Straight outta Northeastern Pennsylvania, rappers Dylan Kiehart a.k.a DeeKey and Danny Lalli, a.k.a Lal, went to the movies with Weekender to see the rap drama, “Straight Outta Compton.” The N.W.A biopic soared to the top of the box office in its opening weekend, earning $60.2 million.
They witnessed the strength of street knowledge and discussed the film afterwards, where they compared the struggles Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, DJ Yella and MC Ren faced while navigating their way through the industry to life as a rapper in NEPA. The local rappers have faced different struggles than N.W.A. DeeKey is from West Scranton and Lal from Jessup — a far cry from the streets of Compton. Nonetheless, their regard for sharing the truth remains the same.
Weekender: What did you think of the movie?
Lal: It was great.
DeeKey: Very well done. They’re the reason I started writing music. I was 15 and a buddy of mine was on house arrest. We were kicking it as his house and we were watching N.W.A. videos and I just decided to pick up a pen and start writing.
W: What about their music spoke to you?
DK: I didn’t relate to it at the time. I didn’t really understand what they were saying and going through. I could tell it was raw, though, and from the heart. And it looked like they were having fun. I just wanted to have fun and a good time.
L: Their music hasn’t really had an influence on what I write about, but they inspire me to speak the truth in my music. Everything they say is the truth.
W: In the movie, Ice Cube called himself a journalist, saying he reports the truth about what he has witnessed. What do you report through your verses?
DK: I like to make people feel they could have another chance or that they could turn themselves around. I’ve done a lot of things in my life that are frowned upon. I was in jail for a year because I got in a fight. I was selling drugs, stealing from people, fighting people. After jail, I started putting my energy into something positive — my music. I don’t deal drugs anymore. I’ll do a drug here or there, maybe.
L: My lyrics are pretty much an autobiography. I left home at 15. I got in a lot of trouble with the drugs and robberies and thefts and fights. I was always bullied and beat on. So my lyrics can relate to people who are picked on. My lyrics speak to people or kids who are in trouble, have lost close friends or family, or anybody who is down on themselves. I write for them to get back up.
W: Some people discredit the local rap scene. What’s your reaction to people who may feel you’re not a real artist?
L: My mother doesn’t support anything I do with my music. In the movie, neither did Dre’s mom. She said he couldn’t do it, he shouldn’t do it, and he did it. He proved everybody wrong. Now that I see his story in this movie, it serves as inspiration knowing that everybody told him he couldn’t do it.
DK: It doesn’t matter. There’s other people in the world outside of NEPA who are supportive. We have social media today. You don’t need to just touch the lives in the local area.
L: I feel like this entire area needs more support. I think that there’s way too many people in this area that are too talented, that are afraid to express themselves as being talented, because they realize there will be no support.
DK: The haters are almost like the police were to N.W.A in the movie, in the sense that they’re holding them down because they just want to say, ‘You’re just another rapper.’
W: Are you referring to the scene where the police told N.W.A that they couldn’t perform a particular song when they were on tour in Detroit?
L: The cops were treating them unfair. I think N.W.A had every right to express their feelings toward the police.
W: They advocated the right to exercise their first amendment right. Have you exercised freedom of speech when writing?
L: Mylez High talked a lot of shit about me, my girlfriend, my music — everything I knew. So I dropped a diss-track last week.
W: What’s it called?
L: “No Respect.” My lyrics asked, ‘Why do they call you Mylez High when you’re miles below me?’ The kid talks about having five cars and he drives like a beat-up Hyundai.
DK: It’s all competitive. Even Eazy-E and Ice Cube went back and forth with one another when Cube left the group. Drake and Meek Mill do that today.
W: Do you think N.W.A served as trailblazers for you to be able to express yourself?
DK: They didn’t take no for an answer. When the cops in Detroit told them they couldn’t play … they knew their rights. If they said no, maybe there would be limitations on what we’d be able to say today. They showed us that we could stand up for ourselves.
Weekender reached out to Mylez High to comment on his beef with Lal.
Mylez High confirmed he does drive a Hyundai, but denied rapping about owning five cars. “If he actually listened to what I said in my song, he’d know it was describing my self-worth for what I feel my rhymes are worth — the price of five cars,” he said.
He also said the beef disgusts him more than it amuses him because him and Lal aren’t even comparable.
Reach Justin Adam Brown at 570-991-6652 or on Twitter @wkdr