David Dallas is retiring from rap tomorrow. You know how I know? He told me so over a cup of coffee he desperately needed while neck-deep in a 48-show, three-month tour with Aer and Yonas; a whirlwind trek that, to him, felt like President Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s just-concluded–albeit never-ending–presidential campaigns.
He explained the whole touring experience in a small coffeehouse in Seattle – a city that’s as close to his native New Zealand in terms of weather and scenery but still a world away. His one word to describe it all: surreal.
“There are certain things, you’re familiar with them because it’s sh*t that I’ve seen on TV because we grew up with American media,” Dallas explained. “Like the way kids will act toward their parents, stuff like that, kind of makes me laugh. College bros, it’s the kind of things that you’ve seen on sitcoms, and it’s actually like that.”
One major reason Dallas is even able to tour in the states is his added popularity thanks to his odd couple collaboration with Gary, Indiana’s own Freddie Gibbs, “Caught In A Daze.” The duet came together when a mutual friend of both Gibbs and Dallas’s manager brought them together.
“I had been listening to “Boxframe Cadillac,” and I was kind of like, What can I get this guy on, because I’m like this random New Zealand guy, and this guy is this super G dude?” David recalled. A basic loop of horns, his verses, and the hook to “Caught In A Daze” were sent over to Gibbs, who promptly returned his verse. The rest is history, with live instrumentation, guitars, bass, and keys adding to the mix.
“I figured, if we were going to have Freddie Gibbs [in the video] and it was going to have American imagery, I wanted to show some New Zealand footage, but the funny thing is, people still think that the stuff in New Zealand is in LA, and I’m like, ‘Nah’.”
Before long, since all-age shows start notoriously early, we settled into The Buffalo Man EP, David’s recent collection of tunes that was inspired by British rock band Jamiroquai.
His last video, “Ever Get The Feeling,” canned New Zealand’s breath-taking scenery with a remote controlled flying camera, an homage to a man’s home he’s left indefinitely to ply his trade as a Hip-Hop artist. Though indicative to the project as a whole, David explained, “that song in particular is definitely a throwback more to what [I] used to do [with my old group, Frontline], because it was aggressive and darker.” That murkiness might throw off American fans, but it’s all gravy for his fans back home who are used to David’s in-your-face rhyming days in his former Hip-Hop group.
Dallas credits that aesthetic transition back to his early roots solely to his longtime production partners, Fire & Ice, who lead David away from the halcyon sound of his Rose Tint EP.
“Because we were taking Jamiroquai’s music, that kind of dictated everything,” he explained. “It was the stuff that Fire & Ice chose to sample, [and] I was just kind of like this is what they’ve chosen to do, this is the realm that I’m working in.”
While being on the road afforded him the perfect opportunity to meet new fans, and perform his newer, rawer material, David Dallas still maintains one answer when asked about what’s next.
“Nothing. I’m quitting tomorrow,” Dallas quips, before we both burst into laughter.
He’s joking. I think.
“I just want to do an acoustic video for this song called ‘Spend A Lifetime,’ which is on Buffalo Man, and features Daniel Merriweather,” he said. “So we’re trying to line that up, but getting me and Daniel in the same place will be tough.”
Or perhaps it wasn’t as tough to assemble as he thought. Here are Daniel and David in a studio when a Kiwi and an Aussie were both in LA, performing the heartfelt song, precisely how David envisioned it.