Massachusetts producer/rapper D-Man uses his music to tell the tales of his journey from being the youngest child growing up in an impoverished household with 7 siblings to becoming one of the brightest young entertainers in New England. He dropped his first mixtape Back To The Future: Return To The Past in 2010, and since then he has released three instrumental projects as part of the “Cuffing Season Trilogy” and 2012’s free album The Parcae.
Get more familiar with the Sky High Fly Guys crew member in DZI: The Voice‘s latest exclusive Q&A.
Yohance Kyles: When did you discover your voice as an artist?
D-Man: Well, I’d have to answer that question, by first taking it to the beginning when I was about 10 years old and first even picked up a pen and pad to even write something. I was basically trying to emulate my favorite rappers at the time (Nas, Jay-Z, and Rakim were the most prominent influences), but when I truly found my OWN voice and style after fine tuning and discovering myself? I would say about age 18 when I dropped my first mixtape Back To The Future: Return To The Past. That was when I slowly started seeing the transformation and growth from just like an amalgam of my favorite rappers almost, into my own entity and identity. Something to call my own to the point where I am today.
YK: You were raised in a very large family that had to overcome a lot serious issues. How did that influence you as an artist?
D-Man: Ahh, very much. Well, more so influenced me as a person than as an artist, it’s just I use my artistry to show the listener a reflection of me as a person, so I can guess you can say they go hand-and- hand almost. I grew up in a family of about 10 people in crowded, poverty stricken conditions. I had a mentally ill sister, my dad was murdered when I was 14, my mother had (and beat) breast cancer twice, but I never let it hinder me to the point where I couldn’t function. I’d simply find another way to get through it and keep on trucking.
I’m a firm believer in the statement “every cloud has it’s silver lining” and while each hardship I had to endure growing up, whether it was being poor or having an illiterate mother and no father around, I always had an abundance of love around me, and that helped me get through and I want to share that with the people through my music simply to give the gift of hope; one of the best things in this world because it empowers humans. I want to use my life experiences to say “Hey, look at all the BS that happened to me! And yet, I turned out pretty OK, because I never settled and never gave up. You can too.“
Our slogan is “Sky High til’ we skydive” which basically means we’re always going to remain the most high and elevated until the day we either lose our wings or get shot out the sky.
YK: What’s the concept behind the Sky High Fly Guys clique
D-Man: The Sky High Fly Guys are collective of pretty much me and my brethren who we’ve come up with, taken out lumps and triumphs all together, and anyone else who’s had our vision of enlightenment and helped spread that message whether musically, visually or in life in general. Guys like my boys Chris Author R.A.W., Rome Edwards, Bodega Jay, and even others who are close enough to be brothers to the team like my bros GxWay, Deon Fyre, Eazy, Johnny, Skibby Contae, Odeezy, Ant Skywalker, my GoodLife bros Mack, Sinama, Raux & Monts, my dude Shush Jones, my young boy Ju, and many more.
We’re all our separate entities, but also a circle of like minded people, so I, personally consider all of them part of the Sky High family. We all came up together and are all about elevation, specifically of the mind. We call ourselves the “Sky High Fly Guys” because we like to operate on a higher plane of thinking, above the clouds with the perfect view of the world and what’s going on in it. Clarity, to say the least.
In addition to our mental enlightenment and clarity, we are all young urban kids with a penchant for stuff like clothing, sneakers, comics, and everything that makes up the overall dope. We are guys who are “Sky High Fly” whether it be fashion or in the booth; always high above the clouds enjoying the view and reign on top.
We also have many other mini groups within the collective movement like 4th & 10 (Me and Chris Author) and The Real Elevation & Enlightenment Syndicate or T.R.E.E.S. for short (keep an eye out. Big things coming, by the way). Our slogan is “Sky High til’ we skydive” which basically means we’re always going to remain the most high and elevated until the day we either lose our wings or get shot out the sky. There’s also a double entendre somewhere in that whole thing to my homegirl Mary, but shhh…you didn’t hear that from me, ha ha.
YK : How did you connect with Dart Adams & ProducersIKnow.com
D-Man: First of all, shoutout the big homie Dart Adams for simply being the most G out there and holding a young man down. He was really one of the first few people to hop on the bandwagon and has been supporting since. I met him through a mutual friend DScribez who ran a local New England based Hip-Hop website called the Boston Hip-Hop Pages when Scribez put Dart (who is pretty much a Boston LEGEND/Encyclopedia) on to my very first local mixtape Back To The Future: Return To The Past.
