By Brandon E. Roos
The newest addition on Duck Down's roster reveals plans for a return to America and says that he's not troubled by those who may doubt a kiwi in the Rap game.
If you still aren't sold on the notion of Hip Hop as a global phenomenon, look no further than David Dallas. After immense success in his native New Zealand – his debut, Something Awesome, reached #1 on iTunes in NZ and won best Urban/Hip Hop Album at the 2010 New Zealand Music Awards – Dallas is now looking to bridge that success to American shores.
With his recent free release, The Rose Tint , gaining video plays on MTV, a shout-out on Kanye West's blog and backingfrom none other than Duck Down Records, NZ's finest seems to be attracting buzz in all the right places.
HipHopDX reached out D Dot Dallas and asked him when he'll be back in the U.S., whether The Rose Tint was always supposed to be free, and if he still gets criticism despite the Duck Down co-sign.
HipHopDX: In another interview, you said that it would be naïve to think that someone would want to buy your album given that there's so much free content available and that you're largely unknown in the U.S. Was The Rose Tint originally planned as a retail release then changed due to the rise in free mixtapes or was it always intended as a free release?
David Dallas: The plan was always to make it free. When the videos/singles off my album Something Awesome started to get attention internationally, I always felt things could've gone further if everyone who picked up on them would've had a chance to hear the whole record, but being that we didn't have international [distribution], it was only being sold in N.Z. so it wasn't available to them. I was adamant going into The Rose Tint that we'd make it free so I could at least give people outside of the tiny population of N.Z. a chance to get into it.
DX: How did it feel to link up with Duck Down Records and what's it been like to work with such a storied label?
David Dallas: Linking up with them [has been] wicked. I still remember taping Fab 5 – and [Boot Camp Clik] videos off the TV when I was a kid. And you gotta remember, at that point America and New York seemed like the farthest place in the world away from my little suburb in Auckland. The whole thing's pretty surreal.
DX: The Rose Tint is the major project that Duck Down is pushing at the moment, but what is next for you? Do you see the relationship continuing with Duck Down?
David Dallas: [It] sounds cliche, but all that's next is to keep putting out quality work. There's more visuals and remixes to come off The Rose Tint – we just finished up a vid for my fave song off the project, "Take A Picture." [It] should be a trip. In the meantime, I'm already working on the next project. Everything's good with Duck Down [Records] so I just wanna keep pushing things as far as they can go.
DX: The production duo Fire & Ice handled almost all of the beats on The Rose Tint. How did you first link up with them and was it a conscious decision for them to handle more of the production work this time out?
David Dallas: They did half the production on my last record. We have real similar tastes, and they're the dudes I actually talk and hang out with so by default they ended up doing the lions share of the album. Their production is the shit and it's only getting better. People need to get down with them now or kick themselves later.
DX: What's the update on your visa? When will you be back in America?
David Dallas: Hopefully before the end of July. My petition has been approved, so I just need to have an interview with the U.S embassy here in N.Z. [As] long as it doesn't take too long to get an interview time, I should be sweet. America is really good at making people stay in their own country.
DX: Even with the co-sign from Duck Down, do you still encounter people who doubt you simply because you're from New Zealand, a land previously far removed from the Hip Hop spotlight?
David Dallas: Yeah, for sure. It doesn't really bother me, because at the end of the day, what reason do they have to not doubt it? For the most part they haven't been exposed to any music from my part of world so I can understand the skepticism. What I don't like is when people just don't give it a chance, period. If they give it a listen and don't dig, it fair enough -- but if you just read a line of text that says New Zealand, don't listen to the song, then start babbling about Lord of the Rings and how I shouldn't rap, that just makes you a bit of a twat, really.
DX: In your track “Life Is . . .” you say “Ain't in no fraternity / They're probably in sororities / And we don't even have those where I'm from.” While there may not be a Greek system at universities in New Zealand, do they have anything similar?
David Dallas: Nah, we don't have none of that shit. There's student associations and groups for people with similar hobbies and shit like that, but it's definitely not taken to the degree that frats are taken to in the U.S. That stuff just boggles my mind -- how people cling to their frats after they leave university. I just wanted to get my piece of paper and get the fuck out.