Rise & Grind is a new editorial series, meant to introduce and dissect new, buzzing, or underground artists.
Duke Deuce is the latest rap star to have emerged from the Quality Control factory. In the last half-decade, Coach K and P have built an intense track record filled with artists they’ve assisted in becoming superstars, including the Migos, Lil Yachty, Lil Baby, City Girls, and more. With Memphis experiencing an uprising in upcoming rap talent, Duke Deuce is one of the most exciting emerging artists making noise and shifting the landscape of the game. His take on crunk, which hasn’t been touched in years, is refreshing and tells you much of what you need to know about the 28-year-old rapper.
“Crunk Ain’t Dead” is where most people will recognize Duke’s name from. The song is his most popular record to date, garnering all kinds of attention and even prompting Lil Jon, Juicy J, and Project Pat to take notice and hop on the remix. Duke has also added collaborations with Offset, Young Dolph, A$AP Ferg, Mulatto, and more to his resume.
With energy for days and an infectious ad-lib that will have you screaming “What the fuuuuuu*k” around the house, Duke Deuce is offering a different type of flavor that we haven’t witnessed in years.
With his latest project Duke Nukem available now on all digital streaming platforms, Duke Deuce caught up with us for the latest edition of Rise & Grind, answering ten basic questions before jumping into a more detailed Q&A session, which you can read below.
Stay tuned for a new installment of Rise & Grind every Monday.
Photo by Cam Kirk
I’m from Memphis. Black Haven to be exact.
It was pretty much like any other sh*t neighborhood. It was rough. It was cool though. It was cool, it was fun.
DJ Paul and Gangsta Boo are from the Haven. There’s also a producer named Drummer Boy, he’s from the Haven too.
I’m a Taurus.
When I’m chilling, I identify with the general Taurus traits. Facts. I actually go to sleep with rain sounds and all that.
I’m not big on zodiacs. Sometimes it hits, sometimes it doesn’t.
Top 5 DOA:
Man… Lil Wayne, Lord Infamous, Project Pat, Bankroll Fresh, and Young Thug.
Man… My biggest accomplishment. When I had my daughter– and this is before she could talk– she was just about a couple of months old and I used to promise her that I was going to make it rapping and now I’m here. I live in a three story house and I’m a full time father and rapper.
She’s five now. Her name is Ocean.
Studio Habits & Essentials:
I always got to have me a bottle of Martell Cognac. Don’t play with it. That’s my favorite bottle right there. I gotta have that. I like to have my gang there too because for some reason, when I’m recording, I like to be able to look out the window, or just look around me and just pick out everybody’s vibe. I like to see if people are f*cking with it or not. My gang be so crunk and it turns me up.
Honestly, the majority of the time, there’s like three extra people in the studio with me. Unless everyone is in town, then there would be almost twenty of us.
“Crunk Ain’t Dead”:
I was checking for beats and I was going to do it to the hot Memphis songs that people knew around the city and I was gonna just take everybody’s beat and just kill ’em all in a row, like Lil Wayne used to do. That was one of them, “If You Ain’t From My Hood” beat. It’s one of my favorite beats in the world. For some reason though, I went crazy on that beat the most. I needed to drop some music. At the time I felt like it had been a while, so I just wanted to drop something. I said ‘f*ck it, I’m finna drop this just to give them something quick’. That’s the reason it’s only got one verse on it. It was really just meant to be a freestyle. It just turned into something big for me. It’s crazy.
I wasn’t surprised about the way people gravitated to it, I wasn’t at all because I knew how it made us feel. I knew how it made me feel. When I was recording that song, I promise you, bro, I had chills when I recorded that song. I was just getting hype with the mic. Man, I was ready to lose it there. All that energy came from people just sleeping on me, I feel like I had a point to prove. I was mad, you feel me? I was not playing.
There are songs way older than the one I’m finna mention, but I can’t remember those bars. “Stand By” was the first song I shot a video to ever. That song was actually crunk as well. I remember those bars a little bit.
I think the hook was like, “G’s in the club on standby/Bunch of bad b*tches on standby/Pistol in the club on standby/Duke Deuce, that’s a n***a you can’t stand by/Racks in my pocket on standby/Keep a pocket rocket on standby/Keep some rubbers with me on standby/Keep them bottles with me on standby.” As you can see, I still keep that bottle with me on standby.
I had to get a feel for the studio at first. I grew up to this, I ain’t new to this. When I came in, I already had my mind made up. I knew where I was going with everything. It just took time for me to develop. I was always kinda turnt.
I started off doing open mics. I can’t quite remember the first one. I wish I could. It was in Memphis for sure. I did a lot of open mics, trying to get my name out.
