[INTERVIEW] Dee-1 Finds His Slingshot, Uses It To Inspire & Motivate In Hip-Hop

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“People who might have heard “Sallie Mae Back”, people who came on at that time, they don’t know the stuff that the previous Dee-1 fans know. Like ‘oh, you graduated college [LSU], you used to be a teacher, you was about to sign with Cash Money…'”

There’s not much to say about Dee-1 to fans and listeners who are already up on the New Orleans emcee. For everyone else who claims to love Hip-Hop: what exactly are you waiting for???

The 29 year-old born David Augustine Jr., is super talented! While he recently unleashed his major label debut album, Slingshot David, Dee-1 has been making hit records and going viral since 2013 or so. Songs like “Jay, 50, Weezy” and “Sallie Mae Back” made him an Internet sensation, but he’s also toured the country with some of your favorite artists, including with Lupe Fiasco, an artist he still calls a friend.

His story is inspirational for all who have a dream.  After graduating from LSU, Dee-1 became a middle school math teacher.  He dabbled in Hip-Hop throughout college, but once he realized the youth he was trying to teach were more into their favorite rapper than their favorite teacher, he decided to pursue his passion and make Hip-Hop his full time job. Mixtapes followed and while success didn’t come overnight, he was signed to a major label by 2013.

The journey hasn’t been all good for Dee-1, but the music has been.  There have been album delays, personal and health set backs and everything in between, but he stayed the course and this year he released “Hood Villians”, the powerful lead single to what is ultimately a stellar full length debut album.

Although he’s signed to RCA Inspiration, it’s hard to categorize Dee-1 as a Christian artist or as Gospel Rap. It’s lyrical Hip-Hop, ripe with storytelling and his Southern comfort delivery. His religious beliefs don’t really come across through the music, but the message is in there, baked in, like vegetables in a young child’s meal.

I caught up with Dee-1 to talk about the album, Slingshot David, his story in Hip-Hop and much more.  Check it all out here with some videos of Dee-1 sprinkled in…

Parlé Mag:  New album, Slingshot David was just released, lets get right to it.  Talk to me about the album and the concept behind it.
Dee-1:  This is my official full length major label debut, Slingshot David.  The concept is simple, but it’s powerful. We all know that back in the biblical times David defeated Goliath.  He defeated Goliath with a slingshot. My first name is David so I’ve always felt a connection to David and his life and his story like ‘Dude struggled with some of the same stuff I struggle with’ or ‘Dude is real bold and brave and I’m the same way. The thing I realized is that we can all relate to David. We all got that boldness, we all got that warrior in us that’s ready to tackle any Goliaths. And we all got Goliaths in our lives.  So the concept of the album is, in order to defeat the Goliath in your life and when I say Goliath, that can be poverty, that can be racism, that can be violence that riddles your life. In order to defeat the Goliath in your life. You just gotta figure out your slingshot and how to use it.  David couldn’t figure out how to defeat Goliath without his slingshot.  For us, we gotta channel out inner David and figure out what’s our slingshot.

Parlé Mag:
The album features 13 tracks and you travel through your life story, tell me about that. 
I tell my life story on from elementary on to present day.  Literally, 13 songs telling my life story. I am talking about from the time I wanted to be a Hot Boy until now.  What I went through, the ups and downs, the lefts and the rights, the twists and the turns and ultimately how I found my slingshot. My slingshot is Hip-Hop. Your slingshot is not something miraculous.  You don’t have to be a genius. There’s no oh my gosh what do I have to do to figure it out. Your slingshot is whatever you’re good at and whatever you’re passionate about.  This world tries to brainwash us and make us feel like, ‘oh, you could never do that as a career, so you need to stop doing that and focus on this, because that’s what normal people do. You thinking too outside the box.’ The whole concept is that your slingshot is whatever you’re talented at.

Parlé Mag:   Every track is also preceded by a skit.  Share what that’s all about for those who haven’t heard the project.
I’m narrating my life to a 10 year old named Jo Jo. I call him my nephew, but he’s really my best friend’s newphew.  The reason I am so passionate about Jo Jo is because my best friend got murdered in New Orleans a couple years ago. Growing up, we were the same type of person.  I saw him identify his slingshot and use it for the wrong purpose.  I saw what it led to, led to him getting caught up in the streets and eventually he got murdered.  You can only live that life and be out there wildin’ for so long before it catches up to you. My best friend has three nephews, the two older ones are around 21 years-old and Jo Jo is 10. I vowed to do whatever I could do to be that light in their lives. The interludes fill in all the gaps. The songs as individual singles are dope songs, but when you hear the skits with them, it’s like a movie, it’s dope.

