Interview: Rohan Da Great

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Rohan Da Great is a musical chameleon when it comes to his cross genre success he is having right now. The son of a Reggae legend (Curry Don), Rohan is ready to show the world that he is on his own path to musical success. Relocating from the bustling streets of Brooklyn to quiet living in North Carolina has not slowed him down with his music production only heightened his talents. Currently he has a hit EDM single out with Dani Deahl called “SMYK”.
I was lucky enough to sit down and discuss his motivation for jumping into new genres and what is next for Rohan Da Great.
Let’s start out by telling us who is Rohan Da Great?
RDG: Rohan Da Great is a young aspiring artist and entrepreneur that tries to bring real life music to the masses. Music that people can relate to. While trying to evoke real emotions that people can relate too, whether that be making people feel happy or I want to give the comfort of just knowing that someone else has gone through it too, if it’s a sad situation. I want to be that person they can listen and relate to whenever they are in any kind of emotional situation. I also want to make music while inspiring others, showing them that dreams do come true as well.
I have seen that you have moved from Brooklyn to North Carolina, has the move influenced your music at all?
RDG: I do think so. I have always been an eclectic individual and the move to North Carolina made me slow down the life a little bit and I got to appreciate life a little bit more. I was always raised right but when you are growing up in the Flatbush and East Flatbush sections of Brooklyn you kind of have to have a hard exterior to survive. Sometimes you start to miss out on the small things, and by being here in JOCO [North Carolina] I had a lot of time with myself, because it does get a little bit boring here at times. So you’re alone a lot more, and when you are alone you begin to find yourself a bit better. So I can definitely say being here has changed my music, it has opened my eyes and broadened my horizons. A lot of the situation that are touched upon in my music now are situation that took place here in North Carolina. North Carolina has a huge impact on my music.
You have been known to cross over into many different genres, what is your motivation of this cultural cross over?
RDG:  Well my motivation is just life. I grew up in a Jamaican household, both my parents are Jamaican so I grew up listening to reggae, which is my first love and what I first started to do musically. I wanted to tour as a reggae artist because my father was a reggae artist and being a kid you always want to be like your father. My uncle (DJ Supa Dane) was a huge DJ in New York. One day I heard him playing underground hip-hop and I said “Yo, what is this?” because it was new; it wasn’t reggae. The neighborhood I grew up in was mostly Jamaican so all I heard growing up was reggae, so after first hearing hip hop I fell in love with it. When I was at home I was listening to Jamaican artists with Jamaican accents and slang but the artist I heard in hip-hop had a New York accents and spoke the slang I heard at school, so it gave me something new that I could relate to.
Then growing up I began to broaden my horizons.  R&B is a lot like Reggae to me because of the singing and the lyrics. And as far as EDM goes I wanted try something just to try something new because I am a musician and I respect all types of music. The samples might be a little faster but it is the same pattern so you can still rap on it but with a different feel. So I thought I could do that too because I love music. While I tried to do it, it took off and I began to find out more about the culture by people posting it on blogs and people reaching out to remix this and that. So I began to appreciate the genre even more.
Has your dance hall influenced your dip into EDM?
RDG: It has but, I would have to say it was more so mainstream hip-hop.
Your EDM single “SMYK” has gained a lot of popularity, what was the concept behind this?
RDG:  Prior to “SMYK,” I had no intent of making EDM, but my friend Rob who is actually the tour manager for Dani Deahl played a huge role in the creation of “SMYK”.  One day he was like “listen to this”. I liked the beat and I just started to rap on it with a freestyle. “SMYK” was basically a freestyle that turned into a song.  After recording the freestyle, Rob sent it to Dani and she was like “we have to make a record.” As I wasn’t necessarily trying to make an EDM track, but the opportunity came and I took on the challenge. As a musician you want to push your boundaries. And it made sense in another light because actually there is an EDM show called Life in Color that a friend of mine wanted me to make songs for, but it never panned out.  But with this track “SMYK” it gave me another opportunity to break into the genre and turned into a huge success.
