Since 1992, DAS Efx has made it their mission in life to prove that they can compete with the best that Hip-Hop has to offer. Throughout their career, they have achieved many personal triumphs and suffered many setbacks, and have seen the best and the worst this industry has to offer. Coming off a five-year hiatus and returning on the independent circuit, Dray and Skoob now see how difficult the competition has become.
On the cusps of a new deal with UTR Music Group and their new album, How We Do, DAS Efx wants to show critics once and for all that they are a legitimate staple in this game, and not the one-dimensional duo that has been their reputation for most of their career. Dray and Skoob are still straight from the sewer, and they are determined to inject their trademark griminess back into Hip-Hop. DAS Efx took time away from their schedules to re-introduce themselves to Allhiphop.com and the public at large to affirm their position in the game and how they plan to play the cards they have been dealt.
Allhiphop.com: Lets into the new album and other things that are going on. What made you decide to come back after a five year absence?
Skoob: We still on the grind, man. We parted ways with our former label, Elektra, and parted ways with our management in order to jump on our feet and find the next deal. It took this amount of time. Its not like we was out of the studio not recording and all that. Dealing with different independent labels is a crazy situation all in itself. We had a couple of experiences before we got to this one.
Dray: I love making music. It didnt matter that it was five years. It could have been four or seven, but we always knew we wanted to come back. Its the love of the music, man.
Allhiphop.com: What kind of catalog have you built up in the time you were away?
Skoob: We got some things, man. Even if the beats may be a little outdated, the lyrics are there. We got 2-4 albums worth of material easy. In the meantime, we probably let out two white labels to let people know we were still breathing in the underground.
Allhiphop.com: I noticed on the album you had little to no guest appearances. Did you purposely not go out and snatch up a bunch of guests?
Dray: Well, its hard to get in touch with a lot of people that you would like to rock with. You got to go through their manager, you got to go through their label, you got to go through their mom, their pop, and plus on top of that, they want $10,000. When you are working with an independent, its kind of hard to get it poppin like that.
Skoob: We tried to let the cats we got in our camp shine because we got a couple of artists that weve been working with over the years, trying to get them popping off, you know what I mean? We got all types of stuff on the album, from club music to truck music, man. Its all there. We definitely wanted to let everybody we aint skipped a beat, man. Lyrical skills are still there.
Allhiphop.com: Whats been your overall experience with the major labels in the years youve been in the industry?
Dray: They got a bottom line, you know what I mean? They are just like any other company. They want you to come out and sell 300,000 or something like that. They dont believe in trying to stick with the project or really working it. Im not a disgruntled artist, and I know that you have to give them something to work with. My thing is if the first single doesnt do what they anticipate it doing, yo, lets jump on the second single. Lets give it a fair run, you know? The majors are like a conveyor belt. The artists keep coming through and they give each artist a certain amount of time and attention, and then they move on regardless.
Skoob: Weve seen a lot, man. I cant say weve seen it all because Im still looking up to cats like Quincy Jones, man. When its good, its good, but when its really not that good, you got to work hard, man. Its not like you can wake up, write a rap and its on the radio the next day selling a million records. It aint that type of party. Theres definitely a lot of politics involved, a lot of hard work and dedication. You really get to find out who you are as a person, as an artist, everything. It really challenges your emotions, and if you aint built for it, it can break you in half quick.
Allhiphop.com: With the independent deal, do you have more options and more freedom to move around and do your thing?
Dray: Yeah, but you are also taking shorts on that end as well. Youre not guaranteed all the publicity in the magazines; its more or less hand-to-hand combat.
Allhiphop.com: Do you feel like in the overall scheme of things, the money situation can be better for you?
Dray: It depends on what independent label you are with. Thats what Im seeing. There are certain things that are a must in my book. I know the game as well as some other people, but just from looking, I know certain things are a must. You need certain advertising, and you need to have the public aware of the material.
Allhiphop.com: Have you frequented the mixtape circuit at all over the last five years?
