On this week’s TWIB Meets, we get down to the nitty gritty with the 3 man crew who go by the name Dezert Eez. The trio just released their 6th Lp “Late Night Cognac Sessions” , a beautiful belnd of soulful backdrops and mafioso raps with a lot of substance to boot. You already know we here at TWIB always go beyond the music and give y’all insight into the artist so it’s only right we sit back with the trio for a quick chat.
For the benefit of anyone who’s been living in an underground bunker for the past several years…who on earth are you?
We’ve definitely been around for a minute. We feel like we paid our dues but just haven’t gotten the light we deserve. We’ve done hundreds of shows, toured with Wu, done tracks with Dead Prez, Talib and the likes, and we’re still on the grind. We’re a three man crew, all from different parts (LA, Chicago and Flint) and we call West Michigan home. It’s not a hot bed for Hip-Hop but there’s definitely a lot of talent in the city, and the state.
How did you get started in music, and what drives you to continue?
We all got started young. Breakin, beatboxin, freestylin’…all that. We’re from an era where it was organic!! A love for the culture, and wanting to be a part of it is what got us started. Moms and pops playing records on the turntable, and just experiencing the power of music from a young age. That stuff makes you want to create. What keeps us going is a love for the craft. It’s fun. Just like when you see cats in their ’30s hooping, they know they’re not going to the NBA, but it’s a love for the game that keeps us in it.
Do you remember the first recording/song you ever made?
The first thing we recorded was a cassette tape. It was a seven song EP. Very very raw! You could hear the air in the back lol. I believe it was done on an 8 track in a rock studio lol. We pressed up about 450 copies and I want to say we sold out in about 2 months. Right then we knew we had something. I think the first song was called “Eye of the Storm.”
If a movie about your life in music was to be made, what interesting/strange moments and stories would you share to make the movie cool?
I’d probably have to say our road trips were the craziest. We meet fans who’ve never heard of us, to people who think we’re larger than life. I remember we did a show with Keith Murray and we wound up at this house party and it was like a scene out of Project X. It was nuts! Cops came, we hid upstairs, there was weed and alcohol everywhere, people screaming and we’re in the attic looking at Keith Murray like…this is the same cat that’s in Def Squad that dropped the classic “The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World.”
Are there any other interesting facts about you that hardly anyone else knows?
Nah, Not really, most of our friends and fam know everything about us. We’re pretty much an open book. As far as our fans go, if they listen to the lyrics they know anything and everything about us lol.
What is the greatest thing about working in the music industry? And what would you change if you had the opportunity?
The greatest thing about working in the industry is the people you meet and the traveling. We’ve met some of the dopest people. You learn a lot being on the road, and what’s crazy is seeing people react to your poetry, your lyrics, and listening to them talk about how they can relate to the things you say. If I could change anything about the industry, it’s the politics. Having to pay deejays to play your music, and scared to break a new artist.
Looking back, what have been the most important moments in your life so far?
Aside from having kids and getting that college degree to make momma and the family proud, it’s got to be what we’ve accomplished in the rap game. Although we haven’t gotten the light we feel we deserve, we’ve been able to rock legendary venues like BB Kings in New York, The Middle East in Boston, The Metro in Chicago…we’ve been overseas too, so when we look back on our career we can definitely be proud of those moments. They’re important because they let us know that as far as talent goes—we got it, and that’s the most important thing to keep this train moving.
What have been the biggest highlights?
I remember we were on tour with Inspectah Deck and we rocked this venue called The Downtown in Long Island. Right before we were about to go on, Grand Master Caz asked us if it would be ok if he warmed the crowd up for us!! He’s a legend. Another Highlight was we got to kick off the 8 Diagrams tour. That was when the Clan wasn’t sure they’d record another studio album, so for us to be a part of that was dope!! And then sharing tracks with Deck, Dead Prez and Talib, people we’ve been fans of is definitely a highlight.
What has been your biggest challenge…and how did you overcome it?
