In late May, as Dane Lawrence touched down in San Juan, Puerto Rico for the first time in his life, we had the privilege to join him and his Gourmet Team for a summer check in.
The vacation stay came by way of Lawrence’s belief that a “fresh mind is better than a burnt out one.” Coming off his So High Tour with shows spanning from New York City to Toronto, with a strong finish in Austin, Texas during the SXSW Festival, a stroll through Dane Lawrence’s Twitter feed is proof enough that he’s constantly on the grind. In fact, he confirms this for us during our interview stating “I’m not in the studio every day. I don’t have the luxury to write or make music everyday due to the many tasks and obstacles that I face as an independent artist and an entrepreneur. It sounds wonderful but in the real world it’s all a balancing act.” The depth of this non-stop grind became even more evident when Dane admitted that he also had some tasks to complete during his trip which included shooting a music video and kicking off his SMF series.
“We just finished recording the new Saturday Morning Freestyles, we actually kicked it off today (chuckles), so even though I’m chillin’ on vacation mode, I’m still working on the low-low.” Now in its 3rd year, The Saturday Morning Freestyle Series has become a staple for Lawrence where every Saturday Morning a new freestyle is released. Dane’s influence on Hip-Hop culture became evident as other prominent New York artists like Fabolous and Jadakiss began their own freestyle series in 2015, a year after Dane released the first SMF series. “The theme behind the SMF series is Saturday Morning Cartoons. It is designed to create a feeling of nostalgia both musically and visually through high-powered lyrical raps and artwork that brings people back to that childhood excitement where they would wake up thirsty to be entertained by their favorite cartoons. This year we are taking it back using all old school beats!”
Check out High Society’s interview below to learn more about the depth of Dane’s work ethic and originality as we gain much insight to his commitment to culture, music and writing, and his Gourmet brand.
Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Artist: Dane Lawrence
Hometown: Long Island, NY
HS: What you Sippin’, Smokin’?
DL: Ha! (Takes a sip) A little Pino Noir.
HS: What are we smoking?
DL: Not what I would prefer (laughs), but at the same time it’s doing the job
HS: I feel you!
HS: So Dane, how does it make you feel to be in Puerto Rico? This is your 1st time right?
DL: Si! (Makes me laugh) It’s nice I like it, I like the vibes. I like the people. I could definitely stay longer than I’m scheduled to. I don’t really care for being on the scene, so anywhere I feel lost at or secluded, I feel a little more at peace.
HS: I was just going to ask you “How’s your Spanish?”
DL: I mean if you let me tell it, I’d say it’s perfect.
Leave it to the locals and … (pauses & smiles) I mean I don’t know how to say “I don’t know shit” in Spanish, so locals would probably say that I don’t know shit (laughing). My Spanish is like Canelo’s English (laughing some more).
HS: Canelo?! So you’re a boxing fan huh?!
DL: Yes, that’s what I’m on. The NBA Playoffs got me watching a little bit of basketball but boxing is the sport that I’m most in tune with right now.
HS: So it’s only right because we’re in PR that you tell me your favorite Puerto Rican boxer, if you have one, if not then your favorite boxer in general.
DL: Umm, you got some greats from the eras that I’ve witnessed. Tito (Trinidad) was killing! (Miguel) Cotto has had a very successful career, phenomenal fighter, but Felix Verdejo is the guy I’d put my money on right now.
HS: Impressive. I feel like people say they’re into boxing but they only know who’s hot right now, they can’t tell you anybody from even 5 years ago that was boxing.
DL: Yea, I’m not the casual boxing fan. I’m very in tune with the sport! I might even have to start a boxing website or blog for my own personal interests. Oh (he acts as if he’s seen a light) Danny Garcia, does he count?! I don’t know because he’s a Philly-Rican!!! I think a fight between Danny Garcia & Felix Verdejo, I don’t think Felix is ready right now, but that fight could be the one to catapult Felix to the status that he’s destined for.
HS: Okay! I mean I watch boxing too, so who in that fight would you go for?
