featured interview

Dagha Law of motion In 1991, Dagha burst onto the Boston scene with the group Cloke-N-Dagha. Now, fourteen years later he releases his debut album 'Object In Motion' through Insight's label, Last Arc. Most people will know him from his feature on Edan's 'Beauty and The Beat', and some will know him from his features on Insight albums and the Electric collabo, of which the smash album 'Life's A Struggle' issued in 2004. But there's more to Dagha that people should know of. In the event of releasing 'Object In Motion', we caught up with him during an Amtrak train trip to NY.


Your album 'Object In Motion' is finally out. What took you so long (over ten years) to release an album?

Well, this is my first venture as a solo artist. From the time I first started rhyming I was in a group. I learned so much from the grind of it all, but I was getting too old for experimenting with groups when things didn't materialize. I had to leave the nest and stand on my own.

The pressure must've been high, so are you glad with the end result of 'Object In Motion'?

I am very happy and excited about OIM. It's something that's long overdue yet still timeless. The productions are top notch and I think I hold my own lyrically. It's really a new sound and a breath of fresh air at the same time. I'm proud of everyone that had anything to do with this album. It's the complete package.

It's the first release on Insight's label, Last Arc. What else is going to be released on the label?

Solo-Plexus, Cloke and Dagha, Martian Gang and Midnight Shipment to name a few. We're considering re-releasing a bunch of the older classics like Knights of the Round, Electric and past Insight releases. We've also been listening to demos for raw untapped talent so if that's you hit us up at www.lastarc.com.

Are you a co-founder of Last Arc?


So what's the secret behind the tight chemistry between you and Insight?

15 years of independent collab experience. On the business tip, we were grinding at a street level back in the day, going to Kinkos to copy up artwork for projects, manufacturing, promoting, producing, rhyming, co-signments. On the music tip, we're both righteous, disciplined cats expressing our voice and art thru Hip Hop. Innovative, creative and self-sufficient. On top of that we both push the artistic envelope and have no problems making fresh new music each time we hook up. It's like a natural chemistry... Probably ever since Sight produced the first Cloke and Dagha demo back in 1993.

At the moment the album is only available at Soundlab.com. Where else is it gonna be available soon?

My publicist is in the process of the marketing campaign right now. It's really important that the promotion is official before OIM hits the stores. The official street release date is actually Nov 1st.

So will it be for sale in retail shops?

It will be pretty much everywhere in all relevant quality music shops.

I believe the album was originally entitled 'Live by the Dagha, Die by the Dagha', right?

That was actually a separate album that I did with Ampt Records. I had it complete but it really wasn't ready to be released on a major level. I wasn't satisfied with the quality of the productions, recordings or direction. As a project I had to leave it and start fresh. That album was really the foundation for 'Object in Motion'.

When will the Japanese version be released?

The Japanese version is being released on October 19th.

Is there any difference with the U.S. version?

This one has exclusive remixes and bonus tracks with Insight, Cloke and Anonymous (Project Move) that are not on the U.S version.

You also produce. Why didn't you put any of your beats on the album?

With this being my first solo album, I really wanted to focus on the rhymes. I got a team of producers that are sick with it. It's hard for me to be efficient and productive when I gotta produce ànd rhyme. I'm too much of a perfectionist and I wanted to sit back and let someone else worry about the productions. Especially when you're talking about DJ Real, Martian Gang, Insight and L in Japanese. Sometimes you find a fresh sound that works well if not better than what you are used to. That's what happened to me on this album. You can be assured that you'll hear some Dagha productions on upcoming releases. I just needed this opportunity to lyrically let off over the most consistent and high quality beats.


In 1990, you were introduced to the Zulu Nation, how did you got into the Nation?

Boston has a small and real close Hip Hop community. I ended up meeting the sister of a producer I was dealing with, Queen Vivian, who had started the Roxbury chapter. We met and studied lessons based on knowledge, wisdom and understanding. We got on the bus. More importantly we did a lot of outreach to youth through theatre and music.

