I should have written this article days after this event but I didn’t. Some may call it pure laziness but I have to call it something else.
The night of August 25th meant something to me.
In my previous article, I chronicled how D-Why and I had met and his rise leading up to the release of his mixtape Don’t Flatter Yourself.[1. It’s good. You’re crazy if you don’t give it a listen. It’s not your average hip-hop either. D does whatever he wants on the project and he does it well.] Now from those beginnings, imagine you’re on your way to meet this guy who’s blowing up nationwide. You would expect a certain change to take place once the notoriety begins. D had agreed to do an interview with me on Twitter but I got no response to my phone call the day of the show. Figuring he was just extremely busy, I assumed the interview wasn’t going to happen. Nevertheless, I packed my old school tape recorder with me in search of quotes from showgoers, figuring I could piece together a nice show review.
I parked in the Chestnut Street garage because I didn’t feel like running to a meter all night. As I rounded the corner to 123 Pleasant Street, I noticed a small line had formed. I didn’t think much of it, expecting most of the crowd to file in closer to D’s 10:30 stage time.
What I found a very generous crowd that had already gathered around the stage and that’s excluding the people at the bars and milling around the building.
This was the biggest crowd I had seen in 123 for a local hip-hop show in about 6 years.
I immediately ran into my friend (and Nerd Fresh partner-in-rhyme) Chris “CFX” Flynn and his friend Alisa Griffin near the entrance. I was surprised to see that he wasn’t drinking yet, as he’s always quick to grab a drink when a party is about to go down.
“Not yet. After the show…once everything is handled.”
I then brought out the trusty tape recorder and rattled off a few questions at him.
“Myself and Jameson “Holt Dizzee” put this show together when D decided he wanted to come through town. There was really no discussion about the venue because I knew 123 would be the least hassle money wise. It’s locals only normally. To be honest, in the future, we probably won’t be at 123 just because it doesn’t really have the capacity. But this one is for the homies, that’s why we came through 123.”
“He’s [D-Why] just grown all-around. When we first met the guy, he was a little much. But in turn, what’s crazy is it’s evidence of his drive. When I first met the guy, all he wanted to do was talk rap. He just wanted to rhyme and that was it. To this day, he’s made it where he’s at because he eats and breathes it. That’s his work ethic.”
I made my way to the bar and ordered myself a Red Bull, determined to stay sober since I was working. As the opening act of Dinosaur Burps (B Rude and DJ Sqweazle of Charleston, WV) were going through their sound check, I pulled aside Bryce Johnson who was next to the stage.
“I’ve been a fan of D-Why’s since he came out with “License To Chill” and ever since then I’ve been hooked. I’ve listened to Don’t Flatter Yourself many times. I like “Ballad Of An Asshole”, “Hawaii” is good. Slowing down a little bit, “The Reprise” is a beautiful song. Those are my favorites.”
When I asked him how it felt to be on the D-Why bandwagon early, he responded: “It feels good. I got introduced by a friend and then I found out D-Why went to my high school which was GW [George Washington High School]. And then he went to WVU and graduated and all that camaraderie is what got me hooked to him.”
His friend Jordan Bailey chimed in, “I like “2000 Miles”.
After heading to the bar to get another Red Bull, Dinosuar Burps’ set began. With Sqweazle on the decks and Rude with mic, they had no trouble winning over the crowd that was there to see the main attraction. They ran through songs from their newest release, Mother Nature Wants You Dead as well as some favorites from the Rabble Rousers album, Tastes Like Crazy. At one point, they pulled a kid from the crowd who spit a dope 2 minute rap. After their set, I caught up with Rude outside.
Do you remember D-Why when he first started?
B Rude: It was sometime in Charleston, he was running around with the graf kids and the skateboarders.
From the little graf kid until now, what would you say most amazes you about what he’s done so far?
BR: I’m just glad he’s doing his thing, likes what he does. Do what you do, when you do when you’re doing it, you know?
After making sure to tell me how cool everyone was when they performed at Warped Tour, I pulled aside Nathan “N8″ Wolfe.
I’ve known N8 for as long as I’ve been apart of the West Virginia hip-hop scene but mostly through message boards. I had only met him maybe twice before this and I was surprised to see him at a D-Why show of all places. But the guy treated me like we were old friends. We bullshitted during sound check and he introduced me to his wife. And we were moshing with the kids during Dinosaur Burps set. No one can ever call N8 dull.
What brings you all the way from Clarksburg tonight?
