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In House With Roscoe Dash

Damon Dahlen, AOL

Roscoe Dash looks back on his years as a jock with a satisfied grin. Once a small forward playing hoops, the 21-year-old Atlanta native threw the basketball to the wayside just a few years ago, put pen to paper and began crafting undeniable hooks that made him a staple in rap circles. His name should surely be familiar with big looks on Waka Flocka Flame’s rhythmic banger ‘No Hands’ and Big Sean’s anthemic ‘Marvin & Chardonnay.’ He’s rubbed elbows with top rhymers in the hip-hop community and earned respect for his pen game but he’s done it all with a “clean-up guy” image that he’s trying to shake.

Known for rounding out tracks for others in the industry, Dash is now looking for recognition as a sole entity. The tattooed MC, who has one album, 2010′s ‘Ready, Set, Go,’ in the bag, delivers a new effort that proves he’s more than just the king of catchy choruses. The ‘J.U.I.C.E.’ EP, out Dec. 20, is the slam dunk he’s been looking to score. With seven tracks, including the celebratory ‘Good Good Night,’ he’s looking to earn a coveted MVP nod.

Read on as the beaming dad explains how he juggles fatherhood and rap stardom, gives his picks for the best artists of the year and reveals the one song sure to shock his legion of supporters.

How do you balance your rapping life and the fatherhood role?

Well, really I do this for my child. I’m like a superhero to her [laughs]. It’s crazy. She doesn’t tell anybody [Roscoe Dash is] her dad. She just says “My dad, my dad, my dad.” I had my child when I was in high school. I was a sophomore. I was playing basketball, I wasn’t really rapping like that. Music was always something I did on the side. I had to learn how to make that transition and learn how to do both, learn what time was right to do what. It’s a long process to grow up especially when you’re only 17 [at the time]. I had to do a lot of growing up really fast. That caused me to get my G.E.D. so I could spend more time at home with her. That’s when I made my choice to be an artist and keep creating. I’m always having creative energy. I’m always thinking about something with music.

We’ve heard ‘Good Good Night’ off the ‘J.U.I.C.E.’ EP. What other song are you excited for fans to hear?

I have a record on my album called ‘Very First Time.’ Sonny Digital produced it. When you hear the song, you would think it’s about your very first time [having sex]. But it’s really not just that. It’s a little deeper than that. When I was making the song, all I could think about was when I was growing up, I used to listen to Ludacris and all the big artists, OutKast. Me being from Atlanta, [I listened to ] T.I., Lil Jon. I was really one-dimensional when it came to music.

Then my mom introduced me to Brian McKnight, Gerald Levert, Luther Vandorss, Marvin Gaye. She always said, “No woman wants a man who can’t listen to this kinda stuff, ’cause if you can’t listen to it, it means you don’t have any rhythm.” I flashed back to that when I made this record because you would think it’s your very first time. The song is like, “She said she never tried and it’ll be her very first time/ Her very first time/ I told her everything would be alright/ Buckle up tight and leave the rest to me.” I used a bit of an Atlantic Starr sample. So I just flashed back to that time and it made me think like, if I had to pass that message along to somebody else, how would I do that.

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Everyone knows you at this point for supporting other rappers like Waka Flocka and Big Sean on their tracks. This EP proves you can stand alone as a talent. What else are trying to showcase with the effort?

I named it ‘J.U.I.C.E’ — Just Understand I Control Everything — for a couple of different reasons. One, I’ve been a very big feature artist for the last year-and-a-half and people only know me for doing the hooks and being the clean-up guy, last verse type of thing. I felt like I needed to stand up on my own two feet and show people that I can do more than just that and do more than just the club thing, slow tempo with all the bass. I did a little bit of everything on the [EP]. Like I said ‘Very First Time’ is like an oldies sample over an 808. It’s introducing a new sound. I have an R&B record called ‘The Impossible’ that’s really smooth. People are gonna be like, “Wow I didn’t know he could do that.”

