March 8, 2022
Hip Hop trailblazer Dumi Right releases pivotal new single/video “Stay Focused” featuring Outspoken and Sykotek with KHz Pro on production. Dumi shows off his lyrical artistry and just why he’s noted as a Stapleton In Hip Hop and music. The acclaimed emcee/songwriter/performing artist/cultural ambassador reminds us to stay focused amid a time when uncertainty continues to swarm around us. Before pressing play, tap into the full interview below with Dumi Right where he shares about the inspiration and creation of the video, his role in Hip Hop, upcoming projects, and more.
“With so much going on in the world in the grip of a global pandemic, it is easy to be overwhelmed and lose focus. This head-nodding track serves as a call to action and a reminder that we should always rise to the challenge, even if the odds seem insurmountable. It also speaks to bridging the gap between generations to help propel us to a brighter Afro Futuristic plane. As the chorus implores, “Focus on the challenges we’re facin’, Music that’ll spark elevation, Trying to change the current situation, Building with the next generation…”
MJ: For those who might be unfamiliar with Dumi Right, let’s begin by introducing you. Your history in Hip Hop dates to Zimbabwe Legit, one of the first Hip Hop groups in Africa to receive global recognition. How did that experience pave the way for you as an emcee, songwriter, and performing artist?
Dumi: When I first came out, all I wanted was for the world to hear the story of a young dude from Africa, a “brother from the Mother” that had been drawn to the power and magnetism of Hip Hop. Back in 1992, my group Zimbabwe Legit dropped a groundbreaking EP that included production from Black Sheep’s Mr. Lawnge and DJ Shadow. Since then, I’ve remained deeply immersed in the art and culture performing domestically and internationally and recording critically acclaimed albums and unique projects. I like to live by the phrase, “Don’t let your past be brighter than your future” so I was never one to rest on my laurels. Even though back then we were written up in Billboard magazine, The Source, and yeah even “Word Up! Magazine” that I read from cover to cover admiring my favorite rap stars as the Biggie lyric says, I knew that if I didn’t keep pushing and keep moving, I could easily fall off. When we first got started, international Hip Hop was by no means at the scale that it is today. There wasn’t a well-defined blueprint on how to make the connection between Hip Hop in other parts of the world and what was going on in the US at the time, and so I had to navigate and learn by trial-and-error style. I loved the fact that we could give voice to a whole segment of the culture that many people may not have been familiar with and bring a unique perspective and view of the world through the music. Also coming out at that time meant that I was a de facto ambassador of sorts, representing a bunch of people like myself. That meant I had to come correct and make a mark because a lot of eyes were watching, and I felt the weight of people who were counting on me to be successful. Having that pressure from the get-go gave me the drive and perseverance to realize that failure wasn’t an option and that I always needed to put my best foot forward. You don’t realize at the time the impact what you do might have, but hearing from people how that initial splash was an inspiration is definitely humbling and very deeply appreciated.
MJ: You are not only respected as an emcee but also as a cultural ambassador. How did that role come into fruition? How does it tie into your music?
Dumi: Coming out of the international scene, I have always had a desire to connect with artists from all over the globe. Knowing how Hip Hop culture influenced and inspired me growing up and so I understood how important it was to build bridges and community globally. As a result, for many years I worked on collaborations, projects, and initiatives that involved artists from countries around the world. I later heard about a formal opportunity to practice many of the things I had been doing already, by teaching Hip Hop overseas through a program called Next Level. A DJ friend of mine had participated in the first edition of that program and he told me that it was amazing and that I needed to apply. I did and was selected to teach emceeing in Thailand a few years ago. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my music career and even my life in general. It was an extension of the work that I had been doing but it also allowed me to build with up-and-coming emcees and teach the principles of Hip Hop and performing as well as learn more about Thai culture and the people. It was an affirmation that I was doing meaningful work and strengthened my resolve to continue to be a global connector and bring artists together through music.
MJ: Your latest video “Stay Focused” features Outspoken and Sykotek with production by KHz Pro. Before we dive into the content of the video, tell us how everyone linked up with each other. The filming aspect alone of the video is incredible.
