Published on May 19, 2019
7 Deadlee Sins, Assault With a Deadlee Weapon
An artist often nurtures their skill in silence but that can’t be said for my latest interviewee, hip-hop artist Deadlee. Deadlee opens up about his Catholic foundation, therapy, Eminem, police abuse, immigration, drag queens, DMX and his prison vibe, “we all know what goes down in jail” and in your face faggotry! There is no topic barred and nothing he holds back, so strap yourself in tight and prepared to get the DEADLEE’ed!!!
How is the current USA music landscape at present?
As an outsider looking in it feels that almost all artists that back in the day were guaranteed to reach the billboard hot 100 have to rely on gimmicks to even chart. Would you say the music industry has been affected by YouTube and the ability for people to be able to use free online software to convert videos to MP3s with relative ease? Do you think that, because vinyl has been reintroduced into the market place and has become trendy again, the music industry might see a decline in piracy and an increase in physical in-store sales?
I think there is great music and undiscovered artists out there but you need to search for them. USA radio is corporate owned and basically play the same 20 songs. YouTube is a great way to get discovered like Bieber and Shaun Mendes but that’s few and far between. I am discovering my music from TV shows like 'The Leftovers' or Netflix series. I pull up my Shazam and find the artist. I think placing your music on TV is the best way to get discovered these days. I am saddened that rock and punk are basically relegated to bars and clubs. My favorite group is Baron Bandini – a punk trio from Los Angeles who I discovered at a house party and they play the punk scene in LA. They would be on the radio if it were the 70s but today they don’t have great options. I have been managing a new rapper called Redeye but it’s been difficult trying to get him noticed. LA doesn’t have a lot of open mic cyphers and today’s rap is so corporate. Independent rap scene is really refreshing and reminiscent of early rap but you have to search for it too. Chicano rappers like Mexica Aztlan and James The Just from El Monte, California do great stuff but haven’t been able to get noticed in this crazy social media driven society. I feel like real artists sometimes get lost with all the Instagram rappers and models who make a catchy little song for their followers. I found Brockhampton recently and I am such a fan. These guys are modern day Prince and all his groups or even Wutang Clan. Different races – background – sexuality all coming together to make music, video, movies. I wanted to do that with gay rappers back in the day and had some early success but later egos got in the way. Nobody buys music so vinyl might help that. The key is to be multifaceted and have merchandise other than CDs to sell. I think the next few years will be good for music and eventually real artists will brush aside the hobby Instagram types. I have recently gotten into Country music and they are the only genre of music that still has loyal fans. Rap and other artists need to follow the country music.
In 2002 you released your first album '7 Deadlee Sins'. The album’s message was extremely positive and focused predominantly on coming of age, accepting the person you are inside, as well as tackling subjects such as race, social class and police brutality. Having visited LA several times I have certainly seen first-hand a division in social class. You being a gay male of colour, who also doesn’t fit the stereotypical label, how difficult was it for you to break into the music industry, specifically the hip-hop scene? Did you face any discrimination? And did any producers or labels turn you away due to you breaking the mould?
'7 Deadlee Sins' CD was basically my therapy – if I didn’t write that CD I might be dead today. I grew up sheltered from harsh realities of this world. I was a Catholic School boy who was prepared educationally but not socially. I look back and love that I received that education because I can hold my own in business discussions or political conversations but street smarts I had to learn when I went to LA. In Denver I never felt race. My mom let me know I was equal to anyone so when I went to college I was introduced to racism. I wasn’t Latino/Chicano enough for my brown peeps – I was asked by my white friends why I dated and hung out with the black crowd and though I am 25% black – I passed as other – nobody knew what I was. I looked at everyone as human but like I said college was a real slap in the face that America has a race problem. I finally blew up one night as my 3 white roommates persisted on asking me why I had nigger friends. I was like – I am myself and my anger resulted in trashing our apartment and physically fighting them. I knew I had to get out of there.
