DUBB discusses his new "Perfect Timing" mixtape, his relationships with The Game and DJ Skee, the status of his AV8ERS Entertainment brand, his approach to music and more.
Around this time last year, we caught up with South Central L.A. emcee DUBB for an extensive interview. If you missed it, or are unfamiliar with the man, you can and should read it here. His new project, titled Perfect Timing and hosted by DJs Skee and Whoo Kid, dropped today, which happens to be his born day. As such, we decided to catch up with him again and learn what's transpired in his life and career since we last spoke, for better or worse.
DUBB exudes the utmost humility and transparency, traits rarely observed in the rap game at this point. At the same time, he's supremely ambitious, and as a seriously dedicated lyricist, demands respect for his craft. A truly self-sufficient artist, he recorded most of the new music in the comfort of his Athens Park home, where he's in the process of raising his six-month-old daughter Lyric. (You'll hear references to her throughout the project and one track entirely dedicated to her.) Also, after a falling out with his former management and other industry-related pitfalls, he's handled most of the project's ongoing roll-out himself, with zero tolerance for bullshit.
Perfect Timing features similarly dedicated lyricists Crooked I, Joell Ortiz and Emilio Rojas, as well as vocalists Jake&Papa, China Marie and Jenny Kinney. The production was handled by a diverse array of producers including Cy Fyre, Duke Deniro, Remixx, DJ Relly Rell, DK and Jay Nari of League of Starz.
HNHH: First of all, can you clarify your connection to Game's Blood Money imprint? Last year it was reported that you signed with him - Game actually stated it on Big Boy's Neighborhood - and some people are still under that impression. But that's not actually the case, right?
DUBB: "Basically, he wanted me to do some stuff on the album [Year Of The Wolf], and it turned into me potentially being a part of his movement. And when the album was done and everything, the business was never handled. So the statement was made that I was signed to him before any paperwork was done, but it was said prematurely … so it was never official. So, I mean, we cool, I don’t got no issues with him, don't go not problems, but I'm not signed to Blood Money - I'm still an unsigned artist and I'm solo and I'm doing my own thing."
HNHH: What's the status of your AV8ERS Entertainment brand?
DUBB: "It's kind of a touchy subject, man, 'cause around the time that [Year of the Wolf] came out, and the confusion with the Blood Money situation, I fired my management, and we were partners on the AV8ERS thing. It was me, him and one of my other partners - we went 33% split on the company. So when I fired him as a manager, he got kind of butt-hurt and started doing all types of other stuff, and he was basically holding the AV8ERS name against me, 'cause if we all don’t agree on something, it really can't be used or anything like that … So, long story short, I was just like, man, the name means a lot to me because I made it up because of my dad. My dad died in 2012 of pancreatic cancer, and he worked at American Airlines, so it was just to pay homage to him. So for somebody to actually act like they care about me and hold something like that against me is crazy. But my dad lives on in my heart, so regardless of the name, I'm still gon' be DUBB at the end of the day, and to keep it 100, I made the AV8ERS name … So I don’t really know where it stands right now. I mean, my new mixtape that's about to drop, I still mention AV8ERS in a few songs, but business-wise it's kind of at a standstill right now. But it really doesn’t matter … if you hold a name against me I'm still DUBB and people mess with me 'cause of my music, not because I made up a name."
HNHH: What was the motivation behind your ongoing '7 Days A Week' mini-documentary web series?
DUBB: "For my whole career, people have known me for the music and don't really know the person behind it, so I'm just trying to achieve more of an artist-to-fan connection, and really show them the person. 'Cause I feel like the most successful artists share a bond with their fan base. It's certain people that may appear big, but they can’t really sell out a show because they don’t have that connection with their fans … When I was a kid, I thought celebrities were a different type of people, that you had to be a certain type of person to be famous or something like that. So I'm just letting people know that I'm a regular dude and I share the same story as a lot of people … I'm just letting people in on my everyday life."
HNHH: What can we expect from "Perfect Timing"?
DUBB: "As far as me being quiet, that's what I was working on, and I was making it great … I stepped back after firing the management and really just analyzed myself, stepped out of myself for a minute … 'Cause I can’t just keep doing the same thing every year and expect different results. So I've been working on a gang of stuff behind the scenes that the fans are not really able to see yet, but once I start putting music out again, it should be a different outcome. I’m building my relationships in the industry - I don’t really care about relationships with artists and rappers, 'cause they're always gonna be funny-acting, generally speaking. 'Cause those relationships are based on how big you are … if you're not that big, people act funny. But as soon as you blow up, everybody’s your best friend. So I'm not really worried about the artist-to-artist relationships - I'm worried about the artist-to-fan relationships and these bloggers, these tastemakers - I'm building with the people that actually help the artists versus, like I said, the artists, so those relationships'll be organic once they do happen … I feel it's a powerful project, and if people perceive it the way I do, I feel like it'll change people's perspective and outlook on life. It’s real motivating - I did every type of song I wanted to do, and I didn't let nobody else influence my sound, so I feel like it'll be the most organic project I've put out to date ... I've got videos ready to go … I've got a whole press run ready to go - I put my own press run together. I reached out to everybody personally, so I really feel more confident about it this time around, because I can say I did everything myself. Along with the help of my homeboys, to get my artwork done and help me pick the music, my engineer that mixed my shit … but I'm saying everything else, on the business side, I'm 90-something percent responsible for what's about to happen."
