Darian The Great of The SoundBwoi Killaz
Words and Photo by W. H. Ferrell, Jr.
Darian Hill is the son of a preacher, born in raised in Philadelphia. Before kindergarten he was singing in the church choir and recording gospel music. Now as an emcee Darian The Great looks to create music with a message for the lovers of original Hip-Hop music. He has recently teamed up with Delaware’s Grammy nominated DJ Slice to form The SoundBwoi Killaz and they are releasing a new album this month independently.
What got you into music and made you want to be a part?
Music has always been in me. I started singing in the church choir around 4 years old. My siblings are all 1960's babies and I'm the only 1970's kid out of the bunch so I've been hearing Sugar Hill, Treacherous 3, Crash Crew, RC LaRock and all the Pioneers my entire childhood. What actually made me want to go out and perform was after my sister BJ and I attended a Public Enemy concert in the late 80's. My sister and I used to think we were West Philly's own "Skoob and Scrap" or "G-Whiz and T-roy" because we danced our tails off to any and every Rap/Hip-Hop track we loved. And you best believe our routines got us noticed. So dancing at home, dancing at the shows, and simply attending concerts with my sister made me want to perform. My sister BJ is still one of my strongest influences to rock the mic until this day!
In high school, what records were your favorites?
Well first in mind of course is Eric B. And Rakim. I still crank that tape till this day for I am a Microphone Fiend. I loved my BDP - My Philosophy LP. Big Daddy Kane's Long Live The Kane LP. I can't forget EPMD's Strictly Business LP. Oh and I can't for my autographed LP from the Parkside King himself Schooly D. I ran that first LP into the ground! Notice I'm saying tapes and LP's. Do people still use those? Oh yeah, and I can't forget the Mighty Hard Rocker Cash Money and Marvelous!
How did you hook up with DJ Slice?
I actually met Slice through a fellow CrateKicker Member named DJ Shorty T.
Shorty and I met at Chubb Institute. I started traveling to Delaware making freestyle scratch tracks in Shorty T's basement. From there, my hunger to record had once again returned but Shorty T wasn't able to provide me with all the amenities I required to do a full project. So in turn, he introduced me to his Production Mentor who just happened to be DJ Slice. Once I met Slice and recorded at his studio, I told him (I didn't ask) "I'm setting up shop right here. This is my home studio from now on so get me a futon". From there I started recording in late 2005 early 2006 and we've been tight rodies ever since. Slice is like family to me now....his mom too!
What do you think about the current state of hip-hop?
I think it's in a state of confusion. There are still too many people incapable of deciphering the difference between Rap and Hip-Hop. Anyone can throw some rhyming words and the occasional obscenity and call it rap. Hip-Hop is a way of life. There are a few true Hip-Hoppers in the game but the bulk of them lack the main key to it all, Originality and Knowledge of Self. Back in the day, each group had their own sound, their own niche'. In today's society it seems like riding coat tails and biting styles is an okay thing. Well it's not! But that's why the game is saved with up and coming artists such as The SoundBwoi Killaz. Then you still have such pioneers as The Roots, Mos Def and Talib, Pharoahe Monch and a few others keeping it alive! And DJ Slice, Wok-G Major and TMI are keeping the true Hip-Hop beats banging and boom-bappin' thru the speakers.
I've noticed that folks in Delaware are open to your style and live performance, what do you think is unique about the Delaware scene?
I'm truly blessed to have the Delaware scene receive me so well. Especially since I hit my first stage in about a decade right in Delaware and needless to say I blessed the mic something awful The Delaware crowd, I noticed has a true appreciation for real Hip-Hop. And I've noticed many here know the difference between rap and hip-hop. Since I speak from the heart and not from the mind, my music has no choice but to reflect me as a whole. Plus they give me props just off the fact that I go on stage by myself. I don't need 8 dudes hugged up on stage with me distracting people from the points I'm trying to drive home. When The SoundBwoi Killaz are on the loose, we let it all out and give the crowd our everything! I thank people like Sam the Man and KO for giving me an opportunity to display my skills in the First State.
How many albums have you recorded so far in your career?