I moved to LA and found it very refreshing that it was a diverse city. If you have been to LA – but then realized that it’s a very segregated city. I may have been whitewashed when I went there not going east of Western ... where Latino immigrants lived or East LA where Chicanos lived or even South Central and the black community. It wasn’t until I decided to tattoo myself and shave my head – dress in cholo wear that I discovered brown men were treated different in LA. This was 90s LA – the Rodney King and OJ Simpson trials. Gangs were big in the 90s along with corrupt cops. I was stopped on the regular for walking while being brown. I was cuffed and assaulted by cops. This was before iPhones. I hardened more after every stop. I wasn’t doing criminal activity but to LA cops being brown or black was criminal. I slowly started to stop hanging with white friends as they couldn’t relate to me. I also found my sexuality. I would mostly go to gay Latino or black clubs because times I would venture into gay Mecca West Hollywood they would kick me out for my cholo attire.
West Hollywood in the 90s showed me that gay white guys were some of the most racist people. I volunteered at an AIDS food bank – AIDS was bad during this time. They would deliver hot meals to men living or should I say dying of AIDS – I always got the black and brown areas of LA because the white homos were scared to drive there lol. So I am the product of the LA riots too – I was driving home from the Valley listening to Rage Against The Machine as the city was on fire. I made it my apartment in the white suburbs of Playa Del Rey and all the white people looked scared of me – they asked if I was ok lol – like I might go off on them. LA was really on edge and all these things in 90s LA made me who I was as an artist. I was a gay man of color coming to terms with my sexuality in the age of AIDS and in a city on the edge.
It was also around this time Howard Stern (shock jock radio GOD) who I worshiped came to Hollywood for a live event. There he had Eazy-E as a guest – it was this day I decided I would be a rapper and my goal was to be on his show. I started working on '7 Deadlee Sins' by finding an advertisement for a producer who said he was a mix of Mary J Blige, Rage Against The Machine, LL Cool J, and Marilyn Manson beats ... that in a nutshell were some of my influences. I started work with Goo – he was my music soulmate. We took an entire year to create the 8-track '7 Deadlee Sins' – they are masterpieces to me .. I spoke about sexuality, police abuse, immigration, sexual abuse, drag queens, transgendered, I sampled things that only some people can figure out.
I did have encounters with Madonna’s label at the time – Guy Oseary heard me out but wasn’t interested. I also talked with Russell Simmons who blew me off – not literally but I am sure he wanted to – Fuck that DL Faggot – I told him he could keep pushing hip hop by signing the first open gay rapper but he and his DL homies ran for cover.
The hip hop scene in LA didn’t accept me so I played Sunset Blvd rock clips opening for Punk and Grunge bands.
You’re as Catholic as am I – how does that fit into your lifestyle and the hip-hop scene? Was marrying your partner a conscious effort to stay within the morals you learned growing up?
Funny you say that because I think my Catholic foundation has given me an inner strength and discipline that I needed to accomplish my goals. It also makes me question a lot of my overt sexual raps lol. I get some of my rebellious nature from my favorite teacher, Sister Mary Ann .... she was one of the sisters who went against the teachings of no abortion in any case. She was also pro gay marriage. She took me to the soup kitchen twice a week after school to feed the homeless. I know my eventual 25 years working with homeless gay youth and disabled adults was because of the seeds planted in Catholic education.
I didn’t want to get married. I had no desire to but I do know it was a great experience and one of the happiest days of my life. I found that one person who will be with me unconditionally. I loved the rebel gay of John Rechy, Jon Waters, Bruce laBruce – the gay subculture interests me a lot but like most Catholics lol I have two sides.
"50 Cent is an odd creature – for being raised by a Lesbian he seems to go out of his way to show how straight he is. I always felt the guys most secure with their sexuality have no issues with gay people. I heard some things his ex Vivica Fox has said and he definitely has some homo tendencies lol"
In 2004 you released your second album 'Assault With a Deadlee Weapon'. It made waves due to gaslighting retaliatory attacks on the rap and hip-hop’s alleged homophobia. You specifically highlighted Eminem, DMX and 50 Cent.
Do you feel this overshadowed other areas of the album that tackled other subject matters that you held close to your heart?
Did you face any issues due to speaking out about such high profile stars? What was the overall reaction from your peers?
Did your music’s subject matter reduce its playability on radio?