The response was always crazy. My first time performing “Standby”, the crowd went crazy and the crowd doesn’t usually go crazy in those types of settings. It was a small setting but there were a lot of people on this night for some reason. I guess they liked the way I started off, I walked on the floor real calm like I wasn’t finna do nothing. I let my song build up and as soon as the beat dropped, I was crunk. The whole crowd just went crazy. It was crazy. It felt good.
At the moment. I’m really into “Snowfall.” That’s one of my favorite joints. I also like to play “Call Of Duty: Warzone.”
Pressure. I’m on they ass. Foot on their neck. Pedal to the metal, I’m on they ass, I’m not stopping. I was already working on new music, while I was working on the Nukem joint. I got my own marijuana strain about to hit the streets. I’m on they ass. I’m not playing. Let’s get it.
Photo by Trey S.
HNHH: Your father is Duke Nitty– he’s produced some classic Memphis records. Did he always bring you to the studio when you were growing up?
Duke Deuce: Yeah always. I wasn’t doing any music though, but I was just always around.
Did you always know you wanted to be a rapper though?
Not really, I didn’t know at first. I didn’t know until after I got out of high school. That’s when I wanted to start rapping. I used to produce and make my own beats and sh*t, but then, sh*t, I just wanted to rap.
You said you’ve got your own weed strain in the works. How did that come about?
My magic team. Mainly my boy Snipes, my manager. Snipes ended up talking to this lady named Cece and she said she was trying to reach out to me for the longest time. I guess I’ve been missing her messages because I get a lot of messages on Instagram and I don’t see that sh*t half the time. She finally linked up with Snipes. So we finna be– my sh*t finna be through Rick Ross, the real Ricky Ross. No disrespect. Shoutout to Rick Ross too.
That’s a big deal. Freeway Ricky Ross?
Yeah, Freeway Ricky Ross.
How does your strain make you feel? Have you tried it yet?
I haven’t. Actually, we haven’t even finished the process yet. We got to go pick out the flower and all that.
When is that happening? When should it be out by?
If it’s going to be my strain, then it’s got to get you up and going, it’s gonna have to get you crunk. I want something that’s gonna make you feel good. Make you feel happy and enjoy your day. We’re picking out the flower soon. I’ll know when it’ll be out then.
Let’s talk about the new project Duke Nukem. What’s your favorite song on there?
“BACK 2 BACK” and “ARMY”.
No cap, I really love the intro track. It gets me so hyped.
For sure. I love the intro too, sh*t.
You collaborated with Offset, Young Dolph, Mulatto, A$AP Ferg, and a lot of other big names for the album. Who were you most excited to work with this time around?
Sh*t, all of them really. I don’t know, I just appreciate it. I just appreciate being able to link up with other artists, for real. All of them.
How did you end up signing your deal with Quality Control? Did Coach K and P reach out to you?
Offset ended up reaching out to me. I dropped a song called “Whole Lotta” in 2018. It went crazy, the video went small-time viral. Offset ended up hitting me up on Instagram and that was it. I flew to LA for the first time. Sh*t was crazy.
Are you close to Offset?
Yeah, we close, I just talked to him last night.
Dope. How have Coach K and P helped you develop as an artist?
Mainly they were just telling me to keep going. P loves to say, ‘keep hustling’. That’s his sh*t. I feel like that’s all I needed, a push. Just for people to tell me to keep going and stay on they ass. It’s gonna happen. You feel me? I got everything else.
Memphis is going crazy right now. What are your thoughts on the state of Memphis rap in 2021?
I’m just proud, I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. I always knew Memphis needed way more love than it got, because Memphis has the leading sound for a lot of sh*t that been going on. A lot of sh*t done came from our city, but we don’t get the flowers that we deserve. We finally starting to get that recognition. I’m proud.
Who’s next up out of Memphis that we might not know about?
My boy, Lil A. Lil A is going crazy. He working, he just building his sh*t up right now. He finna go crazy.
What made you start doing your signature “What the f*ck?” ad-lib?
One day, I was staying at my mom’s and I was starting to take that rap sh*t seriously. I was like, I need to come out with an ad-lib or something to put an extra stamp on my sh*t. This is around the time I was making the song “Stand By” that I was telling you about. It was crunk and it just ended up being what I went with. So, what the f*ck? I don’t know, I just came up with it.
Were you always into the crunk scene coming up?
Yeah, for sure.
Duke, is there anything I haven’t asked you about that you want to touch on before we close out?
Duke Nukem just hit number 3 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, man. For real, man. I’m happy, I’m excited, this is a big accomplishment for me. Came a long way, bruh.