“Being from Jersey, you got to understand, there’s not too many motherf*ckers that are going to support what we’re doing,” says Da$H about the Garden State. Though, the 24-year old has spent the last decade of his life obsessed with music, his current occupation in rap wasn’t his childhood hoop dream.
“If it wasn’t for my younger brother, I wouldn’t be rapping right now,” admits Da$H between pulls of his endless supply of Newports. “I didn’t take this shit seriously until he was like ‘this [music] is tight, here’s some more beats, see what you come up with.’ This is me at like age 15, making songs in my man Flea’s spot. He had the mic hooked up to the desktop computer, and all that.”
Raised in the small North Jersey town of Hackensack (Fetty Wap is from the next town over Paterson), the troubled kid always had an ear for hip-hop, but just viewed the culture as a passion—not a career choice. With a close knit crew of his brothers and closest friends, Da$H was making mixtapes with his group G.F.B.(Muggs, Stevie, Retch, Kash, Keefy), and feeding the material straight to Myspace. He recalls having to smoke Black & Milds to cover up the smell of their blunts from parental units—and cutting the air conditioner off in his friend’s home-studio to prevent the power from going out. “I didn’t used to say as a kid ‘I want to be a rapper,’ he tells VIBE with seriousness.
Da$H found himself getting kicked out of countless schools before he even entered high school. Even his oldest sandbox buddies say he was always had a good heart, however,
as an adolescent, his mischievous mind always lead him to find trouble one way or another. Admittedly, he says his love for substances also has had some affect on his life. One year on his high school’s football team remains as his greatest accomplishment when it comes to institutions of education.
With the music of rappers like Stack Bundles, Dipset, Max B and early Meek Mill fueling his desire to rhyme, Da$H released his first official mixtape, The Script to My Instrumental, in 2010. The reckless release contains beats that his team strong-armed from other producers and a bunch of other f*ckery. However, when he fell back in touch with a family member known to the music world as Dame Da$H, his world was re-opened to all that downtown Manhattan has to offer. For a while the then rookie even called the basement floor of Dame’s infamous art space/studio, DD172, home—after he was kicked out of his mother’s apartment.
“You had everything in [DD172],” remembers Da$H about his teenage years. “It was like when Dame started bringing around The Black Keys, Curren$y and Wiz. When he asked me who they should be working with on some rap sh*t—-I said them because I was listening to nothing but Curren$y at that point in high school.”
The opportunity also lead him back to Ski Beatz, an influential producer in JAY Z’s career, who had not seen Da$H since he was just a young child. “I got the chance to actually be around these niggas, and they’re telling me ‘aye, this sh*t is hard,” says Da$H about meeting his rap heroes at a young age. “Having them at some of my first shows and sessions, where I sat in a real studio, it pushed me to go a little bit harder.”
For a time, certain critics even thought the Jersey-bred rapper was somehow just a rich kid mooching off the Roc co-founder, but this was far from the truth. Everything was not peaches and cream in the Dash household during his early years.
“I grew up with a single mother who was raising 3 kids, with her sister raising 3 kids and we living 6 kids in a 2 bedroom apartment,” he tells VIBE. “We were all taking care of each other. People can think what they want, that’s fine. I grew up not giving a fuck about nobody’s feelings. I wasn’t no super popular kid, I got respect where I was from, but I wasn’t no super cool kid.”
Luckily, the lyricist never bought into rap’s popularity contest either, and earned a solid fanbase solely from his independent projects. He has a number of double A-sides, EPs, mixtapes and guest appearances embeded onto your favorite rap blogs. Skrewface, 17 More Minutes and his undeniable collaboration with Playboi Carti and Maxo Kream, “Fetti,” have proven to be his most memorable releases to date.
“A lot of motherf*ckers think it was easy,” says Da$H. “And don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a lot of opportunities that I know niggas would kill for, and I definitely appreciate all of them. But you really get what the fuck you put out, so nobody is ever going to be able to say I didn’t work for what I got, or that I don’t deserve to be where I’m at. They didn’t sleep on the couches and floors that I did. They didn’t sit there and go hungry for days at a time, taking responsibility and caring for other people like I did. I’ve sacrificed a lot. I’ve watched some of my best friends die. It’s easy for them to say whatever. Just say it to my face, but I come at everybody with respect.”
After not believing in himself for years, it was the love and belief of his inner circle that pushed Da$H to focus in on his true talent. With a few major setbacks taken care of, the underrated emcee is looking to reclaim his stake in music during the second half of 2017. Quiet at kept, he has an arsenal of new material ready to touch the streets.
“I saw the potential in what I was doing,” Da$H reveals. “I had faith in what my best friends and my brothers started, and that’s when I started taking sh*t seriously.”