by: Todd Davis
As protégés of uber-producer, Marley Marl, the Lords of the Underground, comprised of emcees; Mr. Funke and DoItAll Dupre’, along with DJ Lord Jazz, made their much heralded musical debut with their, now, classic LP, Here Come The Lords . Fueled by the sets’ monster hit release, ‘Chief Rocka,’ a track that single-handedly propelled the Newark, New Jersey trio into an elite class, Here Come The Lords was a definite defining moment in Hip-Hop history. Nearly fourteen long years, and two additional albums, including their lackluster ’99 reunion record, Resurrection, later, and the L.O.T.U.G. are back!! Rap Industry recently spoke with one third of the crew, DoItAll, a.k.a. Du Kelly, on the eve of the release of their brand new magnum opus, House of Lords.
Let’s just jump right into this new L.O.T.U.G. project — You titled the record, House of Lords, how come?
DoItAll: This is Lords’ fourth LP, and the title being House of Lords we are showing our fans, and fans of Hip-Hop, where and how Hip-Hop lives, acts, (and) what it sounds like in the House of the Lords of the Underground.
For someone, like my-self, who has yet to hear House of Lords — What’s to be expected?
D.I.A.: You know, Lords never did too many cameos on our albums, maybe on a remix or something, but the (new) album does feature a songstress by the name of Jannyse, who sings on the new Styles P album, and the last DMX album. She’s from Philly. We also have Nancy N., who did background on our song ‘English Ma.’ On the production side, we worked with Marley Marl (again), who I would like to say, “Take it easy, Big Homie!!” He recently had a heart attack, but is doing great now. We worked with our (deejay), Lord Jazz, and one of his young producers from North Carolina, name Reg. We also worked with Wyclef’s brother, Sedeck Jean, and a new, up and coming sensation, down with Lord Gang, out of Chicago, Chicago Rise. He (is) also on the hook of ‘Certified.’ Funk also co-produced ‘English Ma.’ Some other producers are; The Are, Josh Beatz, Epic, (and) Lord Gang producers, The Lounge Lizzards from Denmark.
Why did you opt to take such a lengthy hiatus from music in the first place?
D.I.A.: At the time Lords of the Underground took our break from music, we were dealing with a lot of business issues so we decided to branch off and create other opportunities individually, and then return to form Voltron.
What exactly have you been doing professionally in your time off?
D.I.A.: As a group, we have not stopped doing music (ever). We have (just) been overseas touring, recording, and exploring other opportunities in and out of the entertainment world.
Well, fresh on the heels of your solid, but commercially underwhelming, Resurrection, CD, there were talks of a L.O.T.U.G. break-up with each member leaving to pursue individual solo endeavors — Was there any truth to said rumor?
D.I.A.: We never disbanded at all. Lords has never broke-up, or stopped being a group!! We never broke up, but there was two solo albums from myself. One called, The Eleventh Hour: Now or Never, and DJ Lord Jazz presents: Heart Beat of the Ghetto Featuring DoItAll Du Kelly Vol. 1.
Tell me your whole inception into music — How did it all begin for you?
D.I.A.: For (me), it started back when I was real young, and my uncle used to live with us after he got of the Army. He brought home a ‘Rapper’s Delight’ single, and I couldn’t stop listening to it. That’s when I first fell in love with Hip-Hop. My moms used to sing, so I would always hear her playing and singing the hot R&B, Soul, and Funk records that were out.
You all are natives of Newark, NJ, correct?? So, growing up, who were some of your strongest musical influences?
D.I.A.: Yes, I am, as well as Mr. Funk Man. We are both Newark, New Jersey natives. Lord Jazz is originally from Cleveland. My influences early on were; Stevie Wonder, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Run from Run DMC, LL Cool J, TLA Rock, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, and rappers from my hood who never got a chance to make it.
At what point did you decide that you wanted to pursue music on a professional basis?
D.I.A.: When Redman and I formed a group, he was my deejay and we used to win all the local talent shows.
How then did you hook up with, future, group-mates, Mr. Funke & DJ Lord Jazz, and eventually form the Lords of the Underground?
D.I.A.: We all met in North Carolina at Shaw University which we attended. DJ Lord Jazz was on the college radio station, and one of his friends that was in school about to graduate, Dereck Jackson, who is also now Scott Storch’s manager, said he could get Jazz hooked up with his cousin, Marley Marl. Jazz hooked me up with Funk, and the rest is history.
