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ON THE FLY
DNA is the youngest veteran in the history of battle rap. If you've followed his career, you’ve witnessed DNA go from rapidly climbing the tiers of battle rap, to coming to a stand still in his career and losing his footing; just to return again with a new focus and desire to redeem himself. Not only is DNA considered a battler in the genre of Hip Hop, he’s also a battler in life. Everything from the passing of his father to his missing tooth, and countless references about his mother being handicapped have been used against him as “personals.” We’ve all witnessed DNA take each battle with a grain of salt and rise to the occasion when majority ruled against him in his career. What his opponents intended to be damaging to his career has helped propel DNA to what he is today. True or false, DNA has not let anything stand in his way of becoming “the best to ever do it.” Check out my latest installment of On The Fly as I sit down with the Queens,NY native and see what he has to say about his music career, family, battle career and “the culture” as I get to chopping some fables.
Nettie McFly: You just battled ILL Will at NOME 4 and the fans have mixed reviews about the battle. Some people felt like in the building that was one of your best performances, but some fans think otherwise. Why do you think that is?
DNA: I’m going to be honest. Live, I feel like I bodied ILL Will I killed him, I destroyed him. On camera … I definitely feel like I won, but I don’t think it was the same feeling that it was in the building. I don’t think it’s a body on camera but it is a clear win for me.
Do you mind giving a brief analysis on the battle?
The third round is debateable, But I don’t feel like ILL Will said anything too crazy in his third round. I just feel like after I beat him the first two rounds, my aggression and me trying to kill him went away so I didn’t spit my third round like I could’ve because I felt like I already won. So that’s why it’s up for debate. But If you go off what I was saying and what he was saying you can see it was a 3-0 for me. I don’t think it was a body, I just think it was a clear win.
So why do you think the battle fell short on camera?
For people who don’t go to live events, if you’re there, you’ll never understand why certain shit is crazy in the building because you’re not there to experience that energy. So you might feel like, “Why did they go crazy for that?” I remember at NOME 3 people were saying, “Why would people go crazy when he said the old DNA is back?” But If you were in the building, everyone was expecting me to come out with the tooth, when I don’t come out with it. It’s crazy live because you’re in that moment and you’re seeing it happen. So certain shit like that could be crazy live and not on camera.
That makes sense. Speaking of your tooth, why did you decide to go from getting a replacement to taking it back out again?
When I battled Tech 9, he just came off the battle with Midwest Miles, so people felt like he was unbeatable. I felt like it was hard to beat him. I felt like if I got my tooth back, it would take away his ammunition from his arsonal. What people don’t know is, I lost my tooth 4 days before NOME3, so I was like, “Damn I need to come up with something to say” because I couldn't find my tooth [chuckles] so that’s how I came up with “ The Old DNA is Back.” It really was an accident that turned out to be a good thing. [smiles]
What are your thoughts on fans who judge battles based off viewing it on footage only as opposed to attending actual events?
If you are a true battle rap fan, you have to go to a battle live. I don’t respect nobody who say they a true battle rap fan and don’t go live. That’s not for you to say what’s gassed and what’s not. You’ll just experience the experience live yourself and you’ll understand how certain shit does not convey on camera like it does live, you’ll have to experience it by going to live events yourself.
You were on fire live and you’re energy was at an all time high. I literally saw you when you walked off stage. Do you remember what you said to me?
[laughs] Nah what I say?
You came up to me and said “Yeah, now what you gonna say in your blogs now?”
[laughs] I was just in the moment. Mad people was saying I was gonna lose.
Yeah ... But I wasn’t one of them!
My fault. You said I be corny in my battles though. In the review you did of my battle with Prez Mafia.
I said sometimes, but I still gave you the win. I never said you weren’t talented though.
Some footage was released on Rapgrid of you and Lotta Zay’s brother, Lance, backstage after your battle at NOME 4. In the footage Lance had the same kind of sentiments. Can you elaborate on that?
You know what’s crazy? (I’m not trying to be funny.) It feels like certain people can be your close homie and start generating some type of envy.
What do you mean?
When I first came into Grind Time, I was cool with Lance and Lotta. When I recorded my first mixtape, Lotta Zay was featured on a track he sang on the hook, everything was cool. Then one day I turn on a VLAD interview, and seen him saying “DNA is in my bottom five, DNA’s trash, DNA’s this, DNA’s that. Prior to that, he called me out on Twitter a couple of times. It just came out of nowhere. We was cool but not real close to the point of any of this would hurt me or anything. I was just more taken back and thought it was funny because it really came out of nowhere.
Why do you feel like Lotta Zay came at you the way he did?
I don’t know if he felt like I’m really trash, or if he knows I’m one of the top tiers who would give somebody a shot. I gave Prez Mafia a shot because I think he’s talented, he has potential. So I don’t know if he felt calling me out was going to get him a battle. It’s crazy because out of nowhere (Lotta Zay) and Lance started making Facebook posts, Twitter posts really saying I’m trash. [Chuckles] It’s funny.
Are you still open to battling Lotta Zay? In the footage you said you would.
No disrespect to Lotta But I don’t have to battle him, it’s not like i’m going to gain anything. It’s only going to help him. Since him and Lance was talking like this i’m cool with whoever wants to set it up. We can do it. I did a vlog talking about that. It got like twenty-thousand views. No one has called me yet. That’s what I be saying. I’m not gonna call around trying to get it set up. It’s not something high on my agenda. I have other people in mind that
I’m focused on battling. But if any league wants to set it up, we can do it.
Who are you focused on battling?
