Interview /w Dirt Nasty!
The Man behind the Blow
Interview with comic rapper Dirt Nasty
By: Patrick Gipson
Hip-hop is once again under assault…and I ain’t talking about Tipper Gore. The same gatekeepers of rap that regrettably gave way to Ron Artest, or more comparatively, MC Serch, are now facing a new challenger, who is undoubtedly blowing a party kazoo while thrusting his crotch into an orange cone hat. Envision where Jamie Kennedy left white boy rap; now force a shot of Petron down that punk’s throat, throw him down a stair set and blow cocaine in his face. If you’re just the right blend of wasted, you might have Dirt Nasty.
Born in San Francisco as Simon Rex Cutright, the rapper began freestyling on cheap karaoke machines at his friend’s house at age 14. After moving to Hollywood, Rex joined the Dyslexic Speedreaders, a comedic, rapping three-piece alongside friends Mickey Avalon and Andre Legacy. The trio wrote the 2006 single “My Dick,” which became an internet sensation, even scoring appearances in movies and television shows. Going solo as Dirt Nasty with his 2007 self-titled debut, Rex produced the hit songs “1980” and “Baby Dick.” With his second album, Nasty As I Wannna Be, slated to drop August 10th, Nasty is ready, once again, to crash the hip-hop party. The MC recently took some time out of his trail blazing, butt grazing schedule to talk about the downsides of being a rock star, his days at MTV and white rappers.
PG: You played Nashville in July. What was your impression of Tennessee?
DN: As a kid I remember Gatlinburg, but now I’ve been to Nashville three or four times and it’s a great city. Good barbecue and good people. I stage dived at a show (recently) and lost my phone; people are so nice out there, somebody found it and is mailing it to my house. That’s some good southern people out there.
PG: Describe your earliest musical endeavors.
DN: I started messing around on karaoke machines at my friend’s mom’s house at fourteen, making demos to circulate amongst me and my eleven friends. It was more just comedic freestyle tapes that we could play on a cassette and have a laugh. It was absolutely awful, but it was a start.
PG: You became a VJ for MTV in 1995. How did you get that gig?
DN: That was probably the most pivotal point in my life. I was living in New York doing fashion modeling. There was a big model named Marcus Schenkenberg; he was going into MTV to be a guest on “Get Late with Kennedy.” He couldn’t make the rehearsal, so my modeling agent sent me. I went in and purposely was really silly and funny and trying to make them remember me. I did some jokes and banter with Kennedy and they ended up calling me back. I told them I have no television experience, I have no journalism experience, I really don’t know that much about music; they were like, “perfect.”
PG: What’s dirty and nasty about yourself that appropriates the stage name?
DN: It’s just a character that I play. The stuff that I say in the songs aren’t necessarily things that I agree with; its more for entertainment purposes, but to answer your question, I guess that I live out of a bag. I’m on the road all the time and I’m just always in some random city. It doesn’t let you have the healthiest lifestyle, when you’re just going on the road and airports eating fast food.
PG: Do you have to constantly make strides to separate your musical persona from the real you?
DN: Only when it’s like direct contact with someone. Someone meets me and expects me to be the person that they saw on stage and all of a sudden I’m like ‘hey, nice to meet you, I’m Simon.’ I sometimes purposely make strides to really make it clear that I’m not that person. A lot of times, they’re disappointed; they’ll meet me and be like ‘Oh, I thought you were going to be this crazy, asshole maniac.’ It’s almost better to not even meet the fans sometimes, because I don’t want to stay in the character after I’m done. Some people don’t understand that I’m playing a character, some people do…like a trash-can dumping cocaine into me; I wrote a song about cocaine, I hate cocaine. People come up to me, ask me to do some and I’m like, ‘nah I don’t like that stuff,’ and the look on their faces…it’s kind of a tough one sometimes, but that’s what you got to deal with I guess.
PG: Has the rock star lifestyle paired with your character kind of cornered you?
DN: Yeah, it’s usually after shows, it happens. They’re drunk, they’re in the environment and they’ve been waiting for you to come to your town for three months, you get there and in their head you’re going to hang out and party all night. It’s mostly just tougher to deal with after shows, than it is just walking down the street. It’s almost better to not engage anyone because you’re just going to let them down.
PG: The White Album, your mixtape with DJ Stretch Armstrong, featured only white rappers. What do you feel white rappers can bring to the rap table?
DN: I did the album just because it was such a joke; I thought of it as a concept. Hip-hop was created as a voice from the inner city, to describe what they’re seeing and going through. So obviously, white rap is going to be that unless you’re one of those few individual, Caucasian males living in that environment and struggling. To me, I just do an exaggerated report from Hollywood about what’s going on around me, what I know, what I see. If you’re trying to be something that you’re not, people are going to see right through it. It was a funny idea for a concept, to take the best white rap songs and cover them, me being a white rapper. I think right now there’s a lane for white rappers; it’s sort of wide open right now. Rap’s in such a bad place, I’m not saying I’m the Beatles or anything, but me and my boys are trying to bring back the more old school rap feel. The s*** talking, the party music, the fun that’s been gone for so long. You can count on one hand the white rappers who made it, who were really influential in music.
PG: What’s wrong with rap music today?
DN: The music industry as a whole, not just rap, whether it’s heavy metal or pop; music like that to me has gotten really watered down. I don’t know if it’s because of the culture or the record labels being a sinking ship. It just sucks. Last night, I met Willie D, of the Geto Boys and he wanted to meet us after the show. I was like, ‘I grew up on you; I had nothing else out there like that.’ He said ‘yeah, you’re bringing it back.’ That was such an honor to hear that from someone like that, because everything has gotten really watered down. It’s not even just music; television, with reality T.V. It just seems to me like everything is losing quality; all entertainment.
