Exclusive – Dice Raw’s Time Travel: From Child Prodigy to Rootsology


Dice Raw is an enigma. He’s got that rare quality of showing brilliance, while staying just zany enough to retain his personable human qualities. In conversation, he keeps you on your toes – intriguing and funny, then serious and informative in the next instant. You never know what you’ll get, but you’ll likely never forget being around him.

Philadelphia’s Dice Raw is a rapper, a singer/songwriter, a storyteller, a comedian, and one of the long-standing affiliates of the legendary Roots Crew. Along with band founders Black Thought and ?uestlove, the lyrical machete-spitting Dice has helped to create a classic sound that has taken the bunch far beyond their harsh streets of Philadelphia. You can still hear it on cerebral, melody-laced songs like “Lighthouse” – that familiar flow and voice inflection at the end of lines that lets you know it’s a Dice Raw/Roots song.

But, if you examine closely, Dice Raw’s journey along with the band has been somewhat mysterious to onlookers over the years. Where does he fit in? Is he a real member of the band? Does he rotate freely off and on the Roots roster when the spirit moves him? With such a world-class association, why is he – as he puts it – “The Greatest Rapper Never?”

To understand the funny and personable, but seemingly music-obsessed, Dice Raw, one must travel back with him to the early 1990s, when his life was moving much faster than other kids his age. As he tells it, a series of meetings and mutual associates (including Bell Biv Devoe?) led him to The Roots, but his creativity and agile flow has kept him there over the years. AllHipHop.com braved the cold this past weekend to travel to Philadelphia’s legendary Larry Gold Studios (where The Roots, Jill Scott, Dice Raw, and other big-name Philly artists have all recorded) to hear Dice Raw’s fascinating coming-of-age tale:

Shot/edited by Dave Jacobs

Our interview with Dice Raw is just getting started, Check back for part two, where he slices and dices The Roots’ undun album competition!