Ok, first things first....we need you to REP YOUR SET. Tell us where you're from and where you reside?
I'm From Enfield, NC. On MLK. That's the Southside.
At what age did you start rapping?
I was about 15 when I started. I really didn't go hard until I was 18.
Have you always taken rap seriously or did you ever want to be in another profession when you were growing up?
Yeah....I always took it serious but it was sort of a hobby at first. It was mostly a popularity thing when I first started. I was just doing it for my guys back then. From that it got bigger and then I became the voice of the streets.
How did you get the name Derty Den?
Haha...it's actually kind of funny. My name is Dennis so that's how I got Den. I got "Derty" because of my sandy red hair. The old folks used to also say I always had a dirty mouth so I just got creative and put a "E" in the place of the "I" and there you have it....Derty Den.
Your nickname is "Big Gates". How did you get that nickname?
YES!! I got it from my guys in the streets. I'm a hustler from Enfield. Whether its gambling, selling drugs, clothes or whatever it may be I do it. Also I got that nickname from the Enfield Streets Gates plus I have always been a big guy. It adds up.
With a name like Derty Den we'd expect you to have a really southern sound to your music but instead you have a heavy east coast sound . Why is that?
Its the type of influence that I had coming up and the type of music that I listen to. My whole aim is to have a conversation with the listeners
A lot of artists from eastern NC have a very east coast sound to their music but the rest of NC doesn't. What do you feel has attributed to that?
Think about it, everybody in NC is from everywhere else. Mostly up top. The state is diverse so the music is gonna be diverse too.
You've won numerous awards and been featured on a ton websites that are based in NY and in the surrounding area. Do you feel you get more love up top than you do in the Carolinas?
From a Fans point of view I feel it's about the same. The streets are buzzin and the supporters and fans all over go crazy for me. It's just that the media in NYC is heavier than in NC so it appears that way. But it's all love at the end of the day so I'll take it no matter where it comes from.
Last year you were in talks with quite a few labels. Why did you choose not to sign a deal?
The numbers and situations gotta make sense on both ends. My big homey Rikers always says good things come to those who wait and thank God those many labels are still interested because they see the boy is still moving 100MPH. The question was, was I going to be able to do the music the fans know me for? So I didn't want to partner with someone who wanted to totally remove me from the streets.
You have a heavy street buzz but haven't had a radio hit yet. Are you purposely trying to establish yourself in the streets before you go to radio or are you just not interested in making radio friendly music right now?
Haha.....good question, it's all about timing. I actually had great success with the record "Poppin", it received a lot of radio support globally and I'm sittin' on a few radio bangers, but right now being in this environment I have to do what works better for me. Currently that is to bubble the streets with heavy street anthems like "I See Paper" and "Hey Shawty". I made them for the streets and the DJs are now like "I need them joints". It works also because all of my shows are packed off my internet and street buzz. It puts me in my own lane. People are trying too hard to make radio hits and they they forget you're suppose to make the hits for the fans.
You've been talking about this "Black Cak" movement all over Twitter and Face Book lately. Explain what that is?
Its simple, "Black Cak" means "Each One, Teach One". A lot of artists in the Carolinas really don't understand the way the industry operates and I have been blessed to be around good individuals that share jewels with me. I feel it's my obligation to share that knowledge with the other artist and industry heads. What I have learned is to understand how this industry operates. BlackCak: "Each One, Teach One".
Your crew is known for going places and screaming "EVERYBODY WORKING" at the top of their lungs. It was the title of a song you did but it has since become a motto for the NC music community. Did you set out for that to happen or were just promoting the single and the saying grew legs of its own?
Both... It started as a slogan and a form of motivation to build a strong foundation. That's how the song came about. I didn't want to shout Carolina unity and not be doing anything about it so we built up our foundation because "Everybody Workin" means "Progression". It also had something to do with Riggs Morales of Shady Records. Last year he threw some challenges at me, I took them and ran with it...haha. A year later, Carolina is united, Everybody Workin and we're moving foward. Black Cak.
You work with a lot of Carolina artists. Besides yourself, who are some of the Carolina emcees you've enjoyed working with the most?
I've enjoyed working with them all honestly or I'd never done the records. But outside of my team I've really enjoyed workin with Shelly B, J. Cole, Mica Swain, King Carter and mostly Moe Diamondz (yummi yummi...lol).
You've worked with a lot of Carolina artists, but not a lot of Carolina DJs. Do you plan on dropping a mixtape with DJ Chuck T, DJ Barry Bee or DJ E-Sudd soon?
I dropped a mixtape with Dj Ike Gda last year and my first mainstream mixtape was with Dj Skillz but yea I am most definitely excited about doing a mixtape with Dj Chuck T, Dj Barry Bee and Dj E Sudd in 2011 (hint hint)!!! But I want to make sure my team is super tight knit so when something is done, we'd be on the Astro Train to Saturn (lol). We were there over the summer, just had crazy commitments to finish, but it's time for that joint to kick off 2011.
NC based producer, Manifest, does a lot of your production. The musical chemistry the two of you have is magical. Do you see yourself working with any other producers in the Carolinas? If so, who would you like to work with?
Well, I have worked with a lot of great producers in NC like Black Jeruz, Ski Beatz, Gav Beats. Me and Manifest are like Snoop and Dre, but yea I would love to work with Mike Blaze, Sun Rize and K Figz. I love different sounding beats like beats filled with life, so I'm looking forward to working with all of them soon.
Most Carolina artists have their own opinion as to why we're not a prominent area in the music business. What's your personal opinion as to why the Carolinas aren't as big in the industry as Georgia, NY or Texas?
In my opinion, it's the relationship within the Carolina industry itself. We can't wait for anybody to give us anything, we gotta get out there and get it. We as artists, djs and promotors have to have a better relationship with each other and understand that this is a business and not a "get along gang". For example, J.Cole shouldn't of felt like he had to run to NY to get a situation. That's great he got his education while he was there but at that time the unity wasn't there. Things have definitely improved here heavily thanks to cats like Chuck T, Ike G Da, Ski, Sudds, Bigg B, Tap Money, Waled, Duncan Hines, Wet Set, JKnow and others who provide a bridge from the artists to the fans. The bridge is there, "Everybody Workin" and its time to dominate.
You're one of the few artists in the Carolinas who have an endorsement deal. How did you land a sponsorship with Stall & Dean?
Working hard and being in the right place at the right time. I actually also have Flud watch, Rucker Basketball, (I wrote their theme song) and TROOP by Nelly on board as sponsors too. They see the value of our market and Carolina artists in general. Artists also have to understand branding and see themselves not just as an artist but as a product people can trust. In North Carolina we have over eight major colleges such as UNC, A&T, Duke, etc. We also have three professional sports franchises and a couple of the strongest cities in the USA such as Raleigh and Charlotte. The sponsors continue to support me because they know I'm working hard and I do it for the fans. We're also in a very serious market.
You've released a slew of mixtapes over the last 2 years. What's next on your agenda?
More music, more shows, more situations and the debut album "No Pain/ No Gain" which is to be released under my label GDA Music.
Last but not least, being that you're from Enfield do you own an Enfield rifle (LOL)?
Haha.....that's funny because have two of those. They are my prized possessions!
But it's even funnier that you asked that. Not a lot of readers know Enfield's history.