By: Sean Williams and Jonathan Johnson @ Red Bull Music Academy
As I patiently sit inside Empanada Mamas in the Lower East Side charging my phone, I finally get a text from a random number that says “Yo, it’s Dave. Just got here to Canal, bro, meet me at The Hundreds.” No-sooner than that, I got on the nearest train to SoHo, braving “Polar Vortex” wind chill the likes of which New York City has never seen. I finally arrive at The Hundreds, nearly frozen solid, only to realize the salt on the street ruined my Grape V’s. While waiting for the frostbite to wear off, I link up with Black Dave, an aggressive and charismatic rapper with deep ties to New York and its skateboarding scene. His mixtape “Black Bart” is a perfect description of his personality, which I could clearly see after just a short cab ride to Red Bull Music Academy. After chilling for a bit, listening to some snippets from the upcoming album LOUD DREAMS, and talking about music with Hawaii Mike, LV and Sean C, Black Dave and I finally got down to business.
1) Where did the name Black Dave come from?
“Pretty much, growing up I had a very diverse group of friends. It’s not that I was the only black dude, but, just how I portrayed myself, and my personality, and how I acted and how I moved…. people just called me Black Dave. That’s just what it was, and it stuck from there. I just kept going with it.”
2) Who are some of your musical influences?
“I’m very influenced by Tupac. Just his method of storytelling and being very aggressive, but also being intelligent. I’m influenced by a lot of OG’s, but also people that kind of created their own cult following. So people like Tyler the Creator with Odd Future, A$AP Rocky with the whole A$AP thing, Joey Badass with his whole Pro Era movement, Lil’ B, Chief Keef, just young leaders, you know? That’s kind of how I see myself, and I want to portray the same thing.”
3) Name 3 albums you would consider to be classics.
“TuPacalype Now. You got David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, that’s one of my favorite albums by him. And also, Life After Death by Notorious BIG. I can keep going, but those are just 3 albums I like.”
4) How did the concept of Black Bart come about?
“Pretty much, just kind of observing myself in a 3rd person’s perspective in the hip hop industry. How I move, how I dress, my style, how I talk, I feel like there’s no one really doing what I do, in just not really caring about conforming to how rappers typically move. Black Bart was just kind of a description of myself.”
5) That was my next question, do you feel you are the Black Bart?
“Yeah, you know, the idea of the Black Bart has been out since the 80’s, everyone put their own flips on it. But right now in 2014, I feel I am the Black Bart. There really is no other character that embodies me and my whole movement more than Bart Simpson.”
6) In terms of collabs, how did you go about picking whom you wanted to work with?
“A lot of it just came naturally through relationships that I fucked with. When I make a song, I don’t really think of it like “oh, I can hear this person on this track”. I have a lot of homies that make music, some of them reached out to me, and some tracks we just made right there in the studio. But for records like the Bodega Bamz one, the Smoke DZA one, RiFF RaFF, those are people that just kind of fucked with what I had going on, wanted to make good music, and wanted to make it happen, so we just connected right there.”
7) Talk a little bit about your crew, the Stone Rollers.
“Let me start with the definition of Stone Rollers. It pretty much means, we’re here in NYC, and all the moves we are here on the concrete. Moving around, that’s our hustle, that’s our goal. Whether it’s skating, whether it’s art, whether its music, you know, that’s how we get around, and that’s how we hustle. The people we roll with, we’re not really one-sided. We all have different vices, but music is really how we all connect. But in Stone Rollers, we have D Stunna, William Wilson, Slicky Boy, and couple other young cats that are building their names up right now. But Stone Rollers is worldwide. We got people in LA, down south, Europe, all over Japan… Stone Rollers is a movement.”
8) When did you start skating officially? What is your earliest memory skateboarding?
“Definitely around 10 years old. I had a homie that lived in my apartment complex. I would always see him skate, and it always looked like he was having fun. At the time, I was going to school playing baseball, basketball, all the typical sports a kid would do. I hated being coached and told what to do, so I looked at this kid in my apartment complex, and he always looked mad free, having a good time laughing and skating by himself. So I finally convinced my pops to get me a board, and I just started skating with him. I was definitely wack, and busted my ass a whole bunch of times, but I just kept going.”
9) How did you end linking with Zoo York? Congrats on going AM, by the way.
“Thanks, man. Pretty much just being in NY and working on independent skate videos with my homies. We never really did it for sponsors, we just did it for ourselves, to keep pushing ourselves and keep working, so we put out some independent skate videos. People saw it and liked it, and one day I got a call from Ben Oleynik at Zoo York. He reached out and was like “yo, I wanna send you some boards”. So from there, I kinda worked my way up, met the team, started filming with them, and the chemistry just worked. After that they put me on the team fully. So the next step is getting that board with my name on it.”
10) I asked you before if you saw the movie KIDS by Larry Clark. I watched it last night, and even though this movie came out almost 10 years ago, I felt like I was watching my reflection in terms of NYC life. Do you think that life has changed that much for young, urban NY’ers since that movie came out?
“The thing about KIDS is that it didn’t speak to all NY’ers. There were a lot of different people coming from different communities in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, they lived in the hood, but may not have skated, or understood a lot of the things these kids were doing. When you grow up skateboarding, really scraping up nickels and dimes to go out everyday and do what you love to do… when you watch that movie you will understand it. You can be in LA, in Philly, or in Miami, but you may not really understand it as much as a NY’er because you really doing that. You see these streets, and that’s how you feel moving around. That movie meant a lot to me. I reference that movie a lot in my music videos, like in “Take It Back” I had Leo Fitzpatrick, who played Telly, in the music video, so shouts out to him. I just have a lot of respect for what Larry Clark does.”
11) How did you end up linking up with Supreme? I just found out about that today from Anthony.
“Through Zoo York, filming with RB Umali, shouts out to him, reached out to the manager of Supreme at the time, his name is Charles Lamb, and he was just like “you wanna skate for the team?” So I was skating for them, they like my attitude I guess, and asked if I wanted to make some extra bread working at the store, and that was it. Supreme is family, though.”