Dart happened to give a glowing, VERY positive review [to Back To The Future: Return To The Past] and helped spread it around the blogosphere which quite shocked me, because Scribez had pretty much told me that Dart was a very hard man to please musically and that if he liked me I was pretty much golden, and sure enough I was.
I built a relationship with Dart by sending him numerous beats for his radio show he did with his former website Bloggerhouse.com called “The Scrunchface Show” which lead to me getting the most “closers” (the last beat played for the night which is pretty much the highest honor of the show), and eventually landing a spot on #TeamPIK when a spot opened up after a former producer team member left. Producers I Know was pretty much my foot in the door and helped me get my name out there once me and Dart began work on the infamous “Cuffing Season” trilogy of instrumental albums.
YK: Your production has a very jazzy and soulful feel to it? Are these the styles of music you grew up listening to or did you embrace them later as a producer?
D-Man: A little of both actually. Since my mother and father were both immigrants from Cape Verde (an island off the coast of west Africa) we always had a lot of African music playing in the house, but my mom and dad were also big American music fans so they always had stuff like Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder playing in the house, but it was mostly international music they were playing. And while as a kid I didn’t always understand or like the music, when I got older I realized all that soulful music my mom and dad used to play in the house really influenced my sound later in life.
I started producing and crate digging when I was 13, and that was when I REALLY started listening to old soul/jazz groups after trying to emulate and be like my two idols: J Dilla & Just Blaze. Whatever I could get my hands on something that could make me sound like them, I was with it. It wasn’t until later on that I eventually realized that I grew to love the music genuinely.
YK: When you’re putting together a track how do you know when you’ve found the perfect musical or vocal sample to use?
D-Man: Usually, what I’ll do is just get a slew of samples and just listen until something hits me. I never go into creating with the explicit thought of “ok, I want to do this, this, and that, so let me go make this sample into this kind of track.” I let the sample dictate what it becomes based off of the vibe I feel the sample gives. It has to be organic; never artificial or rushed.
I may go in with the mind set of where I want to take the track, but I always keep myself malleable as to be able to adapt the track to whatever I feel is the best way to take it based off the vibe. I’ll know it’s finished when the vibe is exactly where I feel it needs to be. Could be minutes, hours, or days; greatness can never be rushed.
YK: You recently released your 4th instrumental album, March Madness: The Postseason. The cover art is an amusing interpretation of the NCAA Brackets. Who came up with the concept for the cover and was a victor crowned in that tournament?
D-Man: Ha ha, the concept was all Dart Adams’ idea. He first told me about the idea when I opened up at Hustle Simmons’ (shoutout to the homie Hustle Simmons, by the way) Hustlepalooza Boston show February of last year and how he wanted to close the Cuffing Season instrumental series with an NCAA style tournament to bring the “cuffing season” to an end with an appropriate “post season” to crown a champ for bragging rights of baddest chick cuffed. What’s sad is that there was no victor crowned, because as men we all pretty much said, “who cares?” The tournament of beautiful women was victory enough; everybody won, ha ha.
YK: The titles of the tracks on your “Cuffing Season” trilogy beat albums (ie “Y’all Noticed Joe Budden Hadn’t Posted A Picture Of Kaylin On Instagram In 3 Months?” and “Clear Your Browser History Every Time You Visit XNXX Before You Let Your Girl Use Your MacBook Pro”) are not traditional song names. What was the inspiration for the unique tracklistings?
D-Man: The tracklistings were all the brain child of the godly Dart Adams, so everyone please thank him for all of the laughs you had from the titles, ha ha. The way the titles came about stemmed from the first time Dart ever asked me to send him a folder of beats.
Now, me? I just name the beat whatever the name of the sample I used to make it, but since I was sending Dart the beats, I wanted to change the names of the beats up as to not give away the sample, but still keep the names somewhat similar so I could remember what the sample was myself. So I just named the first batch of beats the most ridiculous names as a joke, but Dart took the whole idea and ran with it and made the most zaniest song titles into a definitive staple of the “Cuffing Season” trilogy. Thanks, Dart!
YK: Last year you dropped The Parcae where you’re rapping and not producing. Why did you decide to let GxWay cover all the production on that mixtape?
D-Man: First, right off the bat, shoutout my guy Modi from over at DCtoBC.com, because The Parcae WOULD NOT have been possible if not for him. He deserves so much credit, because he was the one who brought me and G together in the first place. He was a fan of my first tape and told me about a friend he had who was from the same city (Brockton, Massachusetts) as me and NASTY on the beats so I checked him out.
