Can you dig it?
Detroit CYDI rap trio brings verses and vision
By Raina L. Baker
Special to the Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — “If you like music, you should like CYDI’s,” says Saron Dier, a member of the all-male rap trio Detroit CYDI, which stands for Can You Dig It. “I don’t like to categorize it as rap or hip hop because you limit yourself. I want you to do a custom box for our music.”
Detroit CYDI, a hip hop based music group not restricted to rap, says if it feels right, they’ll do it.
“I usually add a ‘c’ in front of rap because you hear a lot of strange garbage,” says Khary Hobbs, also of the trio. “But call our music what you will as long as it makes people move.”
The group has been together as CYDI for six years, but has been making music for over 10. Donovan aka Doc ILLingsworth credits his mother and brother for his strong interest in music.
“They are the people that introduced me to music. They gave me the foundation,” he told the Michigan Citizen. “I’ve always had music around. I remember playing the little cheap recorder flute in elementary school and then the drums. I don’t think I started making my own until the end of middle school and going into high school.”
Donovan also recognizes Willie McAllister, former musical director at Renaissance High School, for the way he looks at music in terms of dedication and practice.
Saron aka Sean Uppercut says Prince is one of his influences. “My mom would put on Prince ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ and watch me run around in circles till I’d drop,” he said.
Khary aka Rufio Jones says his favorite artists are Snoop Dogg, Too Short and the consortium of Three 6 Mafia. “I understand that’s probably very weird but Snoop Dogg taught me how to rap and be cool at the same time,” he said. “Too Short taught me how to rap and tell a story. They have a certain structure that’s undeniable. And Three 6 Mafia knows how to make a good song that makes people move.”
Detroit CYDI says they’ve ended up a part of underground hip hop. “There are people, artists in the city, doing amazing things that you don’t necessarily hear on the radio. You hear the ‘cRAP.’”
The chemistry and energy of the trio is unique and mirrors a brotherhood that helps them to produce good, fluid music. Graduates of Renaissance High School, the group seeks to make good music but also to uplift one another. “Even if somebody approached any of us and offered a solo deal, I’m pretty sure we’d find a way to get all of us in. If you sign one of us, you sign all of us,” Khary said.
“We’re a package deal. It’s inevitable. But you’re gonna wanna sign all of us. The thing is, we’re always gonna be CYDI no matter what,” he said.
With great personification, imagery and unique beats guaranteed to make you tap your feet, Donovan says the ultimate message the group tries to convey is to be yourself.
“We came out with no kind of expectations for our project in 2008. It was like a Hail Mary but we had beats and we did whatever came naturally and put it out there without fear of what would happen. And from that, a lot of people actually took to that and gave us positive feedback so that was a reaffirmation to be yourself and everything will be cool. The people that are supposed to find you will find you,” Donovan said.
“The group consensus is to love what you do, be passionate about what you do and also to really connect to with what you do” Saron said. “A lot of people go to their job to just collect a check. And you do that for years and years and years and you look back and you’re ready to retire and you have nothing to really look back on. Even if you do have to do that, do something that you enjoy in life on the side. That’s what our group represents.”
In addition to being yourself and loving what you do, Detroit CYDI inevitably wants to leave some footprints behind.
“When you put on a song by us, I would want you to remember the time, exact space, what you were doing, who you were dating, what you were eating, what job you had — I want you to hear a song and remember those memories when you hear that song again,” says Saron. “Some albums will always be relevant. I want our album to be a soundtrack to the great parts of your life.
The next time you hear a song by CYDI, don’t just think of it as rap over pre-rendered beats. Think of it as passion turned tangible produced by Detroit’s talented, each with “a special bag of verses, “passionately leaving all inner-images in a sentence” and “loving every dream that has come true.” Can you dig it?
For more information, visit www.detroitcydi.bandcamp.com, follow Detroit CYDI on Twitter @DetroitCYDI and Tumblr at www.detroitcydi.tumblr.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Raina L. Baker is a journalism student at Howard University and will enter into her senior year in the fall. She is interning with the Michigan Citizen for the summer. Raina can be reached at email@example.com
Photo Courtesy of Eric T. Campbell