D-Stroy is forging new ground as a soloist. While his new single off of Matador Records, “Roll Out”, has been number one on CMJ, he has plans to do much more including expanding his fan based Pyrobots Movement, test the limits on his imagination with upcoming projects and finally re-establish himself as a solo artist outside of the Arsonists collective.
In a past interview Freestyle gave his thoughts on the Arsonists split, naming you as the catalyst. However, it’s always necessary to hear both sides, so what is your perspective on why the breakup happened?
We were doing a lot of touring and that shit works on a person. Even though we were still working together people were becoming somewhat secluded. Everyone was trying to make it happen but it became a difficult thing halfway through the tour. Then Freestyle was like he couldn’t fuck wit it no more and I started looking at it like everyone is beefing and we ain’t even that blown up yet. We were doing well and had a good buzz and fan base, but it didn’t make sense to be beefing like that. I was already working on my solo stuff but not to the extreme level that I am now, so I just told everyone I’m gonna do that. I still wanted to do the Arsonists shit, but I felt the solo work would give me something else to concentrate on instead of constantly dealing with the issues of the group. Some people were with it and some weren’t. At the end of the day we had a studio session so I could record one of my joints and they said we think you’ll be better off if you do your own thing. I was confident in my solo work and I didn’t find it necessary to get all emotional about it.
Do you feel that your going solo was the best thing and can the Arsonists be successful in the future without you and Freestyle?
You have to be positive because when we were all young this was something we all wanted. I’m not gonna say I don’t want the Arsonists to be successful and then another MC that isn’t as nice get light that they don’t deserve. We all worked hard and I hope success for them. You’ll realize what’s missing when the new album comes out, but that’s just the direction their going in now because they can’t be Freestyle or D-Stroy, but they can be themselves. Much success to them and Freestyle in his future endeavors. As far as myself I’m comfortable. Whether it was a good thing, I’d have to say the way it happened wasn’t the best. I wish dudes were cool and Freestyle or me still had some involvement with Arsonists as far as beat wise. I emailed Freestyle saying let’s just put whatever was said behind us and move on and continue to be successful. I’ve talked to Q-Unique a lot about the situation so it worked out in the end.
Let’s move on to the solo stuff. I know you have the single “Roll Out” right now and you started what you call the Pyrobots movement. What’s the movement about and what type of people are you looking for to be apart of it?
Pyrobots is a bunch of dudes who feel like they need to communicate with heads that don’t understand them. They are into the hip hop movement, don’t have much of an outlet where their from and love to rhyme and freestyle. Even if they aren’t any of the above they enjoy themselves. Lets say I’m in Boston doing a tour and someone out there contacted me through Pyrobots and we always kicked it, that’s the first person I call and we’ll chill. He can tell me what’s popping there and if they visit NY I make sure we hang out, promote, and hit up different events and clubs.
That’s real hands on with the fans.
Yeah definitely, even with my own career. I’m happy about it because this is how I’ve been doing it all the time, but now its getting crazy. I manage my shit with Seth Dawg @ Fridge Magazine, Graham @ Rawkus we Play Big, setting up these interviews, merchandising, clothing sponsorship, modeling, record deal, getting off the label and even Pyrobots help. It’s a lot to do and still be a father to my rockwilder Romeo.
Where are you right now as far as where you are aiming to be in Hiphop?
I’m aiight. I’m not where I want to be at all. I’ll never say I’m at my prime. I got #1 on CMJ (College Music Journal), which is a big thing for heads, and I enjoyed it, but I want to do more than CMJ. I didn’t come here to get signed to Matador and the only way we’re making money is by doing a billion shows. It’s cool to see the Pyrobots that love you but I’m trying to have a career and not just a hobby where I have to stand outside of Fat Beats to sell my CD.
You’ve expanded the repertoire outside of emceeing and beat making to involve modeling and hosting shows. With the amount of work revolving around your music how much involvement will you continue to have in those ventures?
