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Baltimore, Maryland, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013

Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Established on Jan, 2013
Solo Hip Hop R&B





Back in 1994, on a regular day in East Baltimore’s Chapel Hill Housing Projects, a 9-year-old Desmond Pollard jumped up bright and early. He cleaned himself up, threw his Nikes on, exited his unit, and took a stroll through his courtyard. He passed crack sales by kids his age in new clothes screaming out product names and prices, stepped on crushed-up vials with multicolored tops that swam in puddles, walked in between dope fiends that were tilting and decaying, saw hoopers to the right and left beating down the court because their lives depended on it, and waved to grandmas who raised generations and generations of kids all under the same roof, and finally, met up with his pops.

From there, Pollard and his pops took a trip to New York. Pollard’s father had a close friend in Queensbridge and liked taking him along on the three-hour trip up the turnpike. At the time, Pollard’s only personal connection with Queensbridge came from “Illmatic,” Nas’ classic 1994 debut album. His older brother David had always put him onto the latest music, but hearing “Illmatic” was different; it changed something in him.

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“The album really wasn’t that big in Baltimore at the time,” Pollard (who now raps as FMG Dez) tells me at 2:45 a.m. over a cup a coffee at the Bun Shop, “but the vibe in Queens was crazy.” Most of the town is asleep as Dez reminisces, all the while punching his phone to add new rhymes to his notepad app as they come to him during our conversation. Dez going to Nas’ neighborhood made him realize that “every line Nas spit was true.” The trip made him realize he wanted to be “a reporter” like Nas and “rap about [his] hood in the same way.”

Nine-year-old Dez returned home to Baltimore with high ambitions of being a rapper: “From that point on I knew what I wanted to do with my life. That trip changed my life.”

He started scribbling rhymes but never told anyone that he was taking rap seriously, and for good reason. This is Baltimore, the only big predominately black city in America that hasn’t produced a hip-hop artist with major crossover success. Being from Baltimore and making it as a rapper seems impossible and seemed even more impossible then. Dez had no local rappers to point him in the right direction in his formative years. Baltimore may be the only city in America that praises its dope dealers more than its rappers and professional athletes combined.

Two years after that fateful trip to Queens, Dez’s father “caught 10 years with the Feds,” and that’s when he “really learned the things [he’d] been rapping about.” Dez eventually went to jail himself a few times after he was caught with drugs and a firearm, from 2001-2002, 2005-2006, and again in 2012.

“I feel like prison raised my level of consciousness,” he says. “All of my knowledge on the legal system came from our racist court system.” The system and its injustices made him want to learn more. He began reading about African-American history and studying religion and books such as “The Art of War,” “The Prince,” and “every classic [he] could get [his] hands on back then.” Now, he says, “that knowledge of history and the system makes it into my raps.”

Dez’s talents as a rapper also improved: “I became more of technician. I studied that craft. I didn’t know how to count a bar, I didn’t know what a bar was. I was in love with music and now I’m in love with the craft too.” Dez has released three mixtapes: “The Autobiography of Dez,” “Street Fame Volume 1,” and “Fuck Da Fame.” He is the CEO of Flawless Music Group (FMG), for which he designed the logo and handles the careers of up-and-coming artists Dee Dave, FMG Twizzle, and FMG Ball. Dez’s next release, the “Road 2 Riches” EP, is set to drop later this month.

Meanwhile, Baltimore feels like it is finally developing a hip-hop scene to call its own. Recently, it seems as though something has started to change in Baltimore rap. Rappers such as Lor Scoota and Young Moose are generating interest outside of the city. Last June, Dez opened up for Chicago drill rapper Lil Durk at Shake and Bake. He took the stage like a prophet, dressed in all white, with Louis Vuitton accessories. His FMG chain lit the rink it seemed. I was lost in the mix. The crowd went nuts, singing all of his songs word for word.