N8: I just came to show my support to B Rude and D-Why. This is important to me.
When was the first time you remember meeting D-Why?
N8: D-Why was hanging out in front of PJ Kelly’s. He was too young to get in the club and he and his little brother Matt were waiting outside. And Holt Dizzee came in the club and was like, “There’s some kids that wanna meet you.” So I went outside and D-Why is out there and he’s rapping one of my songs to me. “This is when I come and get ya bags and go/better grab ya coat before I grab ya throat…” He knew all the words to it and was like, “Man that’s really cool, you know my shit. That’s cool, nice to meet you guys, good to see you.” And a couple weeks later, he comes over to my house with Jamie Holt, and ever since then I’ve always looked at him as part of the scene growing up. We were apart of a hip-hop community that I followed. And it was very important to see somebody from that…I think he’s gonna blow up real big.
BR: Ditto. From B Rude.
N8: Just showing my respect. To the people who showed their respect, earned their respect and I fight for the kid.
Before Dinosaur Burps took the stage, I ran into Timothy “TD” Williams by the downstairs bar. I’ve known TD for a few years now but it wasn’t until the last year or so that we really became friends. He’s close with Marcus D’ Tray, one of the lead producers of DFY.
I didn’t shove my recorder in his face but he shared some stories about D’s recording process, esssentially saying how he would leap from playing guitar (he’s teaching himself), to singing a hook behind someone who’s working on an entirely different song, to asking someone to listen to his latest song idea.
“But when you get him focused, he’s locked in,” he said. “He’s incredibly talented.”
He also shared a story of when D-Why was recording “One Day After 2 Chainz”, his freestyle over 2 Chainz’ “Birthday Song” track.
“DFY was in its final mixing stages and D begged his engineer to record his new freestyle. After convincing him, D was going in and out of booth and talking to everyone in the room and then, BOOM!, slamming the door and going back in the booth. And he kept doing it. Next thing we know, it’s getting later and there are neighbors, and D’s engineer says ‘Stop slamming the door!’ and D nods and slams the door again. The door flies open again and D’s saying something and then his engineer tells him again about the door. He looks back at him, gets this look on his face and then BOOM!, slams it again. And then he finished the song in the next take.”
There was a brief intermission following Dinosaur Burps as DJ ETrayn hit the stage to get the antsy crowd even more ready. As the “D-Why” chants began, I posted up backstage near the backdoor, just in the time see D and his crew enter. D yelled some last minute things to his people, and then emerged on stage to thunderous applause. I had to go to the back of the venue to get a clear view and I still had to scale a nearby railing to get a great view.
The setlist was eclectic to say the least. DFY had just dropped a few days earlier and it made up a majority of his performance. He ran the crowd through a few favorites that didn’t make the mixtape like “Macchiato Music” and “Shooter McGavin”, with the crowd singing along word for word. After holding the crowd over with “Ballad of an Asshole”, “New York Times”, and “Kate Upton Is The Motto”, he asked the crowd if they were ready for “Devil Horns To All”, his 2010 remix of Wiz Khalifa’s “Black & Yellow”. After the crowd answered emphatically, D said he wanted to party in the crowd because he didn’t remember all the lyrics; he wanted the crowd to fill in for him.
The loudest rendition of “Devil Horns To All” followed, with D-Why bouncing through the crowd to his own music. It was a superstar moment if there ever was one.
After a few more DFY cuts, D invited his crew and all the ladies in the crowd onstage. Then he signaled ETrayn to start spinning records. Songs from his time at WVU blasted as the whole building rocked along with the familiar tunes. As D4L’s “Laffy Taffy” shook 123, I had to make an audio reminder to myself.
“At this given point, D-Why’s mic is not standing up. He has 15 girls on stage, dancing to “Laffy Taffy” like it’s 2004.[2. “Laffy Taffy” was released in 2006.] This shit is blowing my mind.”
After another dozen or so songs, D finally signaled for the music to end and said goodbye to the crowd. Drenched in sweat, he made his way to the merchandise table that had various t-shirts either emblazoned with his logo, his face or “Sarcasm, Orgasms & Fashion” (a line from “Macchiato Music”). He then began signing merch, taking pictures, and taking a few minutes to talk to any fan who approached him. As I took in this scene, I pulled one fan to the side to ask her what she thought of the show.
