Dude N’ Nem Interview
Born and raised on the West Side of Chicago, rappers Trygic and Upmost just want to have a good time. Together, as Dude N’ Nem, their feel good sound and Chicago flavor enticed indie-major TVT Records to offer up a recording contract and a debut album is set to reach the masses before the end of 2007. Their single “Watch My Feet,” is currently working its way around the country and taking the Chicago ‘footworkin’’ dance style to a whole new level. During an interview with DJBooth.net’s DJ “Z,” the duo discuss the difference between ‘Steppin’ and ‘Jukin,’ which Chicago rappers deserve more credit than they’ve been given, and why space travel is in their future.
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Dude N' Nem Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on ya’ll? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth are a talented duo from the Windy City. Lookin’ to take Chicago’s Juke sensation to a whole new level and recently signed to indie major TVT Records – please welcome Dude N’ Nem. Guys, how you doin’?
Upmost: What up?
Trygic: What’s good?
Upmost: I’m Upmost!
Trygic: I’m Tr-tr-tr-trygic.
Upmost: You already know what it is – let’s do it now.
Trygic: You dig?
DJ Booth: When people hear ‘Chicago’ and ‘Dance,’ they automatically think R. Kelly and the Steppin’ dance style. What are the similarities and differences between Steppin’ and Jukin’?
Upmost: Yeah, it’s a big difference. You know, Steppin’ is for the grown and sexy, Jukin’ is for the young and wild.
Trygic: You dig, just like that.
DJ Booth: The dance style, “Footworkin’,” has slowly started to become popular outside of Chicago and can be heard on your hot new single, “Watch My Feet.” For those still unfamiliar with its heritage, why don’t you guys school everybody on its roots?
Trygic: Footworkin’ started in the early nineties in Chicago – It probably go back a little further than that, and it’s just been a part of our culture for so long that it’s about time that it came out of its roots, you know what I’m sayin’?
DJ Booth: What can you do for it, almost a decade and a half later, which no one else has been able to do in the popularization process?
Upmost: Well, what we gonna do, we gonna take it to the mainstream audience. It already been out there, we just puttin’ a little lemon pepper on it – that’s what we like to call it, we just spicin’ it up.
DJ Booth: The usage of the term, “Dude N’ Nem,” is popular Chicago street slang for “him and his group of guys.” What made you guys go with Dude N’ Nem over, let’s say, the popular Chicago phrase, “Wassup, Joe?”
Upmost: [laughter] Hey, “Dude N’ Nem,”- It’s the shock value that’s in it.
Trygic: When people comin’ up and they don’t really know who you is – say, you see a group of guys you don’t know, you be like, “Hey, that’s dude n’ em over there!” It’s a common street slang in Chicago, and we just took it and put our twist on it, you know? Make it real decent.
DJ Booth: Here’s the important question. There are two of you: Trygic, Upmost. Who’s “Dude,” and who’s, “Nem?”
Upmost: [laughter] Well, we both are “Dude N’ Nem.” I’m Upmost, he Trygic.
DJ Booth: Okay, that’s the fair explanation, all right. As up-and-coming artists, you’ve recently signed a deal with TVT Records. Now, artists both new and old are more than ever leaning towards contracts with indie majors such as Koch and TVT. What made them an attractive offering for your label home?
Upmost: Well, they came with the best deal. They was real attractive to us, just like the girl with the best butt.
DJ Booth: So in the end it was just about who had the most money on the table for you?
Trygic: You dig!
DJ Booth: Okay, that’s works.
Upmost: We felt like TVT is doing some big things over there. They was real successful with Lil’ Jon and Ying Yang Twins – they got some creative cats over there doin’ their thing: Pitbull, Nine Inch Nails. So, we felt like that would be a good spot for us as well. But we representin’ RD Entertainment. We actually signed to RD Entertainment slash TVT.
DJ Booth: Let’s talk about your style, because you mentioned TVT has a roster that has a lot of artists with a lot of different styles. Musically, you’ve drawn comparisons – at least from people I’ve spoken with – to the very eclectic duo, Outkast. What collaborative qualities do you both pride yourselves on exuding through your music?
