Speed: So, True, last time we left some things out of the conversation. Now, you made mention of strip clubs and swinger’s clubs in our talks. What in the hell were you getting into? I mean, I’ve been to my fair share of strip clubs over the years, but never a swinger’s club. No judging, by the way.
True: Man, you know, when I wrote that line about strip clubs and swinger’s clubs on “Gotta Be Free,” I didn’t realize what I was saying.
I won’t divulge too much information about it. But, it was an idea that came around from the girl I’ve been on and off with ten months or so. It was honestly her idea.
Speed: A modern-day woman.
True: She said she was curious about being with another girl and that’s, sort of, where all this led. I didn’t go with her, however. I went with a group of friends I mean, seeing people have sex that close up was not ideal for me. It was…interesting. I saw some things that I don’t want to see again, but I did have my fair share of fun as well.
As for strip clubs? I hate them. I don’t see the purpose of them.
Speed: You know, I had a conversation about this with Gingawd and Drizzle Sez a few weeks back. We kind of came to the conclusion that it’s, oftentimes, of a form of pornography, performance art if you will.
True: Most of my friends love them. I guess the idea of naked women is fun, but man. If I’m seeing some ass, I’m trying to get on something and not pay or anything of that sort. Strip clubs are funny to me. I just can think of several other things I’d rather do besides tipping to see ass and whatnot, to be really honest about it all. Plus, everyone I know prefers the hole-in-the-wall spots because…well, seediness, to put it lightly.
Speed: Some. We’ve seen our fair share of strip clubs of ill repute over the years and we’ve seen some that were on the level. I can’t really go into strip clubs like that, if we’re being honest. They’re cool, but I’m overall a bit “eh” about it a lot of the time, unless I’m going with friends to watch the game or what have you. Plus, in 2012, we stayed in strip clubs that summer, fall, and winter.
True: That was a rough time, man. We went through our fair share of shit.
Speed: Shout out to the Black woman who had “Property of Steve Easton” tattooed on her chest. But, some of these spots are flat-out racist, even if they don’t have a “No Colored Patrons Allowed” sign out front. What’s the worst profiling experience you’ve had at a club?
True: I haven’t had any profiling experiences really–outside of one that tried to make me take my hat and coat off when there wasn’t even a policy to do so. Most of the clubs I’ve been to have been on some seedy shit, though. It’s probably why I have a weird view on them. Either way, they’re more comedy than pure enjoyment for me.
Speed: So, if I’m a dude who wants to strip club hop with True, what’s the best club in Baltimore?
True: First of all, if you want to go a strip club with me, seek help. But, I’d probably say The Goddess had the best-looking women in there when I went the couple times I went. Otherwise, I really don’t know. None of the other ones are all that fun, but we always joke and find fun that way and have some halfway cheap drinks. Remember Circus?
Speed: Don’t remind me. That was really a rough time.
True: Remember ol’ boy’s ex working at Ritz Cabaret, doing her best to lure niggas in? That was some shit. The last six, seven years have been some shit.
Speed: In terms of diversity, you won’t really find it in a strip club, except for–maybe–the women, in Baltimore. Maybe Fed Hill has more diversity?
True: I wouldn’t even say that. With there and Fell’s, it’s like one or two bars that are mostly Black, one spot that is halfway diverse, and then the rest, you’ll feel out of place because of the vibes you get from the place and the people there. And Canton? Shit…
Speed: Fed is probably better than Fell’s, though. Canton is, well, it’s very unique. Go twenty feet in any direction and you’re in a different vibe entirely. We used to work in Canton together. RIP to Jenn, while we’re at it.
True: Canton is funny. I like it, though. The food is good, and it’s a nice date area. In terms of women, though, mostly white women. If that’s your thing, have at it. But, yeah…RIP Jenn. That was a tough loss. One of three in 2018.
Speed: How did losing those three people impact you musically and otherwise? I know that Jenn was on a few songs over the years.
True: I wrote a song about Jenn. She and I had a special relationship. I wish I still had the one or two pics we took together. That was a special time, man, and so much fun, too. We had such an interesting connection. We loved each other, but it was different. It was, like, a peaceful love. We had a close relationship that was a friendship that had more to it. It was never an actual dating thing, though. I just remember how I felt when I met her. It was funny. Do you remember that?
Speed: Yeah. It was different from some of the other folks you’d come across at that time.
True: Jenn came at a time when my ex and I were watching our relationship end, daily. Jenn was a breath of fresh air. Very pretty, great body, and amazing convo. We would talk all day long. Honestly, I think I neglected fixing things with my ex like I should have for that. I never admitted this until now.
I was enamored with Jenn. She was special. We connected and bonded. We made several tracks together in terms of, like, her contributing audio clips. Only one was released, though, and that was “Searching For The Queen” from Root For The Villain.
However, she was a central theme in my music. Always. Look no further than verse three from “Piece Of Me.” Things changed so quickly for us after that verse. It went from imagination to reality and then it was odd.
Speed: Odd how?
True: Odd because some friendships aren’t meant to become physical. That was one of them. Signals got flipped. She never fully trusted me to be someone she could date full-time. That’s an issue a lot of women have with me because I’m so open. So, it was sort of weird between us. But, I loved her and I miss her still. Over the years, we did remain friends. Before she died, she told me how proud she was of me for the things I’d done. We had a great rapport. I just wish that we never had that weird patch.
