Funky Minds
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Funky Minds

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The best kept secret in music


"Hip Hop and Haiti according to H.D."

It’s been 11 years since the Fugees exploded onto the urban music scene. But for a hip-hop community that considers “Killing Me Softly” an old-school classic, 11 years is a long time. That’s why the entire Haitian massive is waiting for some new blood to rep for the homeland. Canadian-born emcee, H.D., may be just what the doctor ordered and a whole lot more.

The underground rhymeslinger hailing from Queens, N.Y. recently released a mix CD entitled Now or Never, which has created a buzz on New York City’s streets. This nosey reporter caught up with the Haitian Diplomat to talk about his latest project, the state of hip-hop, and the corporate news media’s coverage of events in Haiti last year. Relax and pop your collars folks; the Gentleman’s Movement is in full swing.

ADIKA BUTLER: The title of your mix CD seems to imply that this is the best time for you to establish yourself as a major hip-hop artist. Is that how you feel right now?

H.D.: I really feel that way, because I’m looking at how the game is right now and I think it’s the right time for people like my cousin and I to make a mark. We consider ourselves to be creative artists, progressive artists. If you look a few years back, the door wasn’t as open. I think if you look at what has occurred over the past year—even though I conceptualized Now or Never before that—the signs are that progressive artists are going to have their day. You look at Kanye West rising up. You look at people like Common, [Talib] Kweli and Mos Def rising up and getting all of this exposure. You hear Jay-Z biggin’ up Common and Kweli. Everyone is praising dead prez, so there’s definitely a shift. The music always comes full-circle. It’s a cycle. You have the gansta phase then it goes into another phase. Right now, everyone is trying to be progressive. Well, maybe not progressive, but “conscious,” because people, I think, put the wrong tags on things. So you may have people like Jadakiss claiming that their record is political when they’re all about shooting up people. Right now it’s almost like being socially aware or conscious is a trend; it’s in.

AB: Yeah, it does seem that way.

H.D.: Me, I don’t want to put myself in the conscious bag, but I get thrown into it anyway because I have a lot to say. I have substance behind my music. So from that aspect, I think that this is definitely the time. We’ve been doing this for a while. Me and Steven [Nyles] have watched other people’s mistakes and learned from them. So I think that now is the time. It’s Now or Never.

AB: How did you realize that you wanted to be an emcee?

H.D.: I’ve been dabbling in it since high school. Then it evolved into me emulating whomever I was feeling at the time. If I was feeling Nas, I used to try to write something like Nas. At a certain point the rhymes just kept coming. It wasn’t even about money. I just enjoyed doing it. The rhymes really felt good and people started taking notice. When we finally got to record and hear the final product we got good response. It was like “yo, let’s do this because there’s nothing like it.” All of these years I’ve been going to the store to buy other people’s records now I can buy my own. Instead of me criticizing someone else’s music I can give my own take on wax.

AB: You’ve got some innovative tracks on here. You talk about confrontations with skinheads in Canada, the death of your grandmother and even your battles with writer’s block.

HD: I always try to find something that hasn’t been said before, things that haven’t been explored. In my song “Homegrown” I explore dealing with racism [in Canada] and how we had to watch ourselves with skinheads. You never heard any emcee talk about that. But it’s like I can only take but so much credit, because it’s not like I chose to live that way; I wish I never had to deal with them. Then you got a song like “Writer’s Block” which I wrote while I was still in school. I even say in the song “I be writing in class.” It’s funny to me, because I never force any concepts. Concepts come to me, but what happened was I was writing a bunch of songs for so long before I hit a long, long drought. I didn’t want to get back into rhyming by doing something typical, like a straight braggadocio, boasting, battle joint. So I said “you know what, since I can’t write I should write about how I can’t write.” It was like “damn, I have writer’s block so I’m going to talk about writer’s block.” It came out really well.

AB: On your CD you also have some impressive special guest appearances: Kanye West, Sean Paul, Trina, dead prez, Ghostface, and the Ying Yang Twins. You even got porn star Heather Hunter on there. How did you hook that up?

H.D.: I have contacts that allow me to reach out to some of these artists for drops, shout-outs, skits, whatever.

AB: I’ve been reading a lot of the hip-hop magazines and one of the things that I’ve noticed is that it almost seems in vogue for rappers to complain about the lack of creativity in rap music these days. Some of them even say that the music is wack. I’ve read tons of articles like that. Even recently, I was in Midtown and saw a dude with a black t-shirt that read “hip-hop is dead” in bold white letters. Are people overreacting? Are they on point? What’s your opinion on the state of the music?

