L.A. Bred Rapper Dontee Weaver Talks Independent Grind
Cali Bred Emcee Dontee Weaver Is Finding Independent Success For His Music
Dontee Weaver, aka Diablo Da General, is a rapper based in Los Angeles, California. He released his debut single, “Your Body”, back in in 2010, but he’s continued to grow and evolve as an artist until present day. Last year he released one of his most successful projects, Digital Trappin. The album single “Get It Started” gained more than ten thousand views on Youtube. The success helped Dontee see the light at the end of the tunnel for what has been a long grind.
Dontee has suffered many hardships and losses to get to where he is today and believes anyone can fulfill their dreams as long as they work hard, even “the little kid from the gang-infested streets of LA”.
I had a chance to ask Dontee all about his experiences in such a competitive industry, and he was more than happy to answer my questions. Check out our Dontee Weaver interview.
Parlé Mag: Tell me your story. What and who inspired you to become a musician? Was there a defining moment when you knew this was what you wanted to do?
Dontee Weaver: I’m another ex welfare recipient, ghetto child with big dreams, raised in the gang infested streets of South Central Los Angeles with a story to tell. I know I have a purpose because I could have been a statistic, especially growing up in the era that I did. Like I say all of the time, being book smart and street smart plays a major role in my survival. I didn’t look at music as a career path but more of an outlet to vent about the different shit that I have bottled up. True enough the world may have heard many stories but I know that there is still room to share my truths and visions. All I need to do is inspire one person, the right person to relate in order for my legacy to live and make an impact on the future forever.
Parlé Mag: How long have you been doing music?
Dontee Weaver: I’ve been recording on and off for about 12 years now. At this point I just need to release more music inside of barely one or two tracks a year.
Parlé Mag: What would you say your style of music is?
Dontee Weaver: My music style varies but it roots from the streets. I feel it’s a cross between the hardcore style of N.W.A., DJ Quik, and Snoop Dogg and the poetic, conscious, thugged out style of a 2Pac. I just do what I feel so it’s not just one emotion all the time. I’m a songwriter so venturing into different genres is not out of the question. I look forward to collaborating with some other dope artists and songwriters to create some classics.
Parlé Mag: Along the way who had been your support system?
Dontee Weaver: I had a chosen few people that’s been in my corner from day one. Moms fasho, I know I can count on her to have my back when nobody else does. Before my sister passed away she always supported my music and anything else that I did. Outside of my brothers, sisters, a few family members and close friends, my support has been coming from people that I’ve never met in life. It’s not a surprise to me though. Whether I have support or not it’s up to me to put the work in.
Parlé Mag: What musicians do you look up to? Which ones, new or old, inspire you the most?
Dontee Weaver: I get inspiration from a wide range of artist and producers, mostly the vets that impact the world beyond their music and ones that are business savvy. Jay-Z, Master P, P. Diddy, and Cam’ron for taking it past rap and building brands. 2Pac for making timeless music that still impacts the world til this day. James Brown is the most sampled artist of all time, based on that fact alone he’s an inspiration. Notorious B.I.G. only released one album while he was living and still gets major respect and recognition as the king of New York. LL Cool J made it cool to rap about love and not seem corny or lose any credibility. Everybody makes the list for different reasons so it’s hard to pick a couple. Like Nelly has made major moves in music and fashion but he makes the list for something more important to me. We both lost our sisters to cancer. I lost my little sister Johnessa “Kool-Aid” Weaver to Leukemia on May 13, 2014. So his story is relatable and inspires me. Me and my sister were close and I know she wouldn’t want me to give up on nothing that I’m doing.
Parlé Mag: Who are your favorite rappers in the game right now?
Dontee Weaver: Honestly, I like what the West Coast as a whole is doing right now. I get introduced to new rappers depending on what people around me are listening to. Other than the major label rappers I know it’s a lot of people that deserve the recognition but too many to name of the top of my head. I like the growth of YG and Nipsey Hussle with the music and making business moves. I checked out G Perico, he got dope sound and he pushing like he should. You got AV who’s been consistent, OT Genesis been hittin’ em across the head back to back with hit singles, RJ, Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q and the whole TDE camp, The Game, AD, Joey Fatts, my nigga Choice aka Razor Ramone he got bars I like hearing how he gon come off on a track. Drake, Dom Kennedy, crazy ass Tyler The Creator, IamSu, the list goes on and on. Even artist from other coasts goes like Kevin Gates, Dave East, Young M.A., G Herbo, Lil Bibby, and Kodak Black. He not a rapper but I fuck with The Weeknd. Not to mention my squad, Texacal, my little brothers Cashed Out Swift and K.O. aka K Eazy, DC Rarri, HT Benz, we got a roster of hitters over here. No matter where you from though, I like to see artists and producers that take they career in they own hands and not waiting for a major label to come knocking or to open up a big budget for em.
Parlé Mag: What do you do outside of music to help keep the creativity flowing?
