When you think of L.A. rappers of today, what artist comes to mind? The late Nipsey Hussle? The Game? Jay Rock? ScHoolboy Q? Dom Kennedy? Or maybe you can flash back to the golden age of West Coast hip-hop like Ice Cube, Ice- T Cypress Hill and Eazy E to name a few. Los Angeles is a major city that is notorious for it’s gang culture and the artist that emerge from that climate. Def.Sound is also a product of that same L.A. environment, contrary to the gangsta music that the city is most notable for producing Def.Sound is more “N.E.R.D” in a city which is enriched in gang ties. Check out my conversation with him below.
- For those who may not know you, tell us a little bit about who Def. Sound is?
Def Sound is short for Definitive Sound, I named myself after a goal, so that every time I went into a session I knew what I was going for. I’m an artist and DJ born, watered and raised in South Central LA. Oh yeah and I only eat plants.
2. So many musically gifted people have emerged out of South Central LA, ranging from Barry White, Ice Cube, Ice T, Tyrese, Montell Jordan and the late great Nipsey Hussle just to name a few, how has growing up there affected your style and your music?
There is a low keyness about the way people from South Central speak and move. There’s a power in that. I grew up surrounded by the culture, eating Earlz and Simply Wholesome in the Crenshaw district, very close to Leimert Park. I was a late bloomer so I didn’t start creating till I was 18. I wanted to make what I felt the game was missing. I was aware of those that came before me, but I am more concerned w/ ways to uplift my people through song.
3. Back in 2017 you won one of LA’s weekly’s “Best New Artist To Watch” , how did receiving that accolade from your hometown motivate you to work harder.
As an independent artist no one is being paid to like, listen to, or write about what you do, so I received all of it as a confirmation from the universe to keep going.
4. Your track “Propane” was considered for a Grammy, and your track (A)Gain earned a spot on BBC’s Radio’s Year-End List and was featured in a Versus Versace, ROLI, & Staple Pigeon Brand campaign, how have those moments changed the trajectory of your career?
I mean the only thing I’ve seen work is the work. Yo, brands of 2019, I’m open for more campaigns, shoot an email over to my mgmt email@example.com and we can really get things popping.
5. Your musical sound is different than the “gangsta rap” that is synonymous with many LA artists. Who were your major musical influences?
Yea, South Central has a spectrum of sounds. I think artists like Ill Camille, DUCKWRTH and I are shifting the narrative that most people are sold about South Central LA. I think we are important mirrors who grew up in the neighborhood and processed the experience in ways that don’t repeat the same stereotypes. There’s another side to this soil. The main artists I try to channel in my music are J*Davey, Outkast, Sly Stone, Tribe, Open Mike Eagle, K Dot, Blu, Frank Ocean, N*E*R*D, Missy Elliot, Daveed Diggs, Young Fathers, Prince, Toro Y Moi, visual artists like Lauren Halsey, Patrick Martinez, Lorraine O’Grady, and this really dope rapper/philosopher from Milwalkee Milo.
6. Let’s talk a little about your “No.body.Is Illegal” hoodie collection? What was the thought process behind that?
NO . BODY . IS . ILLEGAL . was a tweet I turned into a wearable mantra. I was blessed to be able to collab w/ visual artist and illustrator Zoe Zoe Shine on the design. We wanted to give people a way to decolonize their wardrobe.
7. You donate 10% of proceeds to organizations that provide high-quality legal aid to families separated at the border, what was the driving force behind that decision?
We wanted to make sure we weren’t just selling merchandise with a meaning that did nothing for the people most effected by our message. I met the brilliant and beautiful Indya Moore (from FX’s POSE) once and she asked me how are these hoodies helping. I never wanted to draw a blank on that question ever again so as soon as I got home I researched org’s and immigration advocacy organization doing grassroots work, and made sure we were directly impacting oppressed immigrant communities in a positive way. S/o Mijente and Border Angels.
8. Your project “COLORED” [ Disc 1ne] is set to release this summer. Give us a little insight on the project.
COLORED is really just me owning my perspective. I spent four years collaging a collection of conversations designed to be a teleportation device. The true motive was to use every track as a track within the railroad that is the record to spread the messages cultivating underground.
9. Lastly what does the future hold for Def.Sound?
More, because the world has had enough less right?
Today Def.Sound also released a track titled “Saturdaze” featuring Clear Mortifee check it out below and be sure to connect with Def.Sound on Instagram and Twitter. Be sure to shop with No.Body Is. Illegal