Doso Is Leveling Up
Written by Vocalo Radio on November 26, 2021
Chicago rapper and singer Doso grows his songwriting every single day.
From his early days posting songs on SoundCloud to headlining shows at venues like Schubas Tavern, Doso is dedicated to heightening his sound and learning from his past.
Building buzz around his vibrant live shows, he performs his tracks with a group of similarly talented musicians. Playing with a live band gives Doso the freedom to play new interpretations and arrangements of his music, allowing older songs to grow and change as he has.
Learning from his 2018 debut album [Extended], which consisted primarily of his previously-released SoundCloud tracks, Doso worked nearly two years to expand his sound on sophomore album Opus Two, released Jan. 29, 2021. He spent more time to revise and fully flesh out the songs on this album, giving the final product a tighter and more mature sound. The album’s crisp production is exemplified by standout track “You’re Not That Fly,” which has proven to be one of his most popular with more than 10 thousand Spotify streams.
Doso’s latest dance-worthy single “Superstar,” released Sept. 28, was featured in Vocalo’s “Poised to Break Through” playlist for November 2021. We chatted with him about leveling up for album number two, being a part of the A.R.I. Collective and enhancing his sound with collaborations.
Give us a quick background on your history with music. When did you start writing and rapping? What first inspired you to become a musician?
My older sister helped me write my first rap when I was seven. That’s also the same age my father started to teach me how to play trumpet, so music was all I knew back then. They were my first two inspirations for sure.
How would you describe your style?
My style is versatile, very melody- and flow-driven. Those are two things I focus on the most in my creative process no matter what type of music I’m making.
What do you think makes your sound your own?
My voice and my writing. I always felt like I had a distinct singing and rapping voice, but I didn’t always think that it was a good thing. When I was younger, I thought because it was different it was bad, silly me. And writing is very important to me because I try to improve my songwriting skills everyday. Some of my supporters have noticed that, and when they tell me that they have it always makes my day.
I recorded “Superstar” in the summertime. Found the beat by Nikita online and I freestyled the hook in my phone. A week later I wanted to write another song for a session I had later that day, so I went in my voice memos and remembered the hook that I had. Decided to write the whole song out, recorded it later that night. That’s pretty much it.
Very often when you perform, you are supported by a live band. What made you want to pursue this?
It was just the right time. My friends and family had been hassling me about it for a couple years because my siblings are all musicians. In 2019, I wanted to start doing Sofar live shows in the city and that’s when we made it happen. My little sister plays bass guitar, little brother plays keyboard and two good friends of mine play drums and guitar. We had everything we needed and knew it was time.
How has the live band added to your sound?
The opening tracks for my last two projects, [“Damage” and “Another Day,”] both have a guitar solo in them. Shout-out to Rob Bugos and Ëkoli. Some of my songs have a totally different sound when I perform them with the group. You can do so much more when you have a great band backing you. Loop the ending four times if you want, slow it down, change the ending, anything. The band adds way more flexibility to my sound.
Have you considered recording with a band, or do you only see yourself working with producers?
As long as I’m making music, I see myself doing both. I’d love to make a record with my band, and definitely see that happening in the future. I’ve been working with a handful of producers recently and they’ve been really inspiring me to step it up more, working like that is fun.
Where in Chicago are you from, and how has growing up in Chicago affected the music you make?
I’m from South Shore, and I love it. When it comes to Chicago we’ve had legends that have come out of here. And we have some of the dopest upcoming artists coming out of here. Growing up here just encouraged me to be great, because greatness runs through this city. So much of it is around and I know there’s more to come.
Do you have a favorite place to perform in Chicago?
Schubas for sure. Had a headline show there, plus I opened up for Sub Urban there. Both really great shows. They have an amazing sound system too, and good food.
You are a part of A.R.I. Collective, which is dedicated to “the performing and production of urban music.” Tell us about this group and how it came about.
A.R.I stands for “A Rugged Interest.” It comprises me and my best friends that I met through high school. We all became close, and shortly after that I started taking music seriously. I came up with the name because my dad was helping me start a company to back my music. After years of my friends helping me any way they could, we started calling it a collective, adding more roles and making it more official.
What is it like collaborating with other artists in the A.R.I. Collective and forwarding your collective vision?
I’m the only musical artist, but Serafin is a digital editor and photographer. Manny is a designer and also helps with editing. Andrew books the shows and Juan is the digital marketer and helps with promoting the music. Big part of our vision is to produce rugged content. And when I say “rugged,” I just mean real. In my music I’m making an effort to embrace myself, my life and everything that comes with it. And it’s not perfect, not flawless — sometimes it’s rough and rugged. But it’s me. And I’m just the soundtrack to the lifestyle, but we want to crossover a few different mediums when it’s all said and done.
Is there anyone you dream of collaborating with? If so, who and why?
G Herbo and Ratatat. G Herbo is my favorite rapper. And I’ve been hooked on Ratatat for years and I would always play their Classics tape and freestyle to it for hours and hours, so collaborating with them would be a dream come true.
Earlier this year you released your second album Opus Two. What was the experience of recording and releasing that record like?
I created Opus Two over a span of one and a half to two years. So it felt like a really long process, but a much-needed one. I was set to drop it early 2020, but everything shut down and I decided to postpone it and work on it even more. But with that extra time I made some improvements on a few songs that I thought were finished, and then recorded “Fridge,” “Body” and “Dirty Cup” back to back. And I couldn’t stop playing them after I made them! So when the project finally came out I was overjoyed, man. I’m very proud of it.
Did you learn anything from your first album that changed your process for album number two? If so, explain it to us.
The first project was a compilation of my Soundcloud songs that had already been released. But I knew going into my second album I just had to be better. I had to sound levels above what my supporters had been listening to. It was a similar process, but this go ‘round I had something to beat. And I did that.
Do you have anything else you want to promote, or that you want to make sure listeners know about?
I have a single called “Push Start” dropping next month and another one called “Serenade,” produced by Nikita, dropping at the top of next year. I’m geeked!
Interview and introduction by Erik Anderson
Edited for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca
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