[Interview] Dee-1: From Teacher To Emcee Pt. 1
Two years ago, the emcee known as Dee-1 was probably best recognized as Mr. Augustine, a marketing major and graduate of Louisiana State University, and the teacher of a middle school classroom in Baton Rouge, La.
However, with the release of his I Hope They Hear Me mixtape installment – which is currently three mixtapes in (Volume 2 to be exact) – Dee-1 has proven himself to be a formidable force on the mic, and his positive messages of Black brotherhood and creating a “One Man Army” with a mission to mentor young males has been well-received across the board. In fact, his clever delivery and heartfelt, honest lyrics even earned him a well-deserved spot on The Well Versed, “10 Hip-Hop Rookies To Watch In 2012” list.
Dee-1 recently sat down with The Well Versed for a two part interview to discuss a number of things. In part one, Dee speaks on his experience participating in the “Barack Talk” State of the Union Viewing party and why misinterpretations of his song, “Uncle Tom” upset him, as well as why issues of self-hatred still exist in his family.
TWV: You recently moderated the League of Young Voters and Rock the Vote “Barack Talk” State of the Union viewing party… What was that experience like and what do you feel that it accomplished?
Dee-1: Its exciting for me to be able to use the platform I have as a rapper to do other things that I’m passionate about; and one thing that I’m passionate about is enlightening the minds of the younger generation. For me to be able to host Barack Talk – which obviously has to do with politics and registering people to vote – is cool because its an honor to be able to use one talent and have that open doors in other arenas. I never thought that me being a rapper would allow me to be in D.C. – going on Capital Hill – and interview a Congresswoman; you know just doing all kinds of stuff like that. And they had so many people who watched the Ustream and registered to vote that night, it just felt good to feel like I played a role in that and to be apart of that. That’s part of my whole responsibility.
TWV: I saw a couple of videos on the internet where you went around to different cities and encouraged voter awareness… Were you like the Barack Talk ambassador? How did you get involved?
Dee-1: I did it last year and I was on the panel last year. That was actually my first time in D.C. and my first time meeting Andreas (Editor-In-Chief of The Well Versed) and everybody. My music was really just starting to get national attention last year – like around this time last year – and so I was new to everybody. But, I think I did real good job on the panel and they saw that I was really passionate about this stuff – on a different level from, “Oh, this is just a free vacation to D.C.” – and so they invited me back this year to be the host of it. Instead of me being on the panel, I pretty much moderated the whole night, and so that’s how that came about. I just think that they could tell that I’m for real about this stuff. When you run across somebody in life who has an extra level of passion about something, I think its important to stay around those people, so that’s probably what it is.