The 80s and early 90s were mixed with "YO! MTV Raps" and whatever I could get my hands on. I started off writing party rhymes in 5th and 6th grade as I was trying to mimic my favorite groups at the time. (Kid N Play, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Tone Loc, Hammer, Sir Mix-A-Lot and Digital Underground) In just as short as a few months to a year, I went from the above mentioned artists to GangStarr, Black Sheep, Ghetto Boys, N.W.A., Ice Cube, Ice-T and Public Enemy. Some of them I already listened to, but then they became more of my influence than dance/party anthems.
|The OG, can't front on that homie!|
Middle school was a natural progression in all forms. (the beats, the rhymes and the music in general) I was in the midst of hip hop's golden age and would literally eat, sleep and drink hip hop. Reading "The Source," back when it was a real dope magazine, was my pseudo hip hop manual as I really discovered/dove into hip hop. I ditched the Casio, and replaced it with pause mixes as I would try to make looped beats with what records I could. My friends and I were in a hip hop group and even at the age of 13-14 we had producers wanting to work with us. We made a few songs, but none of them were ever recorded properly or were lost. If we could have recorded and released "La-Di-Da-Di (we like to party)" I honestly think we would have been picked up by a company.
High School was an introduction to the lunch room ciphers. In middle school we held it down, but in high school we had to earn it all over again. It didn't take long, but by the end of high school our crew became the pseudo Wu-Tang. There was the original group with the key members and then off-shoots and unofficial members. We worked with other producers, but were given a quick lesson in "4080." A majority of the time I would dig up records, find the drums and figure out how I wanted everything chopped, sequenced etc. But, I didn't have the gear, so we would roll up to the producers we knew and I would have them make the beat for me. A week or so later, we'd want to record the beat and some how they'd "lose" the disks. Then about a month later their boys would be rhyming over the beat that I basically made.
That was it. Had to do it for delf. I saved up every penny I could and convinced my parents to combine B-day, Christmas and graduation into a Yamaha SU10 sampler, a Tascam 4-Track, Gemini mixer and two belt drive turntables. It was on. I dove into making beats and went from one of the ill emcees in the cipher to being the beatmaker in school that was pushing out bangers.
Lost & Found" comp)
|OG flyer for the Late Night Marauders show on 89.3 KAOS|
Along with the tables I pinched some more pennies and finally was able to pick up the piece of gear all of my favorite beatmakers used, an Emu SP1200. Cats were busy focusing on the next big thing Akai was pushing out that they were all leaving the SP behind. That was fine by me because I just kept it basement and grimy like all of my favorite hip hop records. I began spitting out beats at a fever pitch as I was learning and developing my style with the SP and I honestly got to a point where I had so many beats I just couldn't keep up with writing rhymes. I was also getting more serious about school, so I mainly focused on beats, digging and DJing. I put the pen down because the only energy I had for writing was for class and whatever paper I had due. I still wrote when I felt like it and wanted to throw down something, but it wasn't my main focus.
When college was wrapping up, my friend decided he wanted to put together a compilation LP of artists and emcees he knew called the "Heard Compilation." This was the 1st time I was involved in anything that was close to officially being released. Originally I was hoping to have a polished version of "From This Moment On" to be released on that project, but due to where everybody was located it was going to be next to impossible to get all of the vocals recorded. Now everybody can simply upload and email projects to each other, but back then the postal service or a 2 hour car drive would have been involved.
What finally ended up on the project was a pseudo DJ Shadow type mix with some overdubbed computer vox on it. (instead of "From This Moment On") In my opinion I wasn't feeling the track I had on the comp, but a couple years later I gave the track a redux and it eventually became the intro to "Basement Sessions." (maybe that's why the track was the last cut on the comp... haha) More than anything, the experience was an exercise in showing how a project could be done if you had the focus. (That's what my man Corey/Just Be showed me)
|OG copy of The Heard Compilation. You got a copy? Most likely not.|
The next couple years hip hop took the back seat, so to speak. I began DJing for a trip hop band called "Detective Honey." While I was in the band we had three different lineups and sounds. The first was heavily produced and had a darker tone. Melinda Baker did a large majority of the production including keyboards and guitar. (she was amazing) We had a Portishead, Massive Attack vibe and were part of the downtempo electronica scene in Seattle. This version of the band only had one gig, but thankfully Michell Meyers, the original vocalist, had it recorded.
Detective Honey - Alright Baby (live at Toast) Dawhud by Dawhud
This is the ONLY version of this song that really exists. (outside of some practice recordings) This was the jammie that would turn the party out when ever we would throw this on. Later on, as the group evolved, lineup changed, the song did too.