How did the name the Lords of the Underground come to fruition?
D.I.A.: The name Lords of the Underground actually came from the homie, Tragedy Khadafi, (or) Intelligent Hoodlum (as he was known then). We were about to call ourselves NJ Funk, until Trag said he was a Lord of the Underground in a freestyle. Marley heard it and said, “That’s your guys’ name,” and we were like, “Yeah, it fits us!!”
Describe for me the group’s overall vibe?
D.I.A.: The music Lords make can always be described as Hip-Hop!! We make fun, feel-good, informative, crowd rockin’ music.
What has been the ultimate key to the success of the Lords of the Underground?
D.I.A.: The longevity comes from not chasing the same ol’ thing, but never giving up on our passion. When we say we love Hip-Hop, we really do. We try and capitalize off the opportunities that present it-self from the things we do. If we were coming out trying to be the best rap group or to do what someone else is doing just to copy them because of their success, this would never work. We could have stayed gone.
Do you all have any other aspirations, maybe even outside of music altogether?
D.I.A.: I have been doing the acting thing real heavy for the past couple of years. I did the final episode of the Sopranos, Law & Order, OZ, New York Undercover, movie Durdy Game, Cash Rules with Treach and J.D. Williams from the Wire, etcetera…I also own a viral network branding and mass media company called Lord Gang Worldwide, which is ran by my homie, Blk Sun.
Would it be fair to say that you are happy with the current state of Hip-Hop music?
D.I.A.: I am happy that Hip-Hop is growing everyday, but I wish that the artist, the ones who are not doing it, help create positive things for the culture and help build it up in a positive way rather than tearing it down. For some of us it is all we have.
What is the one thing that most people may not know about you?
D.I.A.: They hear me screaming, acting silly, and having fun on records, or in videos on TV, but I am really a laid back dude who likes photography on the low — I always have a camera with me.
What is a typical day like in the like of DoItAll Dupre’?
D.I.A.: Watching CEO Exchange, playing Madden or NBA Live, on My Space, www.myspace.com/doitall, vacationing, visiting friends in the south of France, or making a movie. You all can also check for me as a host of the EBC Games on ESPN2 with Mike Bivins of New Edition fame and BBD. I am also director of A&R for his new label, Sporty Rich.
To date what has been your biggest career highlight?
D.I.A.: My biggest highlight has to be being able to buy my moms a house, and get us out the hood. Then, probably seeing how happy my grandma was when she used to see me on TV before she died.
Looking ahead, say, 5, or even 10, years from now, where do you see yourself?
D.I.A.: In five years, I see myself and my company, Lord Gang Worldwide, as a Fortune 500 company. In ten years, I see Lord Gang Worldwide as a billion dollar company, creating and helping smaller companies become millionaires.
As for the immediate future, what’s next for you — Has the first single been selected yet?
Album, House of Lords, scheduled for release when?
D.I.A.: We have three records floating around right now. We call it, “THE RETURN OF THE MAXI-SINGLE” — ‘The Clinic,’ ‘I Love Hip-Hop,’ (and) ‘What Is A MCee?’. The album is coming out on Affluent Records/L.O.T.U.G. Music distributed by Red Eye Distribution. We also are releasing a tour DVD that we shot on our 2006 tour of Europe called Still L.O.T.U.G.
Any plans to take the L.O.T.U.G. show out on the road anytime soon?
D.I.A.: Yes, we start (the) tour, The House of Lords, on August 29 or 30th, with special guest(s) Das EFX, and others.
For someone who hasn’t experienced you all live, what would you tell them can be expected?
D.I.A.: Live, Fun, Action Packed Hip-Hop!!
Any parting words?
D.I.A.: Thanks to all the fans that has ever supported Lords of the Underground, and thank you to the new listeners who are giving us their time to enjoy our Hip-Hop. Look out for me on ESPN2 EBC Games, hosted by Mike Bivins and Myself — The Cash Rules movie (too) with Treach, J.D. Williams, Mr. Cheeks, etcetera. Also, Lord Gang Worldwide, we are involved in numerous situations, so just recognize the name. We are also in the studio with 9th Wonder working on (what) will probably be The Lords’ last album as a group called Adult Contemporary Hip-Hop. Last but not least, go out, download, or whatever, just cop the new Lords of the Underground album called House of Lords!! LG’z Up!!