Perseverance is a hell of a thing. With the exception of a few rappers like Saigon, label woes will cripple a burgeoning career and leave the artist looking for new employment. One Dae initially crafted Daes & Times over five years ago. Since then, the project has gone through numerous revamps and came close to being scrapped altogether. However, the now-Brooklyn-residing MC stuck to his guns, and the album eventually found a path to daylight. RESPECT. not only brings you the exclusive premiere of the long-awaited LP, but we also sat down with One Dae to discuss the inner workings of the album’s delay, his personal favorites on the CD, and even some internet rumors over a curious Sean Price verse. Read the Q&A below and stream the album while you’re at it.
RESPECT.: This album has been over five years coming and I read that this is at least the third version of the LP. How is this final product different than the others over the years?
One Dae: That’s correct. I recorded three versions in ’07-’08 and kept adding and subtracting. I added two new joints last year then, bam, it’s finally out. I was going to never release it, honestly, then [I] ran into Matt from Coalmine [Records]. He convinced me I was crazy, which didn’t take much convincing. I know I’m a little gone from this planet. Basically, I kept adding better beats and just perfecting the tracks and the layout. I was super progressive early in my career and wanted to capture pure classic boom bap with my progressive flow on top. This is like a prequel after the fact.
You’ve been around for a hot minute. Did you ever contemplate giving up the game and think it was never going to happen for you?
Giving up the “game?” Yes. Rapping? Never. I heard DMC say once that if he never made it [as a rapper] and was a postman, he would still have a rhyme book. My sentiments exactly. I love rhyming, it’s my release. I would do it if I was the last person on earth. It’s really not for y’all. It’s pretty selfish, initially. I share it after the fact, but it’s essentially my diary.
I think that’s the best way. The people who make songs for others and not themselves usually suck and don’t come off as genuine.
Exactly. I think people appreciate sincerity over cleverness, or should, at least. I like documentaries. Real life is more fascinating than Spielberg shit for me.
Back to the delay a little, were there any specific reasons for it or was it just life in general?
Monetary reasons at first, then doubt in the project as it had grown old, then some life stuff; nice little mixed bag. Someone didn’t want this to happen. Luckily, I’m stubborn as fuck and Coalmine got me excited about the project again. It feels good to get it out. I think the timing is good now. Hip-Hop needs a reminder to perfect before progressing. Rappers got crazy beats now and can’t rap to a basic beat. Makes no sense.
What’s the oldest song that’s still on here?
The intro is actually the first song recorded. “Walk in My Shoes” and “Take a Look Around” were also recorded in the original ’07 session. So, those three were recorded in roughly April of 2007. Those are also really candid tracks. I did axe them for a bit but then re-added them.
On “Walk in My Shoes,” you have a really somber line, saying, “sold parts of my soul I know I’m never getting back.” Could you elaborate on that at all?
After I wasn’t ”famous” at 22, I began to doubt my talent. Nas did Illmatic at 18. Outkast did their first joint at 18. So, I began trying to do music I felt would get me signed. I let down my fans at the time a great deal. I didn’t really release that stuff, [I] just recorded demos. Even my original fans would consider this too basic. Other more deeper personal stuff, too, but I did some music I wasn’t proud of. Not soul music, sold music. It felt yucky.
Understandable. On a brighter note, what’s your favorite song on here?
“A Long Way” and “Take a Look Around,” but “A Long Way” is newer so I really love it. It’s really who I would like to be all the time, but I’m a Gemini and way too violent at times. That’s quality, positive hip-hop to me.
Funny story: That beat was from Marco Polo’s first ever beat package he sent to artists. I was supposed to use another beat, but ended up using that, kind of without his permission initially. He hates that track. It’s “not where he’s trying to go in 2013.” [Laughs.] Sorry, Marco. I love you, homie. The shit is still tough!
Definitely different from what he’s been doing lately.
I understand his sentiments. I wanted to scrap this whole album after it was 2 years old. Artists always love their new stuff more.
You have a lot of great verses on here but also some really clever punchlines that bring a lot of energy to the songs. I personally love the last verse on “Style” where you say you’re on that “one and done shit that killed Len Bias.”
Yeah, that shit shook me up as a youth. I grew up in Boston.
Do you have a favorite verse or even line on the album that you can pick out?
I really like my verses on “A Long Way.” “I’m One Dae, arrived dressed to the 9’s, born naked/All I had was God by my side…” I could choose just about any, though. My lines are like my kids, love ’em all the same.
Speaking of verses, a lot of people seem to think Sean Price dissed you on “Abu Grahib.” What was your reaction to that?
Yeah, I saw that coming a mile away. As soon as I heard him spit it in the studio, I knew that would be the reaction from ignorant people. There’s no logic in paying someone to diss you and then putting it on your album. But hey, let them have their fun. Sean P is my homie for real, not an industry friend. We laugh about it.
So now that Daes & Times is out there, what’s in store for your 2014?
Communicate: Words As Weapons. [It’s] a more current LP, a third done. Three tracks from M-Phazes, gonna be kind of crazy. A couple of mixtapes, too: Last of The Flohicans and a mixtape called Producer’s Worst Nightmare over Alchemist’s Rapper’s Best Friend beats.
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