Phoenix Rapper Dadadoh on Why Honesty Is Best in Hip-Hop
Frank C. Photography
After his band broke up in Virginia, Bryan Preston, better known as Dadadoh, wasn't sure what to do with himself. After visiting the Valley in July 2009, he decided to move to Tempe, despite not knowing anyone. He's been here ever since.
Yet for the next two years, Dadadoh avoided music, which is odd considering how much of a presence he's had on the local scene lately. He's unofficially helped organize Parliament shows, played djembe in Naked Pizza, rapped over Bacchus and the Demon Sluts' instrumental funk jams at Crescent Ballroom, and hosted Before the Show Live, a video series showcasing local bands like Sister Lip and Nomada. He's also produced a number of local albums, with two more on the way -- Suber's tentatively titled My Friend Suber and Mr. Uu's Chicken and Bread EP. And that's not even half of what Dadadoh has been up to.
But it's in his own music when the rapper and producer gets his most raw. Last February, Dadadoh released Guerilla, his debut on his label TVLiFE and a highly personal album that champions a DIY lifestyle. "Steady Workin'" has a Tyler, The Creator feel, while "Give You the World" is a romantic ballad akin to Childish Gambino's, but it's really the samples -- snippets of conversations and strange radio broadcasts -- that tie it together.
"A couple labels actually wanted to me to give them that record, but they wanted me to re-record it, and it's got my uncle on it; it's got my dad. It's like my most personal project I've ever made," Dadadoh tells me at a downtown coffee shop. "It's crazy because the thing I'm working on now, I'm trying to get even more honest. Which is weird 'cuz that means you're going to tell a lot of things that are embarrassing almost, things my mother may not want to hear."
Infernal, that upcoming album (he's hoping for an October 31 release) highlights "Not the Father feat. Flinner," which describes the time Dadadoh had to prove a paternity test negative. As the song title suggests, it includes samples from the popular TV show Maury. But just because Dadadoh is working his ass off doesn't mean he isn't critical of the local music scene.
"What really makes me upset is bands who don't care about their fans. They don't make enough merch; they don't try to switch up their shows," Dadadoh says. "Use the things around you. You can reach out to anybody for anything, if you are willing to work for it."
When it comes to the recent rash of venue closures in the Valley -- including Long Wong's, Hidden House, and Sail Inn, to name a few -- Dadadoh blames a lack of promotion and poor relationships with artists. Specifically, he says, by not inviting new artists, not paying artists -- or even worse, pay-to-play gigs -- some venues shot themselves in the foot.
"We give you 200 tickets and whatever you don't sell, you gotta buy? I've never done a show like that and I never will," Dadadoh says. "Not inviting new people, not paying people, and the ticket sales thing is what jacks up your business. A lot of venues never promoted."
Most of all, Dadadoh describes himself as a proponent of what he calls "evolution." He's talking about Drunk and Horny's fecal-scented scratch 'n' sniff vinyls, Rubber Brother and other labels that release cassettes, and even HotRock SupaJoint's double iPad setup.
"That stuff pushes me," Dadadoh says. "I don't feel like nothing is dying. Everything's evolving and that excites me. I truly believe in things getting better."
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