Your first album, ‘Ready, Set, Go,’ was released last year around this time. I want to know how you felt about the overall public reception of that, whether it was sales or the tracks?

Well, the album got leaked so I had to kinda chock it up and just kinda like charge it to the game. We had a couple of different release dates with that album and we were tryna find out exactly how we were gonna go about releasing it. We needed another single after ‘Show Out.’ I felt like ‘All the Way Turnt Up’ from ‘Show Out’ was a decline rather than an incline. I wanted to come up with something that would really sell the people, where they’d be like, “We know he can do more than this and I understand.” And I want people to understand me as an artist rather than just my music. It’s really not about selling the albums to me. I like to make feel-good music. I like to inspire people to have a better day and brighten their day. I don’t really care about album sales cause at the end of the day I can buy my own album. It’s more about introducing myself as a person and really showing people my passion for music and hoping we can share that.

I haven’t really heard you talk about your inspirations. Who influences you?

My biggest influence is Andre 3000. I think he’s dope in every aspect of the word. From his style — I remember when he wore a tutu to the Hip-Hop Awards and performed with a perm. After that everybody started perming their hair. Stuff like that, where you can set trends rather than being a follower. Like if everybody followed somebody we wouldn’t have any leaders . So I try to just beat that in people’s heads a lot.

Watch Roscoe Dash’s ‘Good Good Night’

What about outside of hip-hop?

I think it was my first BET Awards that I went to, the year before last. I saw that John Legend had got the Humanitarian award for being just that. I think that’s so dope. Any time you can step outside of your element and do something to make something else a better place that doesn’t have anything to do with you, that’s really dope. It’s really inspiring. I feel like everybody should be like that and find something… it doesn’t necessarily have to be donating a million dollars. Go stop by a Boys & Girls Club or a YMCA or somewhere in the hood where people don’t really have anybody to lean on or look up to. Take somebody under your wing and do something for them for once. I do it all the time. I go to schools and Boys & Girls Clubs to talk. I recently just played a basketball in the hood in Charlotte. That was really dope. I enjoyed it.

2012 is almost upon us. Looking back on this year, what moment in hip-hop is memorable for you?

The thing that really hit me the most I guess was Heavy D passing away. The reason why I say that is because, one, I just love his whole persona. He’s a real positive dude. I noticed that when I went to his Twitter page the day of [his passing] and the last thing he tweeted was “Be inspired.” I feel like anytime you can use something as a positive tool and send a message to somebody, to make what their doing a little bit easier — you never know what somebody else is going through. So like as I scrolled down his page more, all of his tweets were motivational and inspirational. I recently had just saw him at the BET Hip-Hop Awards when I performed ‘Marvin & Chardonnay.’ That was his last performance [there] so I just felt really blessed to be able to see that and see him get up there and go crazy like he used to. It was dope.

What moment blew your moment — something that you were happy or disgusted with?

The [NBA] Lockout, man. I felt like the world was about to end. I’ve been playing sports my entire life. So without sports, I don’t have a hobby. I’m like, what am I gonna do without basketball? It got me really in tune with football and baseball. I didn’t really pay attention to baseball too much before unless it was like the end of the game. It kinda expanded me a little bit more and kinda opened my eyes to everything rather than be so focused on what you’re used to.

Which artists do you think were at the top of their game this year?

Chris Brown and Drake. But I’ll say Chris Brown because he went through so much negative, you know, it’s just a lot to deal with. He’s actually a really good friend of mine too. But when all of that [2009 Rihanna situation] was going on, a lot of people gave him the cold shoulder a little bit. And I was one of the people that actually was around to kinda see what was going on. I just liked how he picked himself back up and brushed all that off and put it behind him. Everybody makes mistakes, it’s how you recover from them.

What about a female artist?

Beyonce, always. She has a lot of competition especially with Lady Gaga being out there. It’s kinda hard, you can’t deny that whatsoever. She’s still doing her thing. Pushing hard. Big ups for her.

Watch ‘Learn About the History of Rap’

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