/  05.05.2022

Rapper Dub Aura is proof Harlem sticks together. The Harlem native credits the camaraderie of the historic neighborhood for being able to work in the studio with Dave East, Jim Jones, Dapper Dan and more Harlem lyrical luminaries.

“I grew up with A$AP Rocky and Ferg. It made it easier for us to create. You always want to work with people you have chemistry with. I definitely think Harlem has a camaraderie here,” Dub Aura told REVOLT.

In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the “Notorious” spitter explains how he got Dapper Dan on his album, talks A$AP Ferg’s energy when making music, and lasting memories of the late DJ Kay Slay.

Who was the first major artist you were in the studio with?

Capone from CNN. That was early in my career. I was 13 years old. I have a cousin who used to make music with him. I rapped for Capone and we actually did a record that night. That was my first real introduction into the music business

NYC rappers like to make sure the young boys know how to rap before getting on a song with them. Did you feel like you had to audition your skills for Capone?

Definitely. It was almost like he was screening me. I had to rap before we did the record. Obviously, he liked it. That was a bucket list thing to me. I love CNN. I love the golden era of hip hop.

How has your recording process developed since you were 13 years old?

Originally, my intention was to say things I thought people would like. You learn how to be yourself authentically and say things that mean something to you with time. I think that’s the difference now. Originally, I was rapping for the people around me. As I started going through things in life, I started writing them down. It became a form of therapy for me. I would put it in the universe and feel a little lighter. 

 

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On your upcoming project This One Is On Me, you have a back-and-forth song called “Meech For President” with Dave East. How did you and Dave put it together?

We were feeding off of each other’s energy. I remember bringing AraabMuzik to meet Dave in the studio. Araab was playing some beats and Dave immediately gave me the hand signal saying, ‘You want to go back and forth?’ It was like a ping-pong kind of motion. I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’  We had the mic outside the booth while we were sitting down. He laid his part, and I followed up. It was cool. We were vibing and laughing. It was organic. We have a dope relationship outside of music, making it so easy for us to do these records. We did that record pretty fast. It may have taken an hour. That’s quick for two artists who have their own way of recording. 

This isn’t your first collaboration with Dave East. What is your creative chemistry with him?

We usually talk. He’ll play his new records for me. I’ll play my new records for him. We talk, drink and bug out. It’s almost like us on the block chillin’. We’re soaking up the energy and having a good time. Then, it turns into creative chemistry

You got the incomparable Dapper Dan on your album. How’d you pull that off?

He’s on the intro to my project — it’s called ‘Rap Royalty.’ The beat inspired the direction of the song. When I thought about how I could open this project and give it something extra, I thought about Dap as someone who can speak about legacy — especially with him coming from where I’m from. He’s like family. He’s known my family. He was telling me stories about my uncles and things like that. Every time I would see him, he would just give me all of this game. He’d reflect on Harlem and its origins. I thought that was important to open up the project. I actually modeled for Dapper Dan’s line for Gucci.

It wasn’t a hard thing to do. Giving him insight on the direction of the project, he was like, ‘Let’s do it.’ He was excited. He loves to give me the game and put the knowledge out there.

 

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Were there any things he said that got cut from the song?

Yeah. He looked around and saw everybody in the world wanted to be like New York, but everybody in New York wanted to be like Harlem. I loved how he pulled it together by not alienating anybody at the end. He said we’re all one. I thought that was powerful. 

How do you and AraabMuzik work in the studio?

I did a lot of work with Cam’ron in the past. I was recording a record with Cam that Araab produced. I remember leaving Cam’s house and going on Myspace to track Araab down to tell him his beats are crazy. We just kept in contact. It turned out to be a dope relationship, creatively and personally. That’s my guy. A typical session with us is a bunch of jokes. He’s a funny person. I look at my studio sessions as sacred. I don’t just record with anybody. I don’t just have anybody in my sessions. 

What was your favorite session for this album?

Probably the session with Lady London. I recorded that record in L.A., and I brought a bunch of my artists with me. We set up the studio inside the Airbnb. We were just bugging out, freestyling, laughing and having a good time. One of my boys and I were freestyling and feeding off each other’s energy. The record wrote itself. Listening back to it, I was thinking, ‘Damn, they’re going to think we’re trying to bash the women.’ So, one of my other guys said, ‘You know what would be dope? If you got Lady London to get on there and speak from the perspective of the women.’ I remember sending her the record, she sent the voice note back in 15 minutes, and then she came to the Airbnb the next day to do the verse. That was the best session because of how fun it was.

 

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You also locked in with Jim Jones in his Quarantine Studios. 

It’s dope working with Jim. I think Jim is so much of a hustler, he’s going to find a way all of the time. With us being at the height of COVID-19 and quarantine, he found a way to record in real-time through these computers. Studios were closed and engineers stayed home, but we still wanted to work. So we’d get on the Quarantine Studios platform to work on music. I’d be here in Harlem, his engineer would be in Jersey, and Jim may be in Miami. It was new to me and I enjoyed it. It showed me there is no excuse, and you can get it done if you want to get it done. Working with Jim is cool and a bucket list thing for me, especially me being from Harlem. 

Harlem always looks out for each other. How did that Harlem community manifest in studio sessions?

It’s us knowing each other outside of the music. Before I knew Jim on a creative and musical level, I’d see him all of the time. I knew who he was. He knew who I was. He used to get his hair braided downstairs from where I live. I grew up with A$AP Rocky and Ferg. It made it easier for us to create. You always want to work with people you have chemistry with. I definitely think Harlem has a camaraderie here.

Speaking of Ferg, what’s his energy like in the studio?

It’s probably what you’d imagine. He gives you the same energy he does on the record. The record we have was a thing where I told him, ‘I want you to quarterback the record.’ He’s always like, ‘Dub, you’ve always been super nice; let’s make these records.’ We’re going through beats and he picks a beat. We were just vibing and the record just came from that. He’s playing with certain flows and cadences, as am I. It was very dope. It may be the second time we recorded. I have another record with me, him and Rocky. 

 

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What do you need in the studio to make your best music?

I need a little tequila, a little drink (laughs). I do like to record with the lights off or dimmed. I like to be in a very controlled room. I don’t like too many people there. I love to have about three to four of my people where I could really be creative. 

What do you think this new project can do for your career?

I definitely think it’s a pivotal project. It’ll help create the foundation and platform we’re looking to set. 

DJ Kay Slay recently passed. Do you have any memories with him?

Yeah, I used to see Kay in Harlem all of the time. He played the record I have with Dave East on the radio. He always acknowledged me in passing. 

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