It’s been a challenge getting with the right promotion team to help get us to the next level. Someone who can get you in front of the people and let the people decide if you’re dope or not. We have such good relationships with a lot of artists, Deck, Elzhi, Skyzoo, and they can recommend who’s dope, but it doesn’t mean that person or company wants to work with you. But right now we’re working with Diamond Media 360 and things are going great! We basically did our research and heard great things from a few sources, and here we are.
Who are your heroes? Why do they rock your world?
As far as heroes go, there’s are a lot: Jackie Robinson, Russell Simons, Frederick Douglas. These are pioneers in their field. They changed the game and did a lot for those that came after them. You have to admire the doors they kicked down.
Who have been the coolest, most memorable people you’ve met along the way, and how did they make an impact on your life?
I’d definitely have to say Inspectah Deck and Killah Priest are the coolest. They actually build with us, go eat with us, drink and kick it with us. We’ve cultivated a friendship over the years. Deck gives us a lot of wisdom as far as the industry goes, and he helps us keep it all in perspective. The most memorable person would have to be Run from Run DMC. What they did for hip hop was special. Iconic!
When you’re sitting on the porch age 97 what would you like to look back on and smile having achieved?
If we make it to that age lol.The biggest achievement is definitely fatherhood. Nothing compares to that. But if we’re talking about this music thing, it would be nice to look back and say we made a living of our talent. It’s that simple. People always say if you love what you’re doing it’s not work, and to know that we’re able to feed our family off our music would be a great achievement.
What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
I’d have to say Kay Slay’s Graffiti Hall of Fame gig we did in New York. There were legendary graffiti artists working on this Junior High School with huge crowds watching them, and in the middle was a stage where artists were performing throughout the day. Now at the time that we dropped, we were getting those RZA, Muggs, and Havoc type beats! So when we took the stage and started gettin’ busy, the whole place gathered around the stage. To rock in New York like that got everybody amped up. Even the graf artists were coming up to us like ‘whoa.’
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
I’d have to say meeting Nas at Rock the Bells in Chicago. We were backstage and when we crossed paths it was like the intro scene out in Belly. Everything slowed down, the music was queued and he gave us a nod like “yeah, peace gods…” It was real weird. No words just a nod. It was definitely strange though.
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
Ideal dinner guest would have to be Che Guevara, Nat Turner, or Moses. Somebody who had incredible courage, and the ability to lead people. A lot of people want to meet celebrities but we want to meet people that changed the landscape of society.
What are the greatest songs, albums, books, movies, TV shows, websites you’ve ever come across?
• Our greatest books would have to include: 48 Laws of Power, The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Black Labor, White Wealth
• Greatest songs: “Straight Outta Compton,” “They Reminisce Over You,” “Fight The Power,” “Woke Up This Morning” by BB King
• Albums: Illmatic, Aquemini, 36 Chambers, The Chronic, Capital Punishment
• Movies: Good Will Hunting, Glory, A Few Good Men
• TV Shows: The Dave Chappelle Show, Seinfeld, The Wire, The Sopranos, Martin
• Websites: Myspace was dope!! Youtube is a game changer for sure.
Name 5 songs (yours excluded) that we would expect to find on your iPod or Music Player
• Black Star – “Respiration”
• Kanye West – “2 Words”
• GZA – “4th Chamber”
• De La Soul – “Much More”
• Mobb Deep – “Drop a Gem”
What special-hero type skills are you blessed with?
Jedi Mind control is definitely a power we have. Although if I could choose a power it would either be super strength or the ability to teleport lol.
Where can everyone reading this interview keep up with your adventures?
Right now the best place to find us is over at Bandcamp, Instagram, and Twitter. On Bandcamp, you can scoop our merch and physical copies, and on twitter you can find us talking about Hip-Hop, beer and sports!!
Any final thoughts?
Yeah, if you‘re a fan of something make sure you support it. A lot of time and skill goes into these things, and it’s important people show love to show how much they appreciate it. If there’s a local brewery, music venue, pizza joint or whatever, slide by and check it out. Help discover the next big thing. Our new album Late Night Cognac Sessions is that thing.