I’m gonna still continue, I like doing it. The whole scheme on the hosting is that if I perform I’m on stage for about 30 min or so, but if I’m hosting, I’m there beginning to end repeating cop that D-Stroy shit. If not I’m at least giving you a character you can enjoy and I get to be more hands on with people. I definitely try to do more than the emceeing. Yesterday I wrote from midnight-5am, got some sleep and did business the rest of the day. I really won’t stop doing the business aspect.
I’m assuming promoters have approached you about hosting but how did you get into the modeling field?
The modeling came after I did this one porno and people was like damn!
Promoters don’t really come up to me for shit I really have to pimp it. I gotta call them to get things like Tableturns and Rock Steady. It’s mainly from me hustling and calling everyone that has any type of involvement in the event to get it. With the modeling when I was young and performing this one photographer was taking pics for this magazine called Beatdown and they used me for a fashion spread. From that same shoot I got a job with G-Shock. Everything from there just picked up so I used it like I’m Tyson from fucking Polo. I just do it to be out there.
So it’s not like you have a secret passion to be a model.
That’s some other funny ass shit. I ain’t on no flower pot shit. I do my own thing. I see an opportunity to get into a mag and stand next to some fly chicks and its all good.
Your production has a distinct sound where you use a lot of funny samples. Are you going to try to vary up the type of production on your upcoming singles?
I kinda paused on producing for my own shit. Even heads from Arsonists think I should produce my own music, but I know there are a lot of hungry kids out there who have some good shit. I get a whole bunch of numbers, call kids or check kids online and have them send me a CD. I get tons of beats, I probably like 1 out of ever hundred CDs. With “Roll Out” I want kids to see that I’m still keeping the vibe of the whole cartoon shit, ’cause I like that, but I don’t want it to sound too childish where heads are like ‘this kid is on some fucking Smurf shit’. Musically I love to put some funny shit in there to show my sense of humor. I’ve grown a lot from when I was young sounding hardcore to being myself on music.
What’s the time frame for an album and what are some things your looking to experiment on as far as style of music?
I’m an open cat. I’m not an emcee, I don’t rap, I’m an artist. I enjoy being able to do a song with Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine and do some crazy sounding stuff to Atari Teenage Riot from Germany and even rhyming with heads that don’t speak English. I’m happy to say I’ve had the opportunity to do those things. With my own material, as far as concepts, I want to bring some humorous stuff and some cartoon shit. With the Pyrobots I want it to be similar to the Transformers. There were a lot of characters in the crew and they all played a part. If it happens we have a dude from Cali that rhymes and wants to fuck with Pyrobots he can get at me and send me some shit. With people like Great Scott we just trying to make shit organized so we all have something we belong to. As far as being experimental, everyday I write something I want to be creative. That’s what I’m hungry for. As an emcee kids don’t necessarily mean what they say these days. They are talking, but I want to rhyme and flow, have an angle, and character, and that’s what I’m doing.
Now that you have creative control are you looking to have one big conceptual album or will you just show as many different styles as possible?
I’m fucking bugged so I know the first shit will start with me snuffing a lil kid and then going into a song or me at a zoo fingering a monkey and then another song. I don’t know the direction I’m going into but I’m going to make it interesting where it’s a storybook showing different angles of this kid so you can close your eyes and imagine it.
What is up with the Transformers fixation by the way?
I was that kid. I watched WWF back when Tito Santana was there. I watched Frogger, Pac Man, and all those cartoons and there are kids my age who remember that shit but they are so into music talking about wilding that they don’t acknowledge they were some humorous cats at one time and they laughed at Darkwing Duck and shit like that.
It’s a whole vibe. I’m not out there to be on some clown shit but there were a lot of good concepts in cartoons, they had good and bad and people that dominated etc.
Do you think you will run into any licensing problems with the logos as you get more attention?
If you look at it it’s different and has its own style, which is a great thing because you sill can associate it back to that original look. It’s just like how you associated the Arsonists album title with ‘As the World Turns’. I see it as a way to show a visual side because its better than having a nigga’s grill on it looking all hard or some chick with some big Jane Fonda glasses.
You could throw some modeling pics on there.