You accused DMX’s music videos of being homoerotic. Can you elaborate on what you meant?
And during an interview while promoting your album you alleged that 50 Cent had deep-rooted homosexual tendencies. Do you still believe this, and if so, why?
My first CD had more hidden messages and I wasn’t in your face. I purposely decided my second CD would be in-your-face faggotry! I wanted to go no holds barred and I asked myself what would a gay gangster rapper say? It started out as just a character. I even had cartoon art work by Belasco and I wanted to have animated videos. I didn’t want to be the poster child of gay rap. The eventual product and my gay thug appearance made all the lines blurred. My record label at the time – independent label called Acronym Records – had their own vision too. My most popular track called Nasty wasn’t put on the CD. It was a gay anthem and wasn’t hard enough for the label head. He probably pushed the gay gangster thing on me – and anyone that knows me understands I am not a gangster lol. That’s really why I wanted the animated art – I basically had to embody the gay gangster in real life and in some ways it took me places I didn’t expect. Songs like 'Suck Muh Gun' were supposed to be somewhat comical – the songs 'Good Soldier' and 'Good Soldier II' are my most personal tracks ever and dealt with coming out and gay suicide . Like I said – most of the other tracks were in the mindset of a gay gangster. When the eventual photos came out and my raw live performances – I actually became the gay gangster rapper I thought was only a figment of my imagination.
I think my gay macho attitude played well with the media. The album sold well and got me international success. I had such a big following in Germany and France and even Brazil that I didn’t capitalize on. I concentrated on the USA gay market who accepted me apprehensively. Gay mainstream wasn’t big on rap so they didn’t know what to do with me. I played San Francisco Pride but most others said their crowds only liked disco.
I met LL Cool J once and he was the coolest – he says, “So nice to meet the infamous Deadlee” – I never heard from Eminem or DMX but their fans had plenty to say. I had a lot of death threats – mostly from black hip hop heads. It’s just amazing how I along with early out gay rappers really had to open doors the hard way. Gay is now mainstream.
DMX has that prison vibe – we all know what goes down in jail – I think that is what I was trying to say. In his videos guys with no shirts all up on each other is homoerotic.
50 Cent is an odd creature – for being raised by a Lesbian he seems to go out of his way to show how straight he is. I always felt the guys most secure with their sexuality have no issues with gay people. I heard some things his ex Vivica Fox has said and he definitely has some homo tendencies lol.
Both of your albums certainly stand the test of time and even today they sound fresh. They certainly have a hint of Tupac and a sprinkling of Bone Thugs.
What artists do you admire and which singer would you like to duet with?
Which track are you most proud of, and why?
Thanks – I think my cadence is more Pac but actually my rap hero was Paris – go check him out, and my song Gay Pac flow was channeling Paris. I also started out a lot like B-Real until my producer had me find my own voice. Bone Thugs were reduced by my other rap god Eazy-E, so thanks.
I got love for Kendrick Lamar and some of Big Sean and Chance the Rappers messages but hip hop isn’t doing it for me except for Kevin Abstract and his Brockhampton crew . I listen to a lot of country now and underground punk. I am obsessed with Baron Bandini. Happy to see Cardi B is out making money moves cuz I miss those days of female rappers in 80s and 90s.
I would love to have Fantasia on a track - she’s so raw and real.
My favorite tracks are - 'Carnival In My Mind' - it’s a song about police brutality . 'No More Mr Nice Guy' is a track I did with Drew Mason about a gay vigilante – Love That One. I recently did a song live but didn’t record it called 'Fagstradamus' – it’s an alternate universe where gay has always been the norm and straights are the freaks. It is a beautiful gay world done over the sampled Plasmatics Song - '12 Noon'.
The entertainment industry has been rocked by the Harvey Weinstein scandal. However, it seems only females feel comfortable coming forward, when at least two established actors whom I have had the pleasure of interviewing have admitted to me they have been sexually assaulted (along with myself by a Big Brother producer) by people in power (producers). Do you think it’s still the stigma of being typecast or being called homosexual that has hindered males from coming forward?
How widespread is sexual harassment within the music industry?
