Dende is here to bless the music industry with his talents, and he’s not stopping until he gets to the top. Hailing from Katy, Texas, the rising star prides himself in his versatility, with the ability to freely bounce between the genres of R&B and hip-hop. And if you happen to cross paths with him in person, he’ll more than likely make you laugh.
In describing himself, Dende states, “I’m a singer. Sometimes I rap. People say l be trying to save rap. I try to save hip hop. No, I’m a singer. I like to make jokes, that’s pretty much who I am. I’m more of a personality at this point, than just the artist.”
Fast forward to 2022, Dende is excited as ever to be releasing his newest EP titled 2 Sided, with the title directly inspired by his sexuality and coming out as a bisexual. The project is spearheaded by lead singles “Sugar Daddy,’ which sees Dende interpolating Estelle’s timeless “American Boy” record, and “Part-Time Dreamer” which details his experiences meeting a woman with dreams and aspirations as big as his.
Regardless, Dende creates from an honest and vulnerable place, creating lyrics inspired directly by real life experiences. As a recording artist, he’s had the pleasure of opening for some of the greats from Swae Lee to Bun B.
AllHipHop caught up with Dende in downtown Los Angeles, who arrived with his group CXR. Read below as we discuss his background, biggest influences, part-time jobs, when he took music seriously, his name, his new EP 2 Sided, coming out as bisexual, his sound, opening for Swae Lee, and more!
AllHipHop: You say you’re a personality, is that because you’re funny?
Dende: Yeah I’m hilarious. I’m actually the funniest out of CXR, that’s our group. He’s the manager [points to Nile], he’s the A&R [points to Mizz].
AllHipHop: What’s the group?
Dende: It’s a management group. Sometimes it doubles as a label. It’s me as an artist, it’s Chris Patrick, it’s Noski, it’s Erykah Officer, and it’s Nashir. Then we have producers.
AllHipHop: What was it like growing up in Houston?
Dende: A lot of people in Houston would try to say that I’m not from Houston because I grew up in Katy. Katy is the outskirts of Houston, it’s 30 minutes away. It was cool. I grew up in a very whitewashed area, so I was the token person over there. [laughs]
I liked Katy though, because it made me the person that I am. I wouldn’t be as funny now if I didn’t have to constantly make jokes to make people like me. That’s facts though. I like Houston. I like the music scene out there, it’s really dope. It’s a huge city, but the music scene is very small. Everybody knows each other.
AllHipHop: Who are your biggest influences? Who influenced you the most?
Dende: Singing-wise? I’ll say John Legend. I really like Saba, I really like Smino a lot. Who else? Al Green.
Dende: Put Tyga in there. I’m heavily influenced by Tyga. [laughs]
AllHipHop: Definitely want to talk about your new EP, 2 Sided. What’re you most excited for?
Dende: I just want people to hear, of course, what they’ve already heard and be like, “okay, I like this version maybe a little bit more.” Because that’s all I want to do is level up from what people heard. I did interpolations of songs on both of those. One of them was Estelle’s “American Boy,” and the other one is Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On.” I put my own twist on it, made my own connotation of what the song’s supposed to be. I want people to be like, “oh, this is actually really dope. And I’ve already heard this hook.”
AllHipHop: What do you want people to take away from “Sugar Daddy”?
Dende: That I want a sugar daddy. [laughs] When I wrote the song, I wanted a sugar daddy. At the time when I wrote the song, I thought “I could get a sugar daddy right now.” Somebody actually approached me trying to be my sugar daddy, that’s a fact. [laughs] It’s just a song about if I had a sugar daddy, this is what it would be like.
AllHipHop: Where would you go shopping?
Dende: Anywhere out of the country. Maybe France or Italy, that’s where we’d go shopping.
AllHipHop: Are you a part-time dreamer?
Dende: I’m a full-time dreamer. I make music, so to make music or do anything hard, you gotta be dreaming. It’s not a regular life. It’s not regular, you just fly somewhere after two days notice and be like “alright, we’re going to do a bunch of stuff to maybe give me a little bit closer to the dream that I’m trying to get.” When I talk to my friends that have jobs, they get very confused on what we be doing. I feel like a lot of my days are like daydreaming.
AllHipHop: Can you talk about your sound, and flowing between R&B and rap?
Dende: Honestly, I’ve been leaning a lot more into the R&B recently, just because I kept seeing everybody saying that R&B isn’t up to par. And I love R&B. I do rap a little bit still, but I want to lean more towards the R&B. I do think I don’t really sound like anybody though, so that’s cool. There’s a lot of people that do sound like other people,I sound like me. When they ask who you sound like, I usually just say Dende.
AllHipHop: Talk about opening for Swae Lee, he’s a superstar.
Dende: I had a show in New Orleans, it was a Triller event. He was very very late. I was supposed to perform inside, very early during the party. They said “Swae Lee said his flight got canceled, he’s not going to be here until 2am.” The event was supposed to end at 1am. They said “so we need you to perform when he was going to perform, at the time he was performing.” It worked out for me because it got me way more eyes, and I was outside as opposed to being inside where no one else was. It was really cool. When he came, I like Swae Lee so I got to watch him perform. It was really dope, he’s a cool dude.
AllHipHop: Were you nervous?
Dende: I wouldn’t say I was nervous, I was ready to get it over with so I can have fun. That place was weird though, they had women in cages. It was like a Hollywood party. There was a woman outside of the cage, she had a stick. It was cool, I liked it. It was dope.
AllHipHop: Talk about performing at SXSW and what goes into your live performances. I know that’s a big part of your artistry.
Dende: I’ve always wanted to do SXSW. I’m in Texas, so that’s 2.5 hours away from my house. We finally got to do it. We had our own event, we had a CXR SXSW event. It was everything I’ve ever wanted to do in a festival or more, because it’s a week long. I had 6 shows. I had to cancel the last one because I wasn’t taking care of my voice, but it was fun.
A lot goes into my live performances because I have a 6-piece band. I sing. If you’re a rapper, you can get away with just using tracks. But if I’m singing, even though I do have confidence in my voice, it makes the experience a whole lot more if you have the band. I love live instrumentation. For SXSW, we practiced every week for two months just to get our set.
We had two different sets. We had a 45-minute set, we had a 30-minute set that we had ready to just do. It was a lot of work, but it was fun. It paid off because we got a lot from it. We got a lot more fans from it, we got some sponsorships from it. It was dope.
AllHipHop: How’s the independent grind?
Dende: You know, I be broke. [laughs] But it’s okay. I’d rather not have major labels telling me what to do, because I don’t like people telling me what to do. It’s cool. As long as no one’s telling me what to do, I’m rocking.
AllHipHop: What are some goals for yourself?
Dende: A song with Frank Ocean. You know those big cutouts of people, I want to have one in a grocery store. Not for anything important, just to be there. I think it’d look funny. I can do that myself though. [laughs] Also I want to get some Grammys, that’s really what I want.
AllHipHop: What’s it going to take to get there?
Dende: Getting people to vote for me. Really, truly. [laughs] The music is good enough, we just gotta get them votes.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let the people know?
Dende: Yes, make sure you all listen to my music because I think you’d like it. I think I’m pretty good at it. I’m good at making music, so I hope y’all listen.