Dumi: Outspoken is one of my favorite emcees from Zimbabwe. He has insightful rhymes that address the times, and he is a very versatile artist. I have performed with him when his group visited the US and we collaborated on a previous song and video. My homie Khz cooked up this head-banging track and as I was formulating an idea of what I wanted to do with it, I realized he’d be the perfect artist to collaborate with on it. He also works quickly, and the finished product is always dope. I was introduced to Sykotek by a mutual friend and really liked the way he rhymed and the way he seamlessly transitioned between languages. He raps in English but can stop on a dime and start spitting in Ndebele and he’s got crazy skills doing both. Also having previously done a song called “Doin’ Damage in My Native Language” it seemed appropriate to have him carry the torch and represent that here. In addition, the three of us had collaborated last year on a Covid-19 awareness song for a project that a counterpart was putting together. That song “In These Days and Times” turned out well and our styles complimented each other so I felt we needed to do it again for this. We are all in different countries, Outspoken in Harare, Zimbabwe; Sykotek was in Johannesburg, South Africa at the time and I am based in Washington, DC but we were able to get on the same page and record music first and then later the video to bring the “Stay Focused” concept together.
MJ: What was the inspiration behind “Stay Focused”? Did the video meet/exceed your expectations?
Dumi: The song basically talks about following through on what your goals are despite distractions, setbacks, or roadblocks. It also speaks to connecting with the next generation to build a stronger community and change sub-optimal situations or circumstances that we might find ourselves in. The beat slapped so hard that I knew I needed something high energy to match it. I did a couple of different things for the chorus but then I thought it would be dope to switch it up and have someone else rock the hook and summarize the whole concept. I loved what Outspoken did with it and that set the stage for everything else. I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to pull off a video given our different geographic locations, but the guys were all keen to try it out and made plans to record their footage and send it to me for editing. Another longtime friend and collaborator by the name of Magee offered to edit it all together and he did it seamlessly like the pro that he is. The footage was shot in 3 different countries, and he took the challenge of weaving the story together and he did an amazing job. It exceeded all expectations for me even though I know he’s a wizard with video. He’s directed and edited a lot of African Hip Hop music videos but also works in the field so has edited numerous films and documentaries, so it was certainly within his realm of capability, and it shows.
MJ: It seems at times music that offers empowerment and motivation that wake up and stimulate our core and minds, has fallen by the wayside. As an emcee and cultural ambassador, what is your blueprint to ensure “Stay Focused” doesn’t take a back seat to the monotony that is being saturated on the airwaves and in communities?
Dumi: The first thing for me is not being influenced by the flavor of the month trends prevailing in the industry. Understanding who I am and what my authentic and unique voice is means I can exercise the freedom to not go along with whatever is trendy now and stay focused on my grind and the work that I’m trying to do. I also know that saying something in music might mean it might not be highlighted in those mainstream circles so finding alternative outlets and audiences to amplify the messages that we’re dropping and spread the word about what we’re doing. I focus on non-typical music outlets but also leverage the global Hip Hop community to find the eyes and ears that appreciate that raw and true Hip Hop sound and lyrics. Like-minded people are out there, you just have to find them. I do work in Hip Hop education and so this type of music also finds receptive audiences in those types of forums as well. And a wise man once said, “Market and promote, and you gotta hope, that the product is dope” (word to Q-Tip), so to begin with I always make sure that I put forth dope music with beats and rhymes that people are going to want to listen to. If you have a great product, when the audience hears it, they can’t help but appreciate it. I also lean on my network of international collaborators to help carry the messages to fans in their areas that would dig it but I otherwise might not be able to reach on my own. So essentially building an ecosystem of progressive Hip Hop on our own, knowing that we can’t count on support from the mainstream. Doing things beyond just music like workshops and panels also helps to build that community and work to “try to change the current situation” besides just dropping records. Hopefully, through all these combined efforts a major impact will be felt.
MJ: Can you share with audiences and fans what they can expect from Dumi Right in 2022? New music, more collaborations, and/or other endeavors on the radar?
Dumi: While finishing up my next solo album, I ended up inking a deal with a label in the UK to re-issue one of my prior albums on limited-edition vinyl. That will drop later this year via Chopped Herring Records. I feel like folks that cop vinyls are some of the biggest supporters and truest fans and of course, that includes many DJs, so I am thrilled that we’re going to be able to make that happen. The biggest news though is the impending launch of my new website dumiright.com very soon and a brand-new solo album, Dumi Right – Foreword to the Future. I’m real amped about this as it has been a long time coming but it has some pure heat on it. Guest artists include Chubb Rock, Speech from Arrested Development, YZ, El Da Sensei, Breez Evahflowin’, Kev Brown (on production), Emskee, and more. I had an artist in South Africa draw some ill Afro-Futuristic artwork. It will drop also on limited vinyl first and then go on all the streaming platforms thereafter. We’re putting the finishing touches on it and working on the marketing and distribution plan.