The next cover is bandanas. It’s definitely sick. It’s called “The Matador” that’s coming out August 14th. The b-side is “Vitamin D”. I made that song when I was with Tony Touch.
I heard your also in negotiations with Rawkus to release a single is that still in the works?
When I left Arsonists I went looking for a better situation because I wasn’t so comfortable with Matador. Then Matador found out and told me I had to hold up because I still had a contract with them. So I gave them 2 singles and they are gonna let me move on. I want to establish that I’m not stuck on Matador. The Rawkus shit was something that started on Message Boards but is still possible. I’m a free agent and im up for working with any label who could do more for the career, but I’m making sure that everything is airtight first.
Have you ever thought about bringing some established European MCs to shine on the album speaking different languages?
It bothers me because I thought of lot of shit for Arsonists, but everyone was so busy bickering that nothing ever happened. I thought doing a song called “On Location”. We were always in Europe recording with German and French niggas but it never came up. Now that happened, last time I went out there I recorded some tracks in Denmark and Norway. I want to do that but I don’t think America is ready. MC Solaar didn’t really pop out here but he is the shit out there. They want to give me an opportunity to do an EP and I’m not too keen on that. If it happens I have tracks I’ve done with Tony Touch, Mass Influence, High and Mighty, J-live and even some Arsonists shit that I can throw on there but that’s not really the direction I want to go in as a soloist. I want to be wilder. It’s a new day and age. I’m not with four other dudes anymore so I don’t have to worry about saying things they might find offensive or don’t represent. Now I can do my own thing.
The single has been out for a little over month now how has the response been?
It’s good. I’ve been # 1 at CMJ, Undergroundhiphop.com, and its selling well. It knocked out Hi-Tek’s album and that’s a good album so I’m happy about that. It stood up on CMJ for a while and that’s something that made Rawkus say you gotta pay attention to this kid. The highest we ever got on CMJ as a group was # 9 and as a soloist I’ve achieved #1 so that is a big accomplishment.
Is it more or less of what you expected?
I know the limitations of this record label so I didn’t expect it to go gold or to get a video out of it or something like that. Everyday I’m up here making sure shit happens while they do shit at their leisure. I make sure I’m at all the events and say my name out loud when there is no sound in the club. I speak up, I’m not one of them quiet niggas. I even got other rappers, I’m not gonna say names, that say ‘do my shit for me’, but I’m hungry for my fucking self.
So you’re no ghostwriter, huh?
Nah I’m not doing that.
I’ve heard some crazy stories about your tours overseas…
It’s the best. Everybody in America that has ever paid a few dollars to go to an event and stand against the wall you are so fucking dumb. Use your money for something else, buy a fucking yo-yo. If you go to an event enjoy yourself. I’m still a fan of hiphop, I go to events and look at niggas perform and if it’s hot I give it love. I’m tight with money so I’m gonna definitely go all out. When you go to Europe them cats don’t even know what you’re saying but their ready to go beat up everybody for you.
That’s a beautiful thing, I’ve jumped into the crowd with just my boxers on. It’s the energy that’s in there. I’ve gone onstage and done some crazy shit with motorcycles but that’s only inspired by the crowd that’s there. The artists and the crowd are the show, it’s not just the artist. We are all part of the show. Cats don’t even acknowledge us in Kentucky but they go wild in Turkey. It’s crazy. In Europe we had our own segment on MTV and I was the poster boy for a large radio station and it was in all the mags and they made posters of a pic with me holding headphones in a tank top. I was hyped about that.
Do you get pissed off that you have to come back here and push records while over there it’s way more appreciated?
Nah because the people I grew up with are all here and I want to be looked at as someone who did something. If it counts for anything in New York at least younger kids or those same people can look at me like I went to school with him and I’m over here all fucked up. You can get your shit together and stay focused. I can be the man over there but when you come back here you feel like toast. You want to make sure shit is popping everywhere. Then again this is your career and nobody is gonna do it for you but you. That’s why I’m up here at Matador every other day making sure nothing is in my mailbox, that the publicist made a new call, that the charts are right, that the artwork is correct, the stickers came in, that I got the Pyrobots laced, and that I’ve called up some Pyrobots and some merchandise companies. I do everything I have to because this is my career and not some shit I just do to keep me busy.
