"You hang around knuckle heads you gonna be a knuckle head," says Famous Dex. "You hang around bosses you gonna be a boss." The Chicago rapper grew up hard on Chicago South Side-he attended the same high school as Lil Durk-before breaking through in 2014 with hits like "Try Me" and the mixtape 'Never Seen it Coming.' Even after being signed by the Rich The Kid, Dex has been through some big setbacks on the way to where he is now. But to hear him tell it, he's a changed man. And his music has never been hotter. "Pick it Up" his late 2017 track featuring A$AP Rocky, now has over 37 million plays on SoundCloud.
"Numbers don't lie, baby," Dex said during a recent visit to MASS APPEAL HQ. "So it's a blessing."
"I'm 24," the drill rapper-formerly known as Black Migo Dex-said during his Open Space interview. "When we was young we wanted to be like Jay Z or Nas or Justin Bieber. You know, we always wanted to be in the paparazzi." He says his goal now is to be more than just famous. "I love music so much, but I always treat the people like I wanna be treated. That's why I think I'm Fye right now. Because I'm just Dexter."
"We always believed in this," Dex says of his explosive style of drill music. "I'm the first one to make a song that way." But inevitably, his success has inspired imitators. "Take a dictionary out," he says with a laugh. "Anything I say the world say. It's crazy."
Dex insists he doesn't mind seeing other artists riding his coattails. "I'm definitely a trendsetter," he says. "But I don't want to be the ones who say 'He run off with my wave. Oooh!' People always point it out. Like, 'Dex, you see such and such don' took your little…?' I see it! I be like, 'It's cool.' That's the part of the wave. That's what people don't understand. Everything from the Trippy on to Travis to the Migos-we all in that same wave. It ain't change, bro. We all rap about the same stuff… ain't nothing change. We really sayin' the same thing… And to be honest, I'm proud of that."
Dex is so focused on expressing how much he has matured, he made some rather unexpected comparisons : "Like bringing Jay-Z back bro," he said. "Go listen to '4:44' bro. That's real music." Of course Dex's music is cut from a different cloth, but he may have a point when it comes to his influence over the SoundCloud rap generation. Dex also drew a parallel to another famous Chicagoan: "It's like Jordan," he says. "Look at Lebron, look at all these people who wanna be like… Look at Kobe, being like Jordan. So Jordan created a whole wave that everybody wanna be a part of. So I'm not even mad at the situation. I'm kinda happy."
Considering how far he's come, Dex has a lot to be happy about. "I'm from Southside Inglewood," he recalls. "When people say they don't wanna come to Chicago, that's where I'm from. And I thank God for being here right now. Cause it's rough. Watching my homies get killed. Watching my homies go to jail. Losing cousins, losing brothers, losing sisters. Now losing them to drugs… It's kinda messed up so I thank God I changed the route. I saw the bad, I saw the good." These days, he says simply, "I own Chicago."
Dex says now he tries to remember how influential he is. "I don't do no bad stuff," he says. "I don't carry guns. So I'm kind of a good role model to these people." His focus is on taking care of his family. "I was always smart," he says. "I had this energy to be somebody. I know I wasn't gonna be no failure." Check out the latest episode of Open Space right now.
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What started as a humble graffiti 'zine in 1996 would soon grow to be one of the most trusted outlets for youth-spawned urban culture. Today, Mass Appeal is a media collective led by authentic voices and inspired minds. We are a platform for radical creatives who are transforming culture.