You’ve definitely been working hard to get your name out the past few years. Is the work finally paying off?
I definitely feel like it’s paying off because I can see and I can feel the energy in the streets. Whenever I do a show I get a lot of love and support. It’s definitely paying off. A lot of cats would look at the situation like I ain’t got no deal yet so it’s not paying off but you gotta look at the platform. I get love in every city in Carolina. I’m grateful for that.
What’s the most effective way for you to build awareness about your music?
Actually being out there hands-on with the people. A lot of artists, they do their thing but they be in VIP or in limousines or things like that. When I do a show I’m out there with the people. I can shake their hands and take pictures and do everything. From that right there the people understand where I’m coming from. I didn’t even go to the clubs as a kid but if I go now, I’m going 40 deep with all my dudes.
Is that face-to-face contact more powerful than the internet will ever be?
It’s always been more powerful than the internet, especially in North Carolina. The internet thing is kicking off because of the social networks, but people really want to see the artists and feel the artists and see what kind of person the artist really is. I prefer to be out shaking hands with the people.
When you look at other avenues, such as print mags and mass emails, how important have those been?
Don’t get me wrong, the internet plays a major part. You think about it, you got all the websites and the MySpace’s and the Facebook's, that’s a whole fanbase. They give you a great platform to market and promote on. I always be putting up different shows and interviews that I do and different songs. The internet is very useful to me and it plays a major part in what I do.
From listening to your music over the years, you have a lot of versatility from making more party songs to lyrical ones. How important is that versatility to you?
It’s very important, creatively. When you’re talking to me and you see me, I am North Carolina because North Carolina is such a diverse state. People move here from everywhere, from California to New York to Georgia to Florida. You get to be around a lot of different people and take in their lifestyles and what it’s like being around them. I’m from a small town but you can go three blocks and it will feel like it’s three different spots. You got a bunch of New York dudes in one spot and then a lot of people from Atlanta. That’s why my style is so versatile. I growed up in the streets and I paid attention to how it goes.
Every summer someone was coming out from New York and talking about hustling on the block. There were different people coming from different spots. And this is the midway spot between Florida and New York. That has a lot to do with my style, my flow and my delivery. And I’m a real student of the game. My favorite rappers are Biggie, Scarface and Eazy-E, all for different reasons. All of them had something similar to draw me into them.
What kind of style do you prefer?
I like spitting. That’s my style. I really prefer spitting and I love listening to different guys who are lyrical. It’s also good to incorporate yourself into making songs because when I first started, I didn’t know nothing about 16 bars or how to count it. The older guys, they kind of coached me through it and showed me. It was really interesting. I got the pattern but I really like flowing and storytelling. When you listen to my music you can actually see it.
How did you get down with Digga on “The Industry Needs Me”?
First off, shout out to Digga. Digga is a real good dude. We have mutual friends together and Ammo, that’s both of our mans. He kept telling me about Digga and he was doing the same thing to Digga, telling him about how my music was. The vibe was real good.
And it was crazy working with him. I got a couple of joints from Digga. I got a couple of joints. You really have to hear it. He puts so much energy into the beats and the product sounds so good. At first I was nervous because he’s worked with 50 and all that. But it was all good.
In “The Industry Needs Me,” you talk about how you could put Jay “where he needs to be.” Where is that?
I said I could put “50 where he wanna be, Jay where he needs to be and Diddy where he shoulda been.” That’s not a diss. 50 is a real competitive artist and he wants to fight for the spot and I’m saying the industry needs me because I can picture where he wants to be. And Jay doesn’t get all the credit he deserves. That’s why I said that about Jay. I could put him where he needs to be. And I could put P. Diddy where he should have been. I also said I could put “Irv on the top again, Dame in the drop again.” I’m an asset to them and they’re the movers and shakers in the industry.
And 50 wanna be on top right now. 50’s my dude and shout out to 50 and all that, but he had problems with putting his album out and they keep on pushing him back. If 50 were to sign me, see, people think we’re together because we have a lot of mutual friends, but if 50 were to sign me, I could be the rebirth of the whole G-Unit movement. It’s the same thing with everybody else. I could bring life back into their careers. That’s why the industry needs me.
Where should Puffy be today?
You think about when B.I.G. and Puff were running together and the dynasty that they built together. If B.I.G. were still alive, Puff would be even bigger than he is. Puff would be out of this worked. That’s why the song is a cocky statement. I’m telling them that I’m the real deal and I’m what they need. These guys would be in higher positions. That’s what the whole song is about.
Can you back up the game you spit on “The Industry Needs Me”?
Oh yeah. I definitely can. I definitely can. I know 100% I can because at the same time, these are the guys that I studied. These guys are like the teachers of the game and I’m the student of the game. I definitely know that I could be an asset because I learned these things from them.
What kind of a deal are you looking for today?
I’m looking for any deal where the paperwork’s right. We can work out the kinks and everything. I’m looking for a deal where the paperwork’s right and the situation is comfortable. I have a strong team with me. The whole G.I.T. movement along with my manager and the team and Ammo in France and Loose in New York, my team is real strong. This is what I would bring.
Would you prefer a major or indie today?
I mean, you know, I’m shooting for the stars. I’m shooting for the stars.
With the way things are going with the majors and the rising popularity of 360 deals, what’s the appeal of a major label?
I’m open for putting my product out on a smaller scale. I’m getting ready to drop a project and that’s going to lead up to my EP that I’m dropping right after that. I’m already doing stuff on the independent level. If I could get it to whatever kind of situation that I could get into that makes sense, I’m going to go into that because at the end of the day, it’s all politics anyway. If I was to go to E1 Entertainment or wherever, that’s just setting me up for a bigger deal.
Where do you think you’ll be a year from now?
Top of the billboard charts, baby! If you keep it genuine and they feel where you’re coming from, they’re going to cling to you. When I do shows in North Carolina, it’s packed houses. It’s like the energy and expectations are there. It’s crazy. It excites me. Whenever I walk in the club, all the attention is drawn to me because I got my own radio show out here. When I come in, no matter what’s going on, they’re like, ‘Derty Den’s in the building.’