H.D.: I’m glad that you’re asking me that because to me it’s a trend. It’s funny how anything can be commercialized, which is something I touch on in this upcoming mixtape that I’m working on. A state of mind has been commercialized now, to think a certain way is cool. So now they’re going to commercialize it, milk it for all it’s worth and make it cool. So you gonna have people who don’t really think a certain way frontin’ like they do. As far as hip-hop being wack or being dead, it’s a trend now. Most of the people who are saying “it’s dead,” “it’s wack,” “it’s not creative”—they’re not even the solution to the problem. They just add on to it. If Nas says that I’ll just take it for what it is because he’s doing his part. Nas is somebody who from the start has been creative, been progressive with every album. But most of the people who are talking like that are not doing anything to make the music more creative.

AB: Haiti faced a lot of disasters last year: a violent military coup, a flood, hurricane Jeanne. What are your thoughts about the media coverage?

H.D.: When it comes to Haiti there’s always a lot of emphasis on the negative. I was in Haiti last April, [just a few months after the coup], and I saw the same things I saw two years ago. The only difference was that the army was in the airports. It might have been because I was not in the area that was really affected, because I was actually close to the capital. And they never really got there. But at the same time I’m like “where is everything that I’m hearing about in the U.S. news media?”

AB: The impression I got was that the whole island was in a state of chaos, even a few months after Aristide was kicked out. For you to tell me that, that’s very enlightening.

H.D.: Basically it was the same thing as two years ago. Nothing really changed. People were going about their business hustling, trying to make a dollar. There’s millions of ways to hustle in Haiti, so you know, that’s basically the same thing I saw on the way to the house. You had people just hustling the same way. It wasn’t like there was forced security. There was no chaos with dead bodies and people getting shot at. Even before that, there was always this negative emphasis placed on Haiti. It’s never depicted as a beautiful place or anything positive. Of course you have the poverty, but it’s still a beautiful place.

AB: How can people pick up your CD?

H.D.: Right now it’s online at and It’s also at some mixtape spots in Queens. It’s also going to be available in Canada. We’re trying to spread it as far and as wide as possible.
- Where Itz At Magazine

"H.D. Purelyrics Exclusive"

///H.D. Purelyrics reppin' Funky Minds Crew, Queens, N.Y., U.S.A.//

Silent (, Crazy Bridgeport Mob ENtertainment, Washignton D.C. U.S.A.): So what's good? What are you, Hi-lite and Mayhem up to these days?

H.D. (Funky Minds Crew, Queens, N.Y.):Right now, we're working on our second mixtape. We're following Outkast's formula as far as like me and Mayhem doing our thing we each doing a solo mixtape and then we're gonna package it into a double album; my half is called reloaded and Mayhem's half is called pace yourself. Basically thats all we doing. We also trying to up the action in terms of the R 'n' B side, trying to attack that market, and also trying to drop our names in the market as major playas.

Silent : So Hi-lite produces to?

H.D. : Yeah Hi-lite produces but not right now. He's on a sabbatical right now and he's part of the team but he's got a lot of other things going on that he's gotta take care of right now.

Silent : You referred to Hi-lite as a spoken word artist...

H.D. : Yeah, Hi-lite does spoken word. He does acting also. He's into everything. He wrote a play, a Gospel play called The Gifted and he's in the process of trying to get that out there. So, you know we delve into a little, you know every aspect of the media really.

Silent : So you said this is your second mixtape...Was now or never the first?

H.D. : I had a first mixtape called brace yourself but it never really hit the streets and while everyone really responded well to it, I felt that I should hit the streets differently. Now or Never allowed me to hit the streets the way I represent it...ya know I mean...more of myself I think it represented H.D. better than Brace Yourself did. So Now or Never is the first mixtape to officially hit the streets. Now we working on the second.

Silent : No doubt. Let's take it back to 2000 when you all put out "I just wanna rhyme."

H.D. : OH YEAHHHH!! Back in 2000...That was the first cd that we came out with that record, and it wasn't really well promoted or anything. We just recklessly put it out there on cd and everyone that heard it really liked it.

Silent : Word. In terms of your mixtapes, do you, Funky Minds Crew, always work together or do you all individually collab with others?

H.D. : We definitely work with other people. Mayhem and I have always worked together, almost everything I do know is produced through Mayhem. Mayhem, is now looking into producing for a few other people. As far as the creative process goes, what happens is I usually go over to Mayhem's house, listen to a bunch of records there, something catches my ear, I listens to it sometimes thorughly, briefly sometimes it takes a couple of weeks others a couple of months. and i just leave it there and out of nowhere it hits me.

Silent : All the other mixtapes you've got out how can we go about getting em?

H.D. : I'm on the DJ Vlad >>>>>>>> you can go to P Cutta u can go to DJ Exclusive, I'm on one also hosted by sprigger..go to the our website is

SIlent : I'm gonna have to cop those mixtapes and send everyone else out to cop them to. Right now, we're trying to promote, peace, posperity throughout the Hip Hop community and right now I'm getting a little mad at these club owners becuase everytime I go to them to try to get a new venue going, they always throw the same response at me 'we don't want a ghetto crowd in here' bla bla bla...I mean it seems like to me people got the worng view of us these days. In your opinion, what is the state of Hip Hop in today?