Your first group was Cloke-N-Dagha. Tell us more about Cloke and what does he do now?

Actually, I'm on an Amtrak train to NY right now to finish up this Cloke and Dagha project! Cloke lives in Brooklyn and has been making some noise under the name Mitch for the past few years.

You guys made a demo and went to the West Coast to get a record deal...why did you go westwards?

We wanted to get on 'Soul Train'. Plus we thought we had good leads for it to be a successful move. Everyone was moving to NY to 'shop' their demo and we did not want to go the traditional route.

How difficult was it to persuade labels?

You can't persuade labels. You either have what they want or you compromise to make what they want. I realized after the West Coast trip that my music cannot be compromised. I make music because I have something to say not because I want to be rich or famous. I'm not a prostitute so I'm not going to sell my ass or my image or degrade my character for any amount of money. If I did, they would probably put me on the back shelf anyway!

So you decided to stay independent...

I stayed independent because I believe in myself and in my music. I have a good history of handling business and good business people all around me. Self-suffiency is a form of freedom most don't see just being a 'rapper'.

So there's no change you would sign with a major label?


You said before Last Arc is going to re-release some of the Knights Of The Roundtable stuff. Who were they? What were their releases?

Me, Insight, Mr. Lif, T-Ruckus and like 20 other emcees that I haven't heard from since that project. We released 2 albums on cassette and a maxi CD 'The Legend of Steel Acres'. Insight did all the productions.

How did you hook up with Insight and Mr Lif?

I was introduced to Insight by his sister. I was looking for someone to produce and record the Cloke and Dagha album. I met Mr. Lif when I was living with Insight and we started the Knights of the Round. Lif would come through and get beats and eventually became a Knight.

The label Ampt Records is that a project of yours? How did that come together?

That was a label that I started after me and Cloke broke up. I was tired of shopping anything and just wanted to put out music. I pressed some singles out of pocket and got them to record pools and DJ's across the country.

The Electric album is considered one of the best but most-slept on albums of 2004... how did the album do as for sales? Did you feel like it should've had more recognition?

That album was slept on. The marketing and promotion was weak. Not sure about sales because they were not reported. It was just a bad deal all around and none really benefited except the people who put it out. I would love to re-release that through www.mysoundlab.com or Last Arc the proper way.

How was the Electric project for you personally and how would you compare it to the Knights period?

I love the Electric project. I thought the potential was infinite and that everyone involved brought a fresh new style and sound. I thought the live aspect was bananas too. When 5 people can sound as one and still hold their own, that's special. Knights were more like an early Wu-Tang where you got the ill solo emcees but they could also collaborate. Insight was the Rizza, making all the beats and mixing everything down. I think the biggest difference in eras is the experience and technology. Both projects are yet still timeless and remain to hold their own.

Is there gonna be more Electric releases in the future?

I can't promise it but it's definitely on the table. We all want to do it and it seems as if the demand is there. It's just about all 5 of us sitting down and making that decision. There are still unheard joints that we got out there, it'll be a tragedy if there weren’t any more releases!

Moe Pope (of Electric) founded the group Mission, now known as the Crown City Rockers. Is he still in that group?

I'm not sure. Last I heard Moe released an album with Project Move.

Why did he return to Boston while he was out in the sunny West?

Not too sure. I think his girlfriend who loved him with a size 6 shoe moved far away in a blue house made for 2.

Of all the projects and groups you've been in, which do you treasure the most?

Object in Motion. This is my first solo album. I've been through a lot of personal and musical drama. A lot of people probably would have quit or killed themselves but I stayed in motion. Each project and group that I've been in has contributed to my development and success.

Which do you find the most crucial project for your career?

Cloke and Dagha. It's the foundation that was poured almost 15 years ago. Each project and group after that was built on that foundation. Now the house is almost complete and is ready for the market.


Any producers you wanna work with in the near future?