Murda Mook. I’m trying to battle Mook. To be honest, I started watching battles because of SMACK, Mook and Loaded Lux. I feel (Mook) is a pioneer, his style has rubbed off on so many people. He’s one of the reasons why battle rap is where it’s at today. Salute to him for that.
Why are you so adamant about battling Mook?
It’s a respect thing. I grew up watching Mook so I want to test my skills. It’s like a dude who loves playing ball watches Jordan his whole career and when he finally gets a chance to join the NBA and Jordan is still playing he wants to challenge him. Why not?
Some Fans don’t think this would be a good match up. Other’s feel you aren’t “worthy” how do you feel about that?
I don’t understand how they can feel that way after all the shit I’ve done in my career. Some fans feel like I’m wack, some felt it wouldn’t be good because of Mook’s battle with Iron Solomon. I think if we are both on our A game it will make for a good battle. Mook is known for breaking down his opponents. I do that too mixed with the punchlines so it will make a great battle.
Is Battle Rap your main focus, or do you hope it will propel you into mainstream music?
Battle Rap is growing as the days go on, it’s reaching it’s peak. You got dudes like Joe
Budden battling Hollow, so who’s to say these other (mainstream) dudes won’t jump in the ring? Nowadays, music isn’t doing too good, labels are closing. There’s really no more A&R’s right now so you have to build your fan base off an independent market. Right now i’m able to eat off Hip Hop; battle rap. I’m able to take care of everyday living like bills and what not.
I want you to clear something up. A lot of people have been wondering about your Mother … Is she actually handicapped or is it a rumor?
It started When I battled Big T. In the battle I said my Mom is disabled. What I meant by that was not that she’s crippled, not that she’s handicapped, not that she has one arm or anything. All it was is that my Mom has back trouble - that’s it. That’s like saying If I injured my wrist or leg i’m disabled. People took that and decided to use it as an angle to try and beat me so they added on to it and went extra with it. My mom is fine she walks, she talks and everything is all good.
How did you and Charlie Clips meet?
I was battling on Grind Time battle league in 2009 and Clips and Tay Roc battled in April of that year, I remember because i battle this one dude named Loe Pesci and I lost due to the judges decision. Some people felt like I was robbed and I was upset. Clips was at the battle and I was like man I’m about to quit this battle shit or go to Lionz Den (Loaded Lux’s League) and Clips was like “Nah just when you battle again next time go harder.” So fast forward, I see Clips a few events after that. I battle Rich Dolarz and people felt I won the battle and Clips was there. Prior to that battle I went to Block Work Recording Studios with Zoe, Fred The Godson, Ock, (shout outs to them) and Clips was there recording his mixtape. So I came through to the session and when Clips was freestyling Cortez said jokingly, “DNA will kill you in a battle Clips” and Clips was like, “Never” so Clips and I battled for like seven rounds. I think Clips edged it off of one rebuttal, but everybody was like, “Yo DNA almost beat you Clips.” Me and Clips became wild cool after that.
People seem to hate the fact that you're labeled a Veteran at such a young age. Why do you think some people won't give you your “just dues?”
I’m only 23 and people who are battle fans majority of them are a lot older, so I think they unknowingly look at me with envy because i’m so young and accomplished so much. Some of my fellow battle rappers that are older than me may feel the same way. I have battled out the country, done performed on some of the biggest platforms in front of some of the biggest celebrities, so they feel some kind of way about it. They feel like I done so much in such a short amount of time and some of them haven’t gotten as far, so the age thing bothers them.
You have some of the most influential celebrity fans. You have people from Kevin Durant and Ginuwine to Drake. How do you feel about that?
Having people you may have looked up to kind of rocking with you is a cool thing. But i mean if they not giving me no bread ... well.. let me rephrase that because it’s not about the bread. If they are not giving me an opportunity or offering another avenue where I can excel in my career then them being fans don't mean much. Not to say its not a cool thing, I just feel a lot of them fear what they don’t understand so they look at us battle rappers like our music isn't pushing so why rock with them. Some feel threatened because of our talent, so I feel like they just dont do anything at all.
Didn’t Ginuwine do a song with you?
Yeah don’t get it twisted. Him, KD, and Drake all showed me love. I’m not talking about them. I'm talking about other celebrity and mainstream artist who are fans. Ginuwine put on Twitter he was a battle rap fan. I reached out to him and he agreed to do a track with me. Drake seen me in clubs, gave me tickets to his shows, showed wild love and gave me $1500 to battle and KD got on a track too. I gotta say Ginuwine is genuinely one of the realest people to reach out.
So who is Eric … Not DNA, but Eric?
Man I’m just a dude from Queens who faced a lot of adversity in his life and overcame it every time. From my Pops passing away when I was 9, from My Grand Father passing away when I was 12, my Moms struggling to pay bills, my Grandmother having issues. I don’t let life knock me down. That’s how you get to know me on camera from my battles I speak on some of these things and I use battle rap as a way to get out my anger. Life is too short to let it knock you down. Off camera in general I’m a real funny guy. If you let the negativity in life be your focus then your life will be negative.
On an average day what do you do?
Nothing too crazy. I’m not making wild bread yet so no riding helicopters going to islands and stuff. But when i’m not battling, simple stuff: working out, checking on my Grandmother and my Moms seeing family. I’m not gonna lie though, I be in the casinos a lot. Remember last year when i was taking all those battles back to back? The casino got me man … word.
Do you have anything else you want to say?
Yeah man, shout out to Nettie McFly and shout out to Drect and Rap Grid - one.
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