With three rap albums (Illmindmuzik, Andsoitisaid, Mad Men On Arrival), numerous quality singles, and assorted collaborations to his credit, Dudley Perkins, aka Declaime, is set to unveil his most personal work to date – a record under his real name, with no rapping – strictly him singing over his man Madlib’s beats.
Heads got their first taste of Dudley’s unique vocal displays on “Flowers,” a Stones Throw 7-inch released last year and later featured on the Peanut Butter Wolf’s Jukebox 45s compilation. Currently touring Europe, Dudley talks about coming up in Oxnard, working with the best producer on earth, and his forthcoming LP A Lil’ Light.

AllHipHop: For the people that haven’t heard you yet, how would you describe your vocal style?

Dudley Perkins: Um, it’s in the key of everybody. Everybody can sing it.

Did you sing growing up?

Me and my cousins used to always sing, we’d walk home from football practice or something and sing songs, you know, it was a while ago, but I don’t sing, you know what I’m sayin? (laughs) I love music and I know the keys of music, and the sound of music resonates from me. It wasn’t planned at all, the album came from the angels or something you know? Cuz I didn’t plan that, I didn’t put effort into it, I didn’t take it seriously.

Was “Flowers” originally a one-off that blew up, or was there always a Dudley album in the works?

Well one night, me, Madlib and Peanut Butter Wolf, we all stayed at Madlib’s house cuz we was out late. Early in the morning we were smoking weed and Madlib played a mellow track and he said “hey, you wanna mess with that?” and I just sung over it (laughs).

Were you surprised at the response to it?

It was a surprise to me, you know, people told me when it came out “that song is so different.”

The album is so unlike what most people consider “R&B” these days, or even the so-called neo-soul, your joints come off a lot more raw and sincere. What’s your take on the current state of the game, singers who are out now?

Well, when you got a category like that, neo-soul, R&B and stuff, that’s just what that is. So people tend to wanna be in those categories or that structure. So being neo-soul, you have to sound like Dwele, you have to sound like Erykah Badu, you have to sound like Cody Chestnut. You gotta sound like them dudes to fit in, that’s what they wanna be. See I didn’t wanna be anything. If you wanna categorize my album, you gotta categorize it under illmindmuzik. That’s my own genre of music. Anything I do is mine. I get my own messages from God and myself, and no two messages are the same, so I can’t sound like nobody else no matter what I do.

Oxnard – what’s going on there that spawned you, Madlib, and everybody else?

Well, we used to think of it as the Bermuda Triangle, we couldn’t get out. I mean, we paid dues. We can write a book on the dues we paid. We really paid dues. Madlib ain’t no joke. We’ve learned, we’ve built, we honed our skills so that we are the last day people in music. Madlib is the head of the orchestra right now, he’s the pied piper, leading people to the doorway of heaven and that’s no joke. Music is the harmonious sound you know?

Madlib did all the beats on your album, and it’s obvious you guys have a really good connection. Are you gonna work primarily with him – Guru and Premier style – or are you hooking up with other producers too?

I got other producers already, I have the trinity. I called em the trinity. That’s Kankick the Funky Asthmatic, Kanthrax, Kanzulu. Kankick is one of the most soulfulest beings you could probably ever meet. I got Oh No the Mischievous Rebel on the next level — Madlib’s little brother, and I got Madlib the Bad Kid, Beat Conductor Sensei. I don’t really need to go nowhere. Ever. (laughs) Cuz I know these dudes man, I know how their soul runs through their bodies. I know it, I see it. I been around them since we was young, to the point where, Madlib used to glow just about, with the harmonies coming out of space, to his hands, you know? He’s a bright dude, kinetic warmth. Madlib is possibly the greatest producer ever to walk this earth. In fact, in my heart he is. He’s the culmination of every single producer on this planet. I’m talking about classical, country, rock, everybody’s soul is in that dude. He can flip every single style there is…in two minutes flat! (laughs) you know what I’m sayin?! That’s no joke man.

You’re touring Europe right now, how have the crowds been?

Well I take em to church every night (laughs). We end the show with “Flowers” every show, and last night, half the crowd, well not half the crowd, but enough that can fit on stage was on stage with me and everybody was singin it. It was crazy, church was there last night. I can’t wait for the next show.

Any plans for a new Declaime album?

Yeah, September. Well it might be pushed back to October, November, but if it goes that way I’m just gonna drop it in January. But it’s done, I’m just waiting on a couple more tracks. I don’t have that many guest appearances on it this time, I got Medaphoar and Grand Agent and Lil’ Dap.

I know you did the artwork on the Lootpack record, are you still drawing?

Art, that’s my first love, drawing pictures and stuff. I tried out for Marvel comics one time. (laughs) The Lootpack cover is not that, it’s not intense like I can make a picture. Cuz I did it at last minute, short notice, I had to do it in an hour or something. I did the Illmindmuzik album cover also, and the Kali Wild first album cover, the logo.

If you could hit the studio with any artist – any genre, time period, whatever, who would it be and why?

Quasimoto. (laughs) that’s the deepest dude in rap. I know I’m deep but this dude is deep!

Is he gonna do a follow up joint?

He probably got like cases of em. That’s how him and Madlib work.

Any last words for the fans?

Yeah um, this is the last days. I would advice people to start using their own eyes, wake up, find they spirit that’s within. Go talk to they God, whatever they call they God, go talk to they soul, he misses you guys, he can’t wait to talk to you, he has a lot of things to tell you, to show you. Love your neighbor unconditionally, and give and receive, you have to. Let’s cause this balance to be, on our side, the positive side, because there is no more in between in this world right now, you know, it’s either all or nothing. It’s either good or bad, you know. This is the last days, we’re about to go into a golden age. I give it ten years. We will see evolution right in front of our eyes. We will see a process of evolution right in front of our eyes within ten years, were seeing it now. Look at the little children, the five year olds and under. Those are amazing geniuses right now, look how fast and willing they are to learn right now. Let’s stop holding back the children and let them expand and be who they supposed to be earlier in life, then the way we are manipulated to do it later in life, you know. And, everybody, let’s shed some light so everybody can see they way, plain and simple. And what’s up to my crew and my son, and my baby momma and my momma, and my cousin Jo-Jo.

Dudley Perkins’ album A Lil’ Light drops July 15th on Stones Throw