He’s survived the churning eras of music, while still spitting the tried and true verses of Hip-Hop.
The Grammy-nominated artist confirms that basketball was his first love, but once his uncle introduced him to the keyboard, he's produced melodies ever since.
With about fifteen-years in the music industry, the lyrical-elder collaborated with other artist before debuting his first mix-tape in 2007. Sometime in 2014, he released a full EP entitled #Reflect
"This album stretched me because my vision wasn't to create a hip hop album, it was to bring different people together, culturally, and ethnically, and create music that had a different tale. As an example, the reason I did a song with Chris Brown of Elevation Worship, it was to do hip hop, so I could introduce a new artist that people may not have heard otherwise.
So, I merged country and hip hop together, to give people the opportunity to like the album. I had to grab other artist, and trust what they do. I had to grab other producers, to help me make it official. It stretched me, but it was very exciting working with different people, and creating different stuff.
The Christian rapper is wildly dedicated. His sonnets are introspective and unsparing, which is great because listeners aren’t bored out of their gore, waiting on jaw-breaking punch lines once he's liberated them.
Always using a cool and upbeat cadence for his songs, Dae-Lee never wavered from his original blueprint. His exchange of ideas remained lucid even at the start of his career.
As a Christian, he doesn’t shove his beliefs in your face. Either folks rock with him or they don’t. Dae-Lee is still capable of appealing to the masses with his poetic story-lines.
“I place opinions on various levels. Everybody’s opinions aren’t worth movement. I surround myself with people I know, who understand what I'm doing. I also believe that one person’s path isn’t the path for everyone. What someone may be communicating, it might be great, but that doesn’t mean it’s my path. I believe in myself, and in what God has given me, to use. He doesn’t want me to use it ten years from now, He wants me to use it right now. I just enjoy it. There is a business aspect to it. If I’m not enjoying it, and I don’t feel like I’m where God wants me to be, I’m wasting my time.”
Apparently, Dae-Lee learned how to subdue his listeners through rousing wordplay early in his career.
“Honestly, I feel like I’ve had to learn a lot of things that typical artist doesn’t learn. Actually, with my first single, Royal, and continuing every month, [we are] releasing singles. It's due to what I had to learn; just how music works, how you make money, and what people are looking for that they are consuming. Everybody is moving to streaming, and they aren’t really buying music anymore. This music is moving towards subscription, dates, and [a] community via my own app.”
The native of Hampton, Virginia, doesn’t need rules to dictate his future, and with his newest app, Dae-Lee Official App, he's just proving that there is no world order when it comes to music.
Dae-Lae is obscuring the path that other MC’s created. He’s marking his own territory with a distinct vibe.
Though he’s got a rash of hits, Dae-Lee is really focusing on newer releases, such as his single, Royal. It’s the equivalent of Jay Z’s ‘Moonlight’ creeping on Goodie Mobs ‘Beautiful Skin.’ Nope, it’s not because the messages are similar. Far from it, and in fact, Dae-Lee is just a Christian rapper with a crazy 'it factor' that listeners were thirsting for back in the 90’s when Goodie and Jay Z had the cultured flow.
This happened long before Young Thug and his cryptic mumble rap.
As for Dae-Lee’s vibrations, spectators won’t feel over educated or under-served. It’s a medium of good vibrations. His song is the best of both worlds, spanning from a profound message that could be heard on a multitude of radio stations.
Dae-Lee achieved the studio mix and mastering, where the instrumentals aren't crackling and the song isn’t boring or flat. He’s got the fanciful beat and an appetizing flow that’s downright, dope, period.
"Right now, I’m moving into a phase of doing things a little bit different, moving away from the EP’s, the albums and just hitting you [guys] with song after song. As for my focus, I’m on the hip hop lane, as well as inspirational or the gospel hip hop.
My new song Royal is all about knowing who you are. Once you know who you are, you’ll be able to live out of that; so the illustration for Royal is [about] people who walk around with low self-esteem— They don’t believe they are worthy or valuable, and it may look different from person-to-person, but the message of the song, it’s knowing who you are. All of us, we are created by God, and we are valued. If we choose to see ourselves that way, then that will change the way we live our lives. It has no bearing on what you do or what you don’t do—Who I am, that's who I am.”
As Dae-Lee stated, he doesn’t want to limit his sound, so he’s objective when it comes to his prose.
While having strong metrical's is certainly important when establishing longevity in the entertainment industry, artist tend to follow trends, instead of earning placement with originality.
"I made a trip to Nashville, and this guy, who had years and years in the music industry within the hip hop lane, pop, and CTM Christian—One thing he explained to me, and again, it just confirmed it for myself within the music industry... There are cheap seats, and then there is the front row. Typically, as artist, and in the industry or business of music, they try to find carbon copies, which are the cheap seats, or they [will] get behind somebody that’s on the front row, different, that’s like nobody else.
