INSIDE THE PROJECT: Defcee “Damn Near Grown”

Illinois Rapper, DefCee rounds out his year with the release of Damn Near Grown, his first since last years Loosies, and 2011’s Selves. 13 tracks full of true lyricism and story telling, Damn Near Grown, has placed on multiple “Rap Album Of The Year” polls.


How did you choose the title of your project?

It came to me one night when I was living in Panama in 2009. I was noticing the through-line for all of my music was writing about adulthood and struggling with moving away from home, I thought about myself, and how my own growth had been stunted by where and how I grew up, and thought the title would be perfect for what I was working on.

Can you explain the story behind your artwork and who is the designer?

The artwork was designed by  Dewey Saunders, a guy from Philly by way of Florida who does the artwork for Anderson .Paak and is a really talented emcee, as well. We connected through people I know from Philly who rap, and initially he was doing these rap workouts with me, where we sent rhymes we were writing once a day back and forth and getting feedback on them.
How long have you been working on this project?
Since 2008. It’s had three different titles and a million different track lists, but this is the best version of it.
Where was it recorded?
Primarily with my dude Jus Love at his home studio, but only one of the songs was recorded in an actual studio with a vocal booth. Most of it was done on my friends’ home setups around Chicago.
Who are the producers?
My dude Sev Seveer did three songs on the album–he and I have this Royce/Premier or Scorsese/DeNiro thing going where we bring the best out of each other artisticially; Saba–one of the best producers anywhere in the world and one of the hottest in Chicago right now–gave me a couple bangers for the album; his brother Joseph Chilliams gave me a slow burner that inspired some really intense, well-written rhymes; Shaun “SCP” Peace, who gave me something that sounds totally different from his usual work that made for the perfect backdrop to a few of the best verses I ever wrote and recorded; goldenbeets gave me a beautiful beat that forced me to talk about a subject I’ve been avoiding for a while; Otis Brown Jones III, who made two great albums with M&O, gave me one that was inspired by D’Angelo’s “Africa” I wrote to in the studio, which I never do, and that song is most people’s favorite off the album; DroP Beats, who gave me a heater that was the first one I picked for the album in 2008; MikeWavvs, who’s consistently nice on the beats, gave me something that allowed me enough space to snap off; and S.K.I.L., a dude I went to high school with who’s incredibly talented, and flips Sade samples better than any other producer I’ve heard.
Who was featured?
Noname Gypsy, who has the most-anticipated album maybe in the history of the city in the vault, one of the best rappers on the planet; Saba, who snaps out on everything he writes; Joseph Chilliams, who I’m working on an album with and has some of the best punchlines in rap right now; Benjamin Earl Turner, ANOTHER dude I’m working on a project with, who maybe has the best guest verse on my album; and Collasoul Structure, my big brother, who delivered an awesome verse about rap music he loved growing up.
What was your favorite track?
“Legends,” “Sunsets Over Panama,” or “All of my Heroes Did Dope,” but it could be a different three tomorrow. I’m really proud of this album.
Who would you like to thank for helping with this project?
See:, where the album’s posted

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