MJ: Take this time to share anything else with the world of Hip Hop…
Dumi: I just served as an executive producer and artist on a compilation series, Stop Shooting Vol 1 and 2 that features emcees and producers from all over the world speaking out about gun violence and police brutality. Lots of exciting music on those two volumes including a new single called “Global Love Warming” that includes a chorus sung by Aloe Blacc. There are so many great artists on it and they all bring very unique perspectives and styles to the table so it’s refreshing to hear…Please subscribe to my YouTube channel at https://youtube.com/dumirightmusic and follow me on Instagram, FB, and Twitter for all the latest scoop.
Connect with Dumi Right
February 2, 2022
From Bushwick by way of the Far Eastern city of Tokyo, Japan, DJ Toshi has been perfecting his craft as a DJ and producer, making a name for himself broadcasting worldwide on his internet radio show, Classic Storm Radio, garnering die-hard fans from across the globe. DJ Toshi has performed for parties & shows at many venues in New York such as Webster Hall, S.O.B.’s, Mercury Lounge, The Delancey, DROM, to name a few. He is also a founder & resident DJ of one of New York’s best Underground Hip Hop events, Rock Da House.
Currently, in its 6th year, Rock Da House has featured countless Hip Hop Legends over the years such as Grandmaster Caz, Lord Finesse, Large Professor. Easy Mo Bee, DJ Tony Touch, Immortal Technique, Boot Camp Clik, Organized Konfusion & many more.
I speak with veteran DJ on his humble beginnings and his views on the art of DJing.
What inspired you to become a DJ?
I would say that I was introduced to rap music when I happened to watch the commercial dance battle on the Japanese TV show. Some of the dancers were dancing to rap music. I was around 13 years old. Then, I started looking for rap cassette tapes at the public library. That was the beginning. I was more into dancing at first, then I
really fell in love with this music as time went by. I started djing when I heard a lot of dope music & mixtapes from the DJs such as DJ Kid Capri, DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Chuck Chillout, DJ Premier, DJ Tony Touch. They were huge inspirations for me to become a DJ.
What was the first turntable you played on?
When I was a kid, my father had a record player, and I borrowed it from him. I used to try to imitate that record scratch sound with his player, well before I could afford two Technics and a mixer. I can’t recall the name of that player, though!
What type of music did you grow up with and love to this day?
I grew up with some Japanese pop music like everybody else in Japan. Then (as I mentioned above), I got into rap music in my early teens and started listening to a lot of rap artists. I still love rap music to this day, for sure.
Once I got into making beats, I inevitably started listening & digging all kinds of music for my beats. Then, I got into a lot of different genres. Good music is always good for my ears & the soul. It doesn’t matter what genres they are… I’ve never lost my passion for music to this day.
How would you describe a typical DJ Toshi set? What makes your sound unique?
New York Boom Bap!!
I think people would feel my set if they’ve ever fell in love with that authentic & traditional Hip Hop music. I would occasionally throw in funk, soul, original, breaks at the right time and that would make sense with my set & make my sound unique. It would be easier to play current hits and make a crowd dance but I want to be a DJ that plays something unique or classic tunes that people haven’t heard for a very long time. People would be surprised and go crazy.
Your top 5 venues are..
Mercury Lounge, Big Bar, The Delancey, The Pyramid & Project Parlor.
These are all different types of venues. But I always have fun djing in there!
Of course a discussion would not be what it is without the vinyl vs. laptop debate. What is your stance on the topic? Do you feel the art is lost or enhanced due to the rise of digital technology?
There are positive and negative sides to almost everything. For example, DJs who came up carrying heavy crates of vinyl from crib to gig to gig every night might appreciate how the Serato revolution has changed the game. On the other hand, DJing has become easier and more affordable, with laptops and technology and the internet (downloading music is very different from the storied practice of “diggin’ in the crates”). So nowadays, anybody could say they’re a DJ – with no dedication and commitment to the art. I would suggest that this aspect has diminished the value of DJs & the record business.
I prefer vinyl and analog sound for sure. That’s my first love, and that’s the foundation. However, I left all my crates in Japan when I moved to NY. So without Serato, I wouldn’t be able to perform as
consistently. (It’d be almost impossible to recollect and re-create my physical vinyl library again.) In that sense, digital technology has helped my situation tremendously.
Favorite “go-to” song to play.
It is hard to say. I DJ for different types of parties, all kinds of crowds. It also depends on the time of day! Playing a song at 10 PM and 2 AM will most likely get totally different reactions from the same crowd, so I guess I don’t have a favorite “go-to” song.
How did Rock Da House get started?