What is your favorite remix of “SMYK”?
RDG: The Reid Speed remix is bananas. There is a lot of stuff going on with the cats. She slows it down and the synths she uses are actual samples of cat noises. I don’t know how she did it. Those sounds added are dope and she adds an artistic aspect to it, which makes it my favorite.
Your latest single “Only One” features Stoney, how did the two of you connect to make this track?
RDG: The way that track came about was actually really crazy. I have had that track for two years now. Originally I was singing the hook, but I really couldn’t sing it that well, so we were auto-tuning it and felt like we needed something else. And that’s where Stoney came in. She was actually a friend of mine before making this track and we were just kicking it and playing the songs in the studio, while she was there to work on some stuff for her brother. When she heard it (Only One), she was like “wow, that’s dope” …“I love it, Ro this is great”. I then asked her if she would like to sing on it to add something new to it, she agreed and goes into the booth and nails the hook on the first take. At that point I didn’t have a third verse and was thinking about just cutting the song after two verses. She said not to worry about it because she had a verse. This was literally like within 5 minutes of laying down the hook. And at first I was thinking like  “she just did the hook, how does she have a verse already?” As you know, I think of stuff on the fly and don’t write down my verses either, but it was still just after 5-10 minutes after listening to the track for the first time; so I didn’t believe her.
I let her into the booth, pressed record, and she nailed it in one take, again. This song gets a little tough and with the subject matter involving a lot of raw emotions I needed something to smooth it over. Something to make it more appealing commercially and I felt like she brought that vibe with and added edge. Furthermore, I think I only give my perspective in my verses. I am just sharing past experiences through music. But I felt like I didn’t have that woman’s perspective represented. I felt like she came with that. Creating something that women can listen to it, mainly her part for her perspective. Now everyone can relate to the song.
Finally, what is next for Rohan Da Great?
RDG:  As far as hip-hop goes, I have an EP coming out called The Real. It consists of 7 tracks and it is pure hip-hop. Kind of what you heard with “Only One” and “Rule the World,” just hip-hop and real life facts. I’ll be releasing a new single, “Summertime,” which is a fun reggae/dancehall track about enjoying the nice weather, beautiful women and party vibe of the summer time. It’s being released on Labor Day in honor of Caribbean culture and the Labor Day Parade in NY. The song was also premiered for the first time during the Carib Mask Carnival in Raleigh NC.  We released it kind of late, but we anted to spin it anyway because we didn’t want to let go of summer. So we are just cherishing that vibe for the last few weeks.
Aside from the hip-hop & reggae, I also do have a second EDM single, which is kind of dope because it blends EDM, rap, and reggae. I have a real dope reggae aspect on this track and right now we think that it is going to go international. That song is called “Money Maker,” featuring my labelmate Jaywin, which is also my brother, and Rah L. This song will take the EDM world by storm so we are currently prepping for the release of that. I also have a full length Reggae EP that I may want to drop sometime before the end of the year entitled I&I: Innate Ideologies. What that is, is a reggae album I created from scratch, I produced all the tracks, and I played all the instruments on there, I wrote all the songs, and sang on all the parts. To me it’s my baby since I was totally hands on with me alone creating everything, and I love it.
A lot of people don’t have the time or opportunity to craft their own albums themselves. As a indie solo artist I do have that time to create that project from scratch. I am also trying to get my label, LAR, off the ground. We are dropping a compilation album either fourth quarter of this year or first quarter of next year. Also I am going on the tour with Dani Deahl called the SMYK Tour. We are going to go up and down the east coast and I am on 13 dates including New York at Webster Hall, doing a couple dates in North Carolina, we’re doing Atlanta, Florida, Myrtle Beach, and basically like I said everywhere up-and-down the East coast. Also planning a Rohan Da Great tour for the beginning of next year as well. I’m looking forward to seeing new people and making lots more fans.
Connect With Rohan Da Great:
Twitter: @RohanDaGreatMC

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