Show and prove
Words: Peter A. Berry
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on the stands now.
If there hadn’t been a faulty justice system, 42 Dugg the rapper may not exist. While behind bars on carjacking and gun felony charges he caught at age 15, Dugg wrote his first raps in solitary confinement after fighting with a detained. A mixture of boredom and instinct fueled his early forays into the genre. “I just wanted to share my story,” he said, lying on a chair. XXL ‘s New York office on a cold February afternoon. Four years after his release from prison, Dugg’s terse street tales made him a booming 26-year-old rap star with a feature film on a Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 single, a joint recording deal with Lil Baby and Yo Gotti, and nothing but time. and opportunity to become rap’s biggest new star Detroit has seen it in a decade.
Since 2017, Dugg, born Dion Marquise Hayes in east Detroit, has used melody, a shrill voice and unfiltered street narratives to move from the young criminal to the next in his town. After making the buzz with his first two mixtapes, 2018 11241 Wayburn and 2019 Young and Turnt, the rapper announced his arrival with notable appearances on the 2020 Lil Baby singles “Grace” and “We payed. The first, a three-minute, 23-second track filled with grim reminiscences and street philosophies framed like scripture, peaked at No. 48 on the Billboard Hot 100. It became Dugg’s first song to land on the awards. The latter, a classic rhyming session with many quotes for endless Instagram legends, peaked in 10th place last summer. By the time he joined Lil Baby to perform the song as the opening act for the 2020 BET Hip Hop Awards, the legend of 42 Dugg was taking place in front of the world.
Decades before landing a performance at an awards show, picking up a mic wasn’t necessarily in the picture for Dugg. Raised by his mother and grandmother, the self-proclaimed class clown grew up in an area of Detroit where crime was normalized, and fights and carjackings were often seen as funnier than they were unhappy. . Dugg’s main concerns were partying, cool, skating, and playing. He was popular in high school, but soon found himself in a lot of trouble.
In October 2010, just a month before his 16th birthday, the streets of Dugg got the better of him. He was arrested for carjacking and possession of firearms. Since Dugg was on firearm bail at the time of this arrest, he was charged as an adult for the re-arrest, but he was only 15 years old. In June 2011, he began serving a six-year prison sentence. – he claims they got the wrong person for car theft. To speed up the days, Dugg read magazines and even got his GED. After arguing with an inmate and being forced into solitary confinement, Dugg, then 20, made rap his new hobby. He says his first rhymes were bad, but his second time in the hole his flow was more developed and his raps sharper.
Once he was a free man in 2017, Dugg teamed up with his cousin Kato to record Dugg’s first songs. Dugg, who says Jeezy and Yo Gotti are his favorite rappers, started generating a buzz when he dropped his first mixtape, 11241 Wayburn, in July 2018. The project has gained thousands of SoundCloud streams and by the end of 2018 it was on the rise. That same year, another Detroit artist, Tee Grizzley, took Dugg to roll dice with Lil Baby in Los Angeles. One day after the hangout session, Baby called Dugg, rapping the lyrics to one of Dugg’s songs. Baby offered to sign Dugg on his label 4 Pockets Full Inc .. Soon Yo Gotti also jumped on the bandwagon and by early 2019 Dugg had signed to both Gotti’s CMG Records and 4PF.
With a squeaky, strained voice, Dugg’s music can swing between emotional and threatening, his performance can be melodically scrambled or unmoved, and his sound fits at the intersection of Detroit street rap and melodic Atlanta chirps. Like Lil Baby and Yo Gotti, Dugg’s bars are filled with details that can only come from experience. On “We Paid”, he unloads hard-hitting bars filled with survival logistics. “You could have a little tune or you could be laid back stunted, or it could give some real aggressive shit,” says Detroit producer Helluva, who produced Dugg’s “Dog Food”. “He’s always been a respected and feared street guy. So when he say something on a lead, niggas know he mean business.
Although he positioned himself for stardom, Dugg was unable to avoid trouble with the law. Three years after being released from prison, Dugg was arrested on a federal firearms charge in March 2020 after police obtained video of Dugg using a firearm at an Atlanta shooting range in November 2019. Dugg was not allowed to own a firearm due to his 2010 Arrest.
Freedom returned, but Dugg was once again stopped in August 2020. This time it was for fleeing from police during a traffic stop in Oakland County, Michigan. He was released the same month. Now he is forced to wear an ankle monitor. Both cases are still open. “It just makes me very aware of my place, you know?” said the rapper, optimistic about his chances. “So, I don’t want to throw the shit out.”
With his fate still pending, Dugg, who released his latest project Young and Turnt 2 in March 2020, and the deluxe version last June, looks to happier aspects of the future. This year he wants to push his label to new heights and in five years he hopes to have $ 100 million. More immediate plans include unloading new music which should only boost its momentum. He says Gotti and Baby told him to take music seriously. There was a time when he didn’t and considered quitting. Now, for the father of a 2-year-old boy, there is more at stake, including people he won’t let down, like his jailed pals.
“They said, ‘Carry on,’” Dugg says. “‘We live through you.'”
Learn more about XXLSpring 2021 issue, including Cardi B cover story, How? ‘Or’ What rappers are legally making money thanks to the cannabis boom and the social justice that goes with it, Damson Idris Snowfall on the impact of hip-hop on his life, A $ AP Ferg reflects on the creation of his Always strive and thrive album, Shelley FKA DRAM speaks his return, Waka Flocka Flame introduces himself with us and gives an update on his Flockaveli 2 album in What’s Happenin ‘and more.
See Cardi B’s photoshoot at XXL MagazineSpring 2021 Issue