The Quintessential Gentleman Magazine speaks with a hip-hop icon who is using his life experiences to create change. Dupre Kelly, known as “Do It All”, is one-third of the legendary rap group Lords of The Underground. They are known for their hits Chief Rocka and Tic Toc and admired by the likes of Redman, Pete Rocks, and Nas just to name a few. Kelly, a current resident of Newark, New Jersey is ready to lead by example and show the world that hip-hop is political and has been fighting against injustices for years. Check out our interview with Dupre “Do It All” Kelly, a front-runner for 2018’s Newark New Jersey Councilman at Large.
Dupre Kelly, we are aware of the presence that your group the Lords of the Underground brought to the Hip-Hop community. How did your upbringing contribute to the rise of the golden age of hip-hop?
I believe the way you learn something is the way that you teach it and bring it forth to your values and beliefs. The strength that my mother showed me as a single parent in an impoverished community along with taking what you have and turn it into more attitude, contributed to the way I narrated how my peers and I lived the culture of hip-hop during a time which is now considered the “Golden Age of Hip-Hop”.
How important was it for you to have attended a Historically Black College and University? What did you study?
I didn’t understand the importance until I got there and started living the moments. Going to Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina was a pivotal time in my life. It got me away from the negativity of the streets of Newark, New Jersey as well as showed me that life was much more than just my neighborhood. It gave me a chance to interact with other people from around the country. It allowed me an opportunity to challenge myself in ways that were different than the challenges in my community. I studied Mass Communications with a focus on Radio and Television while minoring in Theater.
As a black business owner, what are some key tips that you found helpful to sustain and develop financial growth?
- Dedication. Getting up every day with a purpose to be better than you were yesterday.
- Presentation. If you look good, you feel good and you will do good. Be an example for those you work with.
- Service. If you give the best quality of work to your customers for a reasonable fee with care, they will always return to do business with you.
- Branding will always help sustain your business. Using a tactic that worked in the entertainment world; I’ve found that the more popular you are the more profit you make and consistency with a good work ethic will always outlast talent alone.
- Resources and relationships will always help you grow. Never be the smartest person at the table. If you need something done in your business but lack the experience or expertise to get it done, bring someone to the table to get it done effectively.
Tell us a little about 211 Media Group and the services you offer and why you decided to add a 501c3 extension to the company?
211 Media Group was created by a partner an I. I had a company that focused on all aspects of entertainment and consulting like audio recording, film & television etc. and my partner focused on art, computer graphics, and websites. We decided to collectively put all of our services under one umbrella with the tagline “Where Art Becomes Media” and 211 Media group was born. On our journey at 211, we started directly dealing with the people of the community, as well as the elected officials of the city, state, and county. We saw a civic need to get more involved in our communities and founded, 211 Community Impact with another individual.
It’s a not-for-profit 501c3 company that impacts the community through grassroots programs addressing literacy, homelessness, mental health and wellness, and youth initiatives.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in the decision to be a business owner?
Ownership is and was the most influential factor. Being in the entertainment business and traveling the world has allowed me to meet entrepreneurs from all over the globe whose stories are different but their passion for doing what they love is the same. So I would ask myself, “what am I passionate about?” and how can I turn that passion into purpose and profit? That drove me to become a business owner.
As you prepare to run for Councilman at Large in 2018 for Newark, New Jersey, what do you feel your voice best represent?
My voice echoes the vibrations of my community and communities like mine. My voice will do what early hip-hop did and was intended to do and that is to be a voice for the voiceless, a voice for the unheard. Me becoming Councilman will mean we will finally have a seat at the table.
Why do you think we see a rise in public figures in hip-hop taking on advocacy work and politics within the recent years?
I believe we see a rise because social media allows us to see things quicker or as soon as something happens. It also allows artists or someone who represents the hip-hop culture to express themselves to the masses instantly. The hip-hop culture is a billion dollar industry as well as the new Pop Culture. People of the hip-hop culture have always been advocates of what’s happening in our communities and about social injustices. In other words, hip-hop has always been political. The question should be is politics ready for hip-hop?
I’ve heard a quote from you stating “When people love their city they can change it?” Tell us about the love that you have for your city?
The love that I have for my city is what I believe that all Newarkers have or can have. It starts individually. When you care about something or someone you treat it or them differently. If we as Newarkers did the things that we should do positively and progressively as individuals, we all would become part of the whole, doing what we can for the big picture. We can’t solely blame elected officials or the powers that be if we aren’t doing our part as residents.
Why is there a need for change?
The need for change comes from when you continue to do the same things over an over again and keep getting the same results. We all know that is the definition of insanity or at least it means something is not working like it used to or as you thought it would. If the people you are serving do not have a voice and cannot speak through those that represent them, then it’s time for a change.
What can people do to fall back in love with their cities?
The people have to feel included. The people have to feel like they matter. The trust between elected officials and the people did not get broken overnight so it’s not going to be fixed overnight but once they see that their voice is being heard, the people have to begin to do their part as citizens. To be loved, you must also give love.
How do you deal with naysayers?
I don’t deal with Naysayers. If I focus on negativity or on the things they have to say, then I am giving them the energy to continue and by doing that I will be taking time away from accomplishing what I need to be doing which is moving forward toward my goals. This campaign is not about me, it’s bigger than Dupré Kelly. It’s about the people of Newark, New Jersey who are tired of Politics As Usual. It’s about giving a voice to the culture.
Your name says it all, Dupre “Do It All” Kelly, and we know you’re a man of many hats. What do you do to recharge when you’re feeling depleted?
I travel or I go into the studio. Take all of my experiences that have become heavy and all of those things that have to lead to my depletion and I release them creatively thru song.
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