“Dee Black is the CEO of HISstory Music Group, an emcee, a father, lyricist, [and a] man of God.”
Black said that in a sense hip-hop raised him. “Even if you had a dad and a mom in the house, we didn’t consider them cool. It told you how to dress. It told you how you should talk… I myself learned about [the] West Coast. I learned about down South. These were places I had never been before.”
Though always a fan of hip-hop, Dee Black did not start writing his own raps until age sixteen. “I had a friend who was rapping, and they were on this show called Rap City… they were getting all of these girls. I saw they were getting all the attention, so I was like, ‘Man, let me try this.’”
The first rap he wrote received a lot of affirmation but did not jumpstart his career. Black recorded his first song at age nineteen.
“I saw their faces when I was standing, looking through the booth… they were amazed, saying ‘This is what you’re supposed to be doing.’”
In the early 00s, Dee Black was pursuing a career in secular hip-hop and his girlfriend, now wife wanted him to meet with her pastor after he was offered a record deal. “I talked to him and he began to talk to me about some of the things I was talking about in the album and my life and I really listened.” Black was thinking that the pastor was going to ask for him to tithe with his new income from the record deal, “but he asked me about my soul. He asked me what was I going to do when this life was over. I’d never heard anyone ask me that before.”
That conversation was a turning point in his life. Black did not move forward with the record deal and got plugged into the church, but then he “didn’t do music for about eight years.”
“I just felt like I needed to stop doing everything. I was doing so many crazy things at the time that I was like, ‘I just need to get away from that.’” Black said that for the next year of his life, he shut out relationships with old friends and stopped watching TV.
“I was just focused on trying to stay out of trouble… rap became a byproduct of that.”
He thought that rapping about his faith would be corny “until I started hearing people like Da’ T.R.U.T.H. and Lecrae. I was like, ‘Yeah, maybe I can do this.’”
Dee Black’s new album Flight Club is inspired by Isaiah 40:31, which reads (NIV), “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
He wants the album to encourage listeners to renew their faith and be zealous for God. “It actually did that for me.”
Flight Club was written over a year-and-a-half period. “My idea originally was an album called Just Listen. I had the artwork, and everything already done for it.” The problem was writing songs. “I couldn’t get any ideas behind that. I just prayed about it and I stopped what I was doing… that’s how the idea came with Flight Club.” One day he was reading Isaiah 40, “sitting there tired, saying ‘Man, I need strength. I need to be renewed.’”
He wanted the album artwork of Flight Club to have the perspective of a pilot’s cockpit.
“It’s really God’s view in a sense because He’s steering the plane… I wanted to see it from a perspective of us being co-pilots.”
It was primarily recorded and produced with HISstory labelmate Germaine Martel.
“We were going back and forth, creating ideas, what we would do. Hooks, beats, every single thing.”
The third track on the album “New Wine,” features Martel and was inspired by Luke 5:37 where Jesus says (NIV), “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.”
Black says that “when you do a little good, but you still ain’t right,” you need to go the extra mile to dedicate yourself to Christ. “It’s a constant process. We’re not perfect at all but we’re gonna have to make some attempt to literally become new.”
“Good Day” features Jered Sanders and Eshon Burgundy, both of whom Black considers family. “I saw a lot of tension and friction from talking about Donald Trump to shootings, all of these different things. I felt like that day I had to really consider having a good day.” When he heard the beat to this song, it was refreshing. “No matter what’s going on around us, make the choice to choose to have a good day.”
Black had a lot of fun on “Hands High,” an East Coast track reminiscent of hip-hop from the late 90s. “I wanted to really give something where people would go back and be able to interact with the song as well.” He says that people often don’t think about hip-hop as a medium for worshiping God, but “it’s not just saying words. We’re actually giving God praise and glorifying Him through it.”
“I’ve been hearing a lot of guys talking about [how] they’re the king of this, the king of that.”
When Black hears rappers describing themselves as the king, or even as divine on occasion, “I wanted to push back a little bit and let them know who the one King is, that only Jesus is the one true King.” This is the message of “One King.”
Sacramento, California artist Mission is featured on “Rock.” “He’s a great, great, great artist. Him and K. Agee helped put that song together.” Agee sent him a track with Mission’s vocals already on it, “and I loved it. He gave me the idea going forward with the concept of rap being like David when he had the slingshot.”
“Turbulence is the realest song I have on the album.” Black says that it is the most transparent song he has ever made. The song shares stories of trials from Black’s own life and those close to him.
“We all have dealt with pornography. We all deal with lust and unfortunately its being pushed in our faces.”
He talks about the overwhelming presence of temptation in American culture and media and wants listeners to think of “those things that we want to fight against but it’s so hard. Why is it that we still do the things that we don’t want to do?”
Flight Club fittingly concludes with “Baggage Claim,” which is “a rapper’s song. That’s one of those ones where I just wanted to rap.” He notes that when flying, a trip to the baggage claim is the final step that a person has to do in order to get to their destination. “You’re looking forward to wherever you’re going… that’s kind of the feel I wanted to have on this song. No hook, no anything.” The lyrics are full of punchlines, similes, and double-entendres.
Outside of music, Black enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with his family. “Being here in Orlando, we do theme parks three or four days out of the week it seems between Disney, Sea World, and Busch Gardens.” His favorite places he has traveled to are Utah, Jamaica, and the Bahamas.
“I feel like my music is really based around exalting God and encouraging and pushing you to be better.”