Upmost: Well, we do a lot of fun music, and we don’t hold back. We don’t try to be the cool guys doin’ the cool music like gangsta; we got a mix-up of everything, and it’s real fun. So we basically do what we wanna do. We have fun with the music, and it just comes out the way it comes out because we got a blues feel, mixed with a psychedelic, mixed with rap, mixed with Crunk, mixed with everything.
Trygic: And also, we don’t limit ourselves to one particular style of music. We try to be real creative, and come up with a lot of different types of songs, with different ideas, and we take it as far as [we] wanna go, and we don’t limit ourselves. And on top of that, we got a good producer. The production team is crazy – we got the Beat Bangers, which consists of X-Cel, Upmost, Shorty Capone and Philip Jones, you dig? Young Phil Jones. You know, we got a tight-knit family over here.
DJ Booth: Sounds like it. Now for a question out the box, okay? Hypothetically, if all the current means of artist exposure were ineligible to be used to promote your music, your sound, your upcoming album, how would Dude N’ Nem go about marketing themselves to the public in a way that’s never before been seen?
Upmost: Well, we gonna continue to shock everybody.
DJ Booth: How so?
Upmost: We’re just comin’ out with fresh ideas, and things that they’d least expect.
Trygic: Our video’s gonna be off the chain also, so we gonna hit them across the board with our live shows, our videos -
Upmost: Showmanship, creativity.
Upmost: Just a bunch of stuff. We come with a lot of character and flavor, not just the same old rap.
Trygic: Right – we might have an album release party on the Moon, if we feel like it.
DJ Booth: Will I be invited?
Trygic: If your spaceship can make it, yeah! Ya dig?
DJ Booth: You mentioned briefly the idea and the concept behind the video for “Watch My Feet.” Are you gonna use your own feet or are you gonna hire some models and actresses and use their feet?
Upmost: Yeah, we got a bunch of footworkers from around Chicago – the best of the best. They came out to display their talent. The video is revolved around dance, the dance itself, and, you know showin’ off the fun we have in Chicago doin’ the dance.
DJ Booth: Let’s talk about Chicago hip hop for a second. It’s really come to fruition in the last few years; a lot of artists who’ve been on the grind for years and never really got their chance to succeed. Lupe Fiasco obviously did his thing last year. Right now Rhymefest is getting some pub[licity], the Cool Kids, of course Dude N’ Nem. What Chicago artists do you feel have put in the work over the years that have never really gotten the props they deserve?
Upmost: Well, for one, definitely Psycho Drama. If you never heard of Psycho Drama, they got a big buzz around Chicago, and everywhere else. They put in a lot of work – a lot of us rappers get our influence from them. They didn’t really get out there like they should’ve been, I think. They should’ve made it. You know, all the other cats that’s grindin’, man – everybody grinding, everybody deserve a shot.
Trygic: You get a few artists that did actually make some type of noise out there – there’s your Crucial Conflict, you had Do or Die. They made some noise but it was part of staying consistent and stayin’ out there is the problem that’s plaguing Chicago. But hopefully that’s all about to change, especially with us – we gonna bring back that Chicago, wild flavor. It’s something different.
DJ Booth: Guys, in ten years, if we sit down to do another interview, and I ask you what the past ten years have been like, you answer will be…
Upmost: Well, the past few years have been hard work. That’s the bottom line: it’s been hard work and dedication, and a lot of sacrifice.
DJ Booth: What status will Dude N’ Nem have achieved?
Upmost: For now, we achieved, the ultimate. We got a deal, so that’s the first of the first. The goals are set so high, so we’re reaching for the stars. We’re tryin’ to reach the world.
Trygic: We’re most definitely trying to have some longevity in the music industry also. The thing is, in ten years, you know, we just gonna keep praying and stay faithful to the music and we’ll be around.
DJ Booth: Sounds good to me, guys. Sounds like the perfect formula for success. Why don’t you go ahead give all of my listeners and all of your fans a website or a Myspace page so they can find out more about what you got goin’ on.
Upmost: Check us out at myspace.com/dudennem
DJ Booth: I wish you nothing but the best of luck, obviously, with your blossoming career, and make sure and represent Chicago well, okay?
Trygic: Thank you, appreciate it. Thanks for havin’ us.