Let's face it: Paris generally doesn't make us think of Hip Hop. In fact we at HipHopDX struggled to think of the name of one successful Parisian emcee. But before you turn your back on a city that is obviously more famous for romance than rap, let us introduce you to Dela, an upcoming producer whose already gained the attention and admiration from some of your favorite emcees around the globe in both the underground and mainstream.
After completing his first CD release, The Atmosphere Airlines Mixtape, in France and Japan, he's now currently finishing his album Changes of Atmosphere, and shopping for a worthwhile record deal. An affliate of the worldwide Beat Fanatic Crew, this producer, armed with an SP and an MPC has already been collaborating with everyone from Blu, to Parisian R&B sensation Les Nubians [remember their international cross-over hit "Makeda" a few years back?] as well as your favorite emcees' favorite emcee, Talib Kweli for his much anticipated first album. Though he may be Paris' best kept secret right now, this guy is sure to blow up soon.
Influences: Born and raised in Paris, Dela still grew up with the musical influences of many children in The States. "I've been influenced by Hip Hop's '90s era a lot, people like Large Professor, DJ Premier, The Ummah... and I'm sure you can hear that in my music. But at the same time, I'm trying to do it my way and give it a new twist. I'd say [because of those influences, my sound is] soulful, very melodic."
On Getting Into Producing: "Ever since I was nine or 10, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. When I was about 13, a kid at school knew I was into music. I was already playing guitar and drums a little bit, so he hit me like, 'Let's do a group together.' We didn't really know where to start, so I started making beats with double deck cassettes players, or putting some tape on a vinyl so it would skip and loop and play drums over it. One or two years later, I got my hands on a computer, and started understanding how beats were made. At first I was just using that computer; there wasn't really any programs like Fruity Loops back then; I just used whatever software I got with my soundcard. Now I use a MPC-3000 and a SP-1200. My first piece of equipment was a ASR-10 I got it around 2000 or 2001 I think."
On Grinding Through The Road To Success: "I used to be like, 'I'm gonna be grinding till it pays.' But time flies, and at some point, you gotta make decisions. That's why I had that Joell Ortiz quote on my Myspace blog a few months ago: 'I'm really losing my drive to do this music, and if it don't happen after this I'm through with it, 25, still at my moms crib...' The little I've seen of the 'industry' makes me wanna quit. I'm moving to Canada at the end of the year and, if things don't take off a little for me I think I'll be done with the music thing.. I'll never stop making music, but I'll probably just make it just for myself like I used to. I've always thought I'd make it happen no matter what, I'm not that optimistic anymore cause a lot of things have changed, but at least If I fail I can say I did my best."
Dream Collaboration: "Definitely Q-Tip, I'm huge A Tribe Called Quest fan. I got into Hip Hop with Wu-Tang's Enter the 36 Chambers, but Midnight Marauders really made me wanna make the type of beats I make today."
On Finding Collaborations For His Album: "Once I had all the beats made for the album, finding the right emcees for each beat seemed pretty natural for me...some of them hit me up before I started working on the project and asked me if I had any beats... I sent them a bunch and told them about my album, asked them a track or two... that's how we got started. Then if I had that particular beat I wanted to use on the album I would start thinking about who would fit that beat better. Most of the emcees on my album had been on my favorite emcees list for a while. I've been blessed, I'm a fan of pretty much everybody on the album ! I'm a big fan of Blu [click here to read feature...], we did a 12" with him and Aloe Blacc that's gonna be released in Japan in a couple of months. Dynas' track is the only track that was already done when I started working on the album.. it was supposed to end up on his project but he let me use it instead. Supastition recorded the first 'official' track for the album, and it ended up being the title track as well."
On The Parisian Hip Hop Scene: "When I started the French Hip Hop scene was doing great. There were all kinds of great emcees and producers who have had a great influence on me as well. Now...it's not that good anymore though. I have no idea [why that is], even most of the rappers who were considered like some of the greatest in '97 really fell off to me...it's like these guys were genius 10 years ago, they were just kids though, now they completely lost it. I'm still working with some [French emcees], too. There still is some talented cats over here, but it's nothing compared to back in the days."
On Finding Distribution: "The hardest thing for me is getting a good distributor so I can get my music available worldwide. I don't expect miracles from any record label, I just wish I had a proper distribution. We're talking to a couple labels and distributors right now, in Europe & in the US. Just trying to find the right deal before we put it out; at this point I don't wanna rush anything either. But we just gotta make sure that the album gets promoted properly when it drops. The last thing I want is to get a dope distribution, but nothing to really push the album and give it it's chance."
What Makes Him DXnext-worthy?: Dela's been grinding his way to the top with that laid back jazzy sound many of us miss from the '90s, but his talents don't stop there: "I [also] play a little bit of everything [keys, drums, percussions, guitar, bass, a little bit of trumpet]...I try to learn every instrument I can put my hands on...most of the tracks on the album and mixtape are sample-based though. I'm just getting into incorporating more live instruments into my music even though I've been playing them for a while...I'm no Stevie Wonder, yet." So what's next for this mini-master of the MPC? "I've been really focused on the album lately, so until we got a deal and its 100% finished and mixed, I won't be working on anything else." He tells DX, "I still gotta finish the mixes, and a couple interludes...but it feels great not having to harass emcees anymore. [Laughs] I'm very happy about how everything turned out. I was worried about having a good variety of topics. I wanted make this album a 'real' album not just a producer's album.. and it turned out great, but after that I'll be working on a EP with Guadeloupe singer Meemee Nelzy [she's also on my album], I'm real amped about this.. and maybe a I'll do live instruments Jazz album later this year, too." Ces't word!
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