HNHH: Can you speak on the project's features and producers?
DUBB: "I didn't go super feature heavy, but I've got a couple good features on there … I've got Crooked I, I've got Joell Ortiz, I've got Fred The Godson, I've got Emilio Rojas … I kind of went New York with my features, 'cause if you notice, I don't really rap like the typical LA artists … They do the party music - YG, Tyga, people like that - and it’s not a shot, I just don't do that type of music. So for me to get somebody like that on the project, it really doesn’t make sense. So you hear the West Coast in me, but it kind of caters to the East Coast a little more, so it makes more sense for me to get those type of people, 'cause we're all lyrical and we talk about similar things. But I've still got West Coast producers. I've got Jay Nari from League of Starz on there, I've got Remixx again, the dude that did 'No Days Off', I have a couple of new dudes that I just started working with, a dude named DK. I've got Cy Fyre on there … But I really just want people to mess with the project 'cause of me. Crooked I, Joell Ortiz and Fred The Godson, they're all on one song. I've got a couple of singers on there [i.e. Jake&Papa], but as far as rappers go, those are the only ones on the tape."
HNHH: How'd you connect with DJ Skee?
DUBB: "I've known Skee since '06 – we'd never done a project together, but he always felt I was super talented and I always looked up to him because of the moves he's made. He's more than a DJ to me - I mean, dude is on the Forbes list … He doesn't even really host a lot of people’s mixtapes nowadays, so it’s kind of an honor for me. For him to take time out of his busy schedule and really stand behind a project of mine, for him to reach down and believe in me strictly off talent, is humbling. I can't remember the last time I heard a DJ Skee tape, you know what I mean? It's dope for me, and it’s going to be a good look."
HNHH: What's your approach to music like at this point in your career?
DUBB: "The approach I was taking, me being an upcoming artist, I felt the need to just put out music, put out music, put out music, because so many people were putting out music. But every day, you'd get oversaturated. I figured the type of music I make, it should never get old. If you're talking about some stuff that can get outdated, then yeah, you gotta keep putting out music. The club shit and what's hot right now - some Giuseppe shoes, Range Rovers, Rolexes - that's all some material shit that's going to get old and outdated. But if you're doing timeless records, like a 'Don’t Take Days Off', that’s not old, because I'm telling everybody that that's a state of mind. Everybody wants to work hard, everybody's going to keep working hard to get what they want. So I do that type of music, and everybody seems to appreciate it more. And that's the type of music I've got on 'Perfect Timing'".
"People say 'DUBB’s dope', and that's it. There's no connection. It's like, 'oh yeah, that nigga, he one of the hardest from the West Coast', and they’ll leave it at that. But I feel I deserve more than that, 'cause I put a lot of hours in, and I really think my lyrics out. It's a lot of people out here that's not really taking the craft seriously, and I take this shit to heart. So I want people to take it like I’m taking it … I'mma make what I'm doing cool, versus people running to the sound that's hot, 'cause that's what people do, the Mustard shit - everybody running to Mustard for beats. I'mma do what I'm doing and make that shit sound hot."
HNHH: What's your perspective on the industry at this point?
DUBB: "Everybody puts on fronts and costumes … When people say they 'a real nigga', quote / unquote, they be lying. People change … I did a lot of big shit, even though I'm not all the way on, and I always remained regular, you what I’m saying? I've already been on TV, I've been done songs with big rappers, and I'm still regular. I've never acted funny … But it's whatever, man. I can only be me, and I can’t control how somebody acts. But I'mma make a promise to myself that, if I get the same fame as some of these dudes one day, I'mma really stay regular … I don't care how much money I got, I'mma be a regular dude - I'm never gon' change. 'Cause that shit turns you off. It really breaks you down, 'cause in this industry, it's really no real friends. Even if you dope, niggas gon' treat you like a lame 'til everybody's talking about you ... I'm just trying to make it for my family. I'm not even on no 'yo, I want a big house, big car', nah - I don't even care if I'm just in the low millions, surviving … I’m not in it to be filthy rich or wealthy."
HNHH: Any advice for aspiring artists?
DUBB: "It's hard to get on, man, it really is. And that's what I want people to know, as far as those who just want to start rapping today and think it's easy go. 'Cause they look on the Internet and see that you can just do a song and upload it somewhere and tweet a link … but it's not that easy to be an artist and really develop a fan base. I've been rapping and trying to get on since '06, you know what I'm saying? It takes time, and a lot of discipline, and you've got to really believe, 'cause sometimes you might feel like giving up. Even me, I'll wake up like 'man, fuck this shit' … I love rap, but I just don’t like dealing with the politics and the industry side of shit. But at the end of the day, if it's something you want, you've just gotta keep pushing forward, and if it's meant to happen it's gon' happen."