Interview: DEC

Dialogue Elevaters Crew (Minneapolis)
Published in The Pulse of The Twin Cities
by Kandis Knight

Kandis: When did you guys start recording Elevater Music?

Geoffry: July 2003. It originally was going to showcase just myself and Ernie and be produced by Ernie and Dirk Diggs. DisputeOne was out of the country recording two 7-inches with Synoptic and didn’t have time to put forth. It all came together when we got five or six beats from Lazerbeak (Doomtree and Plastic Constellations). Lazerbeak is one of the best up-and-coming producers. Soon after that LastWord started backing us up. We wanted him to become a part of our crew. As soon as LastWord moved in we started hitting the studio two or three times a month.

Ernie: We became proactive instead of reactive as far as getting the project done.

LastWord: We did Transitional Grammar and Open Mic, the two I produced in late August. I was in the studio with them every week from then on.

Geoffry: Yep, at that point we decided we wanted LastWord to be the executive producer.; basically take over.

DisputeOne: Around that time the four of us had a conversation about being career musicians or doing hip-hop on the side. I wasn’t going to bring up the negative end of the conversation. We were finding out where everyone wanted to be and we asked everyone individually, “Do you want to be a career musician or are you just doing this to pass time?” One of our members told us he was just passing time. We made it plain and simple, no disrespect — he is still in the crew, but we are going to find someone who will do what we need to do to take us to the next level.

Geoffry: Just to clarify, our good friend Dirk Diggs was in school. He never had as much time as he wanted to devote to it. So when we all decided we wanted to be career musicians and basically be broke for a long time he was finishing school and trying to move to New York. He will always be an affiliate, a part of the crew.Kandis: What are your ages?

Ernie: Real old. Dispute and I are both 30, Geoffry is 26 and LastWord is 24. He is the youngster.

LastWord: Lloyd Banks!

Ernie: (Laughs). It puts us at an advantage because we have seen, done and heard a lot more hip-hop. We are a lot more objective when it comes to our creativity and business sense. We are going at it at a more mature and knowledgeable level and that is why we have been able to experience the growth we have. We know what to cut out versus what to keep. A lot of groups spend time figuring that out. We are still growing; we are just ahead of the game.

DisputeOne: Maturity and experience equals focus. When you are experienced in all levels of things, being life- and music-wise, it makes you focused. Everything is geared toward longevity.

Geoffry: What we do, we really like, and it is easy for all four of us to come together. This is not our only hustle. Ernie has a solo project. I do, too, DisputeOne has another group, and LastWord has a mix tape out and another group on the side called The Foolish Humans. We want to promote and grow Dialogue on many levels. We are trying to expose everyone to all of our stuff.

LastWord: Yes, Dialogue is the foundation or the cinderblock.

Ernie: Yes, we want DEC to be a reputable label putting out many artists and multiple projects successfully.Kandis: What are your personal definitions of Elevater Music?

Ernie: Elevation, taking it to the next level. How? That is different for all of us. We want to make music people love and can enjoy. It is about not being satisfied with what currently is. Then building off of that dissatisfaction. I am not saying there is not quality stuff out there, but as long as there is something I hear out there that rubs me the wrong way, that is going to push me harder to be a better writer, producer and businessman.

DisputeOne: I agree with Ernie, it is a project about more than just what you “bling” with or what your lady is like or what you’re driving on. This music is solely based upon memories, moments and experiences of each emcee.

Geoffry: I love listening to it when I am coming out of work. I know that my favorite song is in my deck and as soon as I start the ignition and that shit knocks, it will be good. When I hear a CD and it makes me feel that way, that is the kind of music I want to make.

LastWord: When I put the album together as a full album Elevater Music is about dialogue and the roots of dialogue. If you listen to the CD from the start to the beginning it tells the story of Dialogue Elevaters.

Kandis: What are your day jobs?

LastWord: I am a flight instructor, I teach people how to fly planes.

Geoffry: I am a banker, I work for Wells Fargo in the commercial appraisal office.

DisputeOne: Part-time I work at Walgreen’s on the weekend. I do the studio, Dirty Smarts, ten projects in one week Holla.

Ernie: I am a bar back at Figlio and I am a register aid/t-shirt folder at Urban Outfitters.

LastWord: He hangs out with young girls all day!

Kandis: That is why I always see him walking down the street with a big smile on his face! (Laughing)
Do people stereotype your crew or misunderstand what you do?

Ernie: There are a lot of people who know who we are but have not heard our music. Or they may have been to our shows. I don’t think we are misunderstood but there are a lot of people who do not know what we are up to. This project will help people get to know Dialogue Elevaters.

Geoffry: I think people see us, two brothas and two white dudes and think we do not look like a hip-hop group. People say, “I go to your website and you guys do not look like rappers”.

Ernie: Yeah, we look like were selling insurance and shit. I just think we are a mystery to some people.

Kandis: You guys rep the Twin Cities hardcore, do you get flack from that?

DisputeOne: I go way back with the local scene and now everyone is doing big things. If you didn’t represent this you would be doing a huge disservice to the scene because if Brooklyn didn’t represent Brooklyn and the dirty south didn’t represent the dirty south you’d have musical goulash. It is a culture; you have to represent.

LastWord: Why would you knock down the city that built you up?

Geoffry: I was in film school in California and there you’d have 30 guys fighting for a mic for 30 minutes. You got your mic and you got your beat and you can’t be picky about shit. You got to deliver or else someone is going to push your ass off the stage. Everybody out there has their own shit and no one is trying to work with outsiders. Here it is completely inverse. Atmosphere at the time was Slug and Eyedea and Abilities touring with The Living Legends, the first time they ever did a West Coast tour. Right before they put out Overcast and they were doing all of the Headshots tapes. I remember everyone was talking about the scene here and about how RSE was opening this store. One of my big reasons for moving back here was to do music here. What people don’t realize is we are a major market as far as independent music goes. True we are not like New York where you can walk downtown and into Sony and be like here is my demo. If you are doing music independently here you are in a major market. It is hard to go to another city and do that. I’ll rep Minnesota, Bloomington, Minneapolis and St. Paul until I die. I have nothing but love for Minnesota.

Kandis: What is going to go on your vinyl?LastWord: If you watch our shows we never use CDs. We have our own dub plates we always use records; no CD players. And one of the main reasons why is because I won’t work with them.

Ernie: Sometimes for a couple of songs you have no choice.

LastWord: I personally do not believe in getting up there with a CD player and hitting stop and play. You have a live band you have a drummer. Our singers are rappers and our band is a DJ with records. Standing behind the turntables while your CD is playing and scratching is not being a DJ in my opinion. We’ve always worked off vinyl. We know someone who can press dub plates for us. We have been discussing what to put on vinyl and we might just do three new songs for a 12-inch for next spring or summer. Maybe a song from the album will go on there. By that time, we will have three solo projects done — Geoffry’s, Ernie’s and Dispute’s.The very first copies of the CD will be available at our release party on Sunday, August 1st. The show will take place at The Dinkytowner in Minneapolis with special guest performers and DJs.For more information about Dialogue Elevaters visit their website.