Skoob: We havent been doing our job as far as the mixtape circuit. They got a couple of songs from us, but as far as going the freestyle route and rhyming over other n####s beats, we aint even get on that yet.
Allhiphop.com: What kind of changes in Hip-Hop have you noticed in your absence?
Dray: I think the powers that be, whether its the government, labels, or who knows who, it seems like they had a little meeting and decided to get rid of all the Hip-Hop that was threatening or underground. They basically are only letting a certain amount of acts live, which are the commercial acts. Im not knocking those acts at all, because those kids got to eat. They have been able to do away with, for instance, the Gang Starrs, the BDPs, the Rakims, the Black Moons, and so forth. Its basically commercial or bust.
Skoob: Basically, we try to overcome the politics and let the creativity shine. The game has definitely changed in several ways as far as the music, the production of the music, the way artists are approaching the beats, what youre hearing on the radio, what types of videos they are playing on TV the game has changed a lot. I look at it as a situation of the cup being half full or half empty. Rappers today are taking advantage of their ability to the fullest.
Allhiphop.com: How have you grown as artists from the last album to the one that you have recently released?
Skoob: We have just been going through the whole re-acquaintance with your family. Once you get caught up in this game and start selling units, everyday is a circus. So, you dont get a chance to spend time and hang out with your family.
Dray: Just being able to pick beats. You cant make music for your block. Its kind of hard to say that, but you know what Im trying to say.
Allhiphop.com: You have to appeal to the masses.
Dray: Im just trying to make bangers. I know theres kids coming up every second. I mean, kids are rhyming from the day they were born. Im trying to be one of those artists that if you have the same beat I have, Im pretty much guaranteed to make the song just as good as you can make it. Im trying to rely on my own skills.
Allhiphop.com: What kind of impact are you trying to make with the new album? Is this a re-introduction of DAS Efx, or do you feel like you havent missed a step?
Dray: The thing is when I walk down the block, half the block dont really recognize me at all. The other half be like, oh s###, DAS what up, what up. For the first half of the block whos never heard me or seen me, I try to make Hip-Hop like How We Do or East Coast Husslaz so they can be like, oh, some Hip-Hop!
Skoob: I mean, the beats are straight DAS beats, straight sewer. Some of them, a chick or two can shake their ass to them, but its still a DAS beat. Others, you can jump in the truck, light your thing up and go do a buck-50, running from the cops or whatever. We got a little bit of everything on the album, but its a DAS album and it makes sense.
Allhiphop.com: Can fans expect to get a piece of the old DAS, or can they expect a newly formulated sound and lyric structure?
Skoob: Youre going to hear remnants. Its not going to be completely first album, and I dont think that was done purposely. Its just natural growth, and not wanting to stay in the same place too long.
Dray: On the new album, theres some iggidy, if thats what you want to call it. Theres a couple of songs that have that on it, you know? Some of the other songs are straight, conventional rhyming. We have to go through the whole politics of labels not wanting to sign us. Some people have their own take on the whole DAS Efx thing. Some people say, that iggidy stuff is played out, they used it as a crutch, and other people say, five years, theres kids out here that dont know what the hell thats about.
Allhiphop.com: Im sure fans will want to know this. Did you make a concerted effort to work with Redman, Erick Sermon, or any of the others of the Hit Squad?
Dray: Like I said, scheduling is real hard. I would love to, dont get me wrong, because theres no beef at all. Its just scheduling, and even with Redman and Erick, they have their own people that they are trying to work with. Trust me, if I see Erick, wed love to work with them.
Allhiphop.com: Whats your opinion on your own marketability as opposed to a lot of these artists in the game right now? Whats your approach going to be to get your name back on the marquee?
Skoob: Overall, I feel we can compete on a big level with a lot of the newer artists that are out today. Our plan of attack is to let the existing DAS fans know that we can still compete with these cats today. We want to get the DAS fan base excited and let that trickle down to the newer cats.