DL: Umm, it depends. I’m thinking if they were to fight sooner rather than later I’d have to take Danny just experience wise. But if it happens at the back end of Danny’s career, I’d have to say Felix!! And you asked who my favorite fighter was. I was always a big (Floyd) Mayweather fan, but he is retired. My guy NOW is Canelo, he’s so young and has so much time left to further build his career. He’s only 26 and he’s already the biggest name in boxing. It’s crazy because he’s so underrated even though he’s beaten a lot of ex-champions and a lot of big names. He doesn’t get the respect he deserves, but to me, I think he’s world class.
**** (We stop for a refill) ****
DL: Hold up I got to change the music. (Puts on Jhene Aiko)
HS: You good? (Pausing as Dane sings Jhene Aiko adding a cool vibe to her song “The Worst”)
DL: Yea, where were we? (Both laughing)
HS: Something new, what inspires you to write?
DL: I consider myself a writer before anything else. And, I mean, I can’t really say. I read something before that said “inspiration is for amateurs.” I feel like that. I don’t need to have that enlightened moment, I just need to sit down & write. Sometimes I do feel inspiration for various reasons and I want to write at that exact moment, but it’s not necessary. The most important thing for me is to actively write. I can’t say how it happens. I guess it is God given. When I do though, it normally comes out high level, speaking humbly. So the most important thing for me is to continually do it so that those genius moments happen as frequent as possible. I don’t have the luxury to write or make music everyday due to the many necessary tasks and obstacles that I as an face an independent artist and an entrepreneur. It sounds wonderful but in the real world it’s all a balancing act and there are other things I like to lend my pen to. I actually got a few movie scripts and TV shows in the works.
HS: Okay so random question: How do you think the Puerto Rican locals would embrace your music? Do you have to understand the words to music to feel it or to feel the artist?
DL: Not at all, there’s times when–Shout out to all my Dominicans at the barber shop!–they’re playing Latin Music, we spoke about my Spanish earlier (laughing) and I don’t understand the words, but I can feeeeel it. When it’s good it’s good! So I definitely think my music could spark that groove over here especially with the additional instrumentation that we bring to our style of Hip-Hop. I’m confident The Gourmet Band can rock out and win over any crowd despite language barriers or any other differences that may exist. You can never underestimate the power of music!
HS: Ha! Next Question: What’s your perfect summer playlist? Who could you be caught listening or rocking out to this summer?
DL: Umm… It depends you know.
DL: It would have to have a good amount of variety. But being out here, I could definitely go for some Classic Reggae, Afro Pop or some Dance Hall. Then aside from that, just some bright happy music during the day and some chill music to vibe to during the night.
HS: Yeah, Puerto Rico has a really laid back vibe to it I think, what do you think?
HS: (Laughing) You seem very laid back as well from your presence on stage to your clothing style.
DL: I’m not the flashiest person, especially as I get older you know. I say a lot that bullshit is bullshit. Things like going out to the club popping bottles, spending unnecessary cash to display an image, that’s stupid to me. Making it rain, things of that nature, that’s all stupid to me. I would take that money & I’d invest it! That’s what the Gourmet Brand is, it’s all about quality. It’s all about working smarter and doing more with less. It doesn’t have to be overly expensive or a certain brand name for me to rock it. Again, if it’s good it’s good. And I’ve never been into jewelry, never had my ears pierced or anything, I just never been into it. “That Image” is not me and I’m not going to try to portray it because that’s what everybody else is doing. I’m comfortable in my own skin. I’m not looking to be accepted. Like, that’s not going to make me you know what I’m saying? Somebody else’s opinion of me is not going to define me.
HS: Well said! Well Dane, I loved talking to you,
DL: Indeed, indeed.
HS: Can I get some Dane Lawrence or Gourmet Merchandise? (wink)
DL: Sure, just go to the Gourmet Store.
HS: Whaaat?!!!! BOY!!
DL: I’m joking; I’m a big believer in taking care of the people that take care of me. One hand washes the other. Both wash the face!
– High Society