It’s been a long road for rapper Dylan Dilinjah. Since his group Da Band broke up after Season 3 of MTV’s reality series “Making The Band,” many people assumed that the hip-hop artist from Grenada fell off after being dropped from Bad Boy Records during the series finale. Like the plethora of artists that were backed by Puffy like Craig Mack, Danity Kane, and Day 26, one would think that Dylan had fallen victim to the mythical “Bad Boy curse.” However, quite contrary to popular belief, Dylan has released several mixtapes like Reborn and Let The Music Talk with intentions that go beyond simply releasing a solo album.
“If there is a Bad Boy curse,” Dylan told WatchLOUD. “I’m the one who broke the curse.”
Dylan Dili is taking a new road to success since striking a new deal with Akon’s Kon Live/En-Treeg Records. With his warm-up single “(Pay Dem) No Mind” already in rotation, Dylan is preparing to unleash his upcoming solo album, Pain 2 Power, later this year under the new imprint. That’s not all. Dylan is also getting his hands dirty in film with a role in the upcoming indie film Brooklyn Bred.
I got to speak with Dylan about his new ventures with Kon Live, his upcoming album and the important lessons about the industry that he picked up during his time in Da Band. He also revealed some interesting news about Bad Boy Studios, his future in film and a throwback story about trying to convince Da Band to let Kanye West produce their music.
WatchLOUD: What were you working on prior to the new deal?
Dylan: Specifically, we were actually working on Pain 2 Power. Originally I said it was going to be a mixtape. I said ‘Let’s do a mixtape called Pain 2 Power’ because I was already dropping mixtape after mixtape. A lot of people think we just came into the business or just started. People are like ‘Oh it’s nice to see you back on your grind again.’ And I’m like ‘How am I back on my grind again when we’re always working?’ I never stopped working. I never had a day off. I’ve put out several mixtapes. So this time we’re going to put out this mixtape, we’re going to shoot videos for each song on the mixtape and just keep going. But as we started recording, it turned into an album. Every beat started becoming original beats and everything else. By putting together an album now, I like was ‘Ok we got choices.’ 1 Stop Media, my family and my studio and the whole movement, we said ‘How about we have a listening party for the album, but do it differently. We weren’t just going to put it out on iTunes and get a minimal buzz. Why don’t we invite the whole industry to come down to Bad Boy studios where it all started?
I don’t know if you know but I’m making this news. Bad Boy Studios is no longer in existence.
Do you mean Daddy’s House?
Daddy’s House, Bad Boy Studios is officially closed down. It’s not even public news. On the 14th of this month, everything will be out of the building. It’s done, the history, the legacy, and everything else. Dylan Dili and Pain 2 Power, were the last event ever to be at Bad Boy studios. And I was the first person that was ever signed to Bad Boy to go back and a have party anyways. So no Ma$e, No 112, No Danity Kane, No Day 26, No Craig Mack, nobody in the history of Bad Boy Records ever went back to Bad Boy [studios] after being signed and had any kind of event. I was the only one to do that, and the last one to do it.
How did you get involved with Konvict music?
After that [the listening session], labels started hollering out you know like Columbia and Sony Red. So many people started coming into the scene. It was Rozy the CEO of Entreeg Records, which is the foundation and one of the backbones of Konvict music, who wanted to hear the album the album because she went to the party. I sent her the music, Akon heard it and loved it. He said it was undeniable. When he wrote back he said ‘Look, we got to sign him.’ I love them because they weren’t trying to change me in any kind of way. They didn’t try to change my creativity. I have full creative control and they never tried to change anything that I’m doing. They just want to help the project grow. The Konvict music family and the Entreeg family come out a lot.
I listened to your track “No Mind” and you told me that was just a warm-up. What’s the strongest track on the upcoming album?
My favorite is a song called “My City,” which was produced by the Trackformerz and was recorded at Bad Boy studios. It’s just an amazing song. We’re looking forward to Akon actually being on the remix of that song. He’s going to lay down his vocals so I’m waiting for Akon to jump on that. The song itself alone is about my history growing up and a lot of people from the streets will related to it. The single is going to be called “Massacre” featuring Kalenna from Dirty Money. She’s on the chorus of that. That’s gonna be the real single and will come out later towards the summer.
During your time with Da Band, what would you say is the strongest thing you learned about the industry?
The strongest thing I learned from Da Band was all the lessons of fame. Puffy taught us that as of that day he was going to make us famous. Fame doesn’t mean you’re going to be rich or go broke. That choice is on you. No matter what you’re going to do with that fame, it’s on you. It’s about the hustle and what you do. And that’s what I always did year after year to try different things. What helped me a lot was having a team.
I know you’ve also spoken about your new film Brooklyn Bread, produced by Angela Yee and directed by Tionna T. Smalls. You play Mel, the sidekick to the main character. Will this be your gateway into the acting world?
Creative people are creative period. I don’t think it’s limited when you’re creating. I think if you have a creative mind, then it’s easy to – that’s why you see so many people who are actors diving into music and people from music diving into acting. I think the possibilities are endless with that. I’m not going to say no to it.
Who are you looking forward to work with in the future?
I want to be the first Caribbean artist to work with Kanye. I know he’s worked with Caribbean artists before like Rihanna, but not an actual Caribbean record or someone who’s so close to the roots of the culture. I don’t think he’s worked with anyone like that. So I want to be the first one to work with Kanye on that. Hopefully that happens.
I told Kanye in ’03 that I wanted him to produce for Da Band. At that time, he had “Through The Wire,” he had just started and The Blueprint album from Jay Z was bumping all over the place. I already knew his work as a producer. So I told him I wanted him to produce the whole thing and he was like “Yo, not a problem. Here’s my number, take it down.” I went back to Da Band and the office and they laughed at me. They were like “Who? Kanye West?” They shut me down. They were like “No, we’re not going to do that. We’re going to keep it in-house. He’s really a nobody. He’s on the come-up, just another producer.” I was like “No, he’s great. He’s going to be the biggest thing in the world.” Now look. I’m not dissing them. I’m just stating facts.
I remember during “Making Of Da Band” sitting with Will.i.am and he was supposed to work with us. Puffy told Will.i.am to sit down with us and nobody liked his vibe. I remember it at the end of the night it was just me and Will.i.am and he felt some way because no one wanted to fuck with him. And Puffy was just like “Yo, stop making spaced out music” or some shit (laughs) and I was like “Yo, he’s going to be the biggest thing ever.” Then Will.i.am became a great producer. The people that everyone shitted on, I always see ahead like “they’re going to be amazing” and now it’s like it would be nice to link with those people now.