Just A Sample 2: An Interview with Deante’ Hitchcock by JR Walker

Written by Hibak Mohamed

Deante’ Hitchcock’s cover art for “Just A Sample 2”

Deante’ Hitchcock’s cover art for “Just A Sample 2”

Deante’ Hitchcock’s days of being rap’s best kept secret are coming to an end. The 26-year-old Atlanta native has proven his ranks with his freestyles; it’s now time to sit with his music. Deante’ first started rapping when he was 12. Over the years he found his way back after his love for rap grew. His unmatched work ethic and consistency across social media networks has helped boost him into new trajectories. Hitchcock was discovered on instagram by Mark Pitts and later signed with the RCA-affiliate Bystorm label.

When I first came across his freestyles, I was initially drawn to his authenticity and wordplay. I still laugh thinking back to the time someone called him an industry plant and Deante’ made an entire freestyle full of plant puns. Moves like this are what make Deante’ so likeable and connected to his core fans. During the release of “Just A Sample 2,” Deante’ spent most of his time calling supporters and giving his time to those who elevate him. For an upcoming rapper, amassing a solid core base of support is critical. It’s evident that the respect is present for Deante’ Hitchcock.

I don’t wanna ever chalk it up to my lack of work ethic.
— Deante' Hitchcock

Just a week ago, Deante’ released his EP, “Just A Sample 2.” Features include Atlanta legend Kilo Ali, Grammy Award-winning R&B artist H.E.R, and the ultra-talented producer/artist Childish Major. This project was produced by Brandon Phillips-Taylor and executively produced by Mark Pitts. In just a week, Deante’ has been able to garner 1 million streams. From the infectious hooks and catchy melodies to his undeniable pen game, Deante’ proves his well rounded abilities with “Just A Sample 2.” With only 6 tracks, Deante’ gives the us everything we need and leaves us anticipating more. The EP is solely, as it suggests, a taste before the main course. Hitchcock has mastered the ability of evoking an array of emotions through his storytelling to make the listener feel precisely what he is going through. In this EP he explores the theme of love. On “7:45,” Deante’ confidently declares, “who gon love you like me?” On “Changed For You,” he paints a picture of growth by singing, “Just say the word and you got me, baby girl, I'd give up the game for you / Know I was stuck in my playa way way before, but girl, I changed for you.” This project has all of the love anthems you need. If you ever catch yourself singing “Feelings” a little too enthusiastically, just know you’re in too deep.  A dangerous bop indeed. The outro track, “Never (Let You Go),” is a beautiful flip of Brian Mcknight’s, “Never Felt This Way.”

I had the pleasure of speaking with Deante’ and asked him a few questions about “Just A Sample 2.” Whilst playing video games with his brother Darius aka Lil Tounk, Deante’ took his time to thoroughly answer my questions. Deante’ Hitchcock wants to show the world that he is more than just the guy who freestyles in his car. “I was trying to get away from that,” Deante’ tells me on the phone.

The following conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Hibak Mohamed: I know you’ve been doing music since you were 12 with the help from your uncle. Did you know back then that this was something you wanted to do?

Deante’ Hitchcock: Hell no. My uncle really got me into this shit in the first place. The only reason I really started writing my own shit was to kinda like prove to him I could do it. It wasn't like an ingrained love for music it was just like, yeah I gotta show him that I could do this shit. That’s where it came from. Then, I gradually like fell in love with it over time.

Mohamed: Was it a group that you were performing in when you first started? Tell me a little bit more about that.

Deante’ Hitchcock: It was definitely a group. My name used to be Dirty D. Man, that shit sounds horrible. We would not be having this conversation right now if that was still my name. I’d still be dropping shit on Soundcloud and no one would listen to that if I still had this name.

Mohamed: Earlier this year you stated you were going to be putting out 52 freestyles, one for every week. What made you make this decision? And has it been challenging being consistent with everything else you have going on?

