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Dax’s come-up is one big flex—the man has had a crazy year, playing over a hundred shows in 2019: He toured 55 stops as Tech N9ne’s opener, and then embarked on a crazy North American solo tour, with packed venues in 30-some-odd stops across Canada, with an accompanying set of shows south of the border.
“I’m super lucky,” Dax says. “Before last year, I hadn’t even done a total of eight shows. That TechN9ne tour was a crash course. I was pretty crazy in the beginning but had to calm down after the first 20 shows because it hit me that if I kept going hard like that I wasn’t gonna make it.”
Even though Dax says he’s laying low, he’s cranking out hits like nobody’s business, and shows no signs of slowing down. The rapper brought in 2020 strong with a remix to "Godzilla" and a video for "Book of Revelations," which both have racked up over 5 million views on YouTube combined.
Now, the Ottawa transplant is repping Canada down in L.A. as an unsigned artist. He’s taking it pretty chill for the most part, and is just trying to focus on his music. “When I moved to LA my first year, I was everywhere—every after party, all the events. Everyone saw Dax at some point. But after a while, I just cut that off. I don’t want to be accessible to every single fucking person, all the time.”
The results of all that grinding dropped today, with his new EP I’ll Say It For You. Stream it below. We got a chance to catch up with Dax and chat basketball, not-quite prophetic dreams, and why he won’t be taking any more disrespect from influencers.
Congrats on the new record!
Thanks! I think people are gonna be pleasantly surprised. I'm excited to see what people from the industry think. At the end of the day, I know the shit I make is fucking dope and no one's making shit like it, but it's always just interesting to see who in the industry is gonna fuck with it because there’s so many different factors involved. I wanna see who picks it up, and I’m excited to hear opinions: good ones, bad ones, everything above and under the sun.
What are some of the influences you think we’ll hear on the EP?
Well for me, it’s almost like, I’m not a music fan…. I’m a basketball fan. And hip-hop and basketball are synonymous. Growing up, I considered music the soundtrack to that life. When I make music, I try to remember songs I used to listen to that would push me to want to be great, like "Fireman" by Lil Wayne and other songs by Tupac, too, that really shaped different aspects of my basketball journey. I used to go on YouTube and watch NBA Greats highlights—whether that’s Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird—and I’d be watching those videos with R. Kelly’s "The World’s Greatest" in the background. Despite the controversy around him, that’s a song that was played a lot for me back in the day that still resonates through basketball.
So how did you get into making into hip-hop music?
Well it’s weird, because growing up, I never wanted to be a rapper—I couldn’t relate to it, and never saw any glamour in rap or hip-hop. I wanted to play basketball. In high school and college I used to freestyle for fun, but nothing serious. So in college, I was playing basketball on full scholarship, but I needed money still, and so I took up a job as a nighttime janitor at the school, and I’d clean up in the art room after different theatre events and plays. So that’s how I got exposed to performance and different types of art. So on my way to play Arkansas at a conference, I started writing a rap, but it was just freestyle bullshit with no substance and I hated it. So I tried again but as a poem. And when I finished I remembered thinking, “This is really great.” And from then on I just kept writing poems, and later on, after I had a dream, I turned that shit into music.
What dream did you have that made you turn poetry into music?
So I've had two crazy dreams that define my life that feature Tupac and Michael Jordan. I’m not saying they came to me in a dream or anything. I just think that when you think about people, there’s a great chance that you’ll end up dreaming about them. So I had a dream with Tupac, and he was just like, “Yo, turn your poetry into music. It has more replay value.” A lot of the songs that I wrote are poems: "Dear God" is a poem, "She Cheated" is a poem. They started off as poetry and I turned them into music.
And then I had this other dream that led to me being the leading scorer my senior year: I had a dream with Michael Jordan in it. I was like, 15 or 16. And he told me three things, and it works both in life and in basketball. He said, “When you're open, shoot. If you miss, shoot again. And if they cut you off, change directions.”
Damn! You have mad basketball skills.
I went to college to play Division One basketball, but the coach changed and it didn’t work out so I transferred to a Division Two school. I actually went to the same school as Buddy Hield, who just won the NBA three-point competition. I'm actually the only person who's ever beat him in three-point applications because of my capabilities.
He still owes me $20! He’s ain’t gonna admit it, but when I visited the prep school I went to, I played him right off the plane and I beat his ass.
So you’re still playing basketball?
Yeah, but I'm not playing in any more celebrity All-Star games. Because people need to respect me. I'm tired of going to play with these influencers that don’t pass the ball. I played this game and I scored the first 15 and they stopped passing me the ball. I said, you know what, I'm just not gonna play any more basketball games until I’m one of the biggest artists in the world and they have to pass me the ball.