Richmond Rap Duo The Dime: You Might See Them Playing Chess Onstage This Weekend

Categories: Q&A, Show To Know

both chi and shift.jpg
Meanwhile, over in Richmond, a duo called The Dime has been keeping it quietly, gently, uncompromisingly real. Chioke Jelani and Knightshift are a two-man bundle of pretty much all the affiliations you usually need to make a rap record: they produce their tracks, write their rhymes, sing their hooks, harmonize with themselves. Drawing on the storied history of their hometown and the simple joys and pressures of day-to-day life, they manage to sound candid and proudly independent without getting preachy or... you know, sucking. 

A show with Fresno MC Planet Asia, scheduled for this evening at Club 6, was canceled, but you can check them out instead on Sunday at the Washington Hotel in downtown Oakland, at a show sponsored by Zon26, in support of their recent release, Brickyard Cove, which smoothly combines savvy lyricism with a more immediate this-is-how-we-motherfucking-do appeal.

Below, some questions tag-team answered by Chioke and Shift -- unedited for maximum rawness.

But first, watch what happens when you follow the beckoning finger of an Asian chick into a world where everything is blue and wind up on the beach drinking dishwashing liquid.  



How do you (motherfucking) do?
Chioke: We doin (motherfuckin) well man...
Shift: Yea, it's all gzus over here man. We get some more money in our pockets we'll be doin even better tho

What does the group's name mean?
Chioke: The Dime means The Desire Is Multiplied Everyday...
Shift: Everyday...so no matter what you do, your desire, your passion, your dedication should always increase as you strive for more

What's the breakdown of musical duties on your albums? Live?
Shift: Man, me and Cee share all the responsibilities, from coming up with concepts, to the writing. It be like running a relay race man...
Chioke: Yea, and then we got close ones to us whose input we value so we always try to listen and keep an open mind about what others'll be suggesting for that good quality assurance, ya know?
Shift: DJ Icewater was responsible for the recording, arrangement, initial mixing and overall flow of the Brickyard Cove album. He made the story that's told in that album come alive...
Chioke: Icewater water water boy..he also did some additional production on the album too, along with Bleszid, Crimson...
Shift: 8ighty 5ive, Random, Nathan Soultrain...
Chioke: Slouch, Omen, BrettLife...
Shift: Can't forget about that boy Nastyface
Chioke: Nastyface is a monster...
Shift: With the live shows, we be working closely with DJ Crimson and Bink$ Win$ton man. Our shows be more like grown folks game night at the house. After you put all the kids to bed, and get to doing what grown folks do...

How has the story of Richmond influenced your music?
Shift: We all know one of the mantras of Richmond is "Pride and Purpose." So, we take pride in making music with real intention behind it, and thoughtfulness. It's always good when folks from the Rich or anywhere in the world, no matter what age group, tell us that they're proud of us for making the type of music we do and representing the city in the way we do. We make real purposeful music man...
Chioke: Yea, we hella proud to be from where we're from, and our experiences while growing up and living in Richmond is what always shapes our sound. You can't take that out of us..

How do you describe your music in terms of other trends in Bay Area rap?
Shift: Like most forms of Bay Area rap, we just doing us on our terms ya know? Just buy it and slap it...
Chioke: Yea, our Uncle Lou would say, 'Ya'll just doin what the fuck ya'll wanna do..' so we be trying not to be limited or inhibited by certain styles, sounds, or the subject matter that comes along with the perceptions of 'Bay Area rap music.' The Dime's music is beautifully grimy East Bay soul..or as our brother Bles say, 'Brand New Throwbacks...'

What's the story behind Brickyard Cove? Does it tell a story itself?
Chioke: Brickyard Cove is about two brothers from the Rich on the come up trying to establish a sanctuary for us and our families, and then learning that sometimes that grand prize is deception...
Shift: Yea man, also it's about coming into manhood from young adulthood. Also love is discussed a lot, not just romantic love for women, but love of your family and community. The heartbreaks and the triumphs...
Chioke: The Cove album is a tale of hope also. While we was working on that project we had close friends who was suffering from depression and were contemplating suicide, for real. So the Cove became a type of anti-suicide letter to our folks. Towards the start of the album we say, "Folks I know committed suicide/ How could I uplift?/ What brung em down?/ Knew one who chose to drown/ One hung himself, folks cut him down/ I'm unprepared/ Souls leave us to rep for that corner/ Im only scared of jail, Jesus, and death - in that order.."
Shift: That's real...
Chioke: So, losing folks due to suicide or other violent means wasn't new to us, but writing a lot of them songs was our way of expressing how we felt about the situations, and to let em know we all gotta just keep fighting, no matter how tough the odds are against us...

What are your day jobs?
Shift: Both me and Cee both work in education, so touching on what he was saying, it's all about instilling that hope into the youth of the community...

What can we expect from your live show?
Shift: Man, you can expect a live ass show! Haha..a showing of live-liness
Chioke: Haha, for real, like Shift said earlier our shows be like grown folks game night. The crowd is the company you invite over to the house. Kick the shoes off, relax, make yourself at home, drinks in the fridge, get yourself a plate and chill..our stage shows is always theatrical, at times cinematic, and always entertaining...
Shift: We keep it funky, so we're always presenting something new to our audience
Chioke: Yea, so even if you've seen one of our performances, it's never the same twice, so we always trying to come with something flavorful

What's this I've read about onstage chess games?
Shift: What have you read about them onstage domino games tho? Haha
Chioke: Haha..yea, we be having all kinds of games: Chess, fools be slapping bones, we done played poker on stage...
Shift: Monopoly
Chioke: Hell yea man, but Monopoly be breaking up families on stage tho man. You see a different side of a person when they start building homes on Boardwalk you cant afford. And they be wanting all they rent right then and there. Good luck making it to that 'Go' square boy. Fools be greedy man...
Shift: Man, ya'll can come check it out Jan. 16th at the Washington Inn Hotel, 495 10th St in Oakland for the ZoN26 Evening Soul and Launch Party...and on Jan. 21st and every third Friday of the month you can find The Dime with DJ Crimson as he presents 'The Skillet' parties at the Layover in Oakland...
Chioke: We got a lot more live sets coming up this year and we always have all our show info posted on Facebook and Twitter, so add us on, and keep in touch with us...and definitely come out to see The Dime in 2011...


Location Info

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Washington Inn

495 10th St., Oakland, CA

Category: General

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2 comments
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Bluefunk
Bluefunk

There is light in Richmond!!!!! Thats the business!!!!!!

Bayspeak
Bayspeak

;uch love to The Dime. They are dope. Fortunately, there are many interesting untold stories in Richmond, CA. For example, The 41510 Brand, founded 1998 in Richmond (www.41510.com). Large amounts of light should also be shined on that story. They deserve it.

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