Deante’ Hitchcock: What’s crazy is I actually made that decision for lack of a better word, out of desperation. I  wasn’t where I thought I could or should be at the time. I was like, I dont wanna ever chalk it up to my lack of work ethic. Even though I feel like I’m pretty much on par doing the same thing as a lot of my peers, it didn’t feel like I was at the same place as a lot of them. So it was like, if I have to do more to get there then that's what I’ll do. It was a move of desperation, if anything. What’s crazy is since we put out the fuckin tape, I had a meeting in NY last week with the label and they actually want me to slow it down. I’m tryna decide how imma go about that now.

Mohamed: From the outside looking in and from a fan stand point, it just showed your work ethic. I appreciate it regardless if you continue to do them or not.

Deante’ Hitchcock: I’m still gonna write them. I’ll just be more strategic with how I put them out. Whole thing they were saying I just understood it. Whether it be to stop them or slow it down a little bit. They didn’t want that to be all that the people expected from me.

Mohamed: When people tell you to keep your freestyles and put that energy towards your music, how do you react? One thing that stuck out to me was the saying, “My music better than my freestyles.”

Deante’ Hitchcock: I definitely don’t want to be remembered as just the guy who can rap. I want to be remembered for the actual music that I put out. Whether it helps someone through a situation, a club hit or something you just vibe to. People who freestyle, it’s a great talent like battle rapping a King Los or a Cassidy, whoever it maybe be. I feel like especially in today's society we’re a lot more melody driven and a lot more song based than anything now. Like if I was rapping in the 90s like am I now, we would probably be having a different conversation. The musical landscape is a lot different now.

Mohamed: How did your relationship with Mark Pitts come into fruition? And what is it like working with such an esteemed person in the industry?

Deante’ Hitchcock: That’s the crazy part. The freestyles definitely served their purpose because shit, that’s how he found me. I had put a black lives matter freestyle over a Kendrick Lamar GKMC beat & then the so gone challenge right after that. That’s when he hit me in my Instagram DMs. I was like “nah this can’t be him forreal.” I thought that was bullshit. But then the next week and a half to two weeks I was on a plane to NY to meet everybody. I was like, “damn this is forreal forreal.” I was just thinking damn it’s crazy how some shit can come from that. Especially something I started off on the whim in my car rapping. This is definitely a beautiful relationship, that’s my guy. He be trying to challenge me to dance battles but he don’t want that smoke. He think he still got it.

Mohamed: You used to dance right? I don’t think many people know that about you.

Deante’ Hitchcock: Yeah I still do that now. I’m actually trying to get back into it because I aint been on it as much. I been trying to figure out how to incorporate it into my music, but not really into the music. More so how to get back into it without making it look corny.

Mohamed: Who’s one artist you were shocked to find out to know about you/your music?

Deante’ Hitchcock: Cole! Really I ain’t gon lie. I ain’t gon say, “shocked” cuz it makes sense if you put it on paper like Mark and Cole got a real close relationship. When I met Cole for the first time, Mark wasn’t around. I went to one of the concerts when Cole had came to Atlanta. This was before I even met DJ Nitrane, but he got me tickets to come to the show. He was like, “I want you to meet Cole.” We haven’t even sat down and kicked it. That was the first time we met at that concert so that was real genuine love. When I walked into the room he greeted me like a little brother. Like, “Yo my nigga!” from across the room. It was crazy. That one threw me off guard.

Mohamed: You were recently on tour with 6lack, what is your relationship like with him & did you know him outside of music since you’re both from Atlanta?

Deante’ Hitchcock: My first time meeting 6lack was a minute ago. It was at the Edgewood parking lot, that’s one of the music spots in Atlanta. He didn’t know me. It was like on some artist to fan type shit. That was my first time but my partner, his name is Steve Cantrell, he’s signed to the Mass Appeal label. We used to dance together, that’s my boy. He put me onto to bruh a long time ago because they used to do shit in Albany together. I knew about him and fucked with his music and gradually over time everything just lined up the right way and ended up on tour with him. That shit crazy.

