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  • Fernando Triff

Convo With Pauper D

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

In the heart of the urban underground music scene, there lies a passionate artist who has spent decades crafting his unique sound and leaving an indelible mark on the industry. This artist is none other than Pauper D, a reggae sensation whose journey through music has been defined by unwavering dedication and unrelenting grit.

Hailing from the vibrant Bay Area, Pauper D's musical odyssey began with humble roots, deejaying house parties and intimate venues with nothing more than two turntables, a mixer, and a microphone. But his ambition and talent soon led him down a path of original songwriting, self-promotion, and performance that would captivate audiences around the world.

Born in New Jersey but soon transplanted to Oakland, California, Pauper D's early years were marked by spinning records at local house parties, intimate venues, and private gatherings. By the mid-1980s, he delved into writing original Hip-Hop lyrics and became enamored with the enchanting world of Reggae music and Jamaican culture.

This fascination led to unforgettable DJ sets at numerous underground parties and venues during the 1980s. As he immersed himself in Jamaican culture and explored obscure Reggae vinyl, Pauper D's eclectic and captivating tracks began to take shape, laying the foundation for his original works.

Through freestyling, deejaying, singing, and songwriting, Pauper D cultivated a distinctive style that would engage audiences across the decades. His music tells stories of Jamaican culture, old-time brethren, eco-consciousness, and personal experiences, all with a unique blend of Reggae and Dancehall influences. In 1997, he released his debut single, "Rude Boy," which quickly gained recognition in the Bay Area and could be found in local record shops like Amoeba, Tower, and Rasputin Records.

With his latest release, "3 Decade," Pauper D not only demonstrates his unwavering dedication to his craft but also pays homage to the countless artists worldwide who remain underpaid for their invaluable contributions to the world of art and culture. The song, which has garnered overwhelmingly positive feedback from Jamaican listeners and global audiences alike, serves as a beacon of recognition for artists who persist despite their work being monetarily undervalued.

Pauper D continues to make his mark in the music world. He's returning to the studio to record top tracks from his past, like "Provide" and "Una Betta Run," while also introducing new original tracks, including "Reach & Go Teach" and "3 Decade."

Pauper D's story is one of perseverance, talent, and recognition. His passion for music, his respect for the underpaid artists of the world, and his unwavering dedication to his craft are all embodied in his latest release, "3 Decade." As it drops on streaming services, the world gets a chance to be part of Pauper D's incredible journey through music, embracing the past while looking forward to what's to come.

See the exclusive interview below to learn more about this gifted guy.

Your music journey has spanned several decades, from deejaying house parties to becoming an internationally recognized Reggae artist. Can you share some of the key moments that have shaped your career over these years?

Meeting, engaging & freestyling w/ Guru from GangStarr before his concert. He told me “Never stop doing your music Pauper D!” That stuck w/ me forever & when he passed it became even deeper, & of course saddening as well. Collabing & being invited to studio w/ Daddy Freddy (1st Raggamuffin Hip-Hop artist from 80s/90s. I freestyled for him at his show one night & he was kinda shocked, in a good way. He said I’ll call you. Sure enough he did the next day to see if I wanted to record w/ him & his label up North. I went…Long story. Anyway, that really made me feel that I belonged in the Reggae world. Big moment indeed. Freestyling live on the air on several Bay Area radio stations was also very important in my journey. The largest one was KMEL, on of the largest urban contemporary stations in N. America. They had a reggae night for a short while, & me and a few Jamaican brethren were invited to come perform on air. Wicked Vybz!

"3 Decade" is a testament to your resilience and the challenges faced by artists who are often underpaid for their work. What inspired you to create this song and highlight the struggles of starving artists?

I had always traveled internationally for leisure, but often performed my reggae music in different countries while traveling (Asia, Caribbean, Europe, etc.). I always ended up meeting & hanging w/ various artists from every country, & realized along this journey, how we are all so much the same! ALL have great individual talents, but VERY few are ever really paid well or making a living doing the art they love.

Can you tell us more about the message and themes behind "3 Decade"? What do you hope your audience will take away from this song?

The main mssg here is, that as an artist, sometimes you just have to persevere no mattar what happens, and hopefully somewhere down the line you will be rewarded with whatever it is you are seeking. At the end of the day, art isn’t really about money anyway, and is more about passion & endurance.

Your music is deeply rooted in Jamaican culture and Reggae. How has your immersion in Jamaican culture influenced your musical style and the stories you tell through your songs?

Interesting question…Yes, I began going to Jamaican dancehalls in Oakland as a young teen, not to mention being one of the few Reggae DJs in the Bay Area back then, all coupled w/ collecting Jamaican vinyl, listening & recording pretty much every reggae radio show in the area, and then spending 1 month in Jamaica & attending Reggae Sunsplash (Seeing over 100 bands perform live), touring the island, going to soundsystem parties, seeking out small record shops, etc…etc. All of these experiences really made me into the artist I am today! I never really followed any 1 style of reggae artist, or sound. Because I was so immersed in the music & its powerful vibe, my own original music just came to me naturally with little thought. Interesting, but IRIE!

"3 Decade" has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from Jamaican listeners and beyond. How does it feel to see your music resonating with a global audience?

IRIE, IRIE, IRIE!!! After a long layoff from putting out new music & only practicing in private, I now feel very positive about my new music, the people I’m working w/ & of course, the International audience & their appreciation of Reggae music & more specifically, my brand of Reggae! Good vybz through & through!