Once we got through it, emotions cleared up. We became really supportive of each other and closer as friends. That initial intimacy we were curious about, it happened, and we moved on. I miss her. She had a great spirit. I never spoke on anything too much with her, minus a verse or two. I never spoke on the reality of what happened after “Piece Of Me.” I probably will never speak on it again after this interview.
Speed: That’s understandable. Some things, you don’t need to rehash them over and over. So, this got incredibly somber. Do you want to switch up topic-wise?
True: Sure, we can do that. I’m not, like, sad or emotional about it.
Speed: Alright. Let’s see…what about favorite DAR albums?
True: Outside of my own? I love almost everything we put out. Exodus is my favorite group project.
We had something as a group and the synergy was just there. For HS, I’d have to say Upper Echelon. It’s special. I would say our latest project, Less Is More, as well, but Upper Echelon edges it oout slightly. For Apollo, I love all of his albums. My favorite remains Survive The Horror. That and Apollovelli.
Those were special. For Ax, he was definitely on his game for Coolin. I remember that whole process.
AxelWorld was just a special time for him.
I think we all really worked together to make something come together in terms of beats and having Ax bring his flavor. Now, you, Speed, my go-to is always Songs For… as it’s very raw.
Baltimore Commercial Break is pretty interesting, too.
Death of the King is good as well. I don’t think there’s one DAR project that I can say was “bad.” The End is Coming, our 2012 True and Speed album deserved better, too.
Speed: The End is Coming was interesting because it was the first project I’d really worked on with someone else as in-depth as I did, especially with regards to both artists actually dropping bars.
True: Yeah, it was interesting. We needed a real studio then. We had some gems. “Regrets” was amazing. I still remember making that beat.
Speed: Truth be told, the older I get, the more I appreciate Songs For… for being as raw as it was. It was the first album I admitted a lot of my flaws on and opened myself up. But, yeah. The End is Coming was, for those who don’t know, recorded in a conference room at a call center job True and I worked at, True’s apartment’s laundry room, and my bedroom on a busted-ass laptop. It was the epitome of no-fi DIY rap.
True: Answering phones and then recording verses–
Speed: Then sending the drafts to Jenn to preview.
True: What a time.
Speed: That job brought out the worst in me. I was so concerned with hitting quotas that I signed up Mama Young to one of their deals. I canceled it before I quit, though, because I didn’t want my mom to have to pay out the ass for their services. Apparently, the job’s changed a lot since we were there. But, that line of work was never good for me.
True: That shit was horrible, though we did have some funny moments. Call center work, in my experiences, is trash, though.
Speed: It was a learning experience, though. Some folks in that atmosphere show their asses and quickly display their lack of home training. So, what are your thoughts on current music?
Ttue: I like some of it. The Internet, Mac Ayres, Allen Stone–stuff like that. Hip-hop-wise? I don’t know. I like a lot of it, but usually just in passing. I haven’t really sat with an album since K.R.I.T.’s last full-length album. KOD, I heard it once. Scorpion, I heard once. Jay Rock’s album, I listen to twice. Daytona, I heard once. I liked it, but I just didn’t care enough to keep going back to it, aside from a song or two. I’m sort of out of it when it comes to hip-hop.
Speed: I get that. My ear is mainly towards indie artists these days. I kind of stay away from most music, which is weird because I’m a writer. However, being selective gives you a better ear and makes it harder for you to accept just any old BS from any person as being good.
True: Indie artists are dope. I support them, especially since I am one. I want to see a lot of the indie guys of today win. There are so many I’m pushing for today. People like Izaya The God, Marlow, DRETT1, Drego, Dugee F. Buller, Kontradichtion, DariGottaSpeak, Billy Black, a/k/a BlackTonyRomo on Twitter and other platforms. There are so many artists I’m pulling for. I dislike a lot of music, but I can recognize talent. Even if it’s not my personal favorite, talent is easy to identify.
I could never disregard or not acknowledge an indie artist and their talent, the same way people can’t disregard mine. I think that mutual respect as artists is important. We’re all indie artists. There’s no real “scratch and claw” to get to the top, especially if you’re out here staying true and carving your own lane. That’s my advice to the people coming up. Just find your own lane and work that.
Too many artists try to be what’s hot or what’s popular. It shows. I just make music that fits me and my story, whether that be boombap, hip-hop, R&B, jazz rap, trap, whatever. I can do it all. But mastering my own craft and being the best me I can be, that’s important to me. That’s where the power lies as an artist, not worrying about “outdoing” everyone else, but focusing on self. Jay’s trying to outdo 4:44, Reasonable Doubt, Blueprint. He’s not trying to outdo Drake. Nas wants to outdo what he’s done before, not worrying about outdoing Cole. That’s why legends are legends. They’ve mastered themselves and block out the others. Master you.
I don’t need to go against anyone. I have people call me an indie legend. I’ve gone against people before, and I’ve destroyed a few. Now? I want to uplift other artists and show love to them. I don’t think I’ll ever stop making my own music completely, but my hunger isn’t that “who want what” energy anymore.
Speed: I agree with that. So, we started this part with women. Let’s finish it with women. How has dating been for you given the changing dynamics in the world?
True: Well, women are amazing beings. They’re beautiful. They can be strong and fragile at the same time. They can be smart and sometimes overly emotional. They can be caring but dramatic. Dark but helpful. Selfish but self-aware. There are so many different things you have to take into account. Dating is kind of a challenge.
As a man, dating the women I encounter is a challenge. Dating shouldn’t be that hard, but humans are complex, sometimes overly so. Finding that balance is always key for me.
Speed: Finding that balance everywhere is key.