dvs talks weird rap
NYC-based rapper and self-proclaimed mutant DVS talks about his upcoming mixtape, 'DVTV,' and the line between innovation and assholery.
Right around his birthday, the rapper DVS, nee Dimitri Stathas, went missing for several days. Turns out he was on a bender later described as "The Berenstain Bears: Too Much Birthday," but at the time it didn't seem like anybody was too worried. After all, he's a busy guy.
The erudite, silver-tongued rapper and prodigal child of weird Twitter has been holed up in his secret lair in Manhattan preparing the first of his two records scheduled for release in 2015: the long-anticipated DVTV, a mixtape he's designed to sound like public access television for your ears, each song a different show with a new, weird host.
Since as far back as 2008, with A Piece of the Action, DVS has been producing mixtapes packed with wordy brain-bangers. His beats are elastic, always bouncy and danceable, and rich with melodic samples. His lyrics and delivery are precise — there's barely a millimeter between his words and the beat, his voice dropping as sharp and rapid-fire as keys on a typewriter. The man has practiced, and it shows.
DVTV is a logical extension of these previous works, but Stathas has really reached his peak form in his role as program coordinator, curating "a full day of TV, starting with 'Good Morning America.'"
Though his reference points are public access television and mixtapes — technology and formats arguably on the outs — Stathas is pure futurism. He stays ahead of his time by staying out of time — cherry-picking the canon from Kierkegaard to Migos. He's also terrifically humble, mentioning in an email that he feels it takes "a special kind of asshole to set out thinking, 'this piece will anoint the new generation and usher in an era of pure discovery.'"
"I don't think real innovators are concerned with innovation," he continued. "When someone asked the Ramones why they did what they did and changed the face of everything, Joey said, 'We were just mad there was nothing that sounded like what we wanted to listen to.'"
He's exceedingly well-spoken and at times hyper-critical (of himself most of all). But when he loves, he loves hard. Stathas is everybody's ideal best friend and wingman, happy to rattle off a litany of your accomplishments to everyone at his end of the bar, even if you aren't around. His loves and inspirations extend from Jello Biafra to Wu Tang, Pharoahe Monch to Regina Spektor and Broad City. If he's called on to host the Last Supper, they'll be serving Crown Fried and Burger King ("Except the Chicken Whopper, that was a misstep — I forgive, but I don't forget, nahmean?").
Stathas openly attributes his success to "every human I've ever met who doesn't immediately disgust me." He estimates that about 15 people fall into this category. And he proudly admits they're people who "have to be less themselves in certain situations lest they get sent to jail."
DVTV is spiked with these sorts of celebrities, unique voices lucky enough to have made it into DVS's chosen 15. The tracklist, released on Noisey along with the album's first single, You Goddamn Right, reads like the invite list to the best birthday party ever. It's a who's who of rap's current thought leaders, including Das Racist, Weekend Money and everyone's favorite astrologer, Kool A.D.
This cult of personality is the same one that amplified DVS's presence on Twitter. "People used to be satisfied with you being a boring idiot as long as you played the harmonica real good," he explains, "Now everyone wants to know what the inside of your mouth smells like and what you ate on Thanksgiving when you were a baby. It's a different world."
DVS is unwilling to settle for friends with less than extreme personalities, because they often end up as collaborators as well. Most of his guest stars — all but two on DVTV — are friends of his from NYC. "Past couple years, there's definitely been a recalibration of what New York sounds like. Growing up in NYC makes you a fucking mutant, and being a mutant bleeds into everything you do."
Given his role as the Professor X of this particular group of mutants, Stathas is also best able to explain the cultural shift that has brought these artists to DVTV:
"I think up until recently there was an industry-wide feeling that everyone needed to, like, put a tie on because the boss is coming to dinner. Now, either because we're too lazy to hide it anymore or because we've decided it's a strength, everyone's letting the mutant out to some degree. Paint-by-numbers isn't good enough any more. The audience finally got a taste for blood, which is great — we been swallowing blood for a hot minute."
Text Meredith Graves
Photography Brayden Olson