Ivy League Native!!! BazilleDx raps about the rez and his reasons for rapping!

Posted By PowWows.com March 17th, 2014 Last Updated on: March 17th, 2014

Interview By Dr. Dawn Karima, Ph.D. Music Editor


Ivy League Native BazilleDx shows his verbal prowess on term papers and in rap battles.  A noted producer, this Cheyenne River Sioux student hosts a popular music show called “The Slapback” that features the latest in hip hop and rap.  Prolific artist BazilleDx discusses dynamic music, cultural character and forging his unique identity in this recent chat.

Q) Will you please introduce yourself to us? What do you want us to know about you?

A) Well, thank you! I don’t necessarily see myself as much of anything other than an addict to music in all forms. My name is Talon Bazille Ducheneaux, I rap/make beats under the alias of BazilleDx (my middle name-then shortening of my last name), I do a weekly radio show on http://www.wqhs.org/ called The Slapback on Saturday nights at 10pm. I also feature in a group with my good friend Alex Rafi (Rafi) called RedFist, and lastly I am a current undergrad majoring in psychology

(now looking to go into social work in grad school after) at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (3rd year undergrad). I like to say I am from South Dakota in general, as I’ve been to too many places to claim anything, but in any case shouts out to Fort Thompson, Eagle Butte, and Rosebud. I am documented from our wonderful government as an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

Q) As an artist, do you integrate your Native culture and heritage into your performances?

BazilleDx produces rap hits and The SLapback radio show!

BazilleDx produces rap hits and The SLapback radio show!

A) I somewhat try to, but I’d say my journey has mostly been discovering myself and understanding myself as a person throughout the medium of music. My overall goal has been to get out every demon and angel in my head and to figure out who exactly it is that I am. Many times, I have turned to music as a vent for my horrible emotions and cognitions about myself, literally disrespecting myself in lyrics. Other times, I really just want to have a good time and enjoy the ups and downs of life, and how appreciative one should be of them. Overall, just everything about life and what I personally stand for and get behind ends up in my music and takes me down that path musically.

Q) Every career starts with a dream! How did you begin your musical journey?

A) I began writing and dreaming about having my own album in the 4th grade (horrible lyrics, of course), and kept downloading instrumentals to write to as I tried to figure out how to make my own. Eventually in high school, I began putting out a lot of mixtapes rapping over other beats and just passed them out in school and performed at a dance here or there. I went towards an image that clearly wasn’t me, and that was clearly going to a place that I didn’t desire going, so I stopped in my junior year of high school. As I got into college (still making beats), I finally made my first actual “album” or project with my own beats and have made 10 projects since then in 2012 (various albums). The major accomplishment I’d say that happened throughout all of this was getting the opportunity to perform alongside some idols of mine in one great concert at the All Ivy Native Conference in 2013; Frank Waln, NightShield, and Def-I. I grew up and came up watching these guys perform and make great music as a kid just wanting to make a project of my own. To get to that point (though not that great to some) meant so much to me. I think I cried that night… haha.

Q) Powwows.com strives to present the beauty and wisdom of our Native cultures and traditions. How does your Native identity inspire you in your career and character?

A) It is basically my source of where my morals and ethics come from/came from. Be respectful, be generous and kind, and most importantly,be you. I’m not that into my own culture and its practices to put much of it into my music or image, and in following these ethics I’ve kept from going behind the whole idea of Native rap and making that my defining aspect. I’m a rapper that comes from an indigenous (Lakota/Dakota) background and setting, but I’m not going to wear “redface” like the modern-indigenous Al Jolson and tapdance stereotypes or unreal dramatizations of who I am when that’s just not me. Of course, no disrespect to people who do rep their culture to a big extent, especially if that’s who they are in real life. It’s just that although I am heavily influenced by my own culture, I really don’t want to exploit it or misrepresent it as me being some sort of major traditional figure of any sort. Again, I’m just trying to find myself, and being Lakota and Dakota just happens to be what I am,too.

Q) While you are soul searching about your identity, how do you see yourself? How do you blend tradition and modernity?

A) I think it’s an identity that has been dehumanized in modern society to many of us. This society has put us in black and white pictures, and finally we are able to really grab a hold of our identities and put them in modern contexts; past the technicolor history bullcrap that makes it look like we’re all dead and gone. It’s given me personally a beautiful way of looking at life and treating others, and also in how I take things from others. I rarely get too mad anymore at things that I used to and more-so try to understand everything and realize that I’m really just a body amongst bodies. “Ikce wicasa” as they say (common man, I’m no greater than anyone else here and I know no more than anyone else).
In terms of my music, the only real hope I have in it is that any kid that listens to it sees that individuals are individuals. No one is perfect. No one has all the answers (or really, any). We’re all on our own roads; respect others’ paths and go your own without letting some ignorant critique stop you. I want to go into social work and psychology, and I go to a Ivy League university, but I never let that change who I am. I am Lakota and Dakota (and even French Canadian, I guess) and I dress the way I dress, I talk the way I talk, I eat the way I eat, I see the way I see… and I rap! People question that constantly, but whether that is “appropriate” to others never crosses my mind or stops me. I’m walking my path and trying to vent in my music that makes me happy, and that’s all that matters. Never let yourself feel like you’re putting on a costume, by simply never owning a costume in the first place. Fakeness prevents true expression to me, and expression is the most beautiful thing in the world in my opinion. I don’t want to agree with your expression, I just want to see it, because it’s beautiful.

Q) Your radio show, your musical projects and your promotional efforts are really increasing your popularity. What have you learned as your career blossoms?

