April 08, 2009
Dragon Fli Empire is a hip hop group from Calgary whose music is inspired by classic hip hop beats that make you reminisce over great groups like Pete Rock, De La Soul and more. I had the chance to chat with one of the members, Teekay. Here is our conversation below.
I am one half of the Dragon Fli Empire from Calgary, Alberta with DJ Cosm. We have doing our thing since 2002. We follow the vein of classic hip hop duos like GangStarr, Eric B & Rakim, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, etc. with a format of one emcee and one DJ/producer. Our sound definitely is inspired by that same classic hip hop vibe too.
Your music has a great sound and vibe, where do your positive influences come from?
On the lyrics point, I’ve always been someone who tries to see a light at the end of the tunnel. No matter how crazy things can get, you have to keep hope. So the song topics cover a variety of different subjects, but the overall vibe is positive. I feel there should be a balance in hip hop, and it’s good to have a "glass half full" perspective thrown in. On the beats, we love to rock shows and have a good time, so you’re going to get a lot of those upbeat tracks.
You have toured with some of the "Greats" in hip hop. How has that been?
We have opened up for names like Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Aceyalone, De La Soul, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Boot Camp Clik and Lyrics Born, plus done mini-tours opening up for Pete Rock and the Crown City Rockers. It’s an honour to open up for groups that you admire and see this person you’ve connected with through music and videos live in the flesh. Plus, the attendance is always bigger than most shows so you have a chance to make an impression on a huge crowd and see if you can get them to go off, which is always a blast. Most of the time we get a great reaction. We just opened for Talib Kweli and we just killed it with the energy plus a couple of our b-boy friends ripping it up beside us.
You have a recent track called "Outside Inn" featuring Cadence Weapon, how did that collaboration come together?
Cadence Weapon has recorded most of his material to date at the same studio we have traditionally recorded at, Up In Arms in Edmonton, run by our boy DJ Nato. DJ Cosm of DFE was actually present when Cadence recorded "Black Hand" on his first album. So, we had some mutual friends and it was just real natural for us to collaborate. I sent him the beat and my verse and he wrote a verse and recorded it after a show he did in Calgary at the HiFi Club. The concept is just about being outsiders and is incredibly honest for a hip hop song. We both dug up some awkward childhood moments and were able to see the humor while reflecting on the lessons learned. The song turned out amazing and we decided to do a video for it, which actually ended up being the first video we’ve done that’s aired on MuchMusic and MuchVibe. Also on that track is talented Calgary singer Lynn Olagundoye and our main man Kirby Small (RIP) on the guitar and chanting.
Your breakthrough track "Mount Pleasant" is a Canuck classic. Were you aware of that track’s appeal when you were writing this song?
I had no idea. It was just me sitting on the bus as a young Mount Royal College journalism student writing rhymes in my day timer. In those days, I always would get so many day timers that they offered for free at the beginning of the school year because they were the perfect size to become rhyme books. I would take the #2 bus home from downtown Calgary heading north and just started writing about the people I saw and just my views on life in general. It is a catchy song, but I feel people often miss the fact that it’s also a very deep song, touching on issues like race, depression and spirituality, although it also has some humorous moments.
I had no idea at the time I wrote it how big it would become but I think the combination of the local reference, the catchy beat and hook plus the playful flow made it a winner in many people’s eyes, especially those who aren’t normally into hip hop. And that, in turn, opened many doors for the DFE like a ridiculous amount of exposure on all forms of the CBC plus indie radio appeal across the country. I’m not sure if we would still be making music today as a crew without the success of that song.
When will you be performing in Toronto?
We want to come back this summer hopefully. We’ve been there a few times before but it’s never been a real big event.
For more information on Dragon Fli Empire, check out www.myspace.com/dragonfliempire