When interviewing Defari, I was amazed that such a famous rapper could be so casual. His PR, Michelle, warned he wasn’t interested in talking about anything personal, about any rumours, or such like (standard prep talk for interviewers I think!). We spoke about his new album, ‘Street Music’, out in stores now, on ABB Records, and about his experience working with Dr Dre.
Born in Santa Monica, California Defari, a member of the Likwit Crew alongside King T, tha Alkaholiks, and Xzibit, began DJing in 1982, moving on to MCing five years later. Music remained a hobby, however, after earning a sociology degree at the University of California at Berkeley he went on to receive a master’s degree in history and education at Colombia, accepting a high school teaching position upon graduating.
In 1994, Defari recorded his first demo after meeting Alkaholiks producer, E-Swift and to cut a long story short, he signed with Tommy Boy Records to issue his full-length debut ‘Focused Daily’ in 1999. He collaborated with producer Dr. Dre on Dre’s smash hit album, ‘2001’.
Defari says that from his many travels, abroad and throughout the states, he discovered from his fans that they felt his best effort was, ‘Focused Daily’. With ‘Street Music’, Defari claims to have taken it back to ‘Focused Daily’, but cranked it up times 50! Defari, says of his latest offering that it is custom built for car stereos that are super. He claims his latest work to be the "bang album!", and he isn’t lying. The beats are finely crafted throughout, he brings us real Hip-Hop with great sonic value.
‘Street Music’ is filled with unrivalled production courtesy of the Alchemist (Mobb Deep), Evidence (Dilated Peoples/ Kanye West), E-Swift (Tha Alkaholiks), and Mike City (Jamie Foxx/ Sunshine Anderson) to name a few. Also lending their talents are Dilated Peoples, J Ro (Tha Alkaholiks), B Real (Cypress Hill), Tuffy (Channel Live), plus a few others.
Of his favourite tracks of ‘Street Music’, Defari is hesistant to pick one over another, he sees them all as his children! However, when pushed, like every parent, or maybe just mine, he picks: ‘People Trip’, ‘The Bizness’, ‘We’ve Been Doin’ This’, ‘Either Dead or in Jail’ and the Alchemist joint too, ‘Make My Own’.
Defari says that working with Dr Dre was the pinnacle of his career, but it came completely out the blue. Defari was hanging at the studio and Dre asked him to spit eight bars. He rhymed them and Dre was like "man, get in the booth and do that". Defari didn’t think that the rap / track would appear on the album and when it did he was really pleased and amazed (obviously!). On the topic of how much Dre paid him, Defari was guarded, but made it clear, Dre was very business like and extremely "professional" about the appearance on the track, [LA Niggaz, on the Chronic 2001]. I think what Defari was implying was that he got paid in FULL for his eight bars, and wasn’t doing it for the last chicken wing at the BBQ!
Besides the beats, Defari’s rhymes sound like ‘real hip hop’, and despite the fact they aren’t overflowing with originality, or metaphors that will have you pushing the rewind button trying work out what the hell he just said, the album will make you wish you purchased the 21" speakers instead of the micro hi fi – the album’s made for fat sound systems.
You can visit Defari’s Myspace page (myspace.com/defari) to listen to tracks from his new album and make up your own mind.
By Demian Smith