Mohamed: Congratulations on the release of your EP, “Just A Sample 2.” You initially planned on releasing this EP last year, what roadblocks did you face?

Deante’ Hitchcock: Man, sample clearances are the worst thing in this entire industry and this entire world. Them shits suck. It’s crazy how it all worked out because I feel like with anything once you start getting traction, people work a lot harder to get it done. When we were on tour and we started performing some of those songs, and folks were seeing the response. Some of the songs it was like, “oh shit we really gotta get this out.” We can’t just like half ass it. We really gotta find these people and get these samples cleared. Things really started working in our favor after the 6lack tour. Sample clearances held us back for so long. But, at the same time I’m glad that it worked out the way it did. Because coming off of this tour and dropping that tape felt a lot better I think, than dropping the tape and then going on tour would’ve felt. So, I’m happy about it.

Childish Major (left) Deante’ Hitchcock (right) Photo via  Instagram

Childish Major (left) Deante’ Hitchcock (right) Photo via Instagram

Mohamed: I see you have features from H.E.R, Childish Major & Kilo Ali; what made you pick these specific artists to capture your theme for this EP?

Deante’ Hitchcock: I mean Childish, that nigga ugly but, that’s my boy. That was a no brainer. We were going to put some shit down anyway. That’s my nigga so, we gon make hella more songs. The Kilo shit, I’m like a big Kilo fan. I feel like Kilo doesn’t get the love that he deserves. My brother will tell you, I listen to Kilo religiously. That nigga is the GOAT. He doesn’t get the love that he deserves and I just wanted to put him on there. It’s crazy because like my mom plays kickball and so, I actually ended up finding that nigga real easily. He was performing at the halftime show at my mom’s kickball game. It tripped me out and I was like, “I gotta make that shit happen.” For H.E.R, it was more political since we are signed to the same label. I wanted to put her on something. The fact that she showed love and did that shit tripped me out. She could have easily been like, “Hell no, I don’t know who the fuck this is.” They told me she really liked the song and was really fuckin with it.

Mohamed: You had the opportunity of being invited to the “Revenge of The Dreamers III” sessions, what was that like?

Deante’ Hitchcock: I was trying to drop 40 points, on everybody, everynight. Everybody that was in there was nuts. You’d go in one room and it’s Cole, KRIT, Wale and T.I. recording some shit. You’d go in the next room and it’s J.I.D, Smino, Vince Staples, and Masego. You’d go in the next room and its Ari, Cozz, Olu, Doc, Bas and Swizz Beatz. The whole environment was just crazy to see all of those people in one place. A lot of people were saying egos weren’t really present in the whole place and it sounds cliche to say that but, nobody was lying. Swizz Beatz was literally going into the rooms with people at Tree Sounds who were just there because they worked there and were recording and he would put some shit on their tracks. It was like, “you’re Swizz Beatz! I don’t know if you realize that.” It was nuts. It was like Disney World for rappers.

Mohamed: Man, that’s so dope. I was actually so happy to see you got an invite to that.

Deante’ Hitchcock: You and me both. The first day I remember being pissed off because I didn’t get my invite until the second day. I talked to my manager like, “damn they’re in Atlanta and nobody’s hitting me up.” Crazy enough that’s part of the reason I started doing NewAtlantaTuesdays. At first, I wasn’t planning on going as far. I was just talking shit. But that really put that battery in my back. I was like, “I gotta snap even harder. I can’t complain.”  The very next morning, I got my invitation.

Mohamed: Do you know how many tracks you’re on or, are you in the dark like the rest of us?

Deante’ Hitchcock: Nah, everyone who isn’t in Dreamville is a little bit in the dark. When I talked to Ib right after, he told me how many songs [there] were all together. Nothing about how many people would be on it. I know they will cut hella songs. It was like 150 songs in total.

Mohamed: What can we expect next from you?

