Dephlow is one of the dopest emcees in Hip-Hop. His voice, his flow, and his lyrical content check all of the boxes for what it takes to make a great emcee. The Virginian’s latest release, “Most Dephinite” is a head-nodding happening that should heighten Dephlow’s profile in the culture of Hip-Hop.
Most Dephinite is an 11-track album released by Don’t Sleep Records. The album features Deph’s frequent collaborator Awon and is produced by Boom Beats, F Draper, and Phoniks.
The Real Hip-Hop spoke to Dephlow about being vulnerable in his music, the ups and downs of being an indie artist, and his new album, Most Dephinite.
TRHH: How would you compare Most Dephinite to your first solo album Deph Threats?
Dephlow: I thought the Deph Threats album didn’t start the way that it ended. I was in a different place when I started that project. I got to the point where I felt like I was done with it. My pops passed away in the middle of working on that project. It was a lot of shit going on besides that that made that project real personal. The space that I was in at that point in time was different from when I was creating this one because in a sense I didn’t have a lot of content talking about that, it’s just a matter of my mind state at the time. In doing this one it was a lot more focused and to the point. I knew where I wanted to go with it based on the production.
Basically Boom contacted me and just let me know that he was trying to work. At the time I was trying to get production from wherever I could get it from because I just wanted to stay working. He sent me a folder full of beats and the first one I clicked on was ‘No Rappers Allowed.’ That was the first record that I wrote. It tells you where my mind state was. I was hungry. I’m still hungry! I feel like when I put Deph Threats out people were paying attention because of Dephacation. This one I’m hungry because I feel like people ain’t really understanding what it is I do and where I’m coming from. I feel like I have something to prove on this album as opposed Deph Threats where I just had something to get off my chest.
TRHH: How was it different having Phoniks take a backseat on production this time around?
Dephlow: He didn’t necessarily take a backseat. When Boom sent me the folder of beats I basically went through and wrote something to all of them because it was that good. He sent another folder of beats and I wrote something to the majority of those, because they were that good. He came at a time when I was looking for production and it was perfect timing. It gave me a different vibe and it was exactly what I was looking for. Some of it was aggressive, a lot of it was just well put together from front to back.
My style is a little less formatted but the production was a lot more formatted. The blending of the two for me was just something. Every time I heard a new mix of it I was excited. I would say that it just gave me a different energy. It was a little more aggressive than what you might have heard previously when working with Phoniks. Phoniks was working on a couple of different projects. It wasn’t like I didn’t want to work with him, it was more of a situation where we had to figure out the timing.
TRHH: What inspired the song ‘My Brother’s Keeper’?
Dephlow: That’s about a true story. The little kid at the end of the record is this little dude I’m still cool with from a previous relationship. It didn’t work out. When I met him he was just turning one. I thought if I was in his life from this point forward I can be some sort of positive influence for him. On a personal level, I knew what he needed. This is five years worth of experience that I’m talking through and watching him grow up and wishing I could be the coach or the teacher, but being that the relationship didn’t work out you don’t have the right to do that.
Yet and still you know he’s not going to need that guidance any less. You just hope that he gets it from someone else who has the same game, or at least as much of something to offer him other than Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto and shit. If he’s six right now this ain’t what he would be listening to. We hung out and I see that he likes all of the shit that kids like. This ain’t his lane yet, but one day just like everything else it will come full circle and he will hear his year old self on a record and he’ll understand what it is I was trying to get across. Hopefully he will carry on that sort of intent.
TRHH: Is the song ‘Round One’ related to this song?
Dephlow: It’s basically tied in to My Brother’s Keeper. It’s the same situation, but now I’m addressing the relationship. This is separate from the kid. This is the relationship in that same situation. It’s all written from experience and if it’s not personal experience, it’s something that I’ve seen my OG’s and people close to me go through. I’ve added pieces in there. When I played those two records for people close to me some of them were in tears, some of them had goose bumps. That reaction you know is genuine because there is a physical reaction to a sound or words and thoughts that you put together. I felt like those two records in particular were tired together and those who needed it or those who understood would instantly get it – they would feel it.
TRHH: I find in Hip-Hop that different people like different things. Some people like the beat, some people like the flow, some people like the content. I listened to Jay-Z’s album and I think some people don’t like it because of the music, but a lot of people do like it because of the vulnerability and the substance. I think we can trace it back to 2Pac, which we talked about two years ago. While he’s maybe not technically the greatest rapper, but his passion and substance is what touched people. A lot of your rhymes are witty and have punchlines and stuff like that, but how important is it to you to touch that nerve with people?
Dephlow: When you think of a 2Pac and you think of the fact that you can’t kill 2Pac, even though he wasn’t the best lyricist of all-time, you can’t kill who he is. I don’t even speak in the past tense when I speak about 2Pac. I speak about who he is because he’s still here with us, because of the fact that he made a mark and he said some things in casual conversation that people still quote. People still use his words for motivation or a way of contextualizing something that has happened. We live in an age now where everybody has an opinion. Everybody can make noise about whatever they want to make noise about, so when you say something about yourself that may be something that people can use against you, and at the same time you’re doing that you’re offering that strength to somebody else who is dealing with the same issues. In a perfect balance of how we live I guess it’s necessary to do as an artist. I haven’t listened to the Jay-Z album but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told people that by the time he gets to the point where we understand who he is outside of being a hustler, it’s going to be too late. People will have already made up their mind about who they want him to be. He’s just that guy, you can’t be anybody else.