When he yelled “FMG” at the end of his set, the crowd followed Dez onto Pennsylvania Avenue. It seemed like it took Dez a month to reach his car because of the mob of people requesting Instagram pictures with him. He posed for them all. That reaction wasn’t due to cheesy radio fame and it didn’t come from over-the-top YouTube videos. Dez’s love came from real street people who appreciate good music.

So far, Dez has only teased “Road 2 Riches” with the intro track where he cleverly sets up the concept of the album, a day in the life of a hustler. “The intro kicks off with how I used to start my days and follows a trajectory from the mission to the money to the partying that goes down after the work is complete,” he says.

Ghostface Killah’s touching tale of troubled childhood, ‘All that I Got is You,’ and “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” came to my mind while listening, but as always for Dez, it goes back to 1994 and that trip to Queens with his pops: “Coming up listening to Nas inspired me to be a storyteller.”

Copyright © 2015, Baltimore City Paper - Baltimore City Paper

"No Trivia's Year in Music: The top 50 singles and 50 albums of 2014"

News flash everybody: Lists are fucking awesome. They get a bad rep these days, because they're cranked out willy-nilly with no thought or energy put into them, but blame that on the lazy wet sandwiches generating content for the internet, not on lists themselves. The secret, of course, is that lists have always been the bread and butter of publishing and they're fucking fun, so just relax. Did you read City Paper's Top 10 issue? You should, it's great.

Anyways, here's another list: the best singles and albums of 2014, which really just means my favorite which is all "best" ever means anyway. I could seriously blather on about everything on these lists if you gave me enough Adderall and paid me enough money, but let's try and go big picture instead.

The records that grabbed me this year were ones that did their thing expertly and firmly all the way through, whether it was the 2000s-baby-doing-'90s-babymakin' R&B of Tink, the serial-killer-soundtrack drone of Terence Hannum, or the blunted sadness of Isaiah Rashad, just to name a few in my top 10. And plenty of the other ones below were cohesive and successful on their own terms and on those terms only, really. This isn't easy stuff to enter from outside, not because they're "difficult" but because they're concentrated bursts of whatever it is that each of these artist does, you know? I imagine there is something here you'll like or at least discover. I also should add that my favorite record to come out this year is a queer country record from 1973, Lavender Country's self-titled album, reissued thanks to Paradise of Bachelors. It does not make my list because it is not from 2014, so consider it at like No. 0 or something. As for singles: just songs that are fun in a way that doesn't make me feel dirty, or makes me feel dirty in the right way (no such thing as "guilty pleasures" around here, folks), or just sent a chill down my spine when I listen to them.

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Finally, the big thing that's got to be addressed is D'Angelo and the Vanguard's mind-blowing-from-the-moment-I/we-all-heard-it "Black Messiah." It's a record that feels timeless but also feels like it couldn't have been released any other time than this week, right now. For those who haven't been listening to rap music close enough, especially street stuff and don't think that stuff counts as protest music, well, here is your big obvious protest record, though it's also a total masterpiece and it's also a record you should have sex to, so hey, that's all something. It's Duke Ellington's ethos explored through Eddie Hazel's "Game, Dame, and Guitar Thangs," Ornette Coleman's "Skies of America," and Talk Talk's "Laughing Stock," with the dejected rage of Sly and the Family Stone's "There's a Riot Goin' On."

Beyoncé dropped an exciting album on our heads late last year and established this dick-swinging side-step-the-year-end lists thing. It's wise. It is a way to own the conversation that isn't about the end of the year, and Nicki Minaj sort of did the same thing as Beyonce this week with "The Pinkprint," and both of those records are good and fun and occasionally excellent (and both are also political protest albums by nature of what they have to say and being big, bumping statements from black women who contain multitudes and all). But D'Angelo's sudden arrival feels earned and weighty in a different way. It's almost like he's giving us a gift. It's an album separate from all lists and it's only on mine because not including it would be strange. It is all I've listened to since it dropped. Who knows if it'll rank higher on my list later on and who cares. Certainly not me, because I don't look back at lists like this once I toss them into the world. That ain't the point. "Black Messiah" feels like the most cohesive and all-encompassing "shit done changed from here on out" record since Kanye West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy."

