Phillip Green and I are sitting at a booth in Sticky Rice. It's February something, cold, and windy. We have sushi plates in front of us, and our discussion covered everything from Judaism to the music scene in Richmond. I posted a snippet preview our talk last month. Below is our extended interview.
When did your music career start? I was in a bunch of punk, metal bands in high school and stuff like that. I started producing hip-hop in 2011. I was about, 20 years old. I started rapping seriously maybe a year or two after that.
You're not a native Richmonder, where do you hail from? I was born in Two Strong, Arizona, and I've lived in Charlottesville most of my life. I moved to Richmond a year and a half ago. I do wish I could be in C-Ville fighting Nazis full time.
How did "Charlottesville" affect your music? It's interesting, I was there when the car hit (Heather Heyer.) I turned the corner and I saw it go down 4th St. We were in the crowd less than a minute before it hit. We heard the screams.
How did your alter ego come about? That's kind of a story. It came from Israel actually. Kabballists believe that your name is your fate. See, a friend of mine gave me a book on Kabbalah, which convinced me to go to Israel. They believe if you're seriously injured, you change your Hebrew name, and that gives you a new fate. So I went to Israel with the intention of, while I was there, getting a new name.....nothing came to me. Around the same time I was pretty infatuated with this one artist who made the really tasteful zines; real good artistic merit, and profound seeming, even if it was kind of inscrutable. Eventually I made my own zines, which had titles like "Your face is stupid and nobody likes you." Well, dogf**k was the title for one of them. That character dies in one of them and this is all an attempt to raise funds for the family of dogf**k....officially.
Where does the music come from? I think fear and spite are probably the two biggest motivators. Either I'll be up late one night because I'm mad over how little I've accomplished in life, and that will lead to a song, or I'll be up late at night because I'm mad at what someone else is accomplishing.
Where does your music meet your politics? As a white person in hip hop, I feel that I have to "pay rent." So if everything i was doing was self-glorifying and stuff like that, that would make me a asshole. You write what you know. I worry about politics a lot. So it's natural that it makes its way into my music. I'd describe myself as a pessimist, probably. I think we need to understand that as long we're still existing in the capitalist system, we'll keep enduring problems like, sporadic attempts of fascists to take over, people starving and not getting access to basic medical services, social isolation, things like that.
Do you want your music to inspire social change? I do. So, I'm not really trying to preach at people. This is mostly a self critique. I think by doing that, I'm also critiquing a lot of other people. I would like to make people uncomfortable with their routines. I would like to make people uncomfortable with themselves in a lot of ways. I'm trying got say things as plainly as possible. And in doing so, show how twisted the world is; the world's fu**ing gross.
What are you most proud of musically? A lot of what gets me the most doesn't affect people as much. But there are genuine moments like, there's a track That's not publicly released yet, from my forthcoming album, Triangle. There's lines in it "whenever your online someone spies on you. Is porno free? Find out what you're buying dude." The wordplay in that isn't particularly astounding, but when I wrote that, I was confident that if I spit it live, anyone that understood it, it would get a reaction. I think important to play up your weaknesses. A lot of rappers feel it's important to be extroverted. I don't like going out so much, but I feel I can put a positive spin on that.
Is there an alter-ego thing going on here? Oh absolutely. The first time I got a gig, there was this venue i was working at and...it was about a year before they actually listened to my music. I guess....when I'm dogf**k, I feel there's nothing anyone can do to me. People can say no and I'm like "well, I'm already dogf**k, you can't take that away from me."
Thoughts on RVA's music scene? There's positives and negatives. I think the scene is on the upswing, Secret Bonus Level coming on has been a really big deal. I think the queer music scene has a lot to contribute to the rap music scene here. Unfortunately I think things are still pretty fragmented, and I think the old guard still has a little too much control. That's probably inevitable though. People are gonna book who they know, who they know has clout. I think the scene could benefit if it could move past that.
How many albums have you put out? At this point I think, at least a dozen beat tapes, "алфавит" and "Denigrating yourself!," an EP: 👉👌🤔, and three lyrical releases. I've released "Rectangle." That will be followed by "Triangle," then "Circle." Just last month I released "алфавит." The idea behind this one is that I can release a different language's alphabet every year and in so doing grow strong"
There's a story behind that, this shape theme, I'm sure: Yeah, so "Rectangle" is the most arbitrary of them. The way it's conceived, it's just one long track, one long shape, but it's divided into two equal length pairs, therefore forming a rectangle. Triangle is one track but it'll be cut I to three equal length sets, and I think there's a lot of interesting trinity's. Past, present, future, Karma, rooted I the three poisons; attraction, aversion, and delusion. In phenomenology, they argue that all experiences have three elements, so I have songs about each of those.
Finally, as dogf**k, as an artist, what are you trying to accomplish? I want to be more of a culture warrior than an emcee or producer. I want to manufacture a whole aesthetic, whatever that comes down to. I want to create a space for people who don't believe there's a scene they can belong to. I want to create a scene that's safe for women. I'm not doing this just for personal enrichment. I want to make people uncomfortable with their routines. I would like to make people have to deal with themselves in a lot of ways."