Dontee Weaver: With the help of Youtube and some trial and error, I’ve recorded a lot my own music using Pro Tools, edited some of my own videos using Sony Vegas, and produced a couple basic tracks using FL Studio. But most of the time I keep my creativity flowing by being a serial entrepreneur. I manage my own websites and I do work every now and then for other artist, producers, bloggers, and brick and mortar business owners. I don’t speak on it much but I have a portfolio of websites that I want to put time into, link up with the right people and eventually launch into full blown businesses. Not to give up my whole arsenal but I own OneStepWebsites.com, FashionJunkiez.com, and iQuestionMusic.com just to name a few. One of my major goals though is to learn more about real estate and purchase my first property. After advice from real estate investor Jay Morrison and having a similar background as him, I got even more motivated. I’m on the right track so I’ll get there.
Parlé Mag: What stereotypes do people associate with you or when they listen to your music?
Dontee Weaver: They mostly assume that I’m a gang banger off top. True enough I may look the part in some peoples eyes but it’s an assumption. I’m related to and associate with gang members but, be that as it may, I associate with business owners and college graduates but at first glance I don’t get that stereotype. It’s kind of like assuming that everybody that wears glasses is smart without considering the fact that they might have bad vision. (laughs)
Parlé Mag: What’s something people may find shocking about you after they listen to your music?
Dontee Weaver: They will find out that I’m street smart and book smart. So you’ll hear some of the rawest ghetto stories and some stuff that will open yours eyes and make you look deeper at shit around you. Like the quote says, “The most dangerous thing in America is a nigga with a library card!” (laughs) I feel like it’s a good enough balance to keep people entertained and inspired at the same time. My ability to tell a story with so much detail that you can picture it in your head like a movie.
Parlé Mag: What is the hardest thing about being in the music industry?
Dontee Weaver: The politics and the socializing part. It’s more about the business than it is the music and that could mean getting out of your comfort zone as being just a artist and wear many coats in order to build your brand and network. Like the billionaire Warren Buffet says “Your network is your net worth.”
Parlé Mag: With so much competition, how do you make yourself and your sound different from what’s already out there?
Dontee Weaver: I just do me. I’m my biggest competition. I will be as successful as the work I put in, like Eric Thomas says “You gotta wanna succeed as bad as you wanna breathe.” And as far as my sound goes I may or may not sound different depending on who’s listening. I expect to get compared to other people, that doesn’t always have to be a bad thing but my story is original because it’s mine and only I live my life day in and day out. I already know my message is not for everybody, but for the one’s that it is for I’m sure they will appreciate it once they get a hold of it. Just know that I’m nice with the pen and can write in any genre so I come up with R&B hooks, pop shit, whatever. Whatever vibe I get from a beat I go off of that.
Parlé Mag: Have you ever had to give up something you love to pursue your passion?
Dontee Weaver: Of course. Pursuing music and taking steps to financial freedom doesn’t happen overnight in most cases. I miss out on time with family and since I can’t get yesterday back I have to grind hard to make the future make sense. You could either look back and regret that you didn’t spend more time with the people that you love or you could put in the work that’s needed in order to succeed so that everything is worthwhile.
Parlé Mag: What can people expect from any of your new works? How are these different from the rest?
Dontee Weaver: Expect the unexpected. It’s no guarantee that it will sound the same as the previous project. Just enjoy the journey. I’ll more than likely be reaching out to some of the same producers as well as new ones. Digital Trappin only had one featured vocalist, my next release might have a few more guest. Only time will tell how it all comes together.
Parlé Mag: How did your journey through music help you grow as a person?
Dontee Weaver: I like to know the ins and outs of most things that I’m involved in so my journey in music helped me grow as a businessman, which is the reason why I don’t mind staying independent forever. It has helped me learn to accept the constructive criticism and deal with people’s opinions and not trip. I could see a hundred tweets or blog posts that say I’m the worst rapper ever or some tough shit and it really wouldn’t bother me too much at this point. Every now and then I might bite on the bullshit, but for the most part I don’t put the energy or focus into it.
Parlé Mag: What’s your greatest accomplishment? What was your biggest disappointment?
Dontee Weaver: To be featured in Hip Hop Weekly Magazine was dope as fuck to me. It’s founded by the same people behind The Source Magazine. I couldn’t afford to buy The Source but when I used to see them on the new stands I would skim through them to see who was in it. So to know that I was featured in a issue, it felt good. Then right after that I was featured on HipHopDX.com.
As far as disappointments go, I was recently pissed off that Digital Trappin didn’t get approved by Pandora when it was released. I wanted to meet Tim Westergren at his office or at least email him about that one but it was a technical error or something so we are working that out as we speak. It bothered me because I printed it on posters, CD covers and everything saying that I would be available on Pandora as well as other platforms, then to get a email that said different had me hot, but it was my fault for jumping the gun. (laughs) But on a serious note, my biggest disappointment is my love ones passing away before they could share these moments with me. I think about that all that time, sometimes I want to be like fuck it and leave music alone completely, but I know they would rather me keep going so that’s a big reason why I still do it.
Parlé Mag: What is some advice you would give to anyone who wants to be a musician, but just doesn’t know or is too scared to take the leap?
Dontee Weaver: First and foremost you gotta believe in yourself. If you don’t believe you,why should anybody else? Another important thing is to be authentic, trying to be someone that you’re not might work for the moment, but it will eventually play out or be exposed. Some people are going to fuck with you and some people won’t but at least compromise your identity in the process. Last but not least, Invest in yourself, don’t count on other people to do favors or work for free. People are going to take you as serious as you take your craft. If you can’t afford studio time save money until you can buy equipment for a home studio. It will all pay off at the end of the day.
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