In the confines of The Bridge Sound & Stage with producer/engineer The Arcitype and her business partner and label co-owner Marquis Neal, rapper Dutch ReBelle is a busy woman. She’s in the homestretch of mixing her latest project, Kiss Kiss and its sounding tough. The smoked out vibe of her latest work has smiles all around as the trio put the finishing touches in place. The follow-up to her debut album ReBelle Diaries, Kiss Kiss finds Dutchy in the trippest of head-spaces. Anchored by “Air It Out” featuring Jefe Replay, Kiss Kiss sounds like an audio contact high. The chilled-out six song EP hit the internets on September 21 as part of Dutchy’s agreement with AudioCommon.
The Haitian-Dominican MC rode the wave of The ReBelle Diaries and her previous mixtape Married To The Music from the festival stages of SXSW and A3C to the webpages of XXL and the couch of MTV’s Rapfix picking up a Hip-Hop Artist Of The Year statue at the 2014 Boston Music Awards along the way. But the trip was not without its bumps. The magazine covers and mainstream attention didn’t come without its stresses. The constant pull of the outside world had Dutch everywhere but where she wanted to be; locked in with the fans of her music. That combined with the turmoil of running her label and guiding her own career found her jumping through hoops and further away from her music.
Now with a refreshed outlook and the first shot of her back to back releases in place (Kiss Kiss’ sister project, Bang Bang is set for early next year), the young spitter is ready to let the world hear her on her terms.
In part one of our talk, she talks about the effects of front page exposure, managing expectations, getting people to accept her different facets and what exactly it takes to make an MC that counts Styles P as a favorite blush.
KBX: There’s been a lot of attention that has come your way in the last year. The cover of Improper Bostonian, The Metro and XXL. How has that affected you? I would imagine there is a variety of feelings.
Dutch ReBelle: YEAH! (Laughs) It’s so weird! I can take compliments, but I’m still very much a little girl when it comes to direct compliments, like in my face. I blush and I’m like “Chill! Don’t make a gangsta blush” a lot of that has been happening since then. When the Metro happened A LOT changed. The Improper cover was one thing, everybody was all over that, but the Metro for me was like …Everybody sees that! That changed a lot for me because I felt like it opened the door for more people to feel comfortable talking to me. I always knew people were supporting, a few people would come up to me and say they were a fan. But after that it was like “YO DUTCH! THAT’S THE HOMIE!” and that was super dope for me and still is! I love that people feel more comfortable speaking with me, because I don’t know how to convince you that I might be cool. (Laughs) You just have to talk to me. But, I’m working on that. It’s my eyebrows and I can’t change my eyebrows. (Laughs)
KBX:(Laughs) Why is it your eyebrows? DR: That’s what people tell me! People really have told me. “I was scared of you before I met you, but now that I know you it’s just your eyebrows” I have expressive eyebrows, I’m not mad! It just happens you know, resting bitch face and all that stuff… I’m just like chill out fam. I’m high. Ya’ll got it all twisted. The covers though, they were cool. I’m still kind of naïve to it, I forget a lot of shit. People come up to me and be like “ I seen you on this, this and this” and I’m like damn I forgot about that! I did do that. I was sitting there talking to Angie Martinez and Mona Scott Young! Like, oh shit I forgot! Because for me it’s not about the accolades, its about the growth. The first thing I was hype about opening for Wu-Tang, and now I’m hype because I walk into the Nipsey [Hussle] show and before I introduce myself fifty people already told him who I was. To the point where I went to go say my name and he says “I know who you are.” It feels dope! But I don’t really care about the prizes. I just care that I’m not crazy. (laughs) Because I told ya’ll this just might work!
“Air It Out” feat Jefe Replay
KBX: Now that you’ve released “I Know,” the last video from ReBelle Diaries, what’s your view of the project? DR: I love that the songs that I thought would be favorites weren’t always necessarily the favorite. I love that I’ll be like “Yeah, I’m about to shoot a video for this song.” And they’ll be like “Oh, but are you gonna shoot one for this?”
Also I felt like I was able to experiment the way I wanted to. I worked with producers that I rock with heavy, on the projects. So, I think it was successful in a sense where people got to understand I’m not “boom bap”. I think my first project or the first stuff that people heard, they were like “oh, she’s boom bap ‘cause she likes that type of music,” and I’m like “Nah, I like everything.” I’m super happy that people are still asking for videos. Like “I Know” was the last one I was holding on to for a while but people are still asking me for joints like, “Gone”. I’m very happy with it.
KBX: What was the thing you think you learned the most from ReBelle Diaries? DR: What I learned the most was don’t chase deadlines. People have lost sight of [putting] music first. That’s why I took a completely different approach doing this one [Kiss Kiss]. Because you sit there and write all these press releases to get all these people to listen to this. And at the end of the day it’s about the people and the music. So, what I learned is, really just sticking to the people.
KBX: Outside of the music with ReBelle Diaries, what would you have changed about the process? DR: Less people involved. And I would have definitely just stacked some things before I actually released it. You know what I mean, consistency comes from putting things out on time in a sense. But when you’re working with a lot of different people and giving people opportunities, you can’t always guarantee that nothing’s going to happen. I’ve had instances where I was gonna shoot a video and the videographer disappeared with all my shit, like with all my footage and everything. So I had to reshoot that. So I would have definitely just made the process a little bit more intimate. It’s just pretty much been me Arc and Quis working on this project.
KBX: So you streamlined everything? DR: Yeah, absolutely. It takes time out of the process as opposed to just working on the music and focusing on the fan base. Before we were focusing on the industry people or focus on the industry reps. You know, trying to get those shows in different markets. The shows in different markets were cool but you can do that through the people, not the representative you’re trying to get to talk to or not the event we’re trying to get into. That’s not really what I’m trying to do. I was never trying to do that. I feel like in the ReBelle Diaries process that kind of faded a little bit because it’s just all about meeting the goals of what’s been going on and what press lines have been coming out and people saying “Oh, by this year she’ll be ‘this’”. That type of premeditation, you can’t do that. People like what they like, it’s not about the industry people. They gon’ follow where people go.
KBX: So you’ve closed that chapter. What’s the future looking like with Kiss Kiss? DR: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was gonna be one project. So, as I started working on it some of the songs just kind of cohesively sounded really good together. And because we’re not stuck in a deadline situation, we’re not stuck in a situation where we said we were gonna do this and that, so we decided to split the project into two parts. So Kiss Kiss is gonna be six tracks. Kiss Kiss is really just supposed to be more of an introduction to the Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang theory in itself. On Kiss Kiss, I have a song called “Rapture” it’s really just “blunt after blunt, let me play what I want. Nothing to say, I’m just trying to chill. You don’t know shit. You can say what you want but I can’t pay you no mind if you don’t pay these bills” It what I’ve been up to. I walk in the room…I’m high. (laughs) This is more of what’s going on with me. People telling me I gotta be out and do this and that. Then you have songs like “Mix It Up” which has a reggae feel to it. It’s about when people say “you switching it up or you acting different” People get judged for evolving. You didn’t change, you mixed it up. Who the fuck are you if you don’t mix shit up all the time? You gotta get crazy. Moving forward in that direction, I’m here to mix it up. I’m not here to get satisfactory on my report card. I’m really out here trying to beat myself every time.