Deante’ Hitchcock: Listen man, I’m gonna say fuck rap and dominate the ice skating world. I’m gonna own a pizza shop. Once I get that crackin, imma say “fuck rap,” and go about my business. Then, I’m going to retire on an island somewhere overseas. The industry is weird and I do not plan on being in this shit forever. I need my hairline to stay intact by the time in 60-years-old. This is not the indicative environment for it so yeah, imma be out in 10 years.

Deante’ had very important question for me at the end of our conversation.

Deante’ Hitchcock: I need to know what type of person you truly are. I ask everybody this. Waffles or pancakes?

Mohamed: Waffles.

Deante’ Hitchcock: Yes! You’re a good person. You deserve all the good things that are coming your way. Say no more.

Big thank you to Deante’ and Lil Tounk for the inside scoop on the journey. If you’re wondering what Deante’ is up to next, you can catch Dirty D on the second leg of J.I.D’s “Catch Me If You Can Tour.” I can’t promise if he’ll answer to that name but, don’t say you heard it from me. To the pancake lovers, Deante’ and I would personally like to tell you to expand your taste palette.

Meet Aamir Khuller--the designer amplifying the work of Tony Cruise, Tech Yes, and October '71 by Maxwell Young

Photo courtesy of Aamir Khuller’s  Instagram .

Photo courtesy of Aamir Khuller’s Instagram.

What is it that compels us to engage with the material (and immaterial) things in our world? “Life’s Goods” as our InTheRough page describes.

The clothes we wear, the music we listen to, the posts we share & like, even the furniture we buy for the dwellings we live in are dictated by behavioral motivations we have as human beings.

In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchy of needs, outlining behavior through prisms of physiology, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self actualization. We are motivated by primal instincts, yes—the need for food, shelter, and copulation are first in the natural order of things—while other motivations like security and value become more extrinsic, rooted in reward-based systems. The importance of your financial wellbeing or the desire for a luxury vehicle versus ‘I just need a car that runs’ are examples that come to mind. Such needs are satisfied by design; the manner in which we facilitate our consumption, protection, procreation, construction/destruction, and other societal frameworks.

The nature of being human has seemed to me a series of attempts in imprinting control over what we perceive to be out of ours, but most of these definitions are held up flimsily by a collective spiral of silence.
— Aamir Khuller, artist & designer

Aamir Khuller is a Los Angeles-based graphic designer, photographer, art director, videographer, production assistant, and film director reinforcing the branding and aesthetics of his “tribe” of friends and artists who inspire him.

If you’re hip to Washington, D.C.-based artists Sir E.U and Jamel Zuñiga; Rob Stokes and October ‘71; or Tony Cruise, chances are you’ve seen Khuller’s work. As a designer, he’s been commissioned to capture and interpret the sonic tastes of these artists into adequate visual representations including graphics, photographs, videos, and flyers.

We saw Khuller’s art direction in grand scale last November, when sound engineer Tony Cruise fka Tony Kill debuted his latest LP, Replica, on 926kmh.com. The now defunct website designed by Khuller premiered Cruise’s music in a unique audiovisual experience that was alternative to contemporary streaming methods. “Traditional albums are dead,” Cruise told me. We briefly discussed the creative execution of the project in between tracks at a Tech Yes in December. “Don’t even talk to me about it. Talk to Aamir. He ran with it.”

For Cruise who is so entrenched in the way his music is perceived, it was interesting to find out he relinquished one of the more external-facing aspects of the project to someone else. I caught up with Khuller, the man Cruise entrusted to design the webpage, via email to understand more about the genesis and evolution of 926kmh.com as well as the creative communities he supports on the East and West coasts.

ITR: I asked Tony about the design of the website he released Replica on, 926kmh.com, and he told me he didn’t give you much direction. Talk about that level of trust.  How’d you meet?

AK: Tony was my uncle in a past life or something like that. He wished me happy birthday one year and sent me his address and I ran up on him like a month later, etc. In regards to trust, we probably identify with similar fascinations over quality of detail and have similar taste. This bamma didn’t even have the music for me to listen to when I made the campaign haha.

