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Producer Dame Grease Explains His Politically-Charged Street Album Martial Law

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Damon Blackman aka Dame Grease is a down-to-Earth dude from Harlem who loves all music. Never mind that his extensive catalog dates back over two decades and includes The LOX, DMX, Ma$e, Nas, French Montana, and Max B, just to name a few. Grease doesn’t present himself like other veteran producers of his stature, who tend to disregard the new generation of hip-hop. Although it’s been seven years since Dame’s second album Goon Muzik, Grease has remained humble and connected with the new generation rather than living in the past.

“I’m a real producer,” said Dame. “I’m from that era and even though I’m relevant and good money right now, I’m not one of those type of guys be like ‘oh my god, hip-hop ain’t the same.’ I ain’t with all that shit. I’m the classic and new wave. I don’t really relate to a lot of different producers when it comes down to the systematics like that.”

After five years, the Wave Gang producer recently dropped off his latest body of work. In Martial Law, Grease’s beats embrace his roots in the streets of Harlem while blending several elements of the new-age sound. He kept it natural by straying away from the synthesizer and utilizing authentic instruments like acoustic violins and pianos to build 16 out of the 17 tracks on the album. “Chains, Jewelry, Chains” is the only track with heavy 808’s.

“I started it [the album] in 2010 and was doing the songs and mapping. The album is almost like a musical map. It took my awhile. I wanted to orchestrate this perfect sound I was looking for.”

Grease explained the album’s political theme and detailed the meaning behind songs like “Amerika” and “When You Call.” He also sheds light on the direction of the album’s overall sound, which is “more mature” than his previous work.

What was the inspiration behind releasing Martial Law?

I don’t know. It’s crazy because I’ve been working on it since 2010 for five years. The title is political and everything, but I didn’t want to make it more political. It’s a little different but it’s really for the streets. It’s a classic hip-hop album. I didn’t think to put a lot of singers on it.

What was the sound you were looking for?

The album is almost like hip-hop EDM and shit. It’s kinda crazy with all the psycho twists and sounds. I didn’t want to use anything synthesized. I wanted to use all the acoustical.. I made sure that I covered every instrument that was available on the album without anything electric like the acoustic violins, pianos, and hard hip-hop drums. The overall sound is like trip-hop.

You even sampled familiar house tracks like Télépopmusik’s “Breathe” and “Rapture” by Nadia Ali.

Well “Were You Been” I did in 2011 and “Just Breathe” I did a month and a half ago. Like I said, I spent mostly five years on this album.

Those were two different times in your life. What inspired you when you made both of those tracks?

With “Just Breathe,” like I said, Martial Law is a revolutionary conscious album. But at the same time, the “Just Breathe” is actually talking to people about taking it one day at a time and shit ain’t really that bad. So just breathe, you know what I’m sayin’? Instead of getting frustrated and running off the roof or window, you take time. You live to have another child. It’s the same thing with the whole concept. With Martial Law, it’s partly telling people about shit in the government. There’s a lot of telling people about their damn selves and the same time with “Just Breathe” it’s like don’t run out and go crazy. Don’t do this. Think a little bit.

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