Back in 2016, The Delancey’s booking manager asked me if I could DJ and organize a party for one of their Mondays, on very short notice. I called Psycho Les (of The Beatnuts), who was releasing the “Dank God Vol.1” album around that time, and asked him if he wanted to do his album release party with me at the Delancey. He was down, and the party turned out to be a dope night – regardless of the mad short notice the club had given me. (Big shout out to Psycho Les!) So the Delancey was very impressed, and it didn’t take too long for my party
to become a weekly thing.
So then I talked to my man Doc Ahk, who’d been collaborating and organizing shows with me for some time already, and we landed every Monday there (later, Wednesdays), to work together and bring something different to the table on a weekly basis. We felt that there was enough talent in NYC and the area to hold this down, and we were right. (Shout out to Doc Ahk!) It wasn’t until our party started to get well known that I felt we needed a solid brand name. So I was like, “Who rocked the house tonight the most?” And, “Who will be rocking next week?” …That turned into, “Who Rock Da House?” until we finally just said, “let’s keep it simple: Rock Da House!”
And that’s how Rock Da House was born. The rest is history.
We kept it going every week at the Delancey for four years or so until the pandemic hit and the city shut down.
Right now, it’s still difficult to do the show weekly, but we haven’t stopped doing Rock Da House in NYC throughout these hard times. We also managed Rock Da House tour in NJ, Baltimore, ATL, LA as well as the virtual reality concert that we teamed up with Hip Hop in VR.
What advice you would give to aspiring DJs?
Passion for music is the most important. That might sound simple enough, but it’s the key to not giving up. If money is your motivation, or you get into DJing because you think it’s cool and trendy, you won’t last too long. Also, don’t stick to one genre of music. It’s like if you love Hip Hop, it will inevitably lead you to dig all types of music. Listen to the music, and follow its lead.
August 3, 2020
The young, Jamaican New Yorker delivers a pulsating track the defines his moves regarding money, music, and women.
As a young artist taking over the NYC scene, The Real Simba pays no mind to those clapping their mouths and hating on him. Let them keep talking and move frantically while this young King is moving with heavy pockets lined with Gucci from head to toe.
The blend of knocking bass and striking trap tones are sure to have music enthusiasts worldwide shaking and moving through the streets right into the clubs. Watch “How I Move” and check out our exclusive interview below.
MJ: Give everyone a brief background on who Simba is.
Simba: “Simple Intellect Makes The Boy Amazing” I was born and raised in Jamaica and came here when I was about 7, so I have a big reggae influence. I landed in Mount Vernon where I fell in love with Hip Hop culture and since then I’ve been in love with music. I used to write poems then it evolved to songs, and a lot of my music is upbeat, fun, loving, inspirational, and really heartbreaking. I try to cover every aspect of me as a person and emotionally. But overall, I’m just a fun-loving kid from the ‘Ville with a dream, goal, passion, and drive.
MJ: You’re a young artist who created his own lane and carved a name for himself in the music industry. Talk about that ladder climb and some of your strategies along the way.
Simba: It’s tough to keep it real, it’s a lot of hard work and time that goes into my craft but also a lot of risks that must be taken. I’ve lost a lot of money from people saying they can do something that they never produced. Working with different personalities and balancing a social life is a struggle. but I devote my all to music because it’s my true passion.
MJ: What are some challenges and some perks coming up in an evolved realm of Hip Hop?
Simba: Hip Hop is more than music it’s a culture, it’s a group of people and a lifestyle. The genre is plagued by some violence, but I’ve shifted from that aspect and focused on fun up-tempo and inspirational music. Hip Hop made me who I am now and in turn, it allowed me to create and express my ideas, thoughts, and emotions.
MJ: I’ll get to what the fans want to know…”How I Move”, take us back to the thought, creation, production, to the final product of the single that is chart-topping!
Simba: Ohh man hahaha that was a good day I was actually in the club dancing and some girl came up to me with a bottle she literally said” I like how you move.” I kept saying that over and over because it was just so funny and crazy. Then later that week I heard a beat and those same words came back to me and that’s where it began and took off. I ended up writing the entire song that day. Now I’ve just been on the road working and promoting the track and video and I’ve been getting so much love.
MJ: What are some projects in the works or upcoming endeavors you can share?
Simba: I’ve got some good stuff coming for the people that support me as a person and my music. “Handle With Care “is an R&B project that I’m working on that’s going to really put people in their feelings. “Dreams of the Sky” is a mire motivation project but also very upbeat, raw, and gritty. There are some other secret projects I’m working on but y’all just going to have to stay tuned…