Your journey has taken you to various international stages, from Jamaica to Copenhagen and beyond. How has performing in different parts of the world influenced your music and creativity?

As one can imagine, every country you perform in has a completely different feel & vibe, however, because Reggae music has this way of uniting people internationally, at the end of the day, no matter what country or stage you’re on, everyone is still just enjoying good Reggae music together! I will say that Jamaica has a special feel to it when you’re there singing w/ other Reggae artists, but Philippines for example, has incredible musicians, nationwide & that makes the music real tight! That def helps. I’m very passionate about my ability to freestyle Reggae, so I always seem to find new ways to deliver my sound, depending on the band I’m playing w/ or the DJ who’s mixing the dub tracks, or even the MC’s I’m playing beside. These all factor in to the creativity & musical content in that moment.

As you prepare to release "3 Decade" on major streaming platforms, can you share some insights into the creative process behind the song, from its inception to its production?

I was relaxing at home one evening & just fnshd watching a few old school Jamaican dancehall/soundsystem videos, & a few minutes later I just began practicing some bits & this is what came out. “3 Decade mi a mek di Music! 3 Decade mi nah get paid fi it!” And that is how the song 3 Decade was born. It was almost a cry from my inner soul, for all the years of playing hundreds of events (Clubs, bars, house parties, band stages, prvt parties, etc…) & never making a dime! I never asked to be paid, & didn’t care too much at the time, but now decades later, I kinda feel like, “Hmmm… maybe now I deserve to get something in return for the 3 decades of writing, singing, performing Reggae music?”. The riddim I chose to back the vocals, to me, is quite powerful & punchy, just as the lyrical message is on “3 Decade”. I intend to do at least 1 maybe 2 remixes for the song soon. One will have a rapper who’s been in the game for 3+ decades & the other will have a well known legendary Reggae artist from JA, who has also been in the game that long or longer.

In addition to your music, you've also ventured into the world of eco-conscious streetwear with your brand "CrazyLit." How does your brand reflect the cultural vibe of your music, and what motivated you to start this venture?

5+ years ago I began studying & learning a bunch of different Ecommerce platforms & was looking for a new opportunity online to run my own original brand that I was excited & passionate about. I really identified w/ the “Lit” culture & vibe, & one day I found myself saying to some guys in my crew, “That’s Crazy Lit!”. Then decided to see if that domain name was available, & sure enough, it was! I grabbed it & began building the brand. I’ve personally worked on every shirt, hoodie, & hat design myself (w/ help from 1 freelancer). But I’ve been hands on the whole way. In recent years, many of the clothing manufacturers have begun to offer “Eco Conscious” options & I immediately got involved. This is important in so many ways, as most of now know. I’m behind it 100 & wouldn’t want it any other way! The brand CrazyLit ties in w/ my music in a BIG way. “Lit” is powerful as well as positive & can help ignite creativity in many ways. Quality music is always “Lit” in my book.

What can your fans and listeners expect from your future projects? Are there any upcoming songs or collaborations you'd like to give us a sneak peek of?

I’m glad you asked! Lot’s of NEW CrazyLit music right around the corner! 1st week of November my brand new release “Una Betta Run” will be out on ALL streaming platforms. Many people around me have said that this song has everything a Reggae song should have & I really dig it in a BIG way as well! The riddim has much more of a roots reggae sound than my previous releases, & the female back-up vocals on the track are in my mind, maybe the most CrazyLit part of the track! And…the female singing the back-up is a big secret for now, but will def be announced at a later date. “Una Betta Run” really feels like the complete track to me. Next in line is “Provide”, set to be released in early December. This song is very important to me as an artist, and dates back to 1991. I wrote it back then, but never finished it, until now. Now the song is complete & almost ready for release. Oh yeah, & “Provide” also has phenomenal female back-up vocals! I’m currently in studio making a few changes on the riddim’ track, but other than that, it’s def ready to be discovered by Reggae fans around the world!

In your journey as an artist, you've met many other talented individuals in various creative fields. How have these encounters with poets, musicians, writers, and painters influenced your own creative expression?

Its def shown me how much artistic talent is out there, globally, and that everyone has their own unique brand of art. I’ve also noticed that artists not only learn from one another, but they seem to really embrace each other's works & promote other artists they appreciate. This is def a great aspect of the “Art” world!

How has the urban underground music scene evolved over the years, and what advice would you give to emerging artists looking to make their mark in this space?

Before it was all about connecting w/ other DJs & bands, going to shows to network, selling cassette tapes out of your trunk, & hoping to get a record or distribution deal. Today it's completely different in a BIG way! Because of the digital world, now all artists have the opportunity to promote within this enormous digital space! The possibilities are almost endless now. Social media & streaming platforms are hugely important! Do as much as you can yourself & if needed hire an online freelancer to assist w/ certain tasks. At the end of the day, be YOU100! Don’t waste time or energy trying to emulate another artist, or being something you are not!

Are there any specific memories or experiences from your career that stand out as particularly inspiring or life-changing for you as an artist?

Mostly mentioned above… Engaging w/ Guru from GangStarr. Hanging w/ & recording w/ Daddy Freddy. Performing “Live” on multiple stages in Jamaica. Too many more to list, but these may be the bigger ones on that list.

Supported by Musosoup #SustainableCurator


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