Every now and then, hip hop births a great artist that comes onto the scene and makes their mark. DELUX Magazine had a chance to sit down with rapper T Dubb-O to talk music, the culture, and the impact he plans to make on the rap game and his community.
DM: Who gave you the name T Dubb-O? I’ve always wondered this because you’re a Crip, but the letter B is in your name twice.
TD: The name happened organically. My first rap name was just my real name. I wasn’t trying to become a character or anything. I rapped about my life. T Dubb came from the streets. I got into hustling at a very young age. Most of my friends and peers did. We didn’t have any other opportunity. We could get drugs before we could get a book about entrepreneurship. The name Dubble Up became a nickname for me. The first pack I purchased on my own as a kid was a double up. After that everything I did I tried to double my worth. Eventually that just shortened to T Dubb-O and it just stuck. There are many theories about it though. There’s a girl right now who thinks she gave me the name, some people compare it to the terminator model, etc.
DM: What motivated you to release the C-Murder challenge? Afterwards we noticed some dialogue between you and KLC from Beats by the Pound. Any expectations that we’ll see some work from the two of you??
TD: If you from St. Louis and was a kid in the mid 90’s early 2000’s No Limit and Cash money had an influence on you musically. My big cousins used to play No Limit religiously. If you’ve ever been to Saints, the Palace, or the Limelight as a kid. If you ever snuck in the Soft Touch, the Monastery, Rio, Onyx, etc., that C-Murder song is a classic. When I got news that he may be getting out soon, I wanted to pay homage in my own way. KLC got wind of it and he became an instant fan. We will definitely be cooking up something in the near future.
DM: Talk to us about what’s been happening in your life since the last project you released.
TD: Life is the greatest inspiration for art. My last project was Pleasure, Money, & Pain. It’s still growing as we speak. But immediately after that release I went back into the studio. Since then I’ve been booked and performed at A3C, SXSW, and I was even offered a chance to do Canada’s Indie music festival. I currently have several projects recorded and ready for release. I’ve just been making the right execution strategy. It’s no more I can accomplish from this market. I’ve been to the White House several times, featured in every main stream media possible nationally and internationally, and sold thousands of records. My next move needs to put me in the same spotlight as the artists my city praises but ignore the groundwork of their hometown heroes.
So, I’ve been planning and strategizing. Personally, even though I’ve garnered some astounding success, it’s been one of the most traumatic years of my life. I lost one of my last friends living, my two sons were kidnapped, and I had to fly across the nation to locate them and get them back home, and more. I’m a warrior though. Nothing ever came easy for me, so nothing will ever stop me. Through all this heartache, I did get engaged to the most wonderful woman on the planet this July. Pressure makes diamonds out of coal.
DM: If you ran for president what’s the first law you’d put into play??
TD: The first law I’d bring into effect would be a federal policy that makes it illegal for ANY institution to partake in racist or prejudice profiling and targeting. Meaning all these police departments extorting poor Black people to fund their budgets and killing unarmed Black women, men, and children, would be severely punished, charged, and taken over by federal jurisdiction. This would also work against establishments like banks who hike up loan interest rates on Black people, and places of employment who continue to violate worker’s rights when they pay people less based off race or gender, or don’t even give them an opportunity period. I know you said one, but I would also make healthcare completely free, as well as education.
DM: How has being from Saint Louis shaped your sound, flow, and style?
TD: Saint Louis lifestyle is what shaped my inspiration as an artist. As far as my flow and sound, it didn’t. I’ve always wanted to be the best—be one of the greats. St. Louis artists and media have a bad habit of following whatever bubblegum trend mainstream is riding at that time. I was inspired by the 2 Pac’s, the Jay-Z’s, the Ice Cube’s, the Wayne’s, the Eminem’s of this shit. I don’t want be hot for a summer because I put out a catchy single. I want to make timeless music. My sound, my flow, my style, came from my life. But I was inspired by those names I mentioned. St. Louis artists that have “made it” do nothing for this city. Why would that inspire me?
DM: How many unreleased projects are you currently sitting on?
TD: I’m currently sitting on six unreleased projects. A couple are a few collaborations with other artists. I just work. A lot of artists are lazy. My team is full of hard workers. It’s easy for us to pump out four to five records in a single session.
DM: Talk to us about your performances. What’s the craziest thing that’s happened while you were onstage?
TD: Being a battle rapper trained me to be able to control a crowd using just my voice alone. When you add in music, and some crazy energy you got something the world needs to see. The craziest thing that has ever happened while I was on stage was something that occurred early in the game for me. While on stage, a girl’s hair actually caught on fire. I was probably about 16 then.