In order to have a replica, there has to be an original.  In Tony’s case, that’s Thought Crimes.  How did the music and even the cover art/branding of that project inform your design process for this go-round?

My design process is pretty impulsive, I don’t know how much it directly informed it but in retrospection there’s some overlap in the spontaneity and texture. I’m not sure, the majority of fleshed out design took place in a day or so.

In what ways did the sonics of Replica influence your work?

Can I insert this

*disclaimer: everything I say ought not to be redacted*

.jpg into the article?

Courtesy of Aamir Khuller

Courtesy of Aamir Khuller

The URL of Replica sounds like a radio station.  What’s the significance of it?

Redefinition of muddied waters.

I noticed that the site had been updated periodically since Replica’s release.  Some of the words I read are familiar from Tony’s IG Stories.  Can you talk about how the page evolved?

Art, as experienced by the contemporary user, is continually defined evolution and flux so I think it’s crucial to reflect that. The nature of being human has seemed to me a series of attempts in imprinting control over what we perceive to be out of ours but most of these definitions are held up flimsily by a collective spiral of silence. Art is ongoing as are the relationships between subject, artist, and audience and what you see is the result of the technological apparatuses to do so.

Et Cetera Labs - what can you say about it?

It’s the equivalent to a cruelty-free animal sticker. I don’t really know much else, truthfully.

You live in LA, right? Put us onto to some local talent you’ve been able to experience lately.  It could be any medium.

I consider myself fortunate to have a tribe in that sense — an abundance of my friends continually inspire me. I don’t want to list off people because there truly are too many and I’d prefer not to offend anyone out of a stony fog but it shall become even more apparent in 2019.

I’m curious about your life in the DMV and the people and places that informed your creative community growing up.

I began making art because I felt like I didn’t have any friends; that wasn’t reality as much as my perception but it caused me to branch out of the somewhat sheltered bubble I existed in before and for that I’m grateful.

Why’d you leave? What does the DMV’s creative community look like from across the coast?

I got a chance to leave and didn’t have much of a reason to stay. I cannot profess to be hyper tuned-in from afar but some of my dearest friends are making beautiful art and doing whatever the fuck they want and each time I’ve returned they’ve introduced me to more and more people on the same frequency. I think getting more involved could be cool.

Who had the best album cover of 2018?

Trippie Redd or Blood Orange.

What can we expect from Aamir in 2019?

I am a citizen of the world.

Where can we find your work?

I am a citizen of the world.


Search my name though. I just did and found out I have an IMDb page. Instagram is cool too. Can you link the word instagram to mine in the article? That’d be wavy. Or borderline corny. Agh this is awkward. No more.

Late Bloom Radio hosts artists Absurdly Well and Esteban Whiteside ahead of Friday's gallery show by Maxwell Young

Tune in to Late Bloom Radio broadcast via FullServiceRadio.org, Wednesday at 7pm EST, for an in-depth interview with two of Washington D.C.’s most unapologetic artists.

Promotion for “Broken Safety,” an art exhibition featuring the compositions of Esteban Whiteside & Absurdly Well.

Promotion for “Broken Safety,” an art exhibition featuring the compositions of Esteban Whiteside & Absurdly Well.

The following is a press release from artists Absurdly Well and Esteban Whiteside.

Washington, D.C.—10 blocks from the Capitol!  The most highly-anticipated joint show from the DMV’s most prolific artists!

Join us March 8th in Eastern Market at The Fridge Gallery! Political street artist Absurdly Well and artist Esteban Whiteside come together in their first joint art exhibition to address social circumstances that galvanize today’s urban society.

Gentrification and displacement is at an all-time high in major cities in the nation.  The lack of financial, domestic and democratic safety has been taking a toll on the poor and middle class for years.  Artists also have been feeling the pinch of big business moving in Washington.  With more and more luxury condominiums being built & rising rents, artist spaces have been shutting down.  These factors consequentially puts this “broken safety” in the cross-hairs of many U.S. citizens.