Stars such as R Kelly have been involved in a spate of sexual allegations which include brainwashing women in a cult-like setup and physical abuse of a minor. Do you think being in the entertainment industry makes you an easy target for such claims?
I definitely think there are more males who have been harassed. Terry Crews did but for some reason it didn’t garner much news. I think people in general have the idea that men are strong enough to deal with such things. I have never been harassed in the industry. I have been propositioned or dealt with big flirts but nothing I couldn’t handle. I remember a guy grabbed my crotch in a gay club once and he got punched lol – I also had a male boss once who kept flashing me and got pissed I didn’t bite. So sexual harassment happens in all walks of life. I have been the victim of allegations. My video just hit number one on Logo – I was making a lot of moves but still at my day job working with homeless gay youth. One youth who I kicked out of the homeless center for constant drug use made an accusation that I made sexual advances on him. My boss and the CEO didn’t want media attention if he went to press so we parted ways. It was very depressing for me because I had worked with youth for 20 years and even got inspired to be out gay in my rapping by their strength. I also saw that as a person in the media spotlight, things would be different. I was very sad for the actor Jeffrey Tambor on Transparent because those accusations were not on the level of Weinstein. I think it’s important to understand there are levels – and also there are people who make false accusations. Especially against famous people.
Over the last few years you seem to have moved more in the direction of acting, 'Hoochie Mamma Drama', 'Getting High In The Barrio', Bruce LaBruce’s bloodbath zombie thriller 'L.A. Zombie', 'Rampart' and Los Angeles’ longest running play 'Eavesdropper'.
Why did you decide to move into acting?
What film genre do you prefer, and why?
I would say that I was an accidental rapper. I took the mantle of gay rapper because nobody was doing it lol. It was more of a challenge for me. I came to Hollywood to become a screenwriter. I went to UCLA for their esteemed Screenwriting Program. I wrote a feature-length script but then started working as a counselor and forgot about my dreams. I also wanted to act – I did a small part in a movie when I just got to Hollywood but like I said got distracted by life..... my job and guys lol. My first love was a poison – he discouraged me from following my passions and it was an abusive relationship. I do not regret my past but I did get sidetracked for a long time.
When I decided to get into acting again I knew I had to do it the right way. I took acting classes and got a good agent. My problem with Hollywood movies is I was typecast as the bad guy or gangster. I wrote 4 plays and acted in 'Eavesdropper' and 'Flash Gordon' play just to keep my sanity as an actor. I wanted to do deeper roles – I was so happy when I got the part in 'Rampart' – I was on set about to film my scene with Woody Harrelson when a security guy came up to me and said, “I don’t think you are supposed to be here.” I was in line at Kraft Service ( meal truck ). He didn’t know I was an actor and why should he when the entire crew was white. I think Hollywood has a long way to go in making their sets a diverse working place.
I love comedy and seem to have a knack for it. I remember in acting class I would be up on stage doing a serious role and everyone was laughing. I tend to be funny even in dramatic scenes lol.
What does the future hold for you?
Will there be new music and/or more films?
What are 2018’s career goals?
Well I am back to where I started. I am writing a feature length screenplay and also a sitcom pilot. My screenplay is called 'Cholo #1' – it is a parody of all the movies with Cholos or gangsters in it – it is also based on my life as a Hollywood gangster/cholo actor. It is reminiscent of 'Gril 6' or 'Hollywood Shuffle'. It is time for people of color to write their own stories. 2018 I plan on going to Sundance Film Festival and start making those connections to get my projects produced. I might need to do the Independent way too and ask for funds. I definitely want to be in my sitcom pilot called 'Who’s Your Daddy' – it is a story of an older gay cholo with a young boyfriend. He finds out that he has a son the same age as his boyfriend and the fun begins lol. I think I would prefer to be behind the scenes for 'Cholo #1'. If I do any new music it will be tied in with my film and TV projects.
I have set my goals higher – I plan on accepting Oscars and Emmys! When I started my music career my only goal was to be on the Howard Stern show – when I accomplished that I lost some of my passion for music. So I will reach even higher this go around.
'Assault With a Deadlee Weapon' is out now via Bombastic Records.