Dana Dane Dana Dane with Fame was one of the great MC’s that rapped about stories and situations. With CLASSIC material such as Cinderfella Dana Dane, Delancy Street, and of course Nightmares, Dana solidified himself as a hip-hop legend. Now with his own morning radio show on Sirius Satellite, Dana still haunts the airwaves, but this time without Anita the Beast!
Interview by Rob Schwartz
WHO?MAG: As an MC who put a serious dent in hip-hop, what do you see is the biggest change in rap over the last 10 years? DANA DANE: The biggest change of rap over the past 10 years is that rap is becoming more independent and artists are making more money. A lot of artists are taking the production and the distribution of records into their own hands. Of course with the new technology nowadays, you can burn your own CD’s and throw in a flyer. Before it was harder with the wax, now it’s really easy to duplicate and put your material out.
WHO?MAG: As far as lyrics, you were one of the main story tellers in hip-hop history. Do feel this art will ever come back? DANA DANE: I don’t think it really left. Biggie was a big component of keeping it alive as well as Eminem right now. Jay-Z on his last album hit on it for the first time with 99 Problems, but I don’t think it’s an art form that will ever die. It’s part of the game. I think a lot of people don’t do it because in performances, it really doesn’t play over as well and the abstract type lyrical songs. Especially a song where you can do a medley of a song, because a lot of time you don’t get to hear the whole song. My stories are different because they are from beginning to end for the most part so when you start a song, you have to finish it.
WHO?MAG: If you could, what would you change about the rap industry today? DANA DANE: You know the other day I heard Mister Cee ask that question and a lot of people said a lot of different things. The biggest thing that they said was that hit hardest for me was “Bring back Jam Master Jay, Biggie, Freaky Tah, Tupac, and Big Pun.” Bring back all the people we lost to hip-hop through violence and other circumstances. Those guys need to come back. We need them. They were great artists. For the business aspect of it all, I would like to see some of the classic hip-hop heads get more industry positions like the Kool Herc’s and the Grand Master Flash’s to be a part of the actual creation of A&R and have them working at the record labels to some extent.
WHO?MAG: Do you feel that the younger generation of hip-hop listeners are giving the proper respect to the hip-hop legends? DANA DANE: For a while it seemed like no. It seems like it is coming around because when I’m out in the street I hear a lot of people between 20 and 30 talking about how they really don’t feel what hip-hop is giving them right now and love what we used to do back then. We have so far embraced in hip-hop everything from all types of music and language. It seems like the only thing we haven’t embraced is the classic hip-hop and that is coming around right now. Give opportunities for the Melle Mel’s, the Grandmaster Flash’s, the Scorpio’s, The Crash Crew’s and The Cold Crush’s to go out and tour and make some money.
WHO?MAG: As far as radio, you are a radio personality on Sirius Satellite which offers 24 hour classic hip-hop station called Backspin 43. Do you feel this helps bridge the gap between generations? DANA DANE: Absolutely. Sirius Satellite is now being placed in al the cars, in the households. It gives a younger generation to listen to the music right now and show them that these are the guys who started hip-hop. It’s great for people to listen without all the hoopla around it and be proud. It’s a great opportunity to bridge the gap between generations.
WHO?MAG: Do you feel that free radio will ever phase out do the increase of subscribers to satellite radio? DANA DANE: It’s like TV. We have satellite and cable. Even though a lot of people have cable, everyone still has the channel 4, channel 9, and channel 11 that we won’t get rid of because it has some of the programming that we like. Sometimes having the commercials are good on TV. That’s why I don’t ever seeing the phase out of FM or AM radio because they still have a lot of good talk and music programs. Also, variety makes everything good. Also everyone is not going to be able to afford to get subscription radio. Even though I don’t listen to free radio any more because they play the same music over and over and there is a lot of politics behind it and payola, they don’t play any of the classics. Most stations across the country may have a half hour of classic hip-hop showcase in the middle of the day and maybe in the middle of the night.
WHO?MAG: Recently you dropped Dana Dane and the Great Unknowns where you gave upcoming artist a spot to shine. What advice can you give upcoming artist trying to get recognized? DANA DANE: You really have to believe in yourself. Believe that you have the opportunity to make it happen and don’t let anyone tell you it can’t happen for you. The most part is the amount of networking. The game is all about relationships. Most of the people got record deals in the past based off a relationship with someone who could help them out. It’s also about taking your career and your life in your own hands and having the opportunity for people to hear your music. If you really want to get out there you have to do whatever it takes just like Too Short did back in the days when he sold out the back of his truck. If you think you have a great product, go out there with your boom box and play it on the street. Before you know it, you’ll have 200, 300, 500 people in a fan base & keep selling to those people. Make sure to keep a contact list of those people you sell records to so when you have the next product out, they have the opportunity to buy it again
WHO?MAG: What do you feel was the biggest factor in the evolution of hip-hop? DANA DANE: I’m not really sure. The newer generation has been very imaginative and reinvented it. And if hip-hop goes in a cycle and comes around full circle, then they will reinvent hip-hop again. Hip-hop has had many stages. It was in the R&B phase, now it’s in the crunk stage. The crunk stage is like a reinvention of the Miami Bass sound. I feel it going into a rock phase as well. Also, everything doesn’t have to be about partying and shaking your butt. Adults are more talking about children and the ups and downs of life. It keeps reinventing because some people now aren’t scared to push the envelope.
WHO?MAG: How do you feel about corporate America capitalizing on the hip-hop movement? DANA DANE: American is about capitalism. Anything that can generate money and get attention is going to be worth a dollar. Politicians have found a way to make money off it. They’re talking about “We The People” and make sure that we have a voice and a democracy, but they will still find anyway to make cash off hip-hop. In return, you have to find a way to make of it as well or be left out of the game. You have to feed your family as well.
WHO?MAG: What’s next in store for Dana Dane? DANA DANE: Right now I’m working on a project with Montel Jordan on Jordan Records where they do classic hip-hop and R&B albums that they’re discussing about me working on. I’m not sure if that is going to go through or not. Also I am doing Sirius Satellite radio which I hope to continue to do. Def Beat Entertainment is my entertainment company. We are a about to do a DVD on the Kangol Crew with Slick Rick, Lance Brown, Cool Luv Ski, Nick the Heartbreaker, and myself. Also I am working on a solo project called “Dana Dane Back in Your Life” which will be out 2006. I’m also putting out some of the artist on the Dana Dane and the Great Unknown which is currently on my website. I’m looking for distribution, but right now you can find it at my website at www.danadane.com. If I make money of these projects, that cool but as long as I have the opportunity to put my music out, that’s what it’s all about. I’m just really just true hip-hop, even if it’s just for the people on my block to hear it, that’s what I need to do.