Di Lucid is a 19-year-old rapper from Evansville who just released a new album called Constellations on November 9th. We were intrigued after seeing him perform at PG one night and decided to catch up with him and learn a little more about his life. When we met up, we talked about the new album, coming up as a white kid in a mostly black hip-hop crew, seeing his friends go to prison, living with mental illness, and about the Evansville hip-hop scene as he sees it.
Di has a show coming up with Kelo Kaddafi and Ali Buckets on January 6th at PG. Don't miss it.
Hey, Di, thanks for meeting up.
Yeah, thank you. It's cool. I like doing shit like this.
So, how did you get into hip-hop?
I started with an interest in poetry. That was, like, my key interest. Like Edgar Allen Poe and shit like that. Poetry.
I had always listened to rap music; I remember my mom playing LL Cool J in the car. I just picked up on rap. Rap was always my favorite genre of music. I loved how they portrayed thoughts and emotions in such a bouncy, playful way. And like you can do so much with words in hip-hop I feel like.
But I started to write poetry in 7th grade and then by 8th grade I was writing raps. I was listening to Lil' Wayne back when he was the shit. And honestly my biggest inspiration as far as music goes is probably Kid Cudi. I've listened to him since the first Man on the Moon came out and even since before, when A Kid Named Cudi came out. Definitely one of my biggest inspirations. Kanye West of course, Late Registration, Graduation, all that kind of stuff. To even Jack Johnson. I don't know if you know who Jack Johnson is, he's an acoustic artist. Big inspiration. I don't know, I've got a broad range of artists who have inspired me so I feel like my music collides with several different genres. And I like that, I think it's interesting to play with genres and mix them.
Did you know other hip-hop artists in Evansville when you were starting to write raps?
Yes. I came up with a whole group of guys who I'm about to name off. Us together, we're an unstoppable force when it comes to local hip-hop. First of all, Kardehier. He is just...I don't even know how to explain my emotions for these guys. But he's actually locked up right now, which is really sad. But we've actually got all the bond money put up and stuff so he should be getting out soon. I don't know; it's been a tricky situation, but he is who owned the first studio that I ever recorded at. It was in his house, and it was the craziest shit to me because I was like, "Oh my god, for so long I've been wanting to record, finally."
It was freshman year I believe, late freshman year, of high school, when I finally went over and recorded some stuff. And I had met Kardehier and Osaga, who is currently locked up as well. Osaga is another really good friend of mine. I mean these are like brothers to me. He's a good guy. He's got a bad rep cuz of shit that's happened locally. Just shitty situations. But if you really know him, anyone who really knows him knows he's just a great guy. He's so talented with words. He can freestyle like nothing I've ever seen. It's crazy, I mean, he can just rattle off for like 30 minutes if he wanted to and it'd be cold as hell.
Then Doughzy. He is the longest relationship I've had of these guys. He started really writing in 8th grade and we would always text each other fuckin' freestyles and shit like that like do rap battles and shit like that. And joke around about being rappers. We both pursued it so hard, went at it so hard and did everything we could to better ourselves as artists and actually pursue this dream. I love it; I love it so fucking much.
And then Jaymz Kiez he came into it...OK, so before it was Kardehier, Osaga, Doughzy and me and we were Mighty Golden Era. And I still rep that. And that's a collective that us four started. And then Fly Almighty, damn, he's been locked up too! For a while. That's another member of the collective. Kevion. It's grown a lot and these are all very good artists. And one of our producers, Mars.
But it's weird because it's really Mighty Golden Era/Third World. Cuz, they all kind of started Third World. And Tyoshi Records. God there's like three different names.
So you all grew up together? Went to high school together?
Yeah, we spent all of high school together. I mean our most crucial times were in high school. The most crucial times of our lives together.
Kardehier's a year older. Fly, he's a couple years older. 2 or 3 years older. Mars he's 21. I'm 19. I'll be 20 in December.
And then just recently Kevion stated rapping. He just came out the door and just was amazing with it and everyone was just shocked. He's doing very well.
Mars has been a buddy of ours for a while. He's a very talented producer who makes some crazy ass beats. Mars started off as just a producer but now he's starting to come out and rap over shit he makes and he's gotten a lot better. Expect some dope shit from Mars in the near future, more than just instrumentals.
