video premiere + interview: “progressive rap contemporary art” – la poet def sound talks new music and the duty of an artist
By Sound Check
October 12, 2015
I can speak on behalf of anyone who has met creator Definitive Sound when I say he is easily one of the most impossible human beings to forget. I met Def for the first time nearly 3 years ago when I was a newbie poet at Da Poetry Lounge where he would (and still does) DJ. This hidden gem in Los Angeles, an open mic that’s been open every Tuesday for almost 18 years, is where we both discovered the purpose of our voices. Def quickly became someone I admired; his constant thinking outside the box in just regular conversation, to his innovative style, to his unique music taste, led us to develop an immediate connection for he was constantly, unabashedly himself even in imperfection.
By KiNG, AFROPUNK Contributor
Born in South Central LA, Def started his journey into music at 17 by learning and attempting to produce in his 11th grade music appreciation class; however felt at a loss on how to create for he didn’t play any instruments. At the suggestion of friend Justin Anderson, Def began writing bars in secret: “…I fought the idea for a few weeks w/ reasons like “What can I rap about? I went to private schools my whole life?” or “I’m 17 and I’ve never been in a cipher I’m too old to start rapping”… I spent all summer purging the wackness from my soul. A year later my homie that told me to rap said my first rhyme was better than anything he had ever written. I stayed hungry, never thirsty and would reach out to producers I liked on myspace…I ended up finding the most chemistry w/ a producer by the name of RC. He played me like 40 beats in my sisters kitchen ALL FIRE the first day we met, I had to rap my way into getting beats from him. He gave me my first canvas’”
Now, flash forward to 2015, Def has a series of accolades under his belt including competing for a nationally ranked poetry slam team, being a member of the same band that influenced him, a fashion line, a radio show, (the list can go on, trust me) and is now preparing to release Kings • of • Neon• on October 30th. I was given the absolute pleasure to have some dialogue in regard to his vision, his art, and his inspirations. Read that interview below – plus, check out Def’s brand new visual (an AFROPUNK exclusive).
Q :: What was the inspiration for this project in particular? Why is this so important to you?
A :: Kings • of • Neon•” is about reaching highest potential. This record is LOUD and VUNERABLE and is thee first half of a full project that is created to be listened in one setting. The 2nd half is called “Sierra.Neone.” it is songs with less words more feeling, I’m using more negative space in a positive way on it.. There will be 6 songs on each side. “∆∆∆’s.of.Neon.” will feature higher tempo’s of music you can dance and thrash to and “Sierra.Neone.” will feature songs you can live through…”∆∆∆’s.of.Neon.” is self discovery of what your potential is and “Sierra.Neone.” is self reflection of the source of that self realization. “∆∆∆’s.of.Neon.” is thee wave “Sierra.Neone.” is thee ocean. They need each other.
It’s important because of the love I put into it. I created these projects as one thing over the course of 3 years, it changed a lot and I changed a lot. The more i played it the more I started to understand they were too much to digest in one setting. Not everyone wants a buffet of sounds so I broke it down for thee listeners pleasure with no GMO’s. The guest chefs include J*Davey, Kadhja Bonet, Nikko Gray, Blu, RC, Lykta, Alex Isley, and Zack Sekoff. All family.
Q :: What do seek to achieve with your art? Nina Simone once said, “it’s the duty of an artist to reflect the times” – do you feel this is true for you? if so, how?
A :: My music is an extension of my imagination… Def Sound bka Definitive Sound isn’t just my name it’s my daily goal….I just want to create things that inspire you to create things.
I actually sample this quote on thee album. I find it to be true because we societies mirrors, we are reflections, we are thee time capsules. Artists are responsible to tell thee truth paint that picture of what now is. We are now! I believe to be truly contemporary is to be now, to be now is to be thee current and thee wave. If we don’t tell it who will? We have to ignite the change and set this shit on fire or at least pass the lighter.
Q :: What sets you apart? Aka why should people care?
A :: I think what sets me apart is because I care. I STILL GIVE A FUCK ABOUT FONT AND ARTWORK. I care as much about the lyrics as I do the beat. I about every word I say on stage and on record. I care about this interview. That care can be paralyzing at times I want to say so much and do so much these ideas grow so large in my head they end up never coming out. I’ve always been obsessive about being progressive. I’m far from a “classic man”, I identify myself to be more of a post-modern man. People should care if they like art.
Q :: How do you foster community?
A:: To See community you have got to be community. This year I launched a weekly (it is now monthly due to album and label launch and life in general getting too loud) online radio show called KDEFRADIO. When I created KDEFRADIO I wanted to create a platform that was less about me more about the music around me.
I want to destroy the myth that that giving someone props or credit for being awesome somehow takes away from our awesomeness… I believe there is strength in that.
Q :: Aite now time to get a little nitty gritty, what are you least proud of?
A :: The times I doubt myself and wait on outcomes outside of myself to create or decide. I shopped “Kings • of • Neon • ” for a year and a half trying to find a label or some funding. It made me lose a little bit of godfidence in the music and myself. Thee moment I decided I was gonna launch my own label and put out “Kings • of • Neon •” myself thee sky opened. The label is called “Y E ∀ W H A T E V E R “. It’s not just a label for music though, it’s an audio visual label that we (Mike Leisz and Leila Jarman and I) are launching with the release of “ Kings • of • Neon “ as new way for people to experience music as an online interactive gallery//experience. We are where music and visual art meet. It’s for thee people that want more. We believe there is always more.
Q :: What is your life motto?
A :: Build your pyramid. Which is really build your monument, and ascend. Your pyramid, that thing, that is here after you aren’t… It’s not just about legacy though, I find building your pyramid to also be about building something so amazing ppl think aliens helped you… Know your self worth and add tax to it.
Q :: Lastly, if you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?
A :: I’m lunch. Quality over convenience.
**Dear Def, you have been nothing but a shining star in my galaxy of inspiration. I can’t wait to see what you are capable of achieving and how you will get rally this generation to create**
For more updates, follow Def Sound on:
* KiNG is a 21 year old gender fluid, bisexual, biracial, spoken word poet, as well as co-founder of SLiM Poetry (an open mic at the Container Yard in the Arts District). Through writing and performing, I seek to create dialogue and develop a rapport with readers/audience members. I also intend to shatter stigma pertaining to mental health, feminism, racism, and anything social justice related as well as encourage creative communities to integrate and innovate.
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