Deams: From Amsterdam to Gangstarr and Back

When it comes to Hip-Hop, the prize goes to the artist that toils through the darkness, emerging into the light of success. Deams is a testament to the undying tenacity it takes to make it and that of the love of Hip-Hop. During a visit to Amsterdam, I was fortunate enough to jump off the […]

When it comes to Hip-Hop, the prize goes to the artist that toils through the darkness, emerging into the light of success. Deams is a testament to the undying tenacity it takes to make it and that of the love of Hip-Hop.

During a visit to Amsterdam, I was fortunate enough to jump off the high-speed track of the rat race and conversed with Deams about all of the above. It was odd for me. We definitely had more in common than not, even though he’s from a completely different part of the world. In my exchange with Deams, I was quickly reminded of the universal qualities progressive hip-hoppers have.

Deams is one rap war vet has battled much for his music, eventually finding some solace with the legendary Gangstarr. But now, he’s back with a vengeance, world and he’s got Big Daddy Kane, Ice T, Chuck D, Jeru the Damaja, De La Soul and DJ Premier backing him up. Give me a bit of history from your point of view.

Deams: I’m one of the pioneers in the Dutch and European Hip Hop scene, I was signed to Gangstarr productions, released a few records on an underground level that sold well in Japan and did shows all over the world representing Holland to the fullest, trough that I was blessed to met some of the biggest names in Hip Hop including fallen pioneers like Notorious BIG, Tupac Shakur and Jam Master Jay, I was also the first Dutch MC that got featured in magazines such as The Source bringing Holland to the attention of international media and still am. How do you describe your style of rap?

Deams: I’m a very diverse but realistic MC. I rap about things that I went through, things that I’m about to go through and things from a third person’s perspective. But my style changes with how I’m feeling at the time. One day I might be in a real cocky mood and just write some hard braggadocios rhymes on some hardcore Hip Hop s###. Another day I just reflect on personal experiences, observe the world around me and what other people go through and just write some realistic rhymes, but it will always be on some timeless Hip Hop material. Talk about your relationship with Gangstarr and Guru? What memories do you have from that period of time?

Deams: I met Gangstarr when I performed in New York at the new music seminar, we clicked from the start and always stayed in touch. I stayed at their house in Brooklyn all the time so it was a family thing and through that I witnessed some of Premier’s greatest classics being recorded at D&D studios. I was signed to Gangstarr productions along with other members like Jeru the Damaja, Group Home, Fabidden Fruit, Afu-Ra, Big Shug and so forth. I stayed in New York at that time recording a lot of demos while they were trying to get me a deal, the problem was that I couldn’t get a green card to stay longer and they had some serious problems going on with their former label at the time, so it all fell through. I later on released one of the records I did with Guru through a Dutch label, it’s a shame what happened with Gangstarr but everyone makes their own choices, it was a real tight family back then and I was blessed and proud to be a part of it. I haven’t spoke to Guru in a couple of years now but I’m still in touch with Premier and we talked about doing a record together depending on his crazy schedule of course, so the love and the connection is still there, I’m a Gangstarr family member for life. You did a song with Big Daddy Kane. How was that experience. Did you meeting him or did you use technology to get your goads achieved. Who else are you working with or hope to collaborate with?

Deams: We recorded that song when he came to Amsterdam, we know each other for years now and he even gave me a shout out on the track “Finale” of his album Looks Like A Job For. I was always a huge Big Daddy Kane fan and he’s still one of the Top 5 MC’s of all time so it was a great experience when we finally got together to record “State Your Game,” he’s a beast on the mic and taught me a lot about timing and putting the right words together. Next to BDK, I recorded tracks for “The Legacy” with Ice-T, Chuck D, De La Soul and Jeru the Damaja, all the tracks were recorded in Amsterdam, except for the joint I did with Ice, we recorded that one in New York. I’m also a big M.O.P fan and a while back we met and talked about doing a track together, they were with it so that’s in the works. Can you tell me about the way Hip-Hop is represented in Amsterdam in particular and, in general, Holland?

