Mr. Dean's latest release, Inspired By Greatness, dropped last month, and its first single, "My Love," has already begun garnering video and radio play as far away as Northern Wales and Sydney, Australia. The song, described by Dean as a Christian love song, also features local musician Simes Carter. We recently caught up with Mr. Dean to find out more about his new album, its secular features and the possibilities that abound in his burgeoning career.
Westword(D. Williams): How did you get started doing this brand of rap music?
Mr. Dean: Actually, negative music inspired me to do positive music. Just seeing all the negative music out there made me more motivated to do something for the youth to reverse all that. That's basically how I got started.
I grew up in a Christian household. I was raised as a Christian and have Christian beliefs. I have grown through my music, as well. So all that kind of worked together to help shape me, [served] and as a way to help me put more positive, good music out there.
Ww: So how long have you been doing the music, and how have your audiences been treating you?
MD: I've been doing this since I was about fourteen. But the churches have always supported me. Even when my music wasn't good they still supported me. You know? Because I was doing something different, something good. They stayed behind me and were like "keep doing it! Keep doing this."
At the time, I didn't realize my music was not where it should be, but because I had that support, that encouragement, I was able to stick to it and keep making improvements. Now I feel like the mainstream audiences are embracing this new project because of the quality and how I've improved as an artist.
Ww: You said that the quality is bringing 'the mainstream' more into your music. Can you explain that?
MD: I mean, like this, Kobe Bryant in his second year of basketball, didn't have as many fans, besides those in his hometown, until he started getting good. So, it took him getting better for more people to embrace him as a star. So, comparing that to what I do, I feel more people are going to embrace something that is not just lyrically good, as far as message-wise, but musically, sonically, more developed.
Ww: So you feel as though your music is now at a place you want it to be compared to the larger music market?
MD: Yes. I can honestly say that I am very happy with this CD. Ten years from now, I'll still be able to listen to this record and feel proud of it. Prior CD's I've done, I would release them and already would be working on the next one. I was always like, "Oh, I can do better. I am doing better."
And of course, I'm really doing better now. But I was always looking back thinking how unhappy I was with the project, how I wish I had switched this arrangement up a little, I wish that the levels would have been better. I don't feel like that with this album.
Ww: So what do you feel changed? What was the turning point?
MD: Just years of doing it: Dedication. Like an athlete that practices every day. You know? I'm sorry that I keep comparing it to sports; it's just that anything you practice at, you are going to get better at it...
Ww: Tell us about this new album.