Lupus Dei + Onaje Jordan: Respeckfully

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Photo courtesy of Jerry Graham Publicity

Lupus Dei is an emcee from New Jersey who performs as “TheLupusDeiExperience.” Onaje Jordan is a producer from Chicago. Both are members of the Hip-Hop collective, HomeTeam. Dei and Jordan teamed up to release an album titled, “Respeckfully.”

Respeckfully is produced entirely by Onaje Jordan. The 9-track release features appearances by Mr. Pay Per View, Substance810, and the HomeTeam crew.

The Real Hip-Hop spoke to Lupus Dei and Onaje Jordan about the commonalities that they share, the formation of HomeTeam, and their new album, Respeckfully.

TRHH: Why did you title the new album Respeckfully?

Lupus Dei: That’s a good question. Honestly bro, I titled it respectfully because I just felt like I wanted to in the most distinguished way possible pretty much tell niggas to kiss my ass, but in a respectable manner. And so, for me everything is about class and taste so, when I put respectfully on the end of it it’s like yeah you getting that work but I’m saying it in a manner to where it’s respectful enough to be heard by anybody. And when I heard the beats from O it just put me in that mind frame on some grown man shit like, yo, you know what, the humbleness is over. Respectfully, I gotta say what I gotta say, you take it how you take it. That’s it.

TRHH: What was the process like recording the album?

Onaje Jordan: I can put my perspective, man. But really because of the internet, man, it’s been like that for a while for me. You know I’ve been dealing with a lot of people from Canada, overseas, Europe, so, every day the internet brings everybody closer. Just emailing, you know we always vibing because we HomeTeam, we fam, so, we know what each other likes. We know what we bring out of each other, so, it was pretty easy. We have history together already.

TRHH: How did HomeTeam form with everybody being from different places? The internet still?

Onaje Jordan: Yeah basically, man, yeah. You know the internet, man. We’re all with fam. It’s really Killy Shoot’s baby and General Back Pain. Back Pain is from Inglewood, California and Killy is from Massachusetts, I forgot what part he is from. But, they were doing stuff together maybe like three or four years ago, man. They connected on that end and this just grew from there. We’re all from different places. We got Propha C, he’s from Canada, we’ve got cats for upstate New York, and Deuce and Charlie, man, so, we just all over the place. But you know internet brings everybody together. With just a click of a button we’re away.

Lupus Dei: Me and General Back Pain been rocking for a minute, so, he was running with Killy Shoot. He kind of like co-signed me like, “Yo, I think I need to listen to Lupus or whatever you know what I mean? I think he dope, XYZ.” And then from there, once we linked it’s been like O said, it’s been internet-based ever since. We’ve just been rocking out. Like we’ve been just feeling each other’s vibe and rocking out. So, shout out to Killy and shout out to General Back Pain for even putting that together. Plus, me and O got the same name. You don’t ever tell nobody we got the same name, O.

Onaje Jordan: His name is Onaje, too.

Lupus Dei: So, that right there was like a thumbs up. I was ready to rock right from the gate.

TRHH: Wow. What’s the background of that name?

Onaje Jordan: It’s Swahili for “sensitive.” That’s what it means. My mother and father back in the day were really into Pan-Africanism, Islam, and stuff like that. My father was a Muslim, my mother wrote for the Black Panther paper back in the day in the 70s, man. So, you know how it was back in the day, everybody had them strange names. You know my little brother; his name is Robert. You know what I’m saying, you know how it goes, man.

Lupus Dei: I’m gonna tell you a secret right, so, it took them two weeks because like Onaje said, the name is Swahili. So, it took two weeks for them to come out with my name before I left the hospital. My mom ain’t wanna bring me out the hospital a John Doe, so, she named me after my father. I’m not even going to get into the whole name, but after that, once that Swahili name came they changed everything around on my birth certificate and I was good. It’s a wild story. Them names take time. I don’t know what they do, I don’t know if they look into the stars or whatever they do, they just find something that’s actually suitable for that for that soul that’s coming out. I think that Onaje, at least for me from my perspective, is definitely a fitting name for who I am.

TRHH: How’d you get your rap name?

Lupus Dei: You ask great questions. So, originally my name was Quest Money. Y’all might can go look back at some of the history of Quest Money. I was cursing ,I was wildin’, I was just a whole ‘nother person. I chose the name Lupus Dei, real talk, because one, my wife has lupus, so, I wanted to make her struggle or her pain a part of my name when I come through. That’s where the “Lupus” came from. And I used to watch this show called Penny Dreadful. If anybody ever watched Penny Dreadful it’s a wicked show. There was this character on there; he was a wolf, he was the Wolf of God and he was called Lupus Dei. I did the research on it and looked at it from a Latin perspective and seen what it actually represented.

So, with my wife having lupus and me feeling like I’m a representation of God in the flesh to a degree, I wanted to have a name that symbolized something and that meant something, you feel what I’m saying. I got a joint right now where it says “Fuck Lupus” but I don’t really mean me personally. I’m like, “fuck lupus the disease” but it’s a two-way thing. That’s where the name came from and the experience part of it is that when I do music that’s what I want you to feel. I want you to experience it. I don’t want you just to listen to it I want you to experience how it was created, how I feel, how I felt when I said it, how the producer made it, and I want it to be an experience, my whole project.

