Underground Classics---> Dirt's "Intoxicated by Self" and "Shanghai Burning"

In the mid-to-late nineties rap underground, when it was still cool to be grimy and heads were not yet willing to admit to liking Jay-Z, the mass of artists were influenced by cats like Jeru and the mighty Wu-Tang. The essence of hip hop to kids like Dirt was battle rap posture and esoteric, otherworldly rhymes and beats. The fact that he was a heavily tattooed, dreadlocked white dude surrounded by people ready to judge him unworthy to hold the mic before he even touched it only served to add fuel to the fire...

Dirt's debut record Plague: Shadow of the Locust came out in '98 or so. I was immediately struck by how grimy Dirt's beats and delivery were, since hip hop was getting so shiny and stuff at the time. Dirt was one of the growing crowd of Christian rappers at the time that were simultaneously street and spiritual at the same time, having forsaken what I saw as the cornier elements of religious rapping in favor of wearing their flaws as well as their faith on their sleeves.

 Dirt came back in 2000 with what is generally considered an even better record, A War to Restore which featured the single Shanghai Burning. I bought both albums and in a swirl of internet-enhanced small-worldness, actually met the San Diego-based emcee when me and my boys of the mighty GhostWerks crew were at San Diego Comicon promoting our anthology books Champion of Children and GWC. Previously, I drew my character Dare in a Shadow of the Locust teeshirt, and word got back to Dirt, who ran up on us at the con and bought some of our books. I immediately recognized who he was, and when my friend Mario said "I heard you hold the microphone..." he quickly responded "and I hold it quite nicely my friend!" So, of course, we became fast friends...
Dirt is probably one of the craziest dudes I ever met, who would be more at home on the cast of Jackass than on your average televangelist broadcast. After the convention, we rolled with him around San Diego and talked God, hip hop, comics and pop culture into the wee hours. We gripped our armrests tightly as he drove his dilapidated van recklessly, running over out-of-order parking meters and driving on the sidewalk for our amusement. After he went on tour with P.O.D. (I think... maybe it was Creed?) a few years after that, he would lament about how his crowds became whiter and whiter over the years. When he came to Dallas for a packed show he did at the Door, he joked around with me and Khalid after the show, sad that we were the only black people in attendance. During the show, he asked where all the B-boys and girls were at from the stage, suggesting that I could go down the street and get some to come teach the crowd about real hip hop...
It's been a while since I've seen Dirt. We've both been through a lot since then. Like my own, Dirt's signature dreadlocks are gone... but don't worry, I hear he still holds the mic on occasion...
I'm sure he'd add "and I hold it quite nicely my friend!"

(get more Dirt in your life at DirtHipHop.com)


Calmplex said...

Love the article dude im gonna have to send this over to Dirt! It will be real encouraging for him im sure!!! Shadow of the Locust is definately alive and well with many new things in the works. Dirt's a tough guy to get a hold of these days but trust you can expect much more from him an the crew soon! If anyone wants to stay up on anything locust check us at Shadowlocust on twitter or here is our facebook link http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/ShadowoftheLocust or you can fallow me at CalmplexLocust on twitter im allways posting SOTL related stuff!!! Anyways thanks again!!! Awesome memories and Awesome article!!!!!!!!! Peace

B_Steelo said...

HA! I remember this!

samax said...

@Khalid- "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!"

@Calmplex- thanks for dropping the info, fammo!

samax said...

NOTE: After writing this post earlier today, I been bumping "Plague" and "A War to Restore" nonstop!!!


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