by Cyrus Webb for Conversations Magazine
It all began while they were together on the high school football team at Raleigh High School in Mississippi. One day in the locker room Darrell Ashley aka GB approached Chris Ervin aka Dj Down South and asked him about his love of music and where he was trying to get in making it a career. DJ Down South then invited GB to record at his home studio. Some time later while working on GB's Debut album 'Tripnosis' and Dj Down South's mixtape 'Get to Know Me vol. 1', GB invited his long time friend Russell Clark aka Big Blaze to a recording session. After seeing that they all had the common goal of taking their dreams and making them a reality, they formed the group Dem Raleigh Boyz.
Now with a real drive and determination to succeed, Dem Raleigh Boyz is ready to do what it takes to get themselves heard. They took out time from their recording to talk about their influences, where they see themselves headed, and how they are getting the word out about their music and creating a solid fanbase without radio play.
* Thanks guys for taking out the time to talk with me. I know you all are busy, but I'm sure our readers will appreciate this opportunity. Who would you each say are your influences?
Dj Down South: Kurt Cobain, Bob Marley, Ice Cube, Eazy E, Jimi Hendrix, Augustana, Danielle Ate The Sandwich, Tupac, and Bone Thugs -N- Harmony. I grew up listening to 50's, 60's, and early 70's music as a kid. I have a lot of respect for that music and the artists that contributed! I still listen to those classic tracks and some of my favorite songs are from that era.
Big Blaze: There are many great artists out there, But in an attempt to keep a unique sound, I try not to be influenced by them. Our generation says they want to be unique and different, But a lot of today's artists still share the same sound.
GB: I would have to say the ones that influenced me the most was Bone thugs -n- Harmony, Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, T.I, Young Jeezy, Ludacris, an Emenim. I think having an eclectic ear contributes to Dem Raleigh Boyz unique sound, and versatile lyrics. Just being open to multiple genres and having respect for their art.
* Music is something that is seen by many as a unifying force. What does music do to you all, and how is your sound different?
Dj Down South: Music brings out the best in me, I love everything about music. I love learning new instruments, listening to new music and helping out other unsigned artist. I give a lot of my time to help young kids who show interest in the arts by volunteering my time so they become more confident in their talent.
Big Blaze: Music brings out the full spectrum of emotions in me. Music also brings me peace. That's what music is meant to do, inspire people to feel emotions and motivate them to do great things. I encourage everyone I meet to pick up music, because the only way music will survive is by being passed from one generation to another.
GB: Music is my way of expressing my feelings and having a good time. I love the feeling I get when people run up to me an ask me if I could get em a Dem Raleigh Boyz cd or if me an the boys would do a track with them.
* As three individuals, I know you all have your own personal style and personalities. How has it been coming together and working as one unit?
Dj Down South: It came really natural, as we continued to work in the studio we constantly hung out getting to know each other better and better. We all became inseparable and in that came the music became smoother and we are constantly improving.
* Being from Mississippi myself, I know that the South is sometimes guilty of sleeping on its own. How are you getting the word out about yourself, your music and building on your career?
Dj Down South: Our agent has been hard at work, unlocking various promotional opportunities. We get as much love as you would expect out of a small town in Mississippi. We are always meeting new people that love our music and get the word out to their friends and family. We always show our appreciation to them. We love all our fans!
* Radio play is another sensitive subject for some artists, especially independent ones. How is the internet helping you overcome what might be a slow process in that area?
Dj Down South: It's not how good you are, it's who you know. Radio has been a real challenge for us over the years. Our favorite line we got was from 99.7 WJMI, "We are here to play popular music, we are not here to make you popular." That didn't sit too well with my agent either (laughs). We currently use various internet resources to get our music out there such as ReverbNation (http://www.reverbnation.com/demraleighboyz) and Soundcloud (http://soundcloud.com/dem-raleigh-boyz).
* For some the recording process is the highlight of success for an artist. Others see performing in front of a live crowd as a crowning achievement. What about each of you?
Dj Down South: For me it is the whole experience in music, writing, recording, and performing. I love it all.
Big Blaze: I'd have to agree with DJ Down South. I love the whole process from finding a beat, writing a verse, recording it, and performing it.
GB: I would have to say I love everything about the music industry but I'm more about performing for my fans an givin them a show to remember I mean I owe it all to them an my lord an savior.
* When people hear your music, what do you hope they say about you as artists?
Dj Down South: We hope they see us the way we see ourselves, not as Rappers but as Recording Artists. The term 'Rapper' has become so bland and one sided. We see our music as art not Rap or Hip-Hop, not that there's anything wrong with Rap and Hip-Hop. We just don't see ourselves being limited by a genre where a lot of the time people have a predetermined expectation, regardless of the artist.
* What single is the group promoting right now?
Dj Down South: For our debut album 'Last Road Out' we are promoting Celebrity Life, Punk Kid Ft. NeyNey, and I Don't Mind. As for our 2nd CD that is in the works we are promoting Dat Kush Ft. Lil Wayne, Surf's Up, and Leave the Keys.
* What advice do you have up and coming artists trying to break out as well?
Dj Down South: As we said earlier, It's not how good you are, its who you know. It's tough to grab that concept at first, but its true. Meet as many people as you can and keep in contact. Do not give up on your dreams. Live your life your way and smile often!
* Thanks again for talking with us. How can our readers find out more about you and your music?