TRHH: How did the first single “Rare Form” come together?

Onaje Jordan: I want to say Lupus hit me like the end of last year, 2020, about doing this project. I do a lot of digging. So, I was going through records and I found that sample. I chopped it up and looped it up and I was like, “Yo that’s Lupus right there.” That’s him all day. It’s some type of battle rap type stuff. When I hear Lupus I think of a battle rapper, like early Jae Millz or something like that. So, when I heard that beat I sent it right to him and you got at it, you know.

TRHH: You mentioned you dig for records; what is your stance on people that sample from YouTube?

Onaje Jordan: It’s all good. Wherever you get your sounds from it’s good with me. I’m old school, so, I dig. I used to go to Dr. Wax back in the day on the south side, 2nd Hand Tunes, or mom & pop stores and just dig. I listen to records because I’m a fan of music, first of all. Jazz, Pop, Latin whatever. Wherever you get your source from, as long as it’s dope to me. If it’s dope, it’s dope, no matter where you get your sampling source from.

TRHH: What does your production workstation consist of right now?

Onaje Jordan: Old vinyl records, MPC Renaissance, that’s it. Record player. That’s it.

TRHH: The most important song on the album is “How I Feel.” The beat, the lyrics, and the concept are all perfect. Lupus, you question the claim that America is great in the song. What would you say to people who believe that America is a great country despite the killings of unarmed black people that continue to occur?

Lupus Dei: I feel you. I think that to be perfectly honest with you nothing that I say will change the mindset of someone that already believes what they believe to that degree. But the advice that I would give or the insight that I would shed is that America could be and should be great for us as a people. And because it’s not, the facade that it is, is what’s tearing us down because we’re looking to achieve something that we already are, if that makes any sense. So, my only advice is when I wrote that song and when O sent me that beat and it tells you, it’s exactly how I feel. You might not feel that way, that’s how I feel. That’s how I viewed it and people that can line up with that vision, I’m with you. And if you don’t line up with that vision, I’m not against you either. So, just to answer your question to bring it to a close, I would tell anybody right now, especially if they listen to that song or if they felt that way at all, then that’s what it is. And that’s how we gotta move as a people. That’s not a personal or individual song, that’s a people song that’s for us. And if we’re not moving that way, then I feel some type of way.

TRHH: It’s a lot of us not moving that way, man. I mean it’s that’s a whole other discussion.

Lupus Dei: Here’s the point though, if I can plant the seed and let God water it how he sees fit, at least it’s something that can be accomplished. We don’t move that way a lot of times because we don’t know enough or we choose to ignore what we do know to be like something that we don’t have to be, but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion as well.

TRHH: Or we get our information from a bad source. “No Substance” is a song that speaks about rappers saying a whole lot of nothing. Why is it important to you for rappers to say something of substance in their music?

Lupus Dei: I didn’t even expect you to bring that song up, so, that’s kind of dope that you did. I think that it’s important as an artist, number one, skip the rapper thing, we’re artists. I mean, we should be artists. Rappers just rap, artists create things. So, when I come up with a song like “No Substance” here’s the flip side to it right, I want to let people know that you like a lot of stuff, you’re not listening to anything. And that’s the whole trick, they want you to not listen to anything, they don’t want you to learn. So, rappers have become really comfortable with putting nothing in their bars, and don’t get me wrong, what works, works. But the flip side of it is the person that I was doing the song with is named Substance810. I wanted to create a song around his name, so, when you hear the song “Substance Abuse” it’s not substance abuse in the terms that most people are taking it like it’s an “overdo it” no it’s a “lack of.” But then on the flip side I’m rocking with his name and that’s how the song came about.

TRHH: Who is the Respeckfully album made for?

Lupus Dei: It’s made for myself. It was made to remind myself that I’m worth what I’m worth. It was made to remind myself that I need to cut ties with things that’s not trying to elevate me to the next place. I didn’t make Respeckfully for anybody but myself, but I said it respectfully to all those that don’t believe it’s going to happen. So, when O sent me the pack of beats I already knew, even down to the song Respeckfully featuring my man Mr. Pay Per View, I already knew that’s just how I felt. So, it was for me, and that’s why I think that if anything if people are going to gravitate to it, it would be for that reason. It ain’t for nobody else. It’s just for me.

Onaje Jordan: This was all Lupus’ idea. I came with the beats, but the idea and how everything turned out was strictly Lupus. This is his brainchild, I just provided the backdrop. From my part, just for the beat aspect of it, we’re just showing people that I’m ill with it. That’s all I’m trying to prove in 2021. Let people know that the HomeTeam is coming.

Purchase: TheLupusDeiExperience -Respeckfully

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About Sherron Shabazz

Sherron Shabazz is a freelance writer with an intense passion for Hip-Hop culture. Sherron is your quintessential Hip-Hop snob, seeking to advance the future of the culture while fondly remembering its past.
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