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Rapper Dae Dae Discusses His Struggle, Musical Breakthrough, and Atlanta’s Competitive Rap Scene

His hit single “Wat U Mean (Aye, Aye, Aye)” changed his life.

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“My daddy always told me you gotta take this music seriously,” says Marquavis “Dae Dae” Goolsby. The ascendant Atlanta rapper behind the hit “Wat U Mean (Aye, Aye, Aye)” grew up watching his father and brother rap in the in-home studio that his dad built and knew that rapping was what he wanted to do with his life.

His father’s advice rang true, because life gave 24-year-old Dae Dae plenty of reasons to abandon his musical dream. A father at age 14, Dae Dae dropped out of school to provide for his child. A drug-related arrest stripped him of both his family and equipment, putting rap on hold until he found a new studio to call his own. Oddly enough, it was while working as a concrete grinder that inspiration struck for his breakthrough song.

Devotion to music ultimately paid off. Signed to the prestigious Lyor Cohen-run 300 Entertainment, Dae Dae now has one of the hottest songs in South and just got off of tour with Young Thug, Lil Yachty, and Rich the Kid.

MERRY JANE sat down with him to talk to him about his struggle, his first hit, the role his kids (he has five now) play in his music, and much more.

MERRY JANE: When did you first know you wanted to become a rapper?
Dae Dae:
Growing up, I was watching my brother and my dad and them rap, watching them boys have fun with it. I started grabbing that energy off of them. Once I started rapping, my brother started slacking off, but I just kept going. I was always into the music. I loved the creativity of it. Then the police busted my dad’s spot, and they took my dad and brother to jail, and took the studio equipment. Once they did that, I didn’t have nothing but the house.

How did you manage to keep pushing without a studio?
After that, I stepped into somebody’s else’s studio, and their sound was clearer than I had ever heard before. I automatically was in love with that studio, and I just started learning more from the studio engineer, Mercy. Shout out Mercy. I’ve learned a lot from him. Being in the studio with Mercy gave me a whole new feel. Instead of being home doing music, I wanted to see if I could give the same energy in another studio.

How have your children played a role in your music?
I have five kids now and they all love music. When their particular song comes on, it changes the whole vibe. It’s some powerful music. I have a studio in my house right now and they love going in there with me. They come up with new things with me. My little girl plays a big role in my music. She’s my oldest and she completely understands me. She’ll come to me and be like, “Daddy, I like that,” or “You should have said this.” She’s always trying to help me out when I’m doing music. I know she loves my music as much as I do.

How did you come up with “Wat U Mean (Aye, Aye, Aye)”?
I did that song when I was working at my concrete job. I didn’t actually write it at the time, but I was at the grinder and I was freestyling in my head and there was this one bar that stuck out: “Racks in me like a piñata. Fuck you, blue Balenciagas.” I ended up stopping the grinder and I put my iPhone down and started writing in my notepad. Then I turned the grinder on and started working again.

After that, I called up my producer Mercy and told him, “Hey, man, I got some bars and I think you should make the beat.” I was going to use that record for the intro of a mixtape I was thinking about dropping. But it just so happened that I ended up going to open mics and performing that record and it blew up. That’s when it all really started.

Are you over 18?

What was it like touring with Young Thug, Lil Yachty, and Rich the Kid?
That tour made my career, where I’m at now, as far as my energy on the stage. I came in about five or six months into my deal [with 300 Entertainment] and I was already out on the tour, my record was just starting to move. What I was going through was new; I had to perform harder so I could get the fans to understand and know it. I watched every show, how they perform, how they move around. These artists have been on tour, they’ve been on the road. As I was watching I was learning. I got great feedback on how to perform from them. Now I’m at a great point where I’m comfortable and I can turn a good show into a great show.

What’s going on with The Definition, your upcoming project with producer London on da Track?
Me and London are one of those artist-and-producer combos that everyone knows. Kevin Liles, the co-owner of [300 Entertainment], actually managed London on da Track. When we met, we ended up feeding off of each other’s energy. It was only right that we create together, give it to the world, and give fans more energy and different vibes. This is going to be one of those tapes you won’t forget. Every song goes hard.

How has cannabis impacted your life and music?
Smoking helps me a lot. It helps me calm my nerves. It’s helped me create good music, it makes me cool. When I smoke, everything is happy and everything is fun. It keeps my mind off a lot of things. It gives me great energy. Every song I have, I was probably smoking when I made it.

Are you over 18?

It most definitely helps on the road too. When I’m on the road, I put in a lot of hours, and you’ve got to go to these towns. Smoking makes the trip music easier and more fun. All of my friends smoke already, but smoking will bring two people you don’t even know together. There’s a lot of people I didn’t know in a studio session, and I wouldn’t have weed but they would, and we would end up being friends just like that.

How have you set yourself apart from other artists in the Atlanta scene?
Atlanta’s one of those places where you can’t sound like somebody else. If you do, Atlanta will let you know. It’s one of those places where you need to come up with your own sound and be creative and be known for it. I had my own sound and a different style of music that made me stand out. I didn’t take the same approach as every artist in Atlanta did, I came with a different style, a different swag. I was doing it in the street, what every street cat was scared to do: to say I’m a Crip, but I got Bloods with me. Cats didn’t want to say that. I just put a lot of differences into my music, just trying to be very different, sounding like no one, taking a different approach. The only thing I‘m doing is telling my story, telling what I’ve seen, what I’ve been through, what I’ve experienced through my music.

Are you over 18?

You can follow Dae Dae on Instagram and download his mixtape 4 Reasons for free. His joint project with producer London on da Track, The Definition, releases on Nov. 4.

Are you over 18?