Lil Dred From Liberty City: "We're Real Entrepreneurs, Rap Is a Gateway"
Lil Dred could be the Slick Rick of Liberty City.
His storytelling rhymes are movie-like. His raps are fire. And he's about to hit the avenue with 10,000 copies of his new Hosted by the Streets EP
He learned the hustle from his dad, Nate "The Great" Brooks, a three-time national champion football player with the University of Miami and an independent rapper who sold 50K out the trunk.
Here's what Lil Dred had to say about why he can't wife no shone, the family business, and the popular demand for his music.
See also: Ten Best Miami Rap Anthems Ever
Wasup congratulations on making great music.
F'sho, I appreciate that, man, been workin hard.
How'd you get started rapping?
I been rappin' since I was small with my dad. He was already into it. He played football for UM. And when someone got a superstar in their family, they always gon' get a little light. But bein' serious and takin' it upon myself, for the last 3 years. I'm 21 right now. That's when the whole Dred idea came about. Dred is a saying between me and my homeboys. It's an idiom which means "dreams really evolve daily."
How'd you come up with the new EP?
I called it Hosted By The Streets because I never gave no DJ my music, but when I went to the club and the parties around the city, they already had it. They were palying it without me giving it to them. Usually you have to give a DJ your music for them to play it, but the streets had a popular demand for me.
What were you doing with it for them to find or know about it?
I uploaded it to Dat Piff and Soundcloud, and now we pressing up like 10,000 copies we gettin ready to go hit the streets and the school zones up with.
See also: Miami's Top Ten Hip-Hop DJs of All Time
In your music, you talk about the Old Scotts and the New Scotts in Liberty City. Tell the people what you mean by that....
Actually my dad and my mom grew up in the Scott's Projects and right now when you come over on 75th St. you see the new Scott's that look like little mansions. There's one little abandoned project left there and you can see the difference between the two. Right now, it looks real nice, like a gated community with a guard gate, pool, and security. It's a real big difference, but it's the same people. The old projects got knocked down, but the people in the area still call it the Scott's. But the new ones are more like townhouses.
How important is it to your music to let people know where you're from?
I'm from The City. I mean, that's half my music. Most of my music is what I seen or what I been around. Any little chance I get, I try to put that in my music. When I've grown and seen more, my music will change. But I've lived in Liberty City for 21 years, so it's hard not to think of something to say about it. That's my main influence. And the first thing people usually ask (when they hear a rapper) is "where he from?" So I let them know through the music.
That song you got, "Take Em' Back," tell about the sample and how you came up with it...
The "On And On" sample been going for like 2 or 3 generations now, it's just that sample. It came from me and Chad Thomas just sittin' in the studio and workin with him doin' my music, he produced it. The idea just came to me and I told him I wanted to use that sample and he created the beat around it and that's how it came about. I just tried to focus on the facts and the memories, no punchlines, just takin' the people back as far as I could. That's how I see it.
Your biggest hit so far is "No Shone," how'd that come about?
I had a song that came out called "Lil Mama Shoned Out," and Chad actually made the concept for "I can't wife no shone." He took the hook and hit me up on Instagram, and I told him, "just send it over," and I put the two verses on it. That's him on the hook. After that, it took off by itself by popular demand. I never gave it to no DJ, they just started playing it.
Chad plays ball for UM how'd you get to working on music with him?
Workin' with Chad, he challenges me, and we feed off each other's energy. We go hand in hand. The hot lines and the passion for the music are from us coming from the same area, and I had a football career too. We just relate on those ideas and times of life. We're from the same area so we family too. Every time we in the studio we have a good time and create cause we love the music. We always seen each other around growing up, but when he sent me that message on Instagram is when we started working together. He's a little younger than me.
Where do you record?
Glasshouse Studios and Purefire Studios right now.
Your pops is not just a 3 time national champion football player for UM, but he also sold more than 50,000 of his own CD's as Nate The Great, how'd that influence you?
That set the standard for me, so I felt like I never had the chance to fail. Seeing him doing that as a kid, that's what I looked up to. That set the bar, and that's what I try to do. It was really something to see. He wasn't just good at football. I seen him get up every day and sell his CD's. He would come home, and I would count the money with him. Now, my career is different, but I know how to get up and go do it. No excuses. It's built in me. I go to different music events and it's all repeated in my head. It stuck to me for the long run. Most people ain't get to see that, but I was there wtaching him do it for hours, and years.
There are some hilarious skits and characters between the songs on your EP, where'd they come from?
Just from me and my friends personally, we have a lot of jokes and characters and we can sith there for hours doing that so I brought them to the music. We do them voices all day. I bring a lot of pain and struggle, but sometimes you gotta bring out the laughter so that people open up to you. Just niggas playin around. I got a lot of characters in my head.
That being said, do you have aspirations aside from rap for other forms of entertainment?
Yeah, I don't just wanna be known as a rapper. People gravitate to my music, but at the same time we wanna be way more than rappers. We're real entrepreneurs. We have our own family business, our own non-profits. We have the Team Dred Scholarships. We have our own business. We have ice cream trucks, but they're not just ice cream trucks, they show you how a business is structured, and how it's ran. We have 3 Rings Food and Service, cause my dad got the three rings, and we have an auto sales that will be open by next year. I have fun with rap, but I know rap is just a gateway to other types of stuff like acting, and being a sports agent. You see us ridin' round the city in the ice cream truck, we been doin' that everyday for the last 5 or 10 years as an independent family business.
It seems like you have strong team around you....
Yeah we do, but we inthe process of building it even more now. Once you really get in the game, it's better when you got your own team tight, so we building.
We just dropped the EP as a sample. Next month we coming out with a real body of work. Right now we're going through the initial songs, and we're gonna start promoting that next.
How'd that Zombie song with Ice Berg and Sam Sneak come about?
Chad produced the Zombie song. We was there in Berg studio goin through tracks and when he heard that beat he liked, so right there we hopped on and we did our verse, just went to the booth and dropped it. Sam Sneak got on it later.
You do shows?
Yeah, I been gettin' paid shows for the last goin' on two years now. I be doin' high schools too. I was just in high school myself not that long ago. My range goes far, I talk about so much stuff. I ain't signed to no label, nobody distributing me around the world, but the kids really be goin in my Soundcloud. The kids on the internet be goin' crazy with it. They're my fans and promoters.
Shoutout Team Dred and Miami New Times, The Great Government, the whole Miami, and the whole world.
Crossfade's Top Blogs
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Miami, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.