Lorde is proof that New Zealand’s music scene can cross borders in a big way. But is the world ready for a Kiwi hip-hop star? David Dallas is keen to find out. The rapper is already a rising star in his homeland. With his third album dropping in the U.S. on Tuesday, Dallas will test just how far his talents – and the New Zealand hip hop community – can stride.
“Falling Into Place” arrives Oct. 22 on Dawn Raid Ent./Dirty Records/Duck Down Music, his first conventional retail release in the U.S. (his previous album “The Rose Tint” from 2011 was initially distributed as a free download in the U.S., followed by a limited-edition deluxe physical version. The album had peaked at No. 3 on the NZ albums chart).
Dallas doesn’t brag, or boast. He doesn’t say he’ll be that guy to crack the U.S. from the Antipodean hip hop ranks. But he’ll chip away, and he’s made an album that should bring him to a wider fanbase.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen a hip hop artist from overseas really crack the U.S. Even Dizzee Rascal from the U.K. No one has gone over there and really destroyed it and taken over. Drake is the closest thing, there’s a much closer tie (with Canada). People from this part of the world are bringing a different sound, they hear our accent and it might be a bit weird and different. But the world has gotten smaller, with regard to the Internet. People are a lot more open-minded across the board with the music that comes from other parts of the world. What Lorde’s done is phenomenal.”
On “Falling Into Place,” Dallas reunites with Fire & Ice, the producers who worked on the bullk of his sophomore set. Only this time, they’ve had a “bigger hand” in the process, Dallas explains. “It’s the first time I’ve let people in the creative process really early. I tend to go away into my room and write the songs on my own and show people these polished demos of the song after. So the producer would add some sprinkles on the end. Whereas with this album, it was a really intensive six-month process where we entered the studio together and I was showing people the ideas I was referencing. It’s a lot more vulnerable when you’re showing something right from the start rather than practising 100 times and it being polished. None of these songs have been kicking around for two and a half years. It’s very fresh, very recent. They’ve been in the studio with me from the jump. And that’s why the album has a real cohesion to it.”
The first single, “Runnin’” features a sample from gospel singer and preach Sister Gertrude Morgan, “I Got the New World in My View”. Fittingly, the clip features the historic St Gabriel’s church in the country’s far north, a spot where some of New Zealand’s first Christian missionaries settled. “Runnin’” has featured on ESPN Monday Night Football, the Madden 25 trailer, the FIFA 14 soundtrack and is being used by Major League Baseball and the NFL.
The next single is likely the opening track, “The Wire,” which features the vocals of award-winning compatriot Ruby Frost, one of a handful of collabs on the record. “I wanted to showcase some NZ talent. There’s a lot of artists that are really good here that don’t necessarily get the spotlight they deserve,” he explains.
The result, explains Dallas, is a “grittier, moodier and more ethereal” album. It’s not supposed to be everything to everybody. It’s a contrast between moodier, prettier atmospheric sounds, and the drums, which are hard and dusty-sounding breaks.”
Dallas says he’s keen to make a quick promotional trip to the U.S., though he’s booked pretty solid as the southern countries head into the busy summer festival season. He’s just been announced as a support act for Eminem’s “Rapture” event next year in Auckland.
And what are Dallas’ ambitions for his new album? “I just ideally want for the rest of the world to hear it. It’s the same as anything. Every time you put out a record, you just want to get it to some more ears. As long as it gets to more ears and more people hear it, if they like it, ‘great.’ If not, you can’t really complain. As long as you get it to more ears, that’s all I’m every trying to do.”