There was an event called Laughs on the Landing that did open mic. A producer I knew used to get me in to spit. This day it was rare form. Crowd was going crazy. We looked up and a woman’s hair was on fire as the crowd started to applaud. There used to be candles on the tables. I’m guessing she was bobbing her head a little too hard [laughs].
DM: How has Tupac influenced your DNA as a rap artist??
TD: Tupac influenced me that as an artist coming from the hood you have more responsibility than just rapping and spending money. You have to lead, fight, and provide opportunities for the same communities that are helping you propel to fame. It’s your duty to inspire, educate, and heal the people. But also stay real.
DM: Tell our readers how you’ve navigated the bellies of the Midwest. Some would argue it’s the most slept on region in hip hop.
TD: I’ve always had street connections all around. So making small things happen in different cities was just a simple phone call. I became an artist through battle rap though. That took my name from here to around the world. There’s nowhere I’ve traveled where I didn’t have somebody run up on me who has watched a battle and now is a fan of the music. Owe from Street Status is one of the main reasons St. Louis is now respected lyrically around the world and he doesn’t get the credit he deserves from this city. I don’t think St. Louis is the most slept on region, because many major artists steal shit from here. I think it’s the most extorted region.
DM: Your favorite rap battle opponent? Most challenging battle? What made it such a challenge?
TD: My favorite opponent was Remyd. It isn’t my most viewed battle, but it was my favorite. Two heavy lyricists that are in the conversation for top 5 battle rappers ever from this city going head to head. It was crazy. My most challenging battle hasn’t happened yet. Aye Verb told me I could be one of the greatest battlers ever I just need somebody to bring that out. I’ve never prepared for a battle more than 3 days. When I get an opponent I consider a challenge, I pray for whoever that is.
DM: Many people don’t know you’re also a college student. What type of grades do you have? What’s the plan with this move?
TD: Yes, my fiancé told me I was way too smart not to get a degree. She basically made me go to school [laughs]. I’m majoring in political science. If you want to destroy an unjust system, you should understand it inside and out first. I’ve made the Dean’s list every semester since I started. I’ll eventually get a law degree to start a firm that provides pro bono services to people in the Black community.
DM: What’s the hardest thing you’ve overcome to become T Dubb-O?
TD: The hardest thing I’ve had to overcome is simply staying alive. Most of my friends are dead or in jail in real life. I’ve probably gone to 30 funerals since being a teenager. Coming from a city where a Black man has double the chance to be killed by a police officer than anyone around the nation period. Where we come from there are no opportunities, and nobody believes in dreams. You have to defy every single odd you can imagine. I’m making my dreams reality at this moment, and that’s the hardest thing about being me. Simply surviving.
DM: What’s your vision for your future look like? What type of enterprises will be birthed from your imprint?
TD: I will be one of the greatest rappers to ever come from the Midwest. This is just a launching pad for opening doors for my community. The organization we run—Hands Up United, will continue to feed, educate, provide opportunity, and fight for people. Our programs have spread to three other countries and 36 US cities so far. I also believe in financial equity over focusing strictly on policy. Our people are hurting and starving. I want to create ways for them to thrive economically. Just watch what we do. You’ve never met anybody like us before. As far as rap, I’m on y’all necks. It’s still artists that believe lyricism matter. Don’t let the media fool you. St. Louis got something to say.
DM: What happens if we leave you in a room Bob McCulloch for 24 hours?
TD: First there were two sets of footprints in the sand. Then there were one set of footprints in the sand. When times get hard and shit hits the fan, God don’t walk with me he carries me man.
DM: If they build a monument with the faces of St. Louis hip hop, give us five emcees that are there and why??
TD: 1. Nelly, he was the first and had massive success regardless of how you personally view him.
2. Aye Verb, Owe from Street Status, Hitman Holla, STL Battle Rap. I combined these into a single entity, but if it wasn’t for battle rap the world would still think St. Louis has no real talent here. This showed the world we can dominate lyrically against anybody from anywhere. I would make Aye Verb the face in that spot, but it would represent the STL battle movement as a whole.
3. Tef Poe, he’s the Tech N9ne of this city. Not only does he fight for the community, he showed artists how to do this on the underground and have major success. Never had radio support and has a gold record.
4. Metro Boomin, with no city support he went to Atlanta and single handled launched careers of some of the biggest names in the game right now with his production. Excited to see what’s next for him.
5. T-Dubb-O, agree or not there’s nobody from this city that’s done what I have. Making my name global in battle rap and musically, standing up for this city and helping run the organization that’s spear heading the new Black power movement, and the only rappers from here to go to the White House numerous times to give advice to the president and others. 100% self-made and can compete with any rapper in the industry lyrically. Disagree, prove me wrong.
DM: Lebron, Jordan, or Kobe??
TD: Allen Iverson
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