H.D. : I think it's a shame that one person can mess it up for a whole lot of people and I think that happens all the time, Way too often...and at the same time I think we sort of did it to ourselves alot. Alot of times, those are isolated inncidents but at the same time you can be like 'oh these are young professionals and responsible young students, this is our crowd that will be coming to the shows.' The club owners are taking a risk if they do. We've gotta put ourselves into they shoes. The club owners are like look they aleready shot up the club and did this and that and they can't forget about all of the other incidences that have happened. We gotta see how they see us and take responsibilty for what we doing and handle ourselves. If we don't take care of ourselves who else is gonna do it? They don't, obviously.

Silent : I've got mad love for the Underground and this is where it started off for everyone. Right here on the corner, the streets, basements and in their homes. I think a lot of artists once they get to the commercial level they start doing they own thing; and that's how life is you know. Everyone has gotta focus on themsleves and like you said, everyone has gotta be responsible for themself. Once you get up to the commercial level it's hard to stay on the Underground level. You've got so many obligations to your family, your label, and everyone else. You hear it all day, everyday, "I'd rather keep it real than get a deal." That's on you homie...(laughs)

H.D. : (laughs) I feel you man. Just like you said I'd rather keep it real than get a deal...The bottom line though is you want everyone to hear your music. Once everyone hears it, you want everyone to feel it and once everyone is feeling it, then you on top. It's easy for us to criticize though but the truth is we don't know what else is going on in their lives.

SIlent : 5 years ago what was you all doing?

H.D. : 5 years ago I was just starting college. 5 years ago we were still making our music and we were good at it but we weren't ready to put ourselves and our music out there. Now when I listen to our music I'm like "WOW. I feel proud. We did so much back then." We just kept at it and kept practicing. The comfort level is so much higher now as well. It's second nature. It's natural now. 5 years ago we were on the grind already we were a little bit younger, I was in school. Hi-Lite was in school. Had alot of homework. (laughs) So you know man.

Silent : Now adays youre right on the verge of blowing up man. Where do you want to see yourself in 5 years from now?

H.D. : Man...In 5 years from now, I wanna be seen as ah you know...I don't want to go into the multimedia. I want to be able to do film, I'm working on a script right now, Hi-Lite is working on a script. I want us to be established and critically acclaimed. The ideal thing for us would be crittically acclaimed, respected, commercially established. Of course we'll still be making our music. At the same time to be on TRL with kids screaming going crazy when we come out. Of course we want our paper to be straight and we also want to be recognized as one of the illest if not THE ILLEST in the game.

Silent : Have you worked on any collabs at all with anyone who's already broke through. I know you've met with Swizz Beatz, Jay-z, Rocwilder, Meth and alot of other rappers in the game. WHat kind of love are they showing you or have they tried to help you out at all in terms of geting signed or what not?

H.D. : I haven't had the chance to work with that many dudes that are established. I've handed cd's to Luda, Jay-Z, Rockwilder but I haven't gotten feedback from them yet, I haven't had the chance to meet with them again. I've goteen feedback from Alchemist. Mayhem gave a cd to him and he gave us props on it to and said 'yo I liked've got some good stuff on there, it's nice." So it just makes me think WoW..I aint doing this for nothing because these dudes that are established are feeling our music.

Silent : Let's take it back in the day. WHo were your idols, mentors or role models growing up?

H.D. : I never really had a mentor. Growing up when I was really, really young. Michael Jackson was like IT. I used to run around the block dancing like Michael. It was all about him back in the day. I look up to alot of guys in the game but when it comes down to it, I never tried to be or sound like someone else. I'm just me and that's all I claim to be.

Silent: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. Peace and Respect. One. -

"Now or Never Review"

When Kanye West pronounces you the hottest thing on the planet, and other proven artists such as Twista, Method Man, and dead prez are singing your praises on your debut mixtape, it's just a matter of time before record labels come knocking. However, H.D. (Hold it Down) has been patiently waiting for his chance to shine, and as the title of his mixtape suggests he feels his time is Now or Never.

After graduating from Brooklyn College where he majored in journalism he finally got the time to pursue his budding hip-hop career. The self proclaimed perfectionist has used the time wisely, adeptly concocting a slew of original tracks with superb production from his cousin and producer Mayhem, as well as displaying his verbal skills on freestlyes over popular beats .