Parlé Mag:  Skits/Interludes can be tricky, sometimes its too much.  Tory Lanez did something similar, Lyfe Jennings in the past as well.  Did you consider that when creating the project?
Dee-1:  A skit is something that’s scripted. What we did, we just sat there and one-taked this whole thing.  A candid conversation between me and this 10 year old.  I’ve never heard this type of thing on a Hip-Hop album. It’s candid because, it’s coming from a 10 year old.  I got one skit where I’m talking about HIV and me having to get an HIV test because I was worried that the lifestyle I was living might have led to HIV. Jo Jo was like, what’s HIV? I’m like, ‘man, what you talking about? ‘ And he’s still like, ‘What’s HIV?’ And he’s getting mad and then it clicks to me like, right, you ten-year old!

Parlé Mag:  New single is “Hood Villains” talk to me about that record and how it came to be the lead single?

Parlé Mag:  You have a select few features on the album, including Sevyn Streeter and Avery Wilson, plus Courtney Hart on your latest release.  Talk to me about the features on the album…
Dee-1:  I only collaborate with people who I have relationships with.  I don’t like the other type of features where it’s like industry set ups.  Everybody featured on the album I have a special relationship with. Me and Sevyn Streeter are really close, me and Avery Wilson are really cool. Me and Courtney Hart are really cool. A lot of these are people from New Orleans. Avery Wilson and Sevyn Streeter are national artists, they are very well known, everybody else, they New Orleans artists.  They might not be a legend to someone listening to the album, but they a legend in my eyes,  because they hold it down back home. I was given this platform to help amplify the talents of other artists as well, so that’s why it’s important to feature a lot of talent from New Orleans on my album.

Parlé Mag:  Speaking of the Sevyn Streeter record…

Parlé Mag:  You been making music for over ten years so when it came to making this official major label debut, what was the hardest part?
Dee-1:  Honestly, it was working with a bigger team than ever.  So, bigger team you have more people who have opinions about the music, you feel me. All them other projects I have put out have been independent, so as long as I like it, it’s good to go, feel me? With this, you have a lot more people who have opinions about the music. This album has been done for over a year, so the fact that it’s just coming out shows that there were a lot of revisions and people’s say so and such.  What I can say is this: ‘I wouldn’t be able to look you in your eyes and lie to you. If this album changed to something that was not my vision, I would be pissed off right now!  I would be very mad trying to push something that I wasn’t even passionate about.  So a big reason why it took so long is because I was fighting bro. I was really fighting to make sure my original vision was maintained. How can someone else tell me how to write my life story?  Think about that, it makes no sense. I don’t mind tweaking it, making adjustments here and there, but there are just certain things that can’t not be in there. A lot of that stuff is what was different about this project.  I’m excited because I’m here now. This could have easily not seen the light of day, but I’m here. I know what this album is finna do. This album is going to shock a lot of people who might not know what Dee-1 is about. And all my fans, they already know, they know how I come every project. We put four singles out already and they already in love.

Dee-1 Talks “Sallie Mae Back” & Creating A Partnership with Sallie Mae To Provide Scholarships To Teens

Parlé Mag:  You were once a teacher, so what’s the biggest lesson people can get from the album?
Dee-1:  The biggest lesson that listeners can get from the album is that we all deal with Goliaths, but once you tap into your slingshot and you learn how to use your slingshot, it will change you forever.  I have seen people struggle because they don’t know what their purpose is in life.  They literally don’t know why they are here so they are going through the motions, but they don’t know what they are doing here.  They are even making money sometimes and sometimes it’s good money, but they don’t get any fulfillment from what they are doing because they don’t know their purpose. Once you find your slingshot, and you find what you’re good at, everyday is going to be lit because you know why you are here!

Dee-1 Talks “Jay, 50, Weezy”

Parlé Mag:  Are you happy with where you are in the industry right now as an artist?  Have you met your expectations for this point in your career?
Dee-1:  I really didn’t have expectations.  I just started rapping when I was in college.  Graduated, started teaching and I saw that all my students looked up to rappers and I thought, man, I should be a rapper, that would be dope. I started doing it and now I’m here. I dropped my album on a major label, I got a 25-city tour lined up.  I had no expectations and if I did, I feel like I have exceeded them.  A lot of people felt like, people not going to want to hear what you talking about.  I don’t have a major artist co-sign. You instantly inherit a fan base and a platform when someone signs you and puts you on.  Someone is invested in you.  I don’t have any of that. God is my co-sign and God has put me exactly where I’m supposed to be.  But I feel like there is a lot more potential that I have. You know that feeling when you running a race and your like, bro I’m running as fast as I can right now. If I try to run any faster I might fall on this pavement and bust my nose wide open. You know that feeling.  Like when you playing ball and you hitting every shot. With me, there is a lot of untapped potential that I still have so that’s my inspiration to keep grinding and moving forward.

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Kevin Benoit

Kevin Benoit is the editor of Parlé Magazine. He founded the magazine while in college and continues to run it today. Follow him on IG: @parlewithme Read more articles by Kevin.

Kevin Benoit has 1876 posts and counting. See all posts by Kevin Benoit

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