By: Loriana Yaport
The Dean’s List is not your typical group of young hip-hop artists trying to start a band for kicks; they’ve got it all and are ready to show the world what they’re made of. Comprised of three members – rapper Sonny Shotz, DJ Mendoza and producer Mik Beats – these talented young men have already released two mixtapes, Undeclared and The Drive In, and the group recently partnered up with aveNUE Music Partnerships to release their first official full-length album titled Generation X. With hits like “Dear Professor” and plans to launch a clothing line, The Dean’s List is definitely a group to look out for. The trio took some time to talk to YRB about their new album, set to release April 3, and what’s up next for them.
YRB: How was The Dean’s List formed? Mendoza: I was doing music in high school with Sonny, and then [when] I was heading into Berklee [College] I started working with Mik on a lot of production stuff. Then we kind of all decided to do music together. We went from the dorm room to getting an apartment and doing music there and that was it.
YRB: You’ve been touring a lot this past year, what has been your biggest highlight so far? Sonny: I say the biggest highlight was probably when we opened up for KiD CuDi on the Dew Tour in Ocean City. That was really cool, that was our biggest crowd ever and it was probably one of our biggest performances. That was a really great experience.
YRB: For people who haven’t heard your music, how would you describe it? Sonny: I would say it’s like a mix of indie, pop, hip-hop, electro, classical music, dubstep. [Laughs] I don’t think there’s one category to put it in.
YRB: Where do you get your inspiration from for your lyrics? Sonny: I look up to Bob Dylan and his style of writing. I’m also a big fan of Jay-Z and Kanye, but when it comes to writing, I really appreciate Bob Dylan’s style of writing.
YRB: You have a rapper, a DJ and a producer, how does that work on stage when you perform? Mendoza: Deejaying has always been a tool of mine, so as we kind of build on our production and everything we are all about the live instrumentation. We always perform as a band, the guitarist, the bassist, the drummer and deejaying, of course. So it’s really a good balance and we really bring it, you know. We bring the tracks out more with live instrumentation. We always make sure we’re having a great time, get the crowd pumped because they really are a part of it and not just watching a show kind of thing.
YRB: When “Dear Professor” came out you received a lot of great reviews, did you expect that kind of a response? Mendoza: Well, we knew that was going to be a big song, but with The Drive In, we were doing the beat and it really took a while. So it was pretty cool to be able to get recognition for the song that took a while for us [to put out]. There were other tracks that we thought would be bigger that didn’t end up being quite as big, so it was definitely really cool that it just kind of came out of nowhere. That wasn’t even a single or anything, so it was pretty cool and people were really able to appreciate the project as a whole because of that.