Louisiana native Dee-1 is in a great mood. Why shouldn’t he be? The rhymer just inked a brand new deal with RCA. He sat down with RO to explain why he decided to make the leap from indie sensation to major label star, and why RCA was where he decided to set up shop.
“I had other record deals in the past that I was entertaining,” he shares. ” I was talking with YMCMB for a minute, that was about a year ago. I was talking with Universal two years ago real heavy. This one made sense, because they were enthusiastic about me–as is. They like my brand and they really believe in the content of my music and in my ability to make history and appeal to the masses. That’s the exciting part. I’ve always known that I have this message in my music but I’ve also known that I have the ability to make big songs. And they get it.”
Dee admits that he was concerned about giving up the autonomy of being an independent artist. “I never had reservations about going with RC, I had reservations about signing in general,” he says. “I’m a do-it-yourself dude. I’d always done it by myself. [On a major], you don’t have full control to do stuff when you want and how you want.”
“Why do you need a record deal?” he continues. “You can be successful without having a record deal nowadays. So if part of your mission can be enhanced and taken to another level by having a record deal, that’s something to consider. I’ve been independent since 2005, since [Hurricane] Katrina hit in New Orleans. I just got to a point where I needed more of a machine behind me. I’d done a ton of shows, played MTV Jams, toured with Macklemore–but I’d gotten to appoint where I’d hit the ceiling.”
But Dee-1 understands what got him to this point, and while the budget behind him may be bigger, the artist isn’t losing focus or missing any of the details.
“I know the terms of my deal back and forth. It was a t54 page contract and I know it like I wrote it,” says Dee. And he advises everyone to take the same approach. “Either know it on your own or have a lawyer that can articulate it very well to you so that you know what you’re signing up for. And know your identity. Know who you are so you don’t lose yourself amidst this crazy record industry. If it don’t have a mission—life is too short. Anything that doesn’t have a mission for it, I’m not even gonna waste my timie doing it.”
“I’m authentic and I’m the brand. [RCA] will market my music, but my music will remain authentic because it comes directly from me,” Dee-1 says. “I’m too focused to fail. I promise I am. People thought I was crazy and every year they see something big happening. RCA has a proven machine that can market artists and market big songs and turn a lot of heads. They got the machine to do that. It feels good. It’s not a stressful thing. A lot of people talk about their record label like they’re in a torture chamber. But with me, it’s not like that. So that’s cool. I have other challenges. I’m awarye of my brand. At this point, knowing how to make hit songs and music that can appeal to the masses? That’s not hard.”
“I’m more motivated than ever. It’s my time to show and prove.”