OG Dutch Master: On Real Hip Hop, Being Part Of A Collective & Not Looking Cool
When I first stumbled across OG Dutch Master’s “PSA” video, I wasn’t sold. I caught wind of it in mid-summer, watched it a few times and it felt overhyped and a bit trendy. But at that time, I hadn’t fully dug into the 20-year-old’s brand. Since then, I’ve gradually gotten more and more hip to he and his 7th Floor Villains collective, who have a knack for making good posse cuts and really impressive, raw videos. His light, coarse delivery is cold and knifes its way through beats and he doesn’t sound out of place on anything he rhymes over. When the “PSA” buzz died down after a hard Chase N Cashe co-sign, OG started to regularly release material that got progressively better than the last offering. Determined to drop the stigma surrounding rappers coming out of Baltimore, he’s been on a relentless grind and has played multiple shows in Virginia, D.C., NYC and Philly. People along the East Coast are paying attention to what Dutchy has cooking and from the time I’ve spent around him over the past few months, he seems poised to rise to the occasion. During the coming weeks of his debut project release, Art Of War (which dropped last night), we spent some time talking about behind-the-scenes rap politics, the methods he uses to release material and his development as an artist. Check our convo:
Describe your journey as a rapper.
OG Dutch Master:When I first started I was on some OG hip-hop shit. I was 16 then and it was dope but niggas ain’t want that. And I wanted to go further so I changed up my style a lot from 16 to 17. From 17 to 18, I started developing into what I am now.
So you said you saw a difference in how people received you when you were doing “real” hip-hop. What was the difference?
OG: I appealed to the “real” hip-hop guys more at that time. But with that aesthetic, it’s cool, but music has grown since then and I changed because I wanted to be with where music is now. I don’t wanna sound like I’m rapping in the 90′s when I was born in the 90′s. I respect it, but even Jay isn’t rapping how he did on Reasonable Doubt.
Something you and the rest of the 7th Floor Villains do particularly well is present your work visually. What’s the overall vision you guys have when making a video? It feels really gritty and raw.
OG: It all depends on what individual it is from the group but usually, everyone has a vision for whatever song they have. It’s cool shit, overall. Like “Raw Dope”. It has a real concept. My favorite video from any of us is “Maggie Simpson” by DZ because it’s just like how we all would go to the store but it’s also modeled after the intro to a Simpsons episode. “PSA” didn’t have a specific vision because it was kind of rushed to be honest.
“PSA” was your most well-received video even though you said it was rushed. Isn’t that kind of funny that the video you put the least thought into caught the most fire?OG: Yeah, I think it’s hilarious. I don’t know, man. At the end of the day, niggas like it. That’s all I could hope for.
“I don’t wanna sound like I’m rapping in the 90′s when I was born in the 90′s”
You’ve been branching out a lot lately with doing shows in Philly, NYC and the DMV area. That’s not all that common for a Baltimore hip-hop artist so when did it click for you that it was necessary?
OG: It’s because I worked at local streetwear boutique, Pedx when I was younger. I learned the market and demographics of the culture there really well and it kinda blew my mind that no one here filled that streetwear-rap demographic so I took it upon myself. So with the knowledge and passion I had for the culture, I felt like, who better than me? Working there I noticed the connection between artists and brand sales, too. Like with Curren$y and Diamond Supply Co., A$AP Rocky and Black Scale, Odd Future and Supreme.
Baltimore rappers from older generations sometimes felt that saying they were from Baltimore was a taboo. Something that seems to be in your favor, though, is that not a lot of outside eyes seem to be on Baltimore and you can, in some ways, structure an image of the city.
OG: I feel like I do have a chance to structure how people view it. I say that because the small circles I’ve started to enter in the rap scene don’t have any other Baltimore artists in them that can still cater to the same demographics. I’ve formatted how I’m gonna go about these moves because it’s not just rap music; it’s a bunch of other shit that goes into all this.
What percentage of a rapper breaking through and being captivating is their actual music?
OG: 50% is the music and the other 50% is a bunch of bullshit. You feel me? It’s a whole lot of behind the scenes bullshit.
Do you not like that aspect of it?
OG: I mean, it’s real. It’s millions of people out here putting out rap music. Niggas aint hearing that shit everyday. But it depends on where you are in your career. The closer you are to the bottom of totem pole, the less the actual rap matters. Don’t get me wrong, it still has to be good, but it’s more about your hustle and work ethic. It’s not about looking cool and shit. Fuck looking cool.
What are the benefits of being part of a collective?
OG: The benefit is that we’re all here and they’re all my niggas. Everybody has a goal in mind and we all work hard towards it. Also, just having that support behind you really helps.
Do you feel that you’re the person thats gonna open the door for the group or could it be anyone?
OG: It can be any of us.
Is there a certain scene you envision Baltimore having? Like, what do you want people to expect when they come here for a show?
OG: I like performing and I do good shows. I want people to be pleased when they see me perform. Seriously, everybody performs the same and I do it differently. I view myself as an artist so I take this shit seriously.
How will Art Of War differ from the music you’ve had out thus far?
OG: Every project I do will be different. That’s how I want it to be. I wanna make good music. Like have my shit played in a fast food restaurant in 15 years (laughs).
How’d that awful XXL list on Baltimore rap make you feel?
OG: It’s fucked up. They are fucking up! Their writers are shit and they’re old. I’m not gonna lie, I was tight.
Listen to OG Dutch Master’s Art Of War and download it here :