into our favor. We know just as much as a label might know. The only difference is they have direct access to distribution channels and media outlets that we have to work hard to get. But as far as marketing/social, there is nothing that they can tell us that we haven’t considered on some level. Iron sharpens iron and I’m surrounded by katana blades. We will go major eventually once we get the respect both artistically and economically from a label that fits our goals.
6. What has been the biggest challenge with managing the ‘finance’ side of the work you do?
No big challenge on that right now. We are clever with our marketing initiatives and we do a lot of research before we commit to something. We aren’t the type of people to just throw money behind something and expect it to work. Grassroots is the best type of marketing to establish a fanbase and that’s what we are focused on right now.
7. Do you think a new era of socially conscious lyrics is taking off now?
I don’t think it’s taking off, I just think more people are conscious of the socially conscious, lol. Back in 2007-2008, socially conscious hip-hop was in trouble because Jay was still retired, Kanye’s Mom passed away, Em was recovering from drugs, Nas was going through a divorce, TI was going back to jail and there weren’t any young guys who had that combination of commercial appeal and lyrical respect. Wale, Cole and Kendrick made people pay attention to lyrics again and they all got co-signs from the guys I just listed before them. That opened the lane for socially conscious rap to be commercially viable. I place a huge emphasis on my lyrics and I hope people study them and understand that.
8. Do you see yourself as a music artist as well a ‘business’?
If you don’t see yourself as that, you are an idiot. If you want to just make music for the love of the art and not monetize off of it, write songs and perform in your house. Once you decide you want to reach the masses, you are a business. You are a brand. And you need to make business/brand decisions. That doesn’t mean doing what’s hot or chasing a certain sound. I will always remain true to my goal of helping billions of people become the best version of themselves. But this is the music BUSINESS. There are people at those labels who have no love for art or artists. They love, or at least they think they love, money. All they see is the bottomline. Is it black or red? We negotiated and signed our own distribution deal already. Before our first project was even out. That’s why you can find the “The D.U.C.K. Tape” on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, Rdio and a myriad of other places.
9. Your focused on helping others to be the best version of themselves – can you give 1 tip to stay motivated?
Forget your enemies. Forget your naysayers. Forget the negative energy vampires. Importantly, this can mean family and friends. Now, I’m not saying to disrespect the people that love you, because love is the most important commodity we have and that is why I do all of this. But because your friends and family love you so much, they don’t want you to take risks where you could get hurt or fail. Because seeing you fail will hurt them. So although they feel like they are protecting you, in some cases, they are inhibiting you from going after what is truly in your heart. Only you know what is going to make you happy. You have to find whatever it is to keep that fire burning and you have to keep feeding it logs. No one else on Earth can make your dreams come true. Only you and what you believe can make that happen.
10. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! Where can we find and follow you online?
Facebook – DorianGroup82
Youtube – DorianSucks
SoundCloud – DorianSucks