“It was good. I don’t know…I love D-Why until tonight…I’m biased. He said “Peace, Love, and then Money”?[3. Seen on D’s crew at the show and a reoccurring theme of DFY.] The money thing is throwing me off. I was like uh uh. Peace does not go with money and that made me so mad. I didn’t know he was for that. And I was [turned off]. I love him. “Party Girl” is my favorite. I love “Party Girl”. I came to college here (WVU) and that’s how I knew him. This shirt (pointing at someone wearing the Peace, Love, Money tee), I do not like this shirt. I don’t like the money sign. The money sign made me so mad. Because I love peace and I love the heart. But…I love his music. If I’m happy, I’m happy. But I’m not gonna be happy because of money. Peace and love, hell yeah! But not the money. I wish it were peace, love, and happiness…peace, love, and something, not peace, love and money.”
After talking a few more minutes with the girl who had the interesting t-shirt views, I asked WV rapper Daniel Aliff his thoughts on the show, as he traveled all the way from Beckley to check it out.
“I can’t say I’m a D-Why fan but he killed that shit, for real.” When asked about his favorite part of the show: “That Cam’ron shit. “What Means The World To You” (“Killa” was what D-Why called his version)? That was dope.” After saying he still wasn’t a fan of D’s look: “He killed the shit, everybody says he’s a cool dude, he killed the show.”
While D was outside doing an interview with Jenesis Magazine, I chopped it up with his brother Matt Morris and Andrew Sullivan of ZFG about D’s work ethic, how far he’s come since he started his career a few years ago, and Andrew asked Matt if there was deeper meaning linking some songs from Don’t Flatter Yourself. I had planned on saying a few things to D when he finished his interview before I headed out, when his manager approached me.
“You still wanted to interview D, right?”
How does it feel to come in here at 123, where you did your first show way back when…
D-Why: You know…you was there. I was wearing a 2 XL tee on stage. [Laughs] A 2 XXL shirt that said “Graffiti Changed My Life”.
It feels incredible. Being from Morgantown, being from Charleston, being from West Virginia, it’s a special place because they support their own. Always have, always will. To be back here and see the house packed, to see tickets sold out at capacity, I couldn’t do anything but smile. This is amazing, it’s a blessing. When I come back to Morgantown, in spring or something again for a bigger show, by then everything will be super tight and polished.
Don’t Flatter Yourself, how long did it take you to get that start to finish?
D: Start to finish? For real, two and a half years. Maybe even a little longer. It came about, I had the name, had the concept and from there it went through three phases.14 tracks? Nah. 16 tracks? Nah. When I got out to LA, I was like wow, this is the fucking time to really go in and get it. And just in the past 6 months, having a new engineer, he’s amazing. And really everything came together. It’s been an evolution man. I reference my age as 22, 23, and 24 on the tape.
How did living in Brooklyn and LA change your style, influence your style…
D: I was born in New York City, so I was always going to New York City growing up. When I moved to New York [after college], it gave me perspective. There’s more than just Morgantown. I’m nobody in the city, all I am is hungry. It grounded me, it told me…you have to make your fucking way in this world. I’m still nobody, I’m still just this hungry kid who wants to make music for people. But living in New York, I wrote “Devil Horns…” there. “I’m on Bedford and Halsey”, that’s the street corner I lived on. And Bed-Stuy. I tell people Bedford and Halsey, right near Bedford and Ocean, and their like “Oh shit, that’s not a good neighborhood”. And it’s dope because that gave hunger, that showed me the real hustle, the real grind. And then LA showed me the potential. LA was like…this is Beverly Hills, this is Hollywood. I need to go hard because of this. And that’s really what it’s been man. It’s been a great journey up to this point and it’s only beginning.
Tell me about your relationship with Marcus D’ Tray.
D: That’s my big bro man. We just started linking on a local tip. He lived in Morgantown, he had a studio in his mom’s garage, just making beats. We just chopped it up, we just kept building. And now he’s a big brother to me. I go down to stay in his crib with him and his wife. For days at a time we work in the studio. And it’s dope because he, mark my words, is the most talented producer that I’ve ever seen or worked with. Not joking, all that’s missing is the opportunity for him to get to the next level. He’s just as talented as your favorite producer’s favorite producer. Period, hands down, not fucking around. He does it all, everything. He produced “The Reprise”, he produced “All Good”, he produced “Good Will Stunting”. That’s a pop record, that’s an urban record, and a country folk record. He does it all. All the strings, like the strings in the intro, that’s all him, they sound real. It’s amazing. So it’s really just been back and forth. I’m trying to put him on, introduce him to people and that’s why he did the majority of the songs on DFY or at least touched them up. “Limitless”, he went in and made that sound even bigger. And I can’t think of anyone better than D’ Tray. It’s a blessing man, he’s uber talented.