While in Seattle this was the band that actually got my foot in the door with a lot of gigs. We did several shows all throughout town and I began DJing just as myself at a couple spots and at parties. We made a lot of really good music, recorded at SEVERAL studios, but in my opinion, due to the revolving cast felt like we were not progressing as a group. Maybe that was because I also felt like I was not doing what I ultimately wanted to do in the band and with my music.
I then began working on my own music. For a while I was working with Melinda Baker on some tracks, the band and on my own project. The result was a packed schedule and something had to give sooner or later. Ultimately I wanted to be happy and working on what I REALLY wanted to, so I ended up leaving the band and focusing on my solo work.
Enter the Sessions...
In many ways I started working on "Basement Sessions" back in high school and college, if I knew it or not. Cuts like "Wild Style" "World Premier" "From This Moment On" and "T.E.C.H." were joints that I always liked and wanted to do right, so as I was working on "Basement Sessions" I thought about redoing them and making them better than how they turned out back in 98-00. (due to recording equipment etc.) The resurrection of these cuts made me take a trip down memory lane, I started thinking about back in high school and how I would stay up, write, listen to Nas, Kwest, Wu-Tang and Black Moon... the process itself and how I would eat, drink and sleep that ish. (wake up, go to school, the ciphers at lunch, go home, watch Rap City, play some CDs, write and repeat) That life I lived during those high school and college years, I wanted to kind of pay homage to it and that's what ultimately "Basement Sessions" is.
The concept of "Basement Sessions" only slowly snowballed. I originally wanted to just put out an EP, but I continued to build a collection of tracks and found an underlying narrative. I didn't want to build such a concept rich LP, but as things progressed I also realized that if I wanted to do it right I had to go all the way. Not to make it sound like a check mark on some "bucket list," but I knew if I did not make the album I REALLY wanted, I shouldn't do it at all. I wanted something that I know I would have listened to when I was sitting there writing late at night, or a soundtrack while hanging out with my boys and freestyling.
The project progressed and as it developed I continued to think about the "id" of an artist. You had the artist itself and what was reflected on stage or what's coming out of the speaker and in many ways they are VERY different. I realized there was the artist "Dawhud" and the exaggerated version of "Dawhud" that was on stage, rhyming, DJing and boasting. This idea and concept is what manifested itself in a retelling of "Fight Club" within LP.
I finished a very rough version of the LP before I left Seattle for Indianapolis in summer of 2007 and that version of the album was leaked through several message boards and blogs over the next few months. Although I had not officially released "Basement Sessions" it found it's way on a best of list for 2007 from Redefine Magazine and some other blog sites.
Ryan Pangilinan - "Redefine Magazine"
"1. Dawhud - Basement Sessions Indiana transplant by way of Seattle, Dawhud's debut album is a trip back to Golden Age-era hip-hop. Confined to a Fight Club-like concept, Dawhud and company rip through each track like Jared rips through turkey subs. Easily the best hip-hop record of the year."
|Live on stage at the release party for Basement Sessions.|
"The last time I heard a hip-hop album this cohesive and well put together? Maybe Supreme Clientele."
As I finished finalizing the mixes, mastering the album and getting artwork and anything else needed for the release ready I began working on other projects. Before I left Seattle I already started developing "Revisionist History," which is an ongoing project of pseudo flips, covers and revisions of classic hip hop tracks. I also began working on the album within the album/universe of "Basement Sessions" called "Dub Styles."
In summer of 2008 I returned to Seattle for the official release of "Basement Sessions." I had the release party at Chop Suey in the Capitol Hill district, which was rather apropos because the 1st gig I had in Seattle while working on my solo material was at Chop Suey.
In the following months the LP got some decent burn in some publications, radio, blogs and message boards in the US and overseas. To cap off the year it was awarded "Best LP of the Year" by Jose Gutierrez Jr. in "Weekly Volcano Magazine."
Since the release of "Basement Sessions" I've continued to work on several projects and guest spots with other artists. A very rough version of "Dub Styles" was leaked over the summer of 2010, but did not contain all of the tracks on the projects and is was well... a rough version. The official release of the project was released digitally on April 20th (4/20) for the spring/summer of 2011. A self titled album and the genuine followup to "Basement Sessions" is in the works and should follow the release of "Dub Styles." And finally, the "Revisionist History" project is a continuing work in progress and you can hear rough demos featuring Prince Po, Moka Only, The Mudkids, Wildchild and more on the music page.
In the meantime, keep it locked here as I keep you updated on projects, releases and whatever else is on my mind.