I guess the main thing is to figure out who you are, and go one-hundred-percent in that lane; but, as you know, trends come [and] Migos here. Now, we got all the Migos, copy cats. Whatever is popular at the time, we get all the copycats. Typically, if you do make that happen, being a copycat is short lived, and you’re not going to enjoy that.”
Dae-Lee went on to share that because of his experience, he knows that success is derived from being consistent as well as authentic. He also said indie artist need to know their audience. Just because a songster has thousands of followers, it doesn’t mean that those followers is listening to the respective MC’s music. They aren’t, and they won’t, so indie artist need to learn the difference and appeal to their crowdsource accordingly.
The versifier self-produced one album, two EP’s and three mix-tapes. He’s worked with numerous artist whether vibing on the mic or the production side of things. Dae-Lee said that he’s created about ninety-percent of his own projects, but out of all the creative and gnarly sessions, his best studio session is probably the Grammy-nominated album he co-produced called, “The Faith,” with award-winning artist, Da Truth.
“This was in 05—The song was nominated for a Grammy and it won a Stellar Award, it won a Dove Award. I flew out to Philadelphia to work on that. That was very early in my music career. It was cool to fly out and get business done. It was cool and in the moment. That was probably my most memorable set.”
The ingenious artist shared that he really enjoys sessions in his own studio, where he’s able to express himself completely.
Speaking of fun, exciting atmospheres, and collabos, Dae-Lee worked with other artist such as Ahji Love, Rhema Soul and Travis Greene, just to note a few creatives.
Although he’s worked with some notable artists, he’s still self-effecting.
“I’m a ‘play-the-wall’ type of guy. The artist thing, and humbleness, that was something I had to learn. I wasn’t good at it. It was totally out of my zone or whatever, but the Grammy-nomination was early in my career, and I was just ignorant. I didn’t know that happened until five-years later when his [Da Truth] manager told me. I was just young. I didn’t think about it. I was just creating music.
Part of my passion as an artist, is seeing my path, and how I can go five-years without knowing that I was nominated for a Grammy. I could’ve leveraged that, and then again, I don’t look it as regret. A ton of artist have done the same thing, and they may have an opportunity, but they don’t understand what it can lead to, or how to move forward. It’s not negative—And maybe they didn’t know. The passion that I have is invested in newer artist and mentoring artist, not just making a great song, but doing good business as an artist.”
Dae-Lee said that he prefers Jay Z over Kendrick Lamar because Jay is a great storyteller... does that sound familiar?
He considers himself a storyteller, and he owes that great talent to his mom, who pulled him to the side one day and told him, 'I like your music, but I don't understand what you're saying.'
Instead of getting offended, Dae-Lee to heed to what his mom said. Now, he's selling out stadiums and performing all over.
"If you look at my history, I'm more of a lyrical guy, but I'm not bias. Royal, it has a younger hip-hop vibe to it. The message is there and it's clear. Stylistically, I might tap into some of the auto tune— Again, I enjoy it."
Incase you're wondering, the emecee considers himself an artist-- "If I want to create a song, using an acoustic guitar, and have somebody sing on it, I want to be able to do that. Don't pigeonhole me. I allow the consumer and the fans to decide the genre, I just create music.
I believe more and more as a culture, we are seeing that these boxes, they don't define us. Boxes go from racial, to cultural boxes, and then it goes back to music.
I believe music genres, they have their purpose, so I know the difference between country and pop; but culturally, our generation isn't thinking outside the box enough.You, know? Just because I like hip hop, that doesn't mean I don't like Justin Bieber. I feel more-and-more that these conversations about genres are non-essential. People will decide what they want to listen to."
Jumping back to earlier in the conversation when Dae-Lee said that you shouldn't cheat your talents, just be original, and the chips will fall where it may-- he cleared it up a little more by saying, "People think sampling music within hip hop is cheap. I believe that to a certain degree. If Kanye West wasn't sampling older records in his earlier career, I would have no idea who half these older artists are. In a way, the older artist should find it as a compliment. Nowadays, these older R&B artist are coming back on tour, and I think sampling has a lot to do with it."
Speaking of OG's, Dae-Lee would like to share the stage with Anthony Hamilton, Cold Play and Imagine Dragons.
He prefers bands more than anything-- and he doesn't think that DJ Khaled is overhype even though the DJ makes more cameos than Diddy ever did.
"When it comes to diversity, DJ's can bring together, Cold Play, Jay Z and John Mayer, to create a great album. Honestly, what DJ Khaled is doing right now, is what EDM, and Pop DJ's have been doing for years, selling platinum records."
Dae-Lee meets artist where they are, and if there is an artsy connection, he'll put in the work to create that daring collaborative.
Although he's done everything except movie scores, he plans to get into that part of entertainment in the near future. As for now, Dae-Lee just wants readers and listeners to subscribe to his app, so they can keep up with new projects and everything else pertaining to his music.
Royal Official Music Video
Dae-Lee performing in Jacksonville (FL) at the Festival of Hope