So here we are. My year in music (with bonus movies and comics lists at the bottom):


Shy Glizzy, 'Awwsome'
Florida Georgia Line, 'This Is How We Roll'
Future feat. Pusha T, Pharrell, and Casino, 'Move That Dope'
Jamie xx, 'Sleep Sound'
iLoveMakonnen, 'Tuesday'
Young Thug, 'Danny Glover'
RiFF RAFF, 'VIP Pass to my Heart'
Ricky Eat Acid, 'In My Dreams We're Almost Touching'
Copeland feat. Actress, 'advice to young girls'
Cashy, 'Wrong Way'
Perfect Pussy, 'Interference Fits'
Raka Rich, Shark Sinatra, Sin Que, and D.A. Go, 'Pound Cake'
Lor Scoota, 'Bird Flu'
Future Islands, 'Seasons (Waiting On You)'
Lee Scratch Perry, 'Jesus Is a Soul Man'
Dierks Bentley, 'Drunk on a Plane'
The Rosebuds, 'In My Teeth'
Rae Sremmurd, 'No Flex Zone'
Young Moose, 'How U Wanna Carry It'
Katy Perry feat. Juicy J, 'Dark Horse'
YG feat. Kendrick Lamar, 'Really Be (Smokin' and Drinkin')'
Les Sins, 'Bother'
Schwarz, 'Hands Up Don't Shoot'
Ola Playa feat. Gangsta Cody, 'Cut Throat'
Rich Gang, 'Freestyle'
Young Thug & Bloody Jay, '4 Eva Bloody'
Pictureplane, 'Self Control'
Pallbearer, 'Ashes'
---FMG Dez, 'Road to Riches Intro'
Iceage, 'How Many'
Holly Herndon, 'Chorus'
Kevin Drumm and Jason Lescaleet, 'Anger Alert'
Drake, 'Trophies'
Gurl Crush, 'By My Side'
Peewee Longway feat. Quez, 'Use Me'
DJ Slugo, 'Ghetto'
Guy Gerber and Puff Daddy, 'Floating Messiah'
Jerome LOL, 'Deleted'
Abdu Ali, 'Say Something'
Fabo, 'I Can't Get Enough'
James Nasty, 'Fan Dem Off'
Zuzuka Poderosa, 'Baile Crunk'
Nerftoss, 'Bottomless'
Munchi, 'Reality Check'
Caleb Stine, 'Watcha Think of Me Now'
Iamsu!, 'Girls'
Travis Scott, 'Backyard'
Kix, 'Inside Outside Inn'
DaVinci and Sweet Valley, 'Cheap Thrills'
Natural Velvet, 'Cathedral Street'

