If you follow me on Twitter then you should know my reputation of being a supporter of or mixed in with all things durag related. Don’t ask me where this reputation came from, just know it’s there if you didn’t already. With that said, believe me when I say there’s absolutely no bias when I proclaim the Durag Dynasty debut album “360 Waves” as one of my favorite albums of any genre this year. The trio of Cali legend Planet Asia, Killer Ben and TriState provided seamless Grade A lyricism over Alchemist’s trademark sample chopping, basslines and perfectly mixed drums. Throw in the humorous skits and possibly the most memorable artwork seen this year and you’ll understand why I say this album was the true definition of the complete package.
One of the constant highlights on the album was the near scene stealing lyricism by TriState. The emcee, who also represents Gold Chain Military, is armed with a gruff voice and top notch wordplay that instinctively demands your attention. Once you’re locked in you’re pretty much forced to nod along and make the all too familiar ‘scrunch face’ you should do when you hear an emcee in a zone. My personal favorite verses from him on the album would probably be on the album’s title track and “Fish Meat” featuring Prodigy of Mobb Deep.
“360 Waves” “Fish Meat” featuring Prodigy
Needless to say, TriState was a no brainer when the opportunity came to choosing an artist to interview. I was fortunate enough to talk with him about the creation of the Durag Dynasty album, the BET Hip-Hop Awards cyphers, his love of photography and more.
Making Waves: Interview with TriState of Gold Chain Military/Durag Dynasty
First before we begin, how is Killer Ben doing?
Killer Ben is maintaining, reading a lot and getting a bunch of exercise in. He sounds positive and wants to let everybody knows that he’s grateful for the support.
What was the main inspiration that made you want to be an emcee?
I was naturally drawn to the hip hop culture and became a B-Boy after movies like Wild Style, Beat Street and Breakin’. I wanted to emcee as soon as I started stealing my older sisters UTFO vs Roxanne Shante, DJ Red Alert, Juice Crew, Run DMC tapes. Krush Groove was the final straw because I saw what emcees rocking the crowd really looked like.
Outside of music you have one of the best Instagram pages around. How serious is your passion for photography?
I really love the art of photography and considering that my lady is a photographer, I’m surrounded by the culture daily. It’s just a hobby but I respect the fact that you can apply technical knowledge to the art of taking a picture. Instagram is a great outlet for those of us who have our phones glued to our hands all day. Snap a photo and edit it all in one.
Do you have a favorite photographer/artist?
My favorite artist is the legendary writer East Three from Rock Steady Crew. He’s a super incredible and creative visionary from Hawaii.
How did the idea to form Durag Dynasty and the name come about?
Durag Dynasty is a slang name that Planet Asia use to throw around while we (GCM) were in the studio recording. When we linked with ALC (Alchemist) we thought it would be the perfect time to bring the Durag Dynasty thing to life.
Was Alchemist hands on with the creation process of the album or was it freedom for y’all to just do you?
Alchemist was hands on in terms of the soundscape for “360 Waves” but in terms of the overall vision we (Planet Asia, Killer Ben and myself) were creatively free to display our vision for what the Durag Dynasty is suppose to represent.
Do you think BET will wake up and have you on the next award show cypher? As a Hip-Hop fan who would you like to see in it next year?
We would definitely embrace the invitation from BET to tie a Durag on one of those infamous cyphers. As a fan I would love to see a legendary line up including Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, KRS and Rakim. LL would be a great look in that circle as well.
Will you be releasing a solo project soon?
I have a couple of solo projects set to be released in 2014. “3 Dimensional Prescriptions” entirely produced by Oh No and also “24 Karat Canvas” which features a few of my peers who really get busy with the wordplay. [“24 Karat Canvas” is the follow up to his 2012 release “14 Karat Canvas”. Click here to preview and download it for free.]
Do you see mainstream radio getting back to when Rap music wasn’t watered down to get airplay again? Does that issue tempt you to change your approach to the music you make?
I’m not concerned with mainstream radio. I see the future of radio heading in the direction that television has traveled with cable, web and satellite companies. In order to listen to the type of music that you prefer you’ll have to have a satellite/internet subscription thus you can select the channels/artist you want to hear. Given the listener more control.
As a continuation of the awesome Durag Dynasty cover themes, what other historical pictures would you improve by adding people wearing durags?
Martin on the steps of Lincoln Memorial, Malcolm in the window clutching the shotty and Huey P in the wicker chair.
Any closing words for your fans out there?
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