New Orleans, LA

Following the news of Alton Sterling’s death at the hands of Baton Rouge Police officers, it felt like an awkward and depressing time to be a black male. Emotions were everywhere as America stayed glued to the news cycle regarding another horrific example of police brutality. One person with mixed feelings was Dee-1 who released his Slingshot David mixtape yesterday as a surprise to fans.

“It was a weird moment, man and I was wondering if I should delay the mixtape release,” he explains during a phone conversation with HipHopDX from his home city of New Orleans. “It was a surprise and none of my fans were expecting this so they all were hype and excited right now. But, it’s tough because my attention is diverted to what’s going on in BR right down the street.”

Dee-1’s relationship with Baton Rouge goes back pretty far. A graduate of Louisiana State University, he was also a middle school teacher in the area. Before leaving his career in education behind to focus full-time on music, he spent his early stages as a rapper grinding around the city by selling his mixtapes on consignment.

One customer was a bootleg man at Triple S Food Mart who, like Alton Sterling, sold all types of music and movies. Sterling was shot and killed at the very same convenience store.

“I use to literally go to that exact store where it went down,” describes Dee-1. “I knew a dude who sold CDs who was a well-known dude in the community and sold CDs for years. I was spooked. I thought it was the same guy at first until I checked the name. They’re about the same age, they’re both heavy-set black dudes, but the guy I use to buy from and sell CDs to moved on.”

According to Dee-1, more than 500 people have been killed by the police this year and says the incident hit home way more than others over the years. However, he’s glad to see the people of Jigga City rising up against police brutality.

“Baton Rouge isn’t the most consciously awoke town, but for me to see the protest has me believing that they’re waking up,” he says. Dee-1 isn’t quick to fully demonize the law enforcement, though. “Not all police are bad,” he continues. “One day, I was in the car with my girlfriend at the time and I was speeding. Dude pulled me over and everything. Dude saw it was Christmas break and just talked to us. I knew I was speeding and he knew, but he let us go. I was shocked. He was a white police officer. It’s crazy. I can’t sit here and say all police are crooked.”

It’s been a good year for Dee-1, who had a few mainstream moments with the release of his student loan victory ode “Sallie Mae Back” alongside the Lupe Fiasco and Big K.R.I.T. assisted “Against Us” remix. Then there’s the ESPN nod to create the theme song for “The Undefeated.”

Both singles are featured on Slingshot David, which will serve as the first step in a roll-out leading to an album due for release in October. The mixtapes feature songs that didn’t make the album. In Dee-1’s words, if people love the mixtape, they’ll really love the album and can look forward to much more.

“I have a for sale EP dropping at the end of August around the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina,” explains Dee-1. “I’m going on tour in September. We’re announcing the tour dates Monday.”

Check out the full stream of Slingshot David below.