With Now or Never, H.D. proves that there is no ceiling to his potential.. As he delivers descriptive narratives that distinguish him from many of the gimmicky artists in the industry, his sheer skills do the talking. On "Brace U'rself," H.D. warns competition to prepare for his crew "The "Funky Minds" era with catchy metaphors such as: "Me with no lyrics is like Lil Jon with no shades on."

And on a freestyle over Gang Starr's "Mass Appeal" instrumental, he confidently asserts: "told ya'll now or never, want hits I'm a slugger." Then goes on to attack the "Luchini," freestyle with the same diligence: "They wouldn't' sign Jay (Jay-z) or Kanye(West) but look at them now."

Perhaps the urgency of the mix tape is best reflected on "Something Gotta Give," over its soulful melody he raves "Something gotta give, about to catch a bid trying to get up in this biz, son, I'm trying to do it big."

And on the track "Writers Block," he explains how he avoids it by writing every where he can including his brain, the train, and of all places his sleep. "Schemes" is a tantalizing story in which he discusses his detailed plotted fantasies of dating Hollywood celebrities such as Rosario Dawson and Jennifer Love Hewitt. And on "Homegrown" and "Close 2 U," H.D. shares his personal life with listeners as he vents about the difficulties of racism he experienced during his upbringing in Montreal, Canada and the loss of his grandmother respectively.

The Now or Never Mixtape provides enough quality singles, and witty free styles to make you truly believe that HD's time is now and that he should never be doubted again. - Hip Hop Canada


Brace U'rself EP
Now or Never EP
Check out the HD's latest and upcoming music on


Feeling a bit camera shy


Few artists manage to escape the requisite labels too often plastered on MCs when they’re first heard. Yet, Queens, NY-based H.D. (Hold it Down) pulls it off quite well. A hybrid of Hip-hop sub-genres, D as his acolytes call him, is as comfortable rocking the party, battering beats with metaphor laced braggadocio, narrating descriptive and thought provoking tales or pushing the envelope with concepts the average rapper couldn't fathom.

Though he’s far from the typical emcee, his artistic diversity is a reflection of his upbringing. Born to Haitian parents, D spent his childhood splitting time between, Sept-Iles, Montreal and New York before permanently setting shop in Queens in 1998. A compulsive thinker, D is constantly adding to his catalog (over 40 songs) while prepping his first mixtape, “Now Or Never,” which features shout outs from urban entertainment’s elite, including Kanye West, Ice-T, Twista, RZA, Method Man, Heather Hunter, and Sean Paul. From mainstream heavyweight Swizz Beatz to subterranean king Big Noyd, some of the industry’s most recognizable figures and insiders have praised H.D.’s innovative music.

“I like that he’s himself. He knows who he is. He’s not trying to be all hard. He’s original, real creative, real lyrical,” said Swizz Beatz who met with D to hear his music at Manhattan’s 36 Chambers Studios last December. “There’s a slot for him. The market is wide open for a dude like him.”

At the turn of the millennium, H.D. released a series of radio singles and quickly garnered a buzz in Montreal’s underground. Among his offerings, “I Just Wanna Rhyme,” a remake of Jay-Z's "I Just Wanna Love You" received an overwhelmingly positive response. While many enjoyed the parody the rest slept on it. Ironically, several years later, 50 Cent invaded the underground by making songs over- a trend now borrowed by aspiring artists to sneak into mixtapes. Since then, H.D. has made several cameos on underground projects and hit stages- touring Canada as well as performing in Manhattan, Yonkers and Sarah Lawrence College’s Baccanelia Festival among others.

“Hip hop needs to be innovative so I’m always looking for new formulas to say something,” says H.D., who graduated with a degree in Journalism from Brooklyn College. “I’m trying to make it innovative and creative as well as catchy and danceable.”

Though the newest Haitian sensation is temporarily foreign to the mainstream, his fist steps towards stardom were taken when he was barely crawling. At age 7, D was busy back spinning on cardboard and stages along side The Wacko Kids, his older brother's B-Boy crew. It wasn't until 1990, then 11 that D picked up a mike to experiment with rock, rap fusion with classmates, Phillip Amman (guitarist) and Marc Landry (drummer). However, the group was short lived and D then rhymed on and off until the mid-90s. Fast forward to 2004, the baby faced lyricist is now a soloist, yet he’s steadily pushing his Funky Minds crew, which is comprised of cousins Mayhem and Hi-Lite. D has also been garnering attention from prominent production companies, independent and major labels. To date, he’s been on mixtapes from the likes of P Cutta, DJ Joey Fingaz, DJ Dennis Blaze, DJ Vlad and DJ Exclusive among others. Whether it’s the lyrical orgy and contagious aggressiveness of the adrenaline fueled “Brace U’rself,” the introspective nature of “Soundcheck” and “Pressure” or the carefree and humorous attitude exuded on “Open Bar,” D is sure to hit home with nitpicking backpackers and spoon fed Billboard fans alike.