I'm worried I'm fuckin' forgetting somebody. It's a little family.
And then the other night I performed with Murphy's Horizon. He's actually on Soundcloud. Yeah he's very talented. I found him a little over a year ago maybe. And we exchanged messages over Soundcloud and stuff...He's a really really really talented kid. He's got a lot going for him as far as music. I always say he's a young Kanye. Yeah, he's very talented.
So, compared to other places in the country, Southern Indiana seems like a more racist place. So how is it that you came to be involved in hip-hop or to be friends with a lot of black folks?
I don't know, to me, I don't see it that way. I look at it and it just depends on the area, really. My parents weren't ever racist, they didn't raise me that way. So I never really understood it. I see everyone as equal. But I just naturally...I guess through hip-hop. I mean people look at it and...not that [hip-hop is] ran by African Americans but it's African American in origin. So I just happened to find these guys who did the same thing I did. And I just saw the similarities between us. Interest in art, you know.
There wasn't ever any racism or anything like that. If there was it was racism from Black people to me. Cuz they were like "oh white boy." You know, "white boy" type shit. And I had to stand up for myself and earn my position.
No, I'm not with racism. I don't understand it. I mean, I understand because it was the back bone of America for a while. It was!
But there's not so much racism here there's just a lot of violence. There's a lot of gang shit going on. You know, a lot of shootings and shit like that. And I know buddies who have been involved in shit like that.
I was impressed when I came to your show at PG at how multi-racial it was. Especially at a time when the country is exploding in reaction to cops murdering black folks and the growth of white supremacist movements among working class white folks, it was amazing to see black kids and white kids making music together, dancing together, etc. Do you see hip-hop as having the potential to combat racism among whites or bring people of different races together?
Yes. Very much so. With my music you can take one of my songs, play it in the 'hood, and you can get people bumping to it, like "oh this shit is dope." And I'm saying this from experience. I've witnessed it many times. And then you can take a white, middle aged mother and play the same song and she will enjoy it. I've witnessed it. If that's not a unifying factor then I don't know what is. That's cool to me. Like I love when someone's mom is like "Oh my god, that's really good," and then one of my 'hood ass friends is like "Man, that shit is cold, bro! That's what's up." I love it.
Yeah, your parents were at your show the other night, right?
Yeah, well my dad was. My stepmom was the blonde lady with him. But yeah.
So they're supportive of what you do?
Yeah, they are. They try to be at least. Yeah they are supportive, my mother and father both.
As we've said, black and brown people all over the country right now are fighting back against cops murdering people in their communities. Just like in the L.A. riots in '92, hip-hop has played a role in the rebellions. Lil' Boosie's "Fuck the Police" has been called the anthem of the Ferguson riots. Rappers all over the country (like Ali Buckets up in Gary) are following NWA's lead--using clips from the news about police murders and from people in the street during rebellions in their "fuck 12" raps. As a white rapper, how do you see yourself as affected by or fitting into what's going on around the country right now?
I mean, I talk about it some. I say some stuff about it actually on "Trees."
I mean, I just try to be a unifying factor. But I don't really have much of a standpoint on [police murder of black folks] except of course that it's wrong. Which I feel like is just the natural standpoint. I mean I try in my music to bring cultures together, which is the only thing that I can do to combat it. You know?
I'm not too much of a political rapper. A lot of my stuff is just pure poetry. You listen to it and you're like "what is he really saying?" There's a lot of different ways it can be taken and a lot of different things to be analyzed. I mean, I said some political stuff in "Trees," just about cops, you know?
You said you've got some friends locked up? Do you want to talk about why they're locked up or what they need or what happened in their lives? Without getting super personal.
They made some stupid decisions. And they know that it's stupid. But it's kind of like "shit, it's too late." But they're gonna get out here soon and we've exchanged letters and stuff and they're gonna change and they know they fucked up. I'm just ready to get them out and get them all focused on music and get them all back on the train and get to work. It's just weird. I mean Kardehier's been locked up for, fuck, like 4 months or so. Osaga's been locked up for around the same time. Fly's been locked up for like 8 months. I don't know, it's just been weird. I mean, they didn't experience any racism or anything like that I don't believe. They just, like I said, fucked up. Got caught up, got a shitty deal.
