DuBBleOO Courtesy of Jeremiah Deasey for Upheaval Design

Real Name: Shem Hardnett
Hometown: Portland/SF Bay Area
Influences: E-40, Jay-Z
Who He’s Down With: E-40, The Jacka, Cool Nutz, Mistah F.A.B.

Like a rapping James Bond, DubbleOO adapts to his surroundings and keeps it flashy yet classy. His latest mixtape, "Beast Mode Volume 2," features the otherwordly "Speed Of Sound" (video below) and the atmospheric "She Will Never Leave."

You’ve done shows with Wiz Khalifa and Swollen Members, songs with Big K.R.I.T. and Too $hort. Those artists have a wide range of sounds and styles. How do you decide who you’re going to work with and what type of music you’re going to make?

When I first started out, I was looking for a certain kind of beat. If I liked something, I would try to find something that sounded like that, that style. Some of the first projects I did, like “Space Age Hood Slap,” I didn’t do songs over other people’s beats. I did songs with producers from my area.

It was a little harder because I had to come off the top completely because the beats that they had -- it wasn’t like I had “Lollipop” and I was trying to rap it like Wayne. I was doing a new thing and I think that helped me as far as getting comfortable in my own skin, how I rap and figuring out who I was as an artist. Now I try to look for beats that are super different, super spaced out.

Indeed, some of your songs sound very distinctive, like “The World We Live In,” for instance. What makes you comfortable stepping out and doing your own thing creatively?

That song came from just an energy that I was feeling and trying to illustrate that through words. It’s like a feeling of greatness or excitement that you feel when you’re accomplishing something and you’re taking on all odds and you put that raw emotion on paper. With “The World We Live In,” I was so inspired by what I was feeling. I’ve always been inspired by the Save The Children ads. I had to speak about it. It always feels like people are super receptive to that song every time they hear it.

You’ve toured with and recorded with E-40. What was your impression of him before you met him and how did it change now that you’ve gotten to know him on a personal level?

When I first heard his music, I heard how he was coming from nothing. He was talking about being in gym class and how kids were talking about him. Then, being in the Bay and seeing his records like “Quaterbackin’” with the Clipse when he was coming back with his second wind, it was impressive. He always gave off the impression of being a boss, a real life boss, a guy that was really doing it. As far as knowing him, he’s somebody you can actually talk to.

Being in front of the guy, he commands the same amount of respect that he does when you hear him on a track. When people are around him, they look to him like a father figure. They just want to huddle around and listen to him. He could be in a room with Diddy and he’s going to hold the same respect as Diddy. That’s the kind of respect he has.

For more information from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter @SorenBaker and check out his author page on Amazon.com.

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