PG: Who are the artists today who you feel are carrying the torch and upholding the quality?
DN: No one would even know about them. Benji Hughes is someone that just got four stars in Rolling Stone, probably the most brilliant songwriter on planet Earth. Nobody’s heard of him. He’s with Leonard Cohen and Jackson Brown right now in L.A. writing for their albums. Four stars in Rolling Stone, record label just dropped him. It makes no sense to me. I’ll listen to the new musicians. I like Lil’ Wayne; I didn’t like his last album, but I like his mixtapes. I think that he is one of the better rappers. Die Antwoord, a group out of South Africa, to me has a really unique sound. I love their stuff. I really like Diplo and Stitch, the Mad Decent crew, all those guys; Major Lazer.
PG: What gives you a greater satisfaction: landing a role in an upcoming film or having one of your songs used in a movie?
DN: I’d say both. It’s different because if you land a role in a movie, you’re going to be working for three months making good money and you’ll be in some location somewhere. That can immediately change your life for a few months. If you land a song in a movie, well, that’s something you already did. I love the feeling of going to a movie and hearing your song on the big screen and then sitting in the theater and nobody knows that it’s you. If you’re in the movie, of course everybody knows it’s you. I like the “man behind the curtain” kind of thing. I had my song with Andre Legacy and Lil’ Jon, for the Hangover. It’s like if I can’t get in the movie as an actor then my song will get in there. I’ll take either one.
PG: One of your more notable movie roles was George in Scary Movie 3 and 4. So how was kissing Anna Faris?
DN: You know, when you’re kissing someone on screen it’s not a real moment. I’m not going to say ‘oh, it was amazing.’ There’s like fifty-five people around me with cameras, lights and notepads; it’s not a very genuine moment. It was great to work with her, she’s a comedic genius. I really believe she’s our (generation’s) Madelyn Kahn or our Goldie Hawn. There’s not too many girls who are that funny; she’s fearless. She’s a really sweet person.
PG: Your second album drops August 10th. With producers such as Kool Kojak and Alchemist adding their flavors, what can listeners expect this time around?
DN: This album is going to be a lot more up-tempo. The direction that music seems to be going in America is the electro-music and up-tempo kind of party music that’s been going on in Europe and Asia for so long. So I saw the success of my song “1980,” that song got me booked in clubs throughout the country for the last few years. I figured I need to make more songs like that, if I want to keep making money. I’m going to make more songs that you can dance to and shake your booty to at the club. This album, at least half the songs are more dance tempo, but I kept Dirt Nasty. The beats are a little more well-produced and polished.
PG: Do you have some sort of creative process or routine you follow when writing songs?
DN: Nowadays, you can have a music studio at your house, like I do. I can have simple little setup with a microphone and we can record at my house. It’s huge because an idea can pop into your head and you can run into the other room and it will come to life right there. That creative process is a lot easier to finish now than ever before.
PG: Maybe that’s what it was that opened up the floodgates and watered down music?
DN: Yeah, I didn’t think about that. That’s probably what’s caused that too. A double-edged sword. It can cause some stuff to suffer, but it also cause some good stuff to happen too. With someone like me, the smaller, independent artist, it benefits. It’s funny; the bigger ones seem to me to be the ones suffering. Who knows what’s going to happen. I do like the direction that mainstream music is going with the electro stuff; at least we are accepting that now. There’s a lot of garbage music too. A lot people probably say my music is garbage; my music is for a specific audience who likes to laugh, likes to party, to have fun and not take it too seriously. I have my lane and I’m going to just run with it. I’m not trying to be a ghetto, street rapper. I simply like to do dirty, comedic raps over good beats. That’s my goal. I’d like to say this new album is exactly that. It’s been three years of hard work. Even though it’s a joke, I take it very seriously. I’d like to be the Jack Black of rap, have an acting career, comedy movies and do my music on the side and people accept it.
PG: The song “My Dick,” a tune you composed with Mickey Avalon and Andre Legacy as the Dyslexic Speedreaders, was a viral hit. How did that song come to be?
DN: It was Legacy’s idea. He came over to my house one day and was like ‘I got a great idea for a song called “My Dick.” I was like, ‘great, let me guess what it’s about.’ He was like ‘trust me dude.’ Legacy is a great songwriter, so I trusted him. I made a beat in five minutes, which ended up being one of our better beats. We recorded it and it’s not one of our better songs lyrically; we dumbed it down, but that’s why it worked. It didn’t go over anyone’s head. We just said what everyone wants to hear, my dick. It was hands down the most important song for all of us. I remember going to dinner and Diane Warren, who wrote like for Whitney Houston, Celine Dion; she’s possibly one of the biggest song writers of the last twenty years. I was talking to her and she was like, ‘I just came here to meet the guys who wrote “My Dick.”’ I pointed to me and my friends and she goes, ‘I just have to tell you, that it’s the most brilliant song, possibly ever, I cannot tell you how much it made me laugh. I’ve been waiting to hear that for so long. As a songwriter, you always have to beat around the bush, but the fact that you just put it on the table, thank you.’ So I knew we were doing something right.
PG: Last question…I go to a bar and order a Dirt Nasty. What’s in it?
DN: I think it would be like a dirty martini. Like, they just didn’t clean the glass.
PG:Thanks Simon, you’ve been great.