"Trick don't know this, but I met him a long time ago," way before "Shut Up," back when Duece was still living in Atlanta, he begins as he pulls from a blunt filled with marijuana leaves. "The people who brought him was one of my homies, he was [well-known hustler] Dixie Fair's best friend, and he had us come up there. And I was actually the only nigga with the heat in there. I was sixteen, something like that ... I was up there onstage with him. They brought me up there onstage to protect dog."
It's a great story, just wild enough to be true. Or is it? Most of the things Duece will say this evening seem fantastic and contradictory, elaborate tall tales wrapped around kernels of reality. But he delivers it all with such flair and panache that one can't help but forgive him for lying. It's no wonder he calls himself "the black Richard Nixon," "a politician" who likes to make up "all kinds of shit," albeit censored.
Unlike Tricky Dick, though, Duece doesn't take too kindly to tape recorders. He punctuates key moments in the interview -- times when he seems ready to reveal something about himself -- by telling me to turn it off. Like most rappers he refuses to give up his "government name," then tries to smooth things over by weaving an elaborate ruse about how his parents, who raised him in Atlanta before they separated and his mother moved to Miami, were inspired to give him the African name he won't tell me. "My daddy, he was an anti-establishment type of nigga," he explains. "If he was a young nigga right now he'd probably listen to dead prez or something. 'Cause he was down with Stokely Carmichael and all them niggas in Atlanta, the radical niggas in Atlanta, back in the day.
"He was a pimp's assistant, too," he continues. What's a pimp's assistant? "He was an assistant pimp. He wasn't really a pimp but the hoes loved him, so one of the rawest niggas in Atlanta put him in charge of a stable."
So what's left after an hour of seeming half-truths and off-the-record opinions? Godzilla Pimpin', of course. Scheduled for release on November 4, it's a just reward for his hard work as an important cog in Slip-N-Slide's rap machine after two years of recording, fine-tuning, touring around the country as a hype man for Trina, and making several contributions, many uncredited, to Slip-N-Slide tracks. The first single, "Lose Your Mind," is promising enough. Produced by former Young and Restless rapper turned producer Mr. Charlie, it's a give-and-take between Poppi and singer Tiffany that claims "and if I did what you're doing to me/Well then it's a crime," sharply interweaving the latter's anguished vocals with his gruffly melodic and unrepentant cad.
"Lose Your Mind" is an unusually smart record, which may explain why it only received cursory airplay on local radio stations this summer. His new, more commercial single, an animated romp with Trick and Trina called "Nasty Ho," should fare better. The rest of Godzilla Pimpin' is pretty good, too, from "Hey," a hard-hitting pairing with labelmate Ric Ross, to the outrageously explicit "Nasty Ho skit," where Duece asks a date to "kiss the baby."
"I want everybody to listen to the album because it's an atmospheric album," he explains. "You know how they got the tapes with just the lightning and the rain and shit? It's like the lightning and the rain for the serious ghetto. The niggas with packs [guns]. The niggas who buy pussy. The niggas who sell pussy. This ain't really the soldier music, it's exotic player music." It takes a minute to meditate on the meaning behind the thick slang and braggadocio. Duece sees how music creates moods and sound environments that we function in, whether we actually like the songs or not; he hopes he has made something that not only portrays, albeit in abstract terms, the world he lives in, but motivates his listeners to dance, make power moves, enjoy their lives.
"I ain't tryin' to make fun of Richard Nixon," says Duece. "I just felt like he exposed a part of America. He stands for what power means in America. You might got to do a little hustlin' to get there."