[Update: Since the time of this interview, Kardehier has been released after five months in jail and is getting back to making music.]
OK, so, you're working construction right now? Is it hard to find time to make music?
No, I get off at the same time every day. I work 7 a.m.-3:30, Monday through Friday. That gives me plenty of time. I get weekends off. It's pretty flexible. If I need time off, we've got enough guys to where, you know, I can just tell them if I'm traveling or doing anything regarding music, and they pretty much understand. But no, it's great man. It's able to fuel the things I need to do with music, like purchase equipment and go places. I just recently got a raise, so...No, it's not hard to find time. It's perfect actually. I get paid well, and it's perfect for my music. It gives me a perfect amount of time to accomplish what I need. I love it.
So you talked in your song "Breakdown" about mental illness, and I've seen you say stuff on Twitter about it. What's it like to live with depression and anxiety, and how do you think it impacts your work?
Oh man. This is probably my favorite question. It's like living in a snow globe and everything around you is cloudy. I mean, it sucks man, it does, but when you've had it your whole life since you were just a little one and didn't even understand what that was, it's not so bad. It's like people always say, "Would you rather be blind right now or be blind your whole life and not really know [what it's like to see]?"
But, I've grown up, I've gotten better at handling it. It hasn't gone away; if anything it's gotten worse, but you get better at handling it.
It impacts my music both negatively and very, very positively. Because a lot of my content is fueled by these terrible states of mind that I get in.
And, it can shroud who you are. It can affect your demeanor in many situations. It can really skew people's whole perception of you. They get the wrong idea whenever you're not really who they think you are. You just do shit because you are depressed or you have really high anxiety.
It's one or the other with me. Some people just have one but, it's kind of both [anxiety and depression] off and on. But yeah, man, it gets tough, but I've got a psychiatrist who's really good at what he does. He's gotten to know me and know what I really need. That's been taken care of so, I push through.
Before [my show at] PG, my anxiety was so bad right before, but I've been able to channel it and just get excited. And that's what I did--at the last minute it went away and I was just hyped as hell.
But yeah, I'll get anxiety about random shit. I mean, my hands will tingle; it'll feeling like I'm having a heart attack sometimes if it's bad. My vision gets narrow, I get shaky. You know? And with the depression it makes me not want to do shit. You know everything I think about is negative--there's no light to anything. I talk about this and people always tell me, "Well from the outside looking in you look fine. Everything seems fine. You seem like a bright person." And I'm like, "Motherfucker, you don't know." You know, I'm good at hiding it. I've had it my whole life. I know people don't like to see that shit. And I know how to cover it up. I know how to pull any positivity from anything. And that's one thing I'm thankful for.
That's because I can go from making positive music, but I can also make a sad ass song. And I can also make happy tracks because you need those.
But you feel like sometimes those extreme states of mind inspire you to write more interesting music?
Yes. Let me think about how to explain this. Through dealing with this on my lonesome...because my parents split up when I was very young. So I lived with my mom. And when I got to be like 11 or 12, she got very sick. She has polycystic kidney disease. And I'm not gonna say she wasn't around much, but she wasn't able to do much for me. And I could never really talk to her about things, because I didn't want to stress her out. So, you know, I dealt with this on my own. And it's hell. And it put me in a state of loneliness that now I look back, and it's very much cherished. Because I spent so much time in my thoughts stuck in my head. Literally it felt like I was stuck in my head, just thinking and thinking, and it broadened my perspective on so many things. I mean all I did was sit and think and study and smoke and just write. I don't know...
The way I see the world, I feel like, is a lot different from a lot of people. And I feel like that's a cliche thing for me to say as an artist, but it's just true. A lot of artists are that way.
Having something like this, it impacts your everyday life. When you wake up every morning, you assess yourself mentally. It kind of puts you inside your head all the time. Learning how to use that when you need to, like be inside your head when you need to, but be vocal and outgoing when you need to as well.
And this [interview] is another example of how anxiety and depression affects it because right now my anxiety is just bad for no reason. It's just a chemical imbalance is all it is. But it ruptures my thought. It puts ripples in it.
What do you think about Drake making fun of Kid Cudi for having mental illness? And how people were calling for Drake to make a donation to a mental health charity.