Deams: Hip-Hop in Holland was always represented to the fullest on a underground level, and has an active Hip Hop scene since the early eighties representing the whole culture with all the 5 elements. The past few years it’s getting more and more media exposure after being ignored for years and poppin’ up in movies and commercials, but like everywhere else that also brought out a lot of pop rap acts. Next to that, most people know the history of Hip-Hop very well and are very up to date with what’s going on around the world, but also created their own scene, especially the ones that rap in Dutch. Holland is a small country of only 17 million (especially compared to neighboring Germany with 82 million), so the scene isn’t that big but people love Hip-Hop to death over here. Just ask all the American acts that did shows in Holland, it’s definitely growing bigger each year and Holland always had some of the best Hip Hop acts that Europe has to offer. Most of them just didn’t get their shine yet, but that will soon change. Who are some of the other names in Hip-Hop in places like Amsterdam and even Rotterdam?

Deams: Too many to mention but on the English tip be on the look out for Nation of Elzi, Mr.Probz, Kain Slim, Unarthadox, Brainpower, Rollarocka, Coupe deVillz, c.a.n.e and the cats from Supercharger Records.

On the Dutch tip, cats like Zwart Licht, Kohfie Konnect, Winne, Salah Edin, THC, Turk, U-Niq, Kempi, Bijlmer Style crew. On the production tip check out Henry Chu, FS Green, Soulitaire, All Star Fresh, QF, Killing Skills, Presto, TLM, Army Fatique & Soul searchin’ How is your music received here in the States and locally?

Deams: Judging from the promotion on numerous websites and the airplay I’m getting on shows like Hip Hop Nation/Sirius, the Halftime show and more I can’t complain, feels like they are finally opening up to Hip-Hop from out of the States. In Holland, I always was very well respected in the scene, and since the single “State Your Game’ is spreading like wild fire, the media is catching up on it.

Deams ft. Big Daddy Kane – “State Your Game” What is your view of Hip-Hop in the US and what is Amsterdam’s view of the United States at this point in time?

Deams: I can’t really speak for everyone else, but my point of view is that there’s a lack of creativity with a lot of cats sounding alike, seems like they are playing it safe. It’s not all of them, but the ones that are real diverse and creative ain’t getting that shine, but luckily there’s the internet where you can find some of the better stuff that you wont hear on the radio or will see on TV. Over here I’m noticing a shift amongst the new generation, I’m seeing more and more teens getting tired of a lot of the new material that’s being put out and are diggin’ for material from the golden age en the 90s, you will never hear me say that in the old days Hip Hop was much better but something definitely needs to change. What rappers are the most influential there?

Deams: Can’t really say, but I hope I will be the one that will open some more doors for all the talented artists and producers we got over here. You recently partook in a conference called New Skool Rules, where people from over 20 countries came together to represent Hip-Hop. How was that experience?

Deams: When it came to networking with people from other countries it was great but because of the door price and lack of proper promo it didn’t attract enough of the upcoming artists and producers who it was meant for, so hopefully that will change if they decide to do it next year. But it was great that they started something like that over here. Can you give the readers information on when your project will be out?

Deams: The release of The Legacy EP is scheduled for June and will be a digital release available at iTunes worldwide, Amazon mp3, Emusic, Rhapsody, Napster, Amie Street and more. It will contain 7 songs including tracks with Big Daddy Kane, Ice T, Chuck D, Jeru the Damaja, De La Soul and an intro by DJ Premier. As an extra bonus buyers will also receive a Legacy comic. In the same month the single “State your Game” will also be released on vinyl in a limited edition with 3 remixes. Any final words?

Deams: Dont sleep on Hip-Hop from Holland! And to all upcoming artists, learn the music business, do some research on online marketing/promotion, digital distribution and do it yourself! Follow me for updates on all of my projects on and