Interview: Dedrick Jamaal Talks "T.A.T.A"

It was a pleasure getting the opportunity to speak with Dedrick Jamaal after listening to his mix tape This Ain’t the Album (T.A.T.A) a few weeks ago. I immediately connected with his style of music and I was excited to ask him about the journey of putting it together. Let’s see what he has to say!
How did the name of the mix tape come about?
Dedrick Jamaal: I kinda’ just came up with it a year or a year and a half ago. I knew I wanted to do it as a project I just didn’t know exactly when and the timing. I was working on my debut album and I felt like I hadn’t established myself enough yet to start charging for my music. I wanted to at least put out a very solid body of work to give to people to show them that basically I can put a price tag on what I’m doing. So that’s why the mix tape came about, I figured that could be promotion. If you like the project and then thinking to yourself I wonder what the album would sound like.
How comfortable were you with putting some personal stories in T.A.T.A?
Dedrick Jamaal: Yeah it’s easy to me as far as knowledge, because I really shout out the outside as far as like a lot of influences within rap, I listen to a lot of stuff outside of rap but I listen to a lot of my stuff now more like actively watching film and stuff I listen to it and see where I can take it as far as the sound and everything else and what I wanna show and I also wanna grow with my projects so my fans can see me coming from a younger more… how I wanna say? I don’t wanna say immature but just less aware cause where I am at now and going they can go with me in my projects
In Dedication you talk about dropping out of college to pursue your music, what ran through your mind after making that decision?
Dedrick Jamaal: I hope I’m making the right move (laughs) cause I mean it’s more so I’m putting everything into this that’s what I’m banking on. So that definitely was the thought and still til’ this day it’s always ups and downs and you go through different mood swings and you trying to make into an industry like this, but at the end of the day I just feel like I was given a gift for a reason and I just need to make the most of it and utilize my influences the best I can.
How did your parents or other people feel about you making that decision?
Dedrick Jamaal: I didn’t even present it to them like that.  I never really brought it to them like “Ok I’m about to go [to college] for this music, I just kinda thought it the whole time and was trying to figure what I could do like how I could I use school to be able to do that and pursue music. That kinda just came to me like look… you might as well work. I started working than do that and invest in the wrong career.
Do you want to go back to college?
Dedrick Jamaal: Eventually yeah. I definitely wanna go back, I’m going to graduate. I just gotta take everything one step at a time.
Any challenges that you faced producing the mixtape?
Dedrick Jamaal: Yeah I faced a lot of, it’s a lot of adversity as far as the people that I’m with. We have a friendship and sometimes it’s not always to have certain aspects of what you’re doing tied up with your friends because, you know, I don’t know, sometimes it could go places it shouldn’t. But that and the main thing, most getting everybody on the same page because I would rather have it in my head figure how I wanna put it together and then go with the move then just having to wait on other people. But at the end of the day because I hang with people I know I can trust that my best interest is in mind. So, it’s okay here. But, just trying to make the most of it.
Would you change or add anything to T.A.T.A, why or why not?
Dedrick Jamaal: No I feel like I did what I wanted to do and that was to be able to put out a body of work that showed versatility but also left room for me to grow and take my music another direction so that was the main thing that. I wanted to be able to show basically my repertoire and what I’m capable of doing and in the moment I feel like I did that. So that’s what I wanted to do.
Some artists that you would like to work with in the future?
Dedrick Jamaal: It’s a lot of artists. I like to work with whoever is interested in working with me, but as far as just off the top of my head Ambre Perkins, a singer from New Orleans. I would like to work with her. It’s another singer from New Orleans a singer from New Orleans name Nykea Javon she has more like a Jazz sound so just really different singers and people from different genres I really want to build like incredible records. Especially like  people wouldn’t really think someone where I’m from would try to make or care to make, so that’s one of the main things on my mind, but really anybody who wants to work with me.
Do you have any projects coming up soon?
Dedrick Jamaal: Oh yeah, I kinda speak about it a little bit on the mixtape. I’ll be releasing [my debut album]  later this year so that’s what I’ll be working on this year. I did most of it last year I and I recorded this mixtape right like right around the time I got about 80 percent done with the album so it’s still a working process. Since I put out a good body of work and I feel strongly about it I feel like I can’t short people who are just getting on to my music. I gotta be able to give them the next step up so I’ll be focusing on being able to elevate things and make this album what it’s supposed to be.
Did you learn anything about yourself producing this mixtape?
Dedrick Jamaal: I feel like the main thing I learned is that I could rely on myself if it comes down to me having to like do without features and stuff like that. I was supposed to have 4 people on the record, but this is like the least amount of people that I’ve had on a mixtape and I feel better about this than anything else I put out. So that main thing I kinda learned is that I can really rely on myself when it comes to certain things. As far as things I feel like I could do better, I wanted to showcase being able to rap sing and song write as far as in the future I wanna be able to give people. Like basically the way I have my projects setup I already know what my next project is gonna be and everything, the title all that the track listings. So it’s like for me I wanna be able to do what I didn’t do on the last one. I feel like this one I more so focused on that so eventually I gonna get a project down to where I’m just really rapping and it’s really like hip hop and back to that and eventually I’ll give y’all a project where I’m barely rapping at all. I’m just doing whatever genre I feel like doing, so I just wanna go where my music is and let people know I got more store and you know I never give you the same thing twice it’s always goin’ be different.
Since this isn’t the album, what should we expect from your album?
Dedrick Jamaal: The album is called Dear Winter and you can expect to represent the fact that a lot of things in life are seasonal so even though sometimes things might seem dark they might seem cold, they might seem bleak, there’s always another season coming and that’s really what the album is gonna be about just capturing things that might be cold over the years but at the same time being able show that there’s still hope and there’s still room for growth. As far as the production, I got production from a lot of guys that I been kinda keeping up with lately, but mainly one I’m happy about is my homeboy Jon Boi. He out in Atlanta right now. He just produced “Never Forget” on Future’s last record; yeah he’s doing his thing right now. So I got 3 records on my album from him and like all of them are completely different. One’s like a banger (laughs), one’s like a we are the world like type song, then I got another one from him that’s more so catered to the ladies so I just wanna be able to showcase versatility not only for myself but for the South as well and the region. I feel like the true artistry in the South is just kinda overlooked because my region as far as I’m concerned doesn’t really care about hip-hop as much as other regions. You know a certain type of music is what dominates down here, but we keep on standing for what we stand for.
Have you put a date on the album release yet?
Dedrick Jamaal: I haven’t put a date on it yet, but it’ll be before December. Initially I wanted to do December 1st, but I know a lot of college students are gonna be taking finals and all that stuff. So I’mma try to to do it before.
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