I’m guessing you’ve never come to a point where you even thought about not making music anymore.
Nah I have not come to that. I don’t appreciate kids who do this as a hobby but they’re not really serious about it because there just taking a slot of another nigga who is probably hungry as hell. I look at heads like Marvin Gaye, Selina, and Big Pun whose lives were cut short and take the energy and live the extra years for them.
You started performing at a very early age and joined up with Tony Touch. How important was that early success to your career?
That’s the reason I won’t stop. At 16 I was already opening for Craig Mack when he had “Flava in Your Ear”, Naughty by Nature, Bush Babies, Run DMC etc. in places like Boston, Orlando, and Puerto Rico with Tony Touch. I didn’t even have a record deal. I was still in high school and I didn’t even have a demo I was just doing mixtapes. I would get onstage do all these mixtape shits and that was the show. Seeing all that at 16 I was already like I can do this and enjoy myself. I was fed the good shit when I was young with Tony and with Arsonists and now by myself. I’m not where I want to be as we discussed in the beginning, but it’s a comfortable place.
While I was writing up these questions on the train I passed by a lot of tagged up walls and trains with some pretty ill work. It seems most people look at it negatively and graffiti is the least appreciated element of hiphop. Why do you think that it that it doesn’t get more positive light?
Their outlet was a notebook. They had to show everybody the book to see that they were nice. Then they said lets do trains because the trains got around the city so that was hot. They shut down the trains, they did all the handball courts and different walls and they shut that down too. Then PNB came and Mark Echo started his own shit and they do their graffiti on clothes now, but that means there aren’t a lot of outlets for these dudes. The best thing now is that at some hip hop events they have an artist graf as the show is going on. They give him a spotlight and a big canvas to do a piece so he is kinda inspired by the vibe of the show but how many other graf artists are at that same event that you don’t even know. It’s not a big outlet for them. As far as it being the least acknowledged element I see it at a lot of events, they have a bunch of videos out there so it still exists and niggas be doing some amazing shit that I’m happy to have seen. Most kids don’t see that they usually just deal with the little stickman and shit like ‘Devin the killer was here’.
Niggas in Europe are nice. The artwork in the album was cats who just loved our shit. There is a train line in Germany near Berlin that’s crazy. It’s like old school NYC. The skate parks are bombed and there are so many walls with stuff. That’s fucking amazing.
What do you think is the most important thing you will gain through your hiphop success?
Fucking bitches, nah the greatest thing is that I’m doing what I want to do and the art direction is the way I planned. This is a dream my parents had. My father was playing music for years, he was in a billion bands and my mother was singing like crazy but they were never able to do a record. When they had kids they couldn’t focus on doing music seriously so I’m living their dream and I’m happy to be able to do that.
What’s the premise of your next single coming out?
The next single is called “The Matador”, but it’s not about the record label. It’s about dealing with bullshit. The cover to the next single is bandanas and the b-side is “Vitamin D” which is a track I did with Tony Touch, Arsonists, and now as a soloist. I changed up the beats and lyrics in all 3 and if I put out a CD ill put snippets of the other 2 so you can see a time change and the way the flow evolved.
Do you think it will be hard for fans to look at you as a solo artist and not just the guy who used to be in Arsonists?
Yo nigga for real man. I am online under aliases and yesterday this kid mentioned all these MCs he thought was dope and he said Arsonists. I asked what about D-Stroy and he was like ‘I still consider him Arsonists’ and that shit sucks because even when your in a group you want to be acknowledged for your heart, blood sweat, and tears that you put into it. I guess when their album comes out and my shit is out you’ll notice the difference and maybe that might change heads and be like ‘D-Stroy is good’. I’m on a whole new mission to get dudes who don’t know who or what were the Arsonists.
Any parting words.
Catch me at Pyrobots@aol.com. Peep the single August 14th and at RockSteady Anniversary I’m hosting.