Yeah you better, motherfucker, yeah! Like, "Fuck you, you don't know what it's like to have mental illness." Yeah I don't fuck with that. I don't even fuck with Drake as it is. I'm just like, "Yeah, whatever, it's Drake, it's cool, all his music sounds the same to me."
But that's a big reason why Kid Cudi inspires me so much because he has what I'm going through, the epitome of that, and he has made it into the game and done it on such an amazing level.
And at the same time it's almost discouraging to see him still, still, at this point, after he released Wizard, and...if you listen to that album it sounds like he is coming out of it. He talks about in "High Off Life," he says [singing], "I never ever thought I could be / never thought the day could come for me / that I would be high off life..."
He seems so happy and has such good energy and you think he's kicked all this. And then here he is going to rehab and it's like, "Damn man, that was my hero," type shit, and seeing him take a bullet was like, "Oh, I'm gonna be dealing with this shit for the rest of my life."
It's just shitty man. Like I said it's an every day thing. Wake up, "Am I good? No, I'm not good." Take my medicine or don't take my medicine. But I make it work. I'm cool, you know? I've gotten as far as I am now and I'm proud. I've made myself proud, I've made my parents proud so...
Do you know of any female hip-hop artists in Evansville and do you think the scene is inviting to them or that they would be propped up by other rappers?
Um, I think it could be a thing...But no, I've never heard of a female rapper in Evansville I don't think. No, I haven't. Cuz I'd've heard of that shit!
So, you've got a new album that just came out on November 9th called Constellations. I've been listening to it all day.
That's awesome. Yeah, I started that like a year ago. And it would have been done a lot sooner had I not run into so many technical issues. I didn't have a studio for a while because it was messed up. My PC was messed up. And I just recently trashed that PC and I bought this Mac. And come to find out the equipment I had is not compatible with a Mac. But luckily one of my buddies, a fellow rapper, had the piece that I needed. It's an audio interface that you plug your mic into. So he ended up trading me. Soon I can get back to recording again. I haven't recorded in a couple months.
You had everything recorded for the new album and you were just mixing it?
Yeah, mixed the hell out of it. And even at that, it's not fully mixed. And I hate coming to terms with that. Most people can't tell, but it's not fully mixed. It could have sounded so much better. But there wasn't anything I could do. I had set a release date and I didn't have enough time to get all the stuff I wanted transferred over to mix it. So, I just had to do as much as I could.
Basically I'd get so far into mixing a song and I'd be really into it and then the song would start skipping. A session would start skipping, and there's just nothing you can do about it. I did so much reading about it, and tried. I mean, it's been months since I've had my studio. And all the software that I use was illegally downloaded and it had glitches and shit like that.
But now I'm going the safe route. I got a Mac and I'm gonna buy Pro Tools and just have everything legit so I can work and I don't have to go through that shit again. It's tough. But I'm happy that it's out. I'm proud of it.
Thinking back, that intro is the oldest thing on there. It's probably a year ago that I recorded that. It's weird listening to it and thinking about the mindset that I was in. As opposed to "Time," which is the newest song that I did. It's just weird. Cuz I can listen to it and I get this flashback.
A year ago I was in a totally different state of mind, a totally different...I had my own house and shit.
And now what?
I had to...so, long story short, the two people I lived with screwed me over completely--on separate occasions. And so, I was gonna be stuck in my apartment paying like $675 a month all the bills on my own. But my buddy ended up moving in with me but then once the lease was up we were like, "Well, we'll have to move back home." Because he wasn't really ready to be on his own he was just doing me a favor, helping me with bills. So I'm back living with my dad now. I'm ready to get out as soon as possible. I love having my own place.
So, what's next for you?
I'm excited for the future as an artist. After releasing this [Constellations], it's like an arc in my progression. I always tell people my music is like a year below where I'm at right now as far as skill goes. Right now I've got plenty of songs that did not go on this. That were just recorded and never got released. I do plan on releasing another tape here soon. But that will be down the road.
OK, well thanks for meeting up and talking.
Well, yeah. It's been a pleasure. Take care.
You can check out Di Lucid on Soundcloud and you can follow him on Twitter or Instagram.
All photos courtesy of Kevin Monzon. Find him onTwitter.