Demrick Ferm flips in and out of rhyme about five times in a 12-minute conversation.
The L.A.-based rapper, a transplant from north Philadelphia, is coming to Whistler ahead of his first album Losing Focus.
Recently, Pique was treated to a similar talking style from Death Row Records alumni Kurupt and it is always fun to hear people talking out of the ordinary.
Turns out the two know each other well. Kurupt was Demrick's mentor, the man who told him to get his butt out to L.A.
Demrick says: "I call him Uncle Gotti, you know?"
To have Kurupt as a mentor was life changing. Another Philadelphian, he took an interest in the young performer during a visit home in 2005.
"At the time, it felt like somebody we looked up to, someone I listened to growing up, thought that my music was good," says Demrick.
"He invited us and we're in north Philadelphia, recording in a little home studio — kind of a more 'hood atmosphere — and we came right into Hollywood. The first studio session he ever took us to was the Boom Boom Room, which was Will Smith's studio. It was night and day from what we had dreamt about. It happened overnight, almost."
Having a mentor like that with faith in you is amazing, I tell him.
"It's dope, for sure," he replies quietly.
Losing Focus comes out in February on Battle Axe Records, the label part-owned by Madchild of Vancouver's Swollen Members. It is reopening after a long hiatus.
Demrick performs with Madchild at Garfinkel's on Sunday, Jan. 11.
Demrick says: "I've released a good number of mixtapes and things like that, and I'm really excited about my first album. I can't wait for people to hear it; I wrote it in a way so it feels like it is all one thing all the way till the end."
What is different about doing it all solo? Demrick says it is definitely different than putting together a mixtape.
"I've sat down and tried to write bodies of work before. The effort I took, the time... it took about a year-and-a-half to make this album," Demrick says.
"And every time I got together with the producers we would try to (connect) in the songs after. We tried to put together a cohesive body of work that we could be proud of. I was writing something that I really wanted to last, no matter how big or small or whatever I turn into, I want to look back at the first album and know that is where it started.
"Status quo or commercial music, I'd just felt I was over it. And the result of that was this album. I'm just making music about life, making music about where I'm at — somewhere between famous and unknown."
It must free you up as an artist or writer, I observe. He agrees and explains that it's also about relating to the people who are most important to him.
"Yeah. There's no pressure on this album... it was more for myself and for my fans that have been riding with me for a while," he says. "You can listen to Losing Focus... I tried to speak for a demographic who were related to me."
Who is that demographic?
"It's a lot of stoners who are out there listening, trying to push forward with whatever they do. There's a lot of positive undertones," Demrick adds. "I was born in Spokane, WA, and raised in Philadelphia, moved out to L.A. and now I'm with a Canadian label.
"I tried to make it so that people realize the world is small, I've seen a lot of it. I think that kids who can relate to that are the ones who will listen."
The first track off Losing Focus is "We Still Here," featuring Dizzy Wright. Then they released "Make Way," followed by "Different Mind Space."
Demrick says "Different Mind Space" is about north Philly.
"It's from the perspective of walking from outside my door to the train station. It was something I would do every day on repeat. And there would be things happening, whether I was participating or not, as far as street concerns.
"I mean 10th and Jefferson is a notorious ghetto neighbourhood. There's a lot of poverty there, a lot of people doing whatever they can do to make it out of a dangerous place. In my lyrics when I say, 'People don't see 25, so working for a pension makes no sense.'"
He says the story of "Different Mind Space" is that of a kid walking from his house in such a place, going to the train station.
People are really feeling alienated these days, I observe.
"I agree. (He raps) 'They get into this mentality/alter their reality, a different mind state.' Somebody who is consciously seeing that happen around them. Whether you choose to participate in it, or watch it from your window, or if you choose to be tempted by it, just be conscious that it is happening around you."
Needless to say, Madchild — a regular performer in Whistler — is happy to be working with such a talent.
"I really wanted to get to a point where there is a number of incredible rappers, artists, and DJs who could be the face of the movement, the role models of the Battleaxe Warriors family for the kids to look up to," Madchild says.
"Demrick was a perfect first signing. He's really talented, a hard worker, his hunger is there, and his lyrical ability is fierce. He knows how to make good songs."
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