So you finally have Don’t Flatter Yourself out. Can I get any early name…DFY 2? Do you have anything in mind?
D: There’s not gonna be a DFY 2, I don’t have anything in mind right now. There may be another possible free album. But what we’re doing now is building DFY, spreading it to the masses. We’re gonna release some singles, “2000 Miles”, “Stealing Youth” maybe. “Good Will Stunting”, shoot some videos. Release that, put ‘em on iTunes. The reason we haven’t put it on iTunes, there’s a lot of legal stuff and also because I want the stuff to be free. I want it to spread nationally, I wanna give back to the fans. So now’s the time because people are demanding, “I want to pay for it.” So we’ll do it a single at a time maybe and then the real goal is to take DFY on the road. I’m setting up a tour right now, I wanna be able to get across the nation just bringing it to the people. And from there, there might be a DFY retail version. How cool would it be to see that in Target?
Macchiato Music. Do you watch Sex In The City?
D: No. I mean, I’ve seen Sex In The City numerous times but I’m not a rabid fan.
How amazing was it to just go in Italy, shoot illegally, tell me about that experience.
D: First of all, we have videos that we haven’t released that we shot in Paris and a video in London. 2 in Paris, one in London, and then “Macchiato Music” was in Italy. So what we did was took all the money from our savings, took all the frequent flier miles we had saved up growing up, bought the tickets, slept on the floor of small ass hotel rooms. Got kicked out of hotel rooms. It was really just guerrilla-style shooting, it was great. Hopefully we’re gonna have those videos soon and release them as a mini movie.
Speaking of mini movie: “New York Times”…that is one of the dopest videos to come out this year. Who’s idea was that?
D: That was my idea. I have these 2 other videos, “Taxi” and “God Amongst Men”, which…you’re probably the first person to hear that. I filmed those 2 years ago, they might still come out and they’ll be a flashback to “New York Times” and how it all started. I filmed those and there’s a story in my mind and it’s this James Bond-like assassin, a young guy who’s kinda pulled into that world. I wanna continue with that black and white GQ James Bond theme and hopefully go bigger with the videos. “New York Times” is only beginning [of that story].
Meuwl. Profit Money. How much did they influence you when you were younger and you first started rapping?
D: I can’t even put into words really. First of all, rest in peace to Meuwl. He was like my big brother, the big homie, and that’s why I looked up to him. May he rest in peace, I always looked up to him and now he’s looking down on me. I was passing out flyers for shows, he’s the one who encouraged me to rap. He was the first one who said “What are you gonna call yourself?” He was the reason. In high school, I was listening to his shit thinking, if he can do it…he’s a kid from Charleston, he skateboards, he writes graffiti, he raps. That’s me, I can do that. Then when I got to WVU in 2005 as a freshman, the homie Profit Money was a little bit older, he had been around more, had see more. And we teamed up because it was opposite sides of the spectrum. He would come in the dorm room, stay the night, I’d wake up for class and he’d up hella early drinking coffee; making beats. We put out The Wake Up Call and he was heavily involved in the Two Thousand And Hate shit. That’s my homie for life, I talked to him a week ago.
Five years from now, where’s David Morris?
D: I’m only gonna say this: No competition with rivals, only competition with idols, D stands for disciple and DFY is the bible. That’s all I can say, that’s all I know. Constant progression and where things go, that’s where they’ll go. All I can tell you right now is that I’m blessed with DFY and I’m trying to go even harder on the next.
I spent the next 20 minutes or so saying my goodbyes to everyone. D tried to convince me to head to Bent Willey’s with him but I knew my night of Red Bulls would’ve turned to my night drinking and being late for work the next morning, so I passed. As I split up from the group and headed back to the parking garage, I felt awesome. Not just because of the interview and how much content I had gotten for this article but because D-Why is the same kid I’ve always known. He’s just a little bit more famous now.
I’m sure the future holds super stardom for D at this point. He’s too stubborn to fail. And for one night, I got to be apart of watching the fuse get lit on his stick of dynamite. Think if you went to interview Drake a few days after So Far Gone had dropped, before everyone knew So Far Gone had dropped. This was that moment for me and I’ll remember it for a long time.
Then again, he might never get as huge as I think he will and I might have jinxed him by writing this piece.
But then again…don’t flatter yourself.