How and when did your group form and what roles do each of you play in the group?
The group formed at Wstern Michigan University about 8 years ago. We were all friends that shared a common love for the entire hip hop culture (B-Boying, MCing, Djing and graffiti). As individuals we all had a common thread of a strong emphasis on lyrics but we each definitely add our own touch to the group. Nivek is the choppy flow, rugged one, Onill is the energy guy and me (5-Star) I’m more of the soul element in the group. Together we make Dezert Eez what it is today.
How did you decide on the name Dezert Eez and what does it mean?
At the time we were going over names we were all pretty much battle rappers. We would get in ciphers and attack cats. The name Dezert Eez, derived from Desert Eagle, serves multiple uses. We were all lyrical weapons that spit hard so that's the Dezert Eez on the surface but the underlying science behind the name is: the Dezert Eagle is a weapon used and developed by the Israel Military. We feel that being original man from this region Asia Minor we wanted to rep that.
How has being from Michigan influenced your music?
We met in Michigan but only one of us is actually from Michigan and that's Onil although we all live here now. Nivek is from Chicago and 5-Star is from Los Angeles. Living in Michigan has definitely influenced our music. The economic conditions of this state, the hardship of the people here and the blue collar style can be seen in our music. We write realty and motivational music. Plus living here allows us to benefit from East coast, West coast and the Southern sound. That helps us keep our sound fresh.
How would you describe your sound?
Our sound is raw yet soulful and that's attributed to the 3 of us growing up in the conditions and cities we came from. Plus we read a lot, study music outside of hip hop and also study those that paved the way for hip hop today.
Who are some of the artists that you enjoy listening to or are inspired by?
As far as artists we enjoy listening to, you have to start with hip hop legends like Rakim, 2pac, Ice Cube and EPMD as well as those that still bang like Nas, Andre 3000, Jay Z and of course Wu Tang. Those artist all inspire us in some form or fashion.
You opened for Wu-Tang a few years ago. How did that opportunity come about and how did it affect your career?
We got the chance to open for Wu Tang after a promoter from Chicago heard our underground classic Declaration of War. He reached out and gave us the opportunity. That really made us feel like we could make it in this game. The relationships we formed with Inspectah Deck and Killah Priest were the best things for our career.
What can you tell us about "Ghettoboxx"?
We feel like Ghettoboxx is a classic from the beats, to the lyrics, to the skits and guest. It's got that classic underground sound and it's a banger from start to finish. Today’s artist typically have 3 hot singles and a bunch of fillers but we made and effort to stay away from that and make a quality product. The album touches on many things from life in the ghetto, having kids, seeing friends get murdered to relationships and the struggle we all encounter.
You have an interlude from Inspectah Deck on your project. How did that come about and do you have any plans to work with him in the future?
Big brother Deck blessed us with a nice skit on the album. We did a mini tour with him a few years ago and had the chance to form a friendship as well as a working relationship. We made that skit when we opened for the entire Clan at the Metro in Chicago. We are definitely going to be working with him in the future.. We're going to be one of the featured groups on his new mixtape, he's dropping a verse on our next album and 5-Star has plans to appear on his next album Rebellion.
Bronze Nazareth produces and appears on "Ghettobox." How did you guys link up?
We linked up with Bronze after the Almighty project in which 5-Star and Bronze along with C-Rayz and Killah Priest put out the Wu-Tang affiliated album Original S.I.N on Babygrande Records. He did production on Ghettoboxx and is also producing a couple track on our next project. We stay close since we both live in Michigan as well.
Who's your favorite artist that you've had a chance to work with?
We've worked with a lot of dope artist from Krohme to Bronze to Sticman from Dead Prez but the favorite has to be Deck. He gave us so much insight on the business and as large as the Wu Tang Clan is he is a down to earth brother.
If you could tour with any artist or group who would it be and why?
If we could tour with any artist it would be between Outkast and Kanye West. Probably Kanye since he'd open us up to a whole new market and I hear his work ethic, professionalism and preparation are second to none. We could definitely learn from him.
What is your favorite city to perform in?
Our favorite city to perform in has to be Chicago. We get so much love there and the fan base appreciates real hip hop.
Is there a release date set for your follow-up album “Life Illustrated” and what can the fans expect from the project?
Life Illustrated is due out this year some time in late summer or early fall. It's a bit more soulful than Ghettoboxx. We wanted to take a different lane with the music but still keep the lyrics strong and heavy. The album features no samples which is crazy for us but it still sounds dope! It's another banger in the Dezert Eez chamber. It only has one feature which is Inspectah Deck and production from Bronze Nazareth and up and comers Sky High Pro.
There have been a lot of new cats like Jon Connor, Apollo Brown, and Danny Brown that have been reppin hard for MI lately. How do you feel about the whole Michigan hip-hop scene and do you have any plans to work with any of upcoming artists from the area?
The Michigan hip hop scene is incredible. It reminds me of New York during the golden era in the sense that there are actual MC's and Dj's. One thing about the New York scene is they represented hip hop in its purest form. One Be Lo, La the Darkman, Invincible, Jon Connor, Apollo Brown, all those cats are strong in the fundamentals of what t hey do. You still find ciphers here and beat battles.. The scene is really alive. As far as future work goes we'll definitely be working with Bronze and One Be Lo and probably get together with Jon Connor since Onil is also from Flint.
What's your take on the whole 2pac hologram situation? Would you pay to see a hologram?
The whole hologram thing is ok.. When you have an artist that has touched as many lives as 2pac it's hard to let go. If it makes 1 person happy to see him in that element then it was worth it. As far as paying to see the whole thing...... maybe once if the price was reasonable.
Anything that you want to tell the viewers?
We just want viewers to think outside of radio and television. We're in a world where a lot of weak material is pushed to the front and the ones who still make quality music with their heart and soul get lost in the shuffle. If a viewer comes across anything they like, the industry is set up now to where you can support that artist which will allow them to continue to want to reach deep and come up with something incredible. If not it'll just be a bunch of watered down production and so/so lyrics and hip hop will be in the same place as jazz.
How do you feel about the state of Hip-Hop right now and what do you bring to the game?
I feel hip hop has been in a better place. Right now the game is over saturated. It's too many rhymers and not enough MC's. There aren't really any dope groups either. Once people get back to the essence and the art form things will get better. What we bring to the table is the love of the game. We're not doing it simply for fame or money. We actually love hip hop. We represent the spirit that Rakim and KRS had.