Sure enough, dude was a BEAST. It was there when I decided that I was gonna fall back from the beats and just focus on my rapping since on my last effort I felt like I already had did my own thing on the beats and wanted to try something fresh and new. Go in a new direction and at the same time shift the focus more to my lyrics which was something I felt was overshadowed by my producing. So I gave the reins to GxWay and didn’t look back… I think I made a pretty damn good decision too, because G cheffed some HEAT.
YK: On “Oneirology (Outro)” you talk about why you titled the project “The Parcae“. At what point in the creative process did you decide that the name of the Roman goddesses of fate would be the title of your tape?
D-Man: The very, VERY end. I mean, we didn’t have a name for the project until about 3 weeks before we released it, and we had been working on it for almost two years prior. We were racking our brains trying to find something suitable for the tape that felt organic and real. We didn’t want to name the mixtape something stupid like “From The Streets: Brockton Files vol. 1” or whatever.
It wasn’t until a few weeks before we dropped it where I realized that everything we were doing felt as if we were DESTINED. There were times where stuff happened to us during the course of making the project that made us go, “wow, that really just fell into place.”
From those mutual feelings that me and Devon had about our project I started thinking of things that related with destiny and fate (which in turn tied into my first mixtape which dealt with the aspects of time and attempting to change your destiny) and lead me to the Roman sisters of fate, or the Parcae, who controlled everyone’s lives on a string and dictated their destinies through it. It was then where I decided to name the tape “The Parcae” to keep the theme of destiny, dreams, and fate all together. And, well… it was pretty much fate after that. Ironic, huh?
YK: You often hear producer-rappers talk about wanting to save their best beats for themselves. Do you ever have that dilemma where you have a great track and find it hard to give it up to another artist?
D-Man: All the time! It sucks for me to say, but there are DEFINTELY beats that I save for myself. Not because I feel it’s a great track, but because I feel like I am the only one who can paint the best imaginable picture on the track. There are tracks that I feel others would be better suited to make it the best it can be, but there are some that I save for myself based on the fact that I feel I am the best man for the job. Call it greed or maybe call it cunning; I don’t care, ha ha.
In my eyes, Cam’Ron is not only one of the illest rappers ever, but one of the illest PEOPLE ever. Period. The man influenced my life in so many ways.
YK: If you could pick any three artists to rap over your beats who would you choose?
D-Man: Hmm… if I could only pick three, I would more than likely pick Nas, Jay-Z, and Cam’ron. Nas because he is my favorite rapper, and I feel he is the greatest lyricist of all time. I would give him the craziest joint I had just to see what he could do with it. Hov because he’s arguably the most accomplished rapper of all time and one of my most major influences, so it would be a dream come true for me to provide a soundscape for the king. And last, but certainly not least; Killa Cam. In my eyes, Cam is not only one of the illest rappers ever, but one of the illest PEOPLE ever. Period. The man influenced my life in so many ways.
My sisters once worked their asses off and pooled all their money together to buy me a $1000 Jeff Hamilton coat just cause they knew I loved Cam, and he had one. I wear pink to this day simply because Cam did it. He’s a living legend, and working with him would be a dream come true.
YK: What’s next for D-Man?
D-Man: Success and greatness, I hope. At least that’s what I’m aiming and working for. As far as projects, now that I’ve dropped my sophomore mixtape and ended my Cuffing Season trilogy of instrumental albums, I’m gonna be more focused on branding, marketing and getting the name out there so there will be lots of me in the future whether it be through music videos, shows, promotion; whatever.
Also, got some fun side projects like a comedy album and sketch comedy show in the works. I’m also producing for many an artist and also working on projects from my fellow Sky High brethren Chris Author R.A.W. (look out for his “VIP” mixtape soon) and Rome Edwards, in addition to producing on my man Mack out of the GoodLife crew’s new mixtape “iMack 2”.
I’ve also got some REAL big plans for the T.R.E.E.S. brand that I can’t really divulge into now, but just know we’re working hard on something that will be VERY big in the future. All in all, I’m just gonna continue to fight the good fight against wackness and bring you that dope that I know the world and it’s souls both love and need.
To download D-man’s The Parcae click it
To download D-man’s March Madness: The Postseason click it
To connect with D-Man follow him @dmanthetruth
Check out D-Man’s video for “Sky High Fly Guys”: