by Harrison Samphir
Before I spoke with Dudley Perkins (aka Declaime), the emcee from Oxnard, CA, I was half expecting the sort of humdrum discussion a music journalist typically shares with an interviewee: those unambiguous conversations about new records, inspirations and touring schedules. After all, I thought, Dudley’s been in the rap game for nearly twenty years. He helped solidify a West Coast hip hop resurgence with neighborhood friends Madlib, Oh No, DJ Romes and Kankick. There can’t be a question he hasn’t heard before.
As it turned out, however, the interview – like Dudley – was anything but ordinary. Over the course of an hour we talked about his unique style, the universe and how sonic vibrations influence the way listeners think and behave. Together with his wife, soul singer and songwriter Georgia Anne Muldrow, Dudley operates SomeOthaShip Connect, a California-based independent record label. His latest release is called Dr. Stokley, an 18-track, funk-infused album released through the Mellow Music Group.
Stylus: Thanks for speaking with me tonight, Dudley. I want to begin by asking you about Dr. Stokley, but more specifically how it builds upon the style you’ve developed over the past two decades?
Dudley Perkins: Well Dr. Stokley is a process, I guess. I’ve been doing music for so long and I haven’t reaped the benefits from hip hop like some people do. I’ve travelled the world but I’ve never got to reap the financial benefits from hip hop. But a lot of people have learned from what I’ve done. There’s a certain way that I do music that people mimic a little bit. I’ve actually brought a lot of cats into the game, so I’ve been teaching cats certain ways and certain things. I’m not a student of the game no more.
Stylus: Would you consider yourself a master of the game?
DP: I’ve mastered my style that God gave me. I tend to be the first at things, I don’t make music that sounds like anything else. I deal with the spirit a lot, so my music actually has a different energy to it. A lot of music and sounds on the airwaves right now have a sort of low vibration on it, and it can actually affect people’s lymphatic systems, their spirit, and makes people fall for the okey doke, the illusion. A lot of artists go against their churches with what they say in their music, even if they don’t have a church or religion or God. Music possesses your spirit. You go to a club and you hear the music, you start to dance! It’s a possession. I’m trying to learn more about the effects of the vibration in music, even before someone gets on the microphone.
Stylus: So are you a religious person? What about spirituality?
DP: No, I’m not a religious person. But a lot of people ask Did you go through something in life to be talking that way and acting that way? and I say no. If you’re going to speak to other people you need to greet them through the divine, through spirit, so that your guard isn’t up and their guard isn’t up so it’s a mutual greeting. But the way the world is right now, it’s so brainwashed, when you meet people and greet people with spirit, they think you’re crazy. They think something’s wrong with you. Over the years I’ve dealt with that. I’ve been religious in churches when I was young, I’ve played the role of pastor and have studied the Bible. But I’ve seen things in life that made me question man-made religions, philosophies and theologies. We’re trained not to look up. I don’t mean looking up for a second, I mean gazing, star-gazing. So we gaze at the television set. Back in the day, in the 1970s, a lot of inter-dimensional beings were traveling to this planet. A lot of the funk came out of that. You know, George Clinton talking about the Mothership? My name is Declaime, it means to speak in dramatic, poetic fashion with rhetorical effect during oppressive times. And that’s what I do.
Stylus: Only recently did I learn you were the subject of a documentary, so I watched Interplanetary Peace Talks. I do a lot of interviews with musicians I never meet physically, yet I feel like I learned a lot about who from watching the film.
DP: I’m the homie that you know. Plain and simple. We’re used to artists having this character, this act that they follow, and you tend to follow and see that act. You’re the viewer and that’s the actor. And you become those roles. I’m the actor and the viewer also, I’m sitting right here with you watching that mess. I’m just a guy that talks loud in the theatre, you know what I’m saying?
Stylus: Speaking of changing roles, what’s it like running a record label and business with your partner?
DP: I asked the universe one day, you know, I wanna do this, I wanna drop records, what I gotta do? When I asked that, it was years ago. Now I can drop a record in my sleep. I’ve experienced prejudices running a business as a black unit, there are a lot more walls and doors for you, like a whole bunch of them. Especially as a black human right now who doesn’t follow the norm which is to degrade yourself and degrade your people and your spirit.
Stylus: What do you mean by that?
DP: A lot of music that’s being pushed out right now has a low vibration. Say I’m the guinea pig, I’ve put myself out there knowing that the norm is to talk drug slang and money, females, partying, dranks, drugs. My crew [Lootpack] used to fight against that, and I grew and evolved out of that. I’ve come to a conclusion that it’s possession. You can put words and vibrations and tones into people’s music. It’s like putting something in somebody’s drink. Hip hop is controlled so much. I got this little thing – back in the days when rock and roll first started happening, the artists would get real famous and big, and then they would start going to the peace. They’d start talking spiritual and get really deep with their music. Then when they started getting rich and powerful I started noticing their album covers changing, their concepts changing. They started talking about the devil. Even if the devil is real or not, or whatever it is, they started speaking in low frequency, in low vibrations. I’m seeing hip hop do the same thing right now.
Low vibration, you can feel it in your spirit. High vibration brings happiness and spirituality. Low vibration will have you contemplative, have you thinking about things you’re not supposed to be thinking about. It’s not a love frequency. Look what they had to go off of: NWA, a lot of gang-banging music. This comes from melanated humans, black humans, right? Who are known for high volumes of spirit. Dancing to make it rain and stuff. They’ve been duped to follow this thing to where their offspring lives in that fantasy, because they believe it. They’re being pushed by the cats with the money. You can’t promote love unless its positivity about something they’re selling in their stores or filling up their jails. Love don’t fill up the jails and don’t fill the shelves of their stores. I get a lot of stones thrown at me about this. It’s uncomfortable for me on Earth. I get these feelings and think this way and I know there are people who question it, and I hope they do. But it’s a calling and they need to answer it. That vibration is very strong. What do you think the FCC is? That’s the policeman. It regulates what goes out on the vibration. What does vibration ride on? Invisible waves, sound, that directly affects your system, to the bone. That vibration is powerful. Coming through your radio, that’s power.
Stylus: Interesting points, all. But what’s next for you? Considering all this, how do you see your career developing from here?
DP: I just keep growing. That’s all you can do. It’s weird now. You find yourself standing in this situation. When you speak peace, you can survive. Even if you can’t financially come through and pay your bills or anything like that, you still will have your heart. You’ll still survive.