If we're going back to the late 80's early 90's, I've recorded an EP with my old group Genasyde (Which meant The Annihilation of Beats and Styles unlike Genocide which annihilates cultures and people). I recorded a solo EP with DJ Cos under Crimelab Entertainment but we never released it. After a break to tend to my Daddy duties, I came back to record "The Great Mixtape", "The Long Awaited Pain" and of course the upcoming "Out With The Bad, In With The Great" all under the watchful eye of DJ Slice in Slice's Crib Recording Studios.
What is your opinion of gangster rap?
I feel that thugs deserve music too. I used to thug it up on 60th Street in the late 80's and 90's before I became a father in 98. I like some of the gangster rappers that I feel are real. And real recognizes real. But I'm a daddy and I don't want my son or any kids listening to it. There is enough violence on TV and in the movies. I don't really think the kids need anything else negative fed into their minds and spirits. They need more love and positivity then anything.
Tell us about crafting and recording this new album?
This album has been a blast to work on. I even added an additional producer's flavor to spice up the pot a bit. There of course is production by DJ Slice of T.S.K. and Wok-G Major who is a silent member of T.S.K. and I have a track from the Crate Kickers own The Main Ingredient. What I wanted to achieve with this album was taking it back to the essence of Hip-Hop but not compromising the new school flavor at the same time. So it's like a blast from the past with a new twist. I've always had a DJ and I feel when making a Hip-Hop album, the DJ has to be just as instrumental as the MC. It was that very tandem that made me blackout over cats such as Cash and Marvelous, Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince, Freshco and Miz, Tat and The HTH and etc. So I took all of my influences, stirred them in a pot and fed it to Slice and I until we cooked up a masterpiece for the world to enjoy. We've got like 18-19 solid tracks plus a few skits to keep the album flowing in the right direction. This album has hype moments, laid back moments, conscious messages, club tracks and even music for tree burners!
Do you write your verses before or after you've heard the beat?
I actually prefer to write to the beat. When crafting music, I love to feel the music and try to become one with the beat so that it's like the perfect marriage of lyrics and beats combined. But don't get it twisted, I've taken some lyrics and dropped them to generic instrumentals, and Slice has snatched the beat out from under it and crafted monstrous melodies to compliment my vocals. Slice and I work well together because we respect each others talents and simply respect each other as a whole.
Do you have to be in a certain mood to write?
Absolutely not. Whether it's poetry, a short story or lyrics, I love to write! Writing helps me to release my inner feelings when I'm happy, it helps to release my anger and frustration when I'm pissed off. So to be honest, my various moods assist me with displaying the multiple sides of Darian The Great.
Do you listen to the radio?
Not that often. If I do turn on the radio, I'm listening to R&B and Old School. I love WDAS FM. When I do tune into Hip-Hop stations, it's the same old garbage being spewed into my eardrums. There are a few underground stations that dare to play outside of the payola DJ range and I can actually jam to those stations but they are few in numbers. The Philly scene could use a show like Cartel Radio of Delaware. Although there's a group in West Philly trying to create such a setup and I pray they stick to showcasing true artists and not this recycled crap on the airwaves now.
What are the last 5 albums you listened to?
Sean Price's -- Jesus Price Supastar
The Roots -- Rising Down
Ghostface Killah -- Big Doe Rehab
Jill Scott -- Collaborations
Joe Sample – Spellbound
I like to keep a variety of music in my truck. But these 5 get steady burn with the exception of DJ Slice's "Voices", AliMu's "What It Do" and my Israel Houghton Praise Mix CD.
Didn’t you go to church as a kid?
Of course I did. I've never stopped attending church. I was born into New Life Tabernacle Church founded and pastored by Rev. Wiley T. Hill, Sr. and I'm always going to be a part of New Life. Not to mention that the pastor of the church gave me life and taught me to be the man I am today. Thanks for all the love and guidance, Dad!
What do you listen for when you pop in a new album?
Originality first and foremost is what I'm checking for. I appreciate when an artist stays true to themselves and not try to conform to the norm. I listen for clear, concise lyrics. It's only right that I pay attention to what they're saying to receive the potential message or simply enjoy one of the artist's life lessons. Dope production is another thing I listen for. It's one thing to make a dope beat. And it's another for a song to be super-produced! When I hear good production, I feel the music that much more because the producer took the time to mesh both the lyrics and the music into the perfect musical marriage.
Check out www.myspace.com/thesoundbwoikillaz or www.myspace.com/darianthegreat1 to keep posted on shows and events.