Collectors and admirers of Absurdly Well & Esteban will be amazed by the ambitious size of art and spanning subject-matter.  Each piece is a unique perspective on and during the Trump regime from the most prolific artist-activists.  Most pieces are never-before-seen.

This exhibition will be up until March 31st and there will be programming and artists talks throughout the month by both artists.

Original works, prints, street posters, and other merchandise will be available for sale.

March 8, 7-11pm

The Fridge D.C.

516 8 St, SE

Washington, D.C. 20003

Other college radio stations could learn a thing or two from WVAU and Maliyeah Grant by Maxwell Young

A lot of people come to D.C. and take what they can get out of it, without giving what they have to it.
— Maliyeah Grant, Senior, Events Director, WVAU, American University

As a transplant living in Washington, D.C. (by way of Pittsburgh, Pa.), I can attest to a foreigner’s urge to experience the cultural heritage of the city. For those who have never visited, it’s hard not to feel this compulsion if for nothing but the fact that most of these experiences are free. It’s like tasting your favorite sweet treat for the first time—the rush of energy, the colors, the sensory immersion—you’re insatiable. It’s a natural part of living in a new environment, wanting to interact with its people and communities.

“I guess everyone was trying to connect with D.C. culture,” said Maliyeah Grant at the Tenleytown Chick Fil A, a popular spot for her American University classmates, no doubt. The Senior from York, Pa. opened up about her gradual involvement in the District’s creative scene running parallel to (and at times intersecting) her collegiate radio career, with Nappy Nappa’s social media acting as her entry point. “ I started listening to him on SoundCloud and following local artists. We started going to events at Uptown Art House and talking to people who aren’t from AU.”

Maliyeah Grant (left) at WVAU’s prom in April 2018. Photos by Jason Brandon

Maliyeah Grant (left) at WVAU’s prom in April 2018. Photos by Jason Brandon

The Art House is actually where I first met Grant. Last spring, she rented the now defunct venue space for WVAU’s annual prom. Just a year following my own graduation, the early-twenty-somethings’ youthful energy was contagious and I became nostalgic of simpler times. I thought about the house parties and DIY shows Rob Stokes encouraged me to see my sophomore year, like MILF and $uicideboy$ on the same bill. I wished my friends and classmates were privy to those untapped worlds so that we could experience them together. Yet, there was Grant looking eerily similar to SZA in her “Love Galore” music video, amplifying that same spirit through her school. Rather than merely being a part of the vibe, this time she was curating it.

Such foundational experiences can have a compounding effect on someone who is eager to support the arts, especially someone like Grant who has university resources and money at her disposal.

“There’s a responsibility when you move somewhere that you’re not from to engage with the community in a positive way. A lot of people come to D.C. and take what they can get out of it, without giving what they have to it,” she said.

Although WVAU is a campus station, the internet network is committed to highlighting locally-based talent, whether that’s playing music on air waves or inviting artists to interviews. It’s about bridging the arts and academic communities to not only expose young people to identities and perspectives they might not have considered before, but also fostering future collaborations. The station’s early 2000s party, ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot,’ featured sounds from D.C.-based collective MXDHOUSE while Greenss is slated to offer an exclusive set at AU’s Batelle Atrium in support of Stephn, who is releasing his album Time Before Us with WVAU on February 22.

“Putting funding towards local artists. That’s a big way I like to connect the two [communities],” Grant said.

Other universities could take a page from American, WVAU & Maliyeah’s script. Of course, there are some who already align with this identity. Oberlin College brought a full blow mind-melt to Ohio, booking the Model Home combo of Nappy Nappa & Pat Cain along with Sir E.U and Rob Stokes in December. Treat the arts like any other community outreach program and bring culture to campus. It doesn’t have to be thousands of dollars spent bringing major artists to the quad. Local experiences are relevant to the student experience, plus, they inform the real estate you inhabit.

Photos by Jason Brandon