Sure. No big names that I could think of except J Dilla. Anyone really with a unique, crisp sound. And the drums gotta be banging too!

You feature on Edan's latest album. How is it to work with him?

It was cool! I knew Edan for a few years and was really excited at the opportunity to be on his album. A lot of cats can't collaborate or have a hard time meshing styles. It wasn't an issue for us. I'm a bit more laid back when it comes to creating but the professionalism and creativity that Edan was coming with, straight impressed me. He's another cat that is living hip-hop, not just doing it.

You, Insight and Edan tour together?

We have.

How were the reactions of the crowd?

Mad energy and mad love. They are in awe. No lie. They may not know what to expect before the show starts but by the end, we got em. In all, the support is overwhelming and the appreciation is evident.

Where do you like to perform?

Anywhere. From my living room to the Jazz Caf? in London.

How's Europe?

I love it. I love the support and opportunity for the independent musician in Europe.

You did a lot of performances in France, your music is distributed in France, a lot of French magazines are covering you and your work... how come this strong band with France?

I did a project with Insight called the Maysun Project. This was manufactured and distributed in France and did pretty well. I've also been to France a few times and have made some really good contacts out there. Insight also has a pretty big following in France. I'm sure some of that Insight love is carrying over to Dagha!

You've been in the game for a long time. What's the biggest difference between hip-hop in 1990 and hip-hop in 2005?

Technology. That and hip-hop now is more of a corporate commodity than an art form. Hip-hop sells everything now from a bag of chips to a mutual fund. It's on all commercials and television shows. Back in 1990, it was still a way for us to express. Now it’s a way for someone with a gimmick and no skills and no knowledge of the culture to get short money. Another big difference is that people do not know what hip-hop is in 2005. It's not G-Unit or that dirty south crap. It's not sex, drugs and violence. Real hip-hop in 2005 is not recognized or supported by the mainstream as it was in 1990.

How's the Boston scene changed in regard to the period you began rappin?

The competition multiplied like gremlins and the venues have disappeared practically overnight.

What early artists of the Boston scene did you like?

New Edition, Ed O.G.


So you produce too, what's your production set-up?

EPS, MPC2000, Fruity Loops, Cubase, a 3 string electric guitar and a belt drive turntable.

Do you go diggin a lot?

Not really. I got a lot of sounds on deck.

What hip-hop albums have you played the most?

NWA - Straight Outta Compton
Slick Rick - The Great Adventures of Slick Rick
Run DMC - Raising Hell

What non-hip-hop albums never leave your record player/CD-changer/I-pod?

I've been bumping that John Legend for a few months now! I'm a big listener of 70's music. Stevie Wonder, Chi-Lites, Isaac Hayes, etc.

What are you listening to at the moment?

'Soloplexus' and Edan's 'Beauty and the Beat' and more 70's music. I'm always checking out instrumentals too.

What are your future plans?

To become self-sufficient through this hip-hop. To work full time with Last Arc so that we can put out the quality of music that people are missing. I'm going to tour off of this album and just keep it going. Cloke and Dagha will be released and my 2nd LP is almost finished and will be released as well. I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to eat for dinner tonight though!

(laughs) Ok, we gonna leave you to it, but before we do: word association!

Blue Hill Ave. Living in Insight's closet (curses) (words are censored here, ed.)!! Paying some dues.

Al Jabra
Talented emcee and Massdauvdauniverz. He's on 'Object in Motion'.

DJ Real
Nasty producer with ill chops and crazy sequences that Dagha loves.

Ed O.G.
A bottle of Boston's best wine.

Dave Mays
Scandal. Bad business.

Good with orange juice. A lot of household usages.

Club XII, Malvolio, Insight's sister.


All positive people of the earth. Man, woman and child. My daughter Jenisys. Family, friends and kinfolks. Anyone who took the time to read this interview and bought the album. Platform8470 - thanks for the support!

Thanks for the interview!


POSTED 10|12|2005
conducted by Cpf

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