Tink, "Winter's Diary 2: Forever Yours"
YG, "My Krazy Life"
Warpaint, "Warpaint"
D'Angelo and the Vanguard, "Black Messiah"
The Soft Pink Truth, "Why Do The Heathen Rage?"
Future Islands, "Singles"
Arca, "Xen"
Gangsta Boo and Beatking, "Underground Cassette Tape Music"
Terence Hannum, "Via Negativa"
Isaiah Rashad, "Cilvia Demo"
J. Robbins, "Abandoned Mansions"
White Lung, "Deep Fantasy"
Ed Schrader's Music Beat, "Party Jail"
DJ Moondawg, "We Invented the Bop" Vols. 1 and 2
Priests, "Bodies and Control and Money and Power"
Jute Gyte, "Ressentiment"
ISSUE, "Liquid Wisdom"
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib, "Piñata"
Todd Terje, "It's Album Time"
Justin Bieber, "Journals"
Krieg, "Transient"
Lil Boosie, "Life After Deathrow"
RiFF RAFF, "Neon Icon"
Self Defense Family, "Try Me"
Ricky Eat Acid, "Three Love Songs"
Pallbearer, "Foundations of Burden"
Sicko Mobb, "Super Saiyan Vol 1"
Sturgill Simpson, "Metamodern Sounds in Country Music"
Guy Gerber and Puff Daddy, "1111"
Jon Camp, "Earwig"
Ola Playa, "Slime Season (Year of the Slime)"
Copeland, "Because I'm Worth It"
Ryan Bair, "Casting Away"
Rich Gang, "Tha Tour Part 1"
Cities Aviv, "Come To Life"
Abdu Ali and Schwarz, "Already"
DJ Dodger Stadium, "Friend of Mine"
Blanco, Husalah & Kokane, "The Tortoise and the Hare"
Chiffon, "Marble"
The Heads are Zeros, "All The Men I Love Are Dead"
Dierks Bentley, "RISER"
Shy Glizzy, "Law 3"
Perfect Pussy, "Say Yes To Love"
Metronomy, "Love Letters"
iLoveMakonnen, "iLoveMakonnen"
Nerftoss, "Maiden Powers"
The Underachievers, "Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium"
Cex, "Shamaneater"
Iamsu!, "Sincerely Yours"
Philip Corner, "Satie Slowly"

And why the hell not, my 10 movies and graphic novels of 2014:


"The Drop" (Michaël R. Roskam, United States)
"The Sacrament" (Ti West, United States)
"We Are The Best" (Lukas Moodysson, Sweden)
"The Immigrant" (James Grey, United States)
"Hellion" (Kat Candler, United States)
"American Muscle" (Ravi Dahr, United States)
"John Wick" (David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, United States)
"Teenage" (Matthew Wolf, United States)
"Drones" (Rick Rosenthal, United States)
"3 Days To Kill" (McG, United States)
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"Tradduciones" by Ines Estrada
"Megahex" by Simon Hanselmann
"Felony Comics #1" by Various Artists
"Theth" by Josh Bayer
"Celebrated Summer" by Charles Forsman
"The War of Streets and Houses" by Sophie Yanow
"The Time Punk Rocker John No Got Locked in a Fridge by Papa Roach" by Marissa Paternoster
"Andre the Giant: Life and Legend" by Box Brown
"Screwjob" by Various Artists
"Now and Here" by Lale Westvind
Copyright © 2015, Baltimore City Paper - Baltimore City Paper


Feeling a bit camera shy


Hailing from East Baltimore, Dez has quickly become recognized as one of the city’s few real hit makers. Although he grew up in the streets during the most dangerous time in Baltimore, the early 90’s, when the Heroin epidemic terrorized the nation - Dez uses those painful reflections to capture his listeners and take them on a journey through his vivd imagination. Dez credits music as giving him an opportunity to express his creativity and recount vivid memories of the environment that made him the artist he is today“Music allows me to relieve stress, and most importantly tell stories that teach lessons,” he says. “My main goal is to teach the younger generation of inner city youth [all over] what could happen if you don’t become a leader, if you don’t follow your passion.. or what can come to you if you do.” Dez attributes his skill and passion for music to the Hip Hop culture his father introduced him to at an early age, often traveling to and from Queensbridge, New York. Always having an ear for music, Dez aligned with other upcoming artist early in his career releasing records  like “Seminar” featuring Troy Ave and “RNS” featuring Shy Glizzy. The response from those records provided the perfect momentum needed to launch the release his 2014 mixtape entitled “F*CK DA RADIO”. Since that release Dez has connected with Multi Platinum Award Winning Audio Engineer IRKO to assist with production for his forthcoming EP entitled “Road To Riches”. This project will feature sounds from some rap production heavyweights such as Chop Beatz, V Don and EA Glizzy.  Most recently Dez has released his second single from'Road to Riches' entitled “Porsche” featuring A$AP Ant which has gained attention from international media outlets such as VIBE Magazine.

Band Members