Dwele: Deja Vu

Dwele: Deja Vu You gotta respect a man with a belly ring fetish—says he’s all about the details. With his debut album Subject Dwele conveys his adoration of the female being, in all her voluptuous and enigmatic entirety. Even if you’ve never heard of the Detroit native, bets are you’ll recall his smooth-as-Henny vocals on […]

Dwele: Deja Vu

You gotta respect a man with a belly ring fetish—says he’s all about the details. With his debut album Subject Dwele conveys his adoration of the female being, in all her voluptuous and enigmatic entirety. Even if you’ve never heard of the Detroit native, bets are you’ll recall his smooth-as-Henny vocals on Slum Village’s 2002 hit single “Tainted.” But make no mistake, Dwele has no intention of being hip-hop’s next hook boy (rest easy, Nate Dogg). By fusing old-school soul with a hip-hop sensibility, Dwele is out to bridge that often-undecipherable line between love and lust.

AHH: Tell us about the concept behind your album Subject.

Dwele: [Like a] sculpture or a painting or a sketch artist who looks at his work, the album for the most part is talking about relationships with women. So I’m using women as my subject and I have to study everything about the woman right down to her curves.

AHH: What I found refreshing about your album is that there were hardly any guest appearances.

Dwele: Well the actual album is gonna have Slum Village on the “A.N.G.E.L.” remix and a song with Bahamadia. I think at times artists do get wrapped up in cameos and guest appearances—the point of the artist doesn’t come across. Even in having guest appearances, I don’t overdo it.

AHH: Tell us about your collaborations with T-Love (“Long Way Back”) and Bahamadia (“BBQueen”)

Dwele: Bahamadia is being managed by Timotheus—which is my management company right now. She came to town and when they told me she was coming I was losing my mind, cuz I loved her music. So we sat down, we kicked it. We built on the beat for “Beautiful Things” and after that she called me up and said, “I wanna do a dedication for Philadelphia.” She told me a few things about the city—how she wanted things to come across.

[With T-Love] I let her hear some of my stuff and she let me hear some of her stuff and we collaborated. We spent about a week together.

AHH: Did you have any idea that “Tainted” was gonna blow up the way it did?

Dwele: Not at all. Didn’t know it. I mean I finished {recording} it in the studio and I was like “That’s hot! See y’all tomorrow!”

AHH: How did it feel the first time you heard it on the radio?

Dwele: It was crazy. I almost crashed cuz I didn’t know who to call. I was trying to call and drive at the same time. I remember taking a road trip to Virginia ..it was different states we were driving through and changing radio stations and it was just popping up..

AHH: Do you feel you’re ready for the fame and the success? Do you think you’ll be able to adjust to the changes in your personal life?

Dwele: Yeah, I’m ready for it. It’s been wild the last few days –it was my first taste of the whole hustle of the business. Like surviving on only two hours of sleep. Eating whenever you get a chance to, which isn’t very often. But it’s still cool, a lot of fun.

AHH: Do you think dating will be a lot easier or more difficult now that you’re in the public eye?

Dwele: I think it will be more difficult. I actually sat down and talked about that with my godsister. It’s like “How do you know what’s real?” You know, we never came to any definite way to figure out what was what. I guess it’s just a matter of trial and error.

AHH: What’s your relationship status? Are you single? Are you dating?

Dwele: I’m single right now. Music is my girl (chuckles)

AHH: Since women are the “subject” of your album, what qualities would your ideal woman possess?

Dwele: Spontaneity, a witty mind, sense of humor…

AHH: See, not once did you mention anything about her height, or that she has to be fine…

Dwele: Oh I was just about to get to that (laughs). I don’t know, I’m a big lover of stomachs and belly rings…

AHH: Yeah, I caught that off of one of your songs (“Subject”)

Dwele: I’m a big fan of the female body, yes I am.

AHH: So you like them thicker, slimmer..?

Dwele: You know what? I can’t even really call it. I love it all.

AHH: When you think of your past relationships, which one would you say broke your heart the most and what did you learn from it?

Dwele: The relationship that broke my heart the most was my first true love. Actually I broke my own heart cuz the relationship was good but I didn’t know how to communicate with her and then in turn I lost her. I kind of regret it, she’s the subject of a lot of songs.

AHH: So are you the only child? Any siblings?

Dwele: I have a younger brother. He’s 18 right now, at Norfolk State University. He’s on a full music scholarship.

AHH: What does he play?

Dwele: He plays bassoon, piano, and trombone.

AHH: You think you guys will ever perform together?

Dwele: Actually [for] my show in DC, he drove out and worked with the stage crew. But the fact that I was on stage with my brother was great.

AHH: How does he feel about your newfound fame?

Dwele: He’s cool…He was like “ I don’t know if I’m ready for this man. You know I got girls running up to me asking ‘Are you Dwele’s brother?’”

AHH: S###, run with it!

Dwele: Exactly (laughing). He’s like a major motivation for me too. He motivates me to make music.

AHH: How about your mom? How’s she handling it?

Dwele: My mom’s really proud. Every time I go to the house, and someone’s over, I always hear the record playing. It’s always a listening party.

AHH: To be a widow raising two sons, and one is now in college and the other about to drop an album—The two of you could have totally gone the other way. What do you think your mom gave you that kept you focused?

Dwele: She kept us active. She kept me in sports a lot and music programs. You know, she did what she could. My little brother she kept in sports as well—he’s a black belt {in karate}. If I was up 5, 6 o’clock in the morning making music at top volume, she just let it happen. She just rolled with it. She was really supportive.

AHH: If your dad were here, how do you think he’d feel about your music?

Dwele: I think he would be happy. People have been comparing me to Donnie and Stevie and musicians like that. If he and my mother threw parties or had people over they were always playing that—that’s what they loved. I think by being around them and being in the mix, that music kind of stuck on me.

AHH: Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway, and Marvin Gaye had definite political slants in their music back in the day. Do you feel soul music of today should reflect more political and worldviews?

Dwele: I think that when you’re a musician or writer, I think you should be able to talk about whatever’s on your mind, whatever’s in your heart. I guess you do run the risk of someone not agreeing with you. More recently I started making more songs like that. At the same time when you’re dealing with record labels, they have to be happy with what you’re making. A lot of artists make songs to get things off of their chest, but they don’t necessarily see the light of day.

AHH: Reading articles and reviews about you, everyone is categorizing your music as “new” soul. Do you feel comfortable with that label? Or do you even need that?

Dwele: I think they should just call it music. I don’t mind them calling it “soul”, I guess the “new” actually comes from the actual hip-hop with a heart of drums. I think it comes from that element being in the soul now. But if they had to call it anything, I’d rather they call it soul.