By Stephanie Amy Collazo
As a newcomer on the scene, hip-hop artist/producer brandUn DeShay is quickly making a name for himself by working with a number of notable artists. DeShay began his career in 2008 when he worked alongside the rap collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, but has since left the group to start his solo career. Production credits to his name include Curren$y’s “Racing Stripes,” Danny Brown’s “Pac Blood” and five of the tracks on Mikey Rocks’ mixtape, The Rocks Report. The Chicago native’s single, “Why You Gotta Zodiac Like That,” has racked up an impressive 130,000+ views on YouTube, as well as being featured on MTVU. While on the East Coast recording the All Day DeShay LP, DeShay stopped by YRB to tell us about his plans for the future.
YRB: When did you decide to make the switch from producer to artist?
DeShay: When I heard all the Lil Wayne mixtapes. I heard The Dedications and Da Droughts – all those – and a bunch of extra mixtapes, and I just got inspired by the way he raps. I think his style is really lyrical and dope [while] at the same time entertaining. So I kind of just studied Wayne.
YRB: Who are some artists that inspire you?
DeShay: My biggest inspirations are a lot of Japanese video game composers, surprisingly. That’s where most of my inspiration comes from. I also really like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, like everyone else does, [as well as] Shel Silverstein and Donny Darko.
YRB: What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
DeShay: I came up on a lot of West Coast gangsta rap because that’s what my dad listened to. He wasn’t too into A Tribe Called Quest or anything from the East, really. NWA, Too Short, Kurupt, Snoop, all those guys. MC Ren, oh my god, he’s so cold. I think that’s what has inspired me to do West Coast production.
YRB: A lot of people have mistaken you for being from California but you represent Chicago pretty hard. Why do you think there’s that misunderstanding?
DeShay: My sound is just so super-ultra West Coast. I produced for damn near everybody that’s poppin’ on the West – all the Odd Future niggas, Casey Veggies, Dom Kennedy and a whole bunch of others on the come up. Plus, I lived out there for a while. I’m just an L.A. cat at heart. I’m also Japanese, but nobody seems to want to acknowledge that. [Laughs]
YRB: Quite a few people are familiar with you from your verse on Tyler, the Creator’s “Sessions.” How did that song come about?
DeShay: He hit me up on AIM like, ‘Yo, you wanna hop on this song?’ and I was like, “Sure, what is it? Send it my way.” That was the beat with him and Hodgy’s vocals on top and it sounded like a freestyle. So I’m thinking that they freestyled their verses, so I pop it in, lay it down real quick and send it back to them and he was like, ‘Yo, this shit is tight. It was like a cipher we wrote our shit down.’ So it came out of pure randomness. I was confused; I thought it was a freestyle song.
YRB: How did you guys open up a working relationship?
DeShay: Myspace – I think between me, Tyler and Casey [Veggies], we were like the poppinest niggas on the super underground Myspace level, so we all linked up because of that. I was working with Casey first [and] Casey introduced me to Tyler’s music.
YRB: You’ve done five free releases in three years, the last being Volume: Three! To Get Ready in May of 2010. It’s now September 2011, what have you been working on in the meantime? Any production credits?
DeShay: A lot of production credits – Danny Brown, Mikey Rocks, Dom Kennedy, Casey Veggies [and], low key, a lot of other people that I can’t say right now. But I’ve been doing a lot of production work. As far as my own stuff, I’ve been doing a lot of stuff in between recording a lot of music.
YRB: Over the summer, via twitter (@brandunXdeshay), you mentioned you were working on four releases, but now that doesn’t seem to be the case. What happened?
DeShay: In the midst of working on my debut album, All Day DeShay, I had tons of dope material that I wasn’t sure what to do with. Some friends of mine thought it’d be a good idea to release these songs as mixtapes leading up to the release of the album. I gave it a second thought and decided I really just want to focus on the official album. Plus, I didn’t want to just sit on the music I had for it. That way I can just keep creating and put out new stuff and not dwell on old material.
YRB: When is the full-length expected to drop?
DeShay: If everything goes according to plan, we should have that out on iTunes [in September].
YRB: Who are you working with on the album?
DeShay: Most of the cats I’ve mentioned – Mikey Rocks, Dom Kennedy, Casey Veggies, maybe Danny Brown if he stops dicking around. Also, Vic Mensa and Rockie Fresh, some dope artists from Chicago.
YRB: You were on the East Coast recording the bulk of these projects. Why there instead of back home in Chicago?
DeShay: Just being [on the East Coast] period just brings a different kind of inspiration. I’ve learned a lot. Just [recently] I sat down with this dope producer Vinylz and he showed me some shit on fruity loops I didn’t know was possible… We were able to walk into all these different label offices, and going into Diddy’s studio and all these things would not be possible in Chicago. Things that just let me know I’m on the right track. When I am going to these places and niggas already know my name, I don’t have to introduce myself, it let’s me know that I have been working hard and I just need to work harder.
YRB: Are there any artists or producers we should be looking out for?
DeShay: Producers – Matt Cody, he’s a dope engineer and producer. My nigga Luca Maximo also engineers and produces; we’ve done hella work that hasn’t come out just yet. Phony Ppl, they are out here in New York and I’ve worked with them since ‘08.