A) I doubt I’m popular with anyone, haha. I would just say, though, to be proactive in learning. Whether it be something you’re interested in, or who you are and where you come from. Research it. Be proud of it. Love who you are, even if everybody else doesn’t.

Q) What are some of the memories and experiences that have shaped you and given you your foundation?

A) In growing up, I was raised mostly in a good way. My dad and mom were very stable until I reached about 7th grade when things hit the fan. They divorced and resorted to alcoholism and dependency quick. I remember trying to teach my little brother how to take showers and take care of himself when I barely knew anything. I remember waking up to thuds in the night, only to find crazy parties and sometimes fights in the living room that my dad was having with whoever was in the house on weekdays at 4am. I remember not receiving phone calls or vividly experiencing neglect from my mother due to her love for the drink. Even now, although I’m in college, these problems don’t just vanish. Especially when I still have a brother to worry about. It’s not as bad as it once was, but still I get a message here or there about something bad that’s happened and how I have to act on it to ensure the safety of my brother, although being this far from home I feel rather helpless. This is just my immediate family business, and it’s not that I’m trying to portray the rez as a horrible place, but it’d be disrespectful to take a blind eye to the struggles still faced today back home, and even here as I walk within this culture that I clearly don’t fit in. It exists, however, I’m at least now self-sustainable and am taking care of myself. I’m essentially independent, and that’s a dream come true to me. I completely control my life, and even though I still wake up in the middle of the night to nightmares and thuds that trigger a memory here and there, I’m moving onto better situations that I can put myself in. At this point I can’t wait to go back home and start working. Going back on my own terms and my own dime is my next dream I try to make true. This is just some of the obstacle that I’ve had to overcome, but as I continue to do my thing, it’s all worth it and makes me appreciate the little things very much so.

Q) Such candor. Reflecting on such deeply affecting incidents cannot have been easy. Yet, your willingness to share will surely encourage someone to persist in moving toward their own goals. Thank you for your honesty.

A) Honesty and genuineness are two major things I love about performances. When someone is clearly having a good time while performing, or clearly meaning what they say, and when you can hear the true emotion in their voices, I tear up in excitement. However, when people just aren’t being true in general and are more or less putting on an act, I’m almost immediately turned off. I can’t stand someone who isn’t being who they truly are. I am a firm believer in what Carl Rogers said; that everyone is a good person inside and is truly beautiful. Just show me that true beauty. I don’t want to see someone else, I want to see the true person I’m looking at, watching, or listening to. You can even hear this in voices, and it drives me nuts.

Producere and Rapper BazilleDx!

Producere and Rapper BazilleDx!

Q) Who are some of your favorite musicians? Why?

A) I love Frank Waln. Especially for his story. We almost come from the exact same place. Nerdy kids listening to hip hop in that setting. He came up and I remember EVERYONE (even I, because I didn’t get the Gates scholarship and was mad jealous, haha!) questioning why he left his original college, and what he’d do with rap. It was beautiful to see that man turn a nation of nonbelievers and essential haters into dedicated fans looking at him and his music as a sign of hope. He’s also a guy that truly gets music and what he’s talking about. He’s not fake about it. He just does it and puts thought into it. Every time he releases something I get really inspired to make more music and keep at it. I love seeing that guy excel. He deserves it.

Another artist that I will always be a fan-boy of is Maniac: The Siouxpernatural. It was him and his “Nightmerkia” release that told me I could do this, possibly. We come from the same rez, and he and his circle of rappers each have this style that reminds me of home. When I listen to him, Genocide, and Blue Earth, for example, I immediately hear “home”.

Other musical influences vary across too many genres and eras that I’d want to bore anyone with listing, so if you want to know more about that, ask me about my record collection and what’s on my laptop playlists, haha.

Q) As a Harvard Graduate myself, I understand the tremendous academic achievements you have made by entering an Ivy League university, but I really respect the life lessons that you are learning as well. What are some of the most important ideas that influence you now?

A) If I haven’t said it enough already, be you. I was me, and in many cases throughout my life I got laughed at or not taken seriously. That happens, and it sucks, but if you stick to who you are the people who will matter in the future will pick up on that. And if not, at least you got a clean conscious and can look yourself in the mirror knowing you didn’t sell yourself short. Also, practice, practice, practice. Listen to anyone’s old stuff and embarrass them with it, because you’ll see how it is that people grow and learn as they go along. I hate my early material, but right now I’m feeling okay with my stuff, but I bet I’ll hate it in a few years and want to make more music to better it! Just keep creating.

Q) What would you like us to know that we don't already know about you?|

A) I have a project coming out March 7th, 2014 entitled “LYSV” aka “Les Yeux Sans Visage”. I’m not going to say it’s the greatest thing I’ve created, but this project is definitely the most meaningful to me. Not only are these songs that I’ve literally cried into, but I’ve also had the lovely opportunity to get this album it’s own custom artwork by artist Dyana So (a 2nd year undergrad here at UPenn. Check out her stuff at www.dyanaso.com). It’ll be up for free download on the set date at www.bazilledx.bandcamp.com – so I hope you all check it out and enjoy it. I just want to take this time to thank everyone and everything in this world that’s helped contribute to its creation, and also thank YOU for giving me this specific opportunity, and thank the READERS for going through my banter and blabber. I appreciate it.

BazilleDx mixing and making music!!!

BazilleDx mixing and making music!!!

Dr. Dawn Karima is the host of A CONVERSATION WITH DAWN KARIMA, a Native American talk show that airs on Talktainmentradio.com and its affiliates.

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