People reinvent themselves all the time with how they say things, but what they’re saying doesn’t change too much when they’re not really touching those nerves. On certain records like “Song Cry” he did, but he ain’t a social media guy and he’s not wide open and neither am I. The only way you can do that sometimes is by adding those records that really reflect who you really are and hope that it helps the people who it’s intended to help – the criticism be damned. If you didn’t get it, it wasn’t for you to get. That’s the great thing about having independent artists like the team of people I’m working with. We’re going to give you something that you don’t actually have to buy into. You already know what it is when you listen to it, you just have to take the time to hear it.
TRHH: Speaking of the people you work with, on the song ‘Blood’ you work with Awon. Your verse touches on a lot of different things. What’s the message behind that song?
Dephlow: When you look at how we live, especially here in America, and all the little shit that we covet and we don’t want to lose, and kill and die over, there are other people who are actually being killed and worked to death in order to obtain the shit. What I’m saying is when we buy into that we buy into somebody else’s misery. And we contribute to our own. None of this shit really means anything at the end of the day. That diamond ain’t as rare as they tell you it is. It’s a good marketing scheme. That big ass gold chain that we want to rock is basically rocking a few souls on our neck. Them Jordan’s we put on our feet, a whole family is working to put together some shoes that don’t cost shit to make that we kill each other for, for no fuckin’ reason. The status shit that we do, all the shit that we buy, where they’re taking the resources, whether it be human or natural, and exploiting the people who do it.
We want to take trips to Dubai and front like we’re royalty, or whatever the case may be, and when we get there and see all of the shit that they built, but what you don’t see is the people that built that shit. When you go to the Dominican Republic or wherever you go on your vacation and you don’t see the natives on the beach with you and you’re not asking questions like, “Why is this like this?” or “Why are the people who work here the darker they are they get exploited more and have less freedom?” While you’re enjoying yourself, having a good time, and taking pictures for the gram, there’s some motherfuckers suffering. It’s all tied in to the fact that it feels good at first like, “Oh shit, this production is different from the message.” That’s exactly the parallel that we have in real life. The production is different from the message or the product.
TRHH: I saw you speak online about the support you’ve received worldwide. What are some of the hurdles you have to leap over being an independent artist and how important is getting support from the listeners?
Dephlow: In my situation I hit a window of opportunity where Soundcloud was still a platform where a lot of people were trying to find music. I found a window through there when it was still a viable option to get it out. Because where I’m coming from I wasn’t able to build the pieces to start from home and move outwards – I did try. Nobody from where I’m from does that, even though everybody knows who Pharrell is, who Timbaland is, and who D.R.A.M. is. These are all people who are from the same place, but had the same problems. In the situation now where the internet allows people to get it wherever they are, to have that support worldwide and for people to actually show it by purchasing your music and asking you to come to where they are to perform, it reminds you that it’s worth doing. It’s worth continuing to make music because it is appreciated. Certain places in America, especially where I’m at in Virginia, seem to be some of the last places to really embrace the type of music that I make or the type of things that I do.
It’s not really about me. I’ve always been the type of person who has championed the basics. Regardless of what people feel like about Dame Dash I know he knows what he’s talking about. So when he says, “Get your merch game right and perform,” I always wanted people to look at like you don’t need whoever the local DJ is to host some shit where you gotta pay him to go and perform. We can do that ourselves, get the building and let’s make it happen. Nobody has bit on that idea but I guarantee you whoever does is going to win. These kids are figuring it out. 18-25, they’re working together to make it happen. Eventually Virginia will have a culture, but for me to get embraced from so many different places I need to see that – it keeps me motivated.
TRHH: Who is the Most Dephinite album for?
Dephlow: It’s really for me. This one is, “Alright, I said what I had to say for right now and if I never make another album, so be it.” I really don’t like the way this shit is headed in terms of either side of it – creatively or the way the business side works. Really it’s just for me to be able to say, “I said what I had to say, I offered something to the culture, and hopefully the people appreciate it.” I gave the type of effort that I would want anybody who has a major backing to have and not just take advantage of their opportunity to make money. I really just want to be able to say that at the end of the day in time either the people will understand what I was trying to say. On Deph Threats I said a lot of things on that album before they transpired and when it came to pass I didn’t have nothing else to say.
I didn’t want to tell you, “I told you so.” All I want to do is say, “What do you want to do now? Are you ready for the next step?” That’s where I’m at in the point of making music – what do I want to do now? I had another plan the whole time. All of the videos that people see are the videos that I produced and that’s where I want to stunt. Your Benny or your Hype, or anybody else started with that. Ultimately I want to tell our stories where they need to be told, on film, short stories or documentaries. Whatever I can do in order to try to further this shit the way I feel like it needs to be represented and address some of the issues. I might talk about them in my rhymes, but it’s nothing for me to really sit down and discuss tight jeans with somebody like, “Why you got those on?” Really talk about what’s going on with who we are and who want to be more importantly.
Purchase: Dephlow – Most Dephinite