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Jacksonville, Florida, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Jacksonville, Florida, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Solo Hip Hop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"DoLA makes national moves"

“I’ve always been a real selfish person. A loner. Everything I’ve always done has been by myself. I don’t even play team sports. This is all new to me, man.”

Dorian Brown utters these words at Brooklyn taqueria, as the nearby hum of industrial tortilla-making equipment threatens to drown out his soft-spoken demeanor. The ‘this’ he refers to is the larger context of our meeting: an interview about his work, surrounded by a managers and collaborators, as he’s about to complete his first major tour as a rap artist under the name DoLA. But right now it seems everyone’s just glad to be out of the car. “We drove a fucking van from Jacksonville to Chicago,” says Alex Cohen, DoLA’s manager.

For 25-year old Brown, it’s understandable how all of this can seem like an abrupt escalation. He sits, dreaded, sweating and complaining about the New York humidity, but appreciative to be here. Two weeks prior, he was still working at a call center, only able to record on his off hours. “I’d been trying to find my way in the music industry for a long time,” he explains. “But coming from a city like Jacksonville you have no real guidance.” He tells me about the past six years of trial and error; stories of scheisty studio engineers, pseudo-managers, and traveling to the Black Hollywood of Atlanta in 2011. After flirting with their scene and making some connections—DoLA has since played multiple shows with former Two-9 member Key!—he finally found the confidence he needed and had developed his style: “I had to move back to Jacksonville and create a movement of my own.”

That movement is largely sculpted by Apply Pressure, DoLA’s management company, streetwear company, and artist collective. While the rest of the crew—numbering five in total, including Eddy Braveaux, producer, and Quan, DJ—get back to munching on cheap Mexican and stretching their legs, Alex gives me a brief synopsis of what they do. His younger brother Peter, co-founder, chimes in occasionally. “We all came together completely organically,” he explains. “We were all friends already. I was booking shows under a certain company that I had incorporated and then Apply Pressure is basically what that company evolved into, because it’s a lot more than just shows. This is in Orlando, Jacksonville, and Miami. Myself, my brother, and Frost the Wave God live in Orlando. DoLA, Eddy, Quan, who’s DoLA’s official DJ, they’re all based in Jacksonville for now.”

The crew does almost everything in house, from engineering to videography, with help from close friends. DoLA himself has directed all of his videos thus far, as well as some for other artists around Jacksonville. This creates a rugged self-sufficiency not unlike the lauded Awful Records crew out of Atlanta. Later, DoLA talks to me about wanting to be a screenwriter, to really begin focusing on visuals as an artistic practice. Of course, Apply Pressure is right there to support him. “We’re gonna brand DoLA’s creative services,” Alex says. “His vision is something that other people would want, and would buy.”

“How did you first find out about DoLA?” is a question that comes up eventually, an understandable one given the rapper’s current status as a relative unknown. In a way, it is surprising he’s even on my radar. I first discovered DoLA back in 2013, randomly trawling Soundcloud and Twitter. At that time, the Jacksonville native had four tracks up, no formal project to his name. But the songs that were up – most memorably, one titled “Bitches Be Like” – showed a sharp flow, and a thoughtful approach to relationships and drug abuse: “I tried to hide it but my pops he always know when I’m lying/I told my momma I’m trying/ and if she let me inside/I won’t betray her trust again and she can keep me in-line/Her love it keep me alive/And I be stealing her shit and still she keep me in mind.” This kind of ‘trapped between the trap and genuine emotion’ feeling is present throughout DoLA’s work, and is clearly the music who’s tread this path, or seen others stray. His cover photo was also a shadowy image in which it was impossible to make out any features. Anonymity may be a played out trope now, and maybe it was then too, but for whatever reason it made me keep tabs on this quick-tongued mystery rapper from north Florida.

Dola and Eddie Store

My patience and curiosity was rewarded about a year later with the release of 2014’s Ch. 1 Night Visions. Over this 10-track mixtape (named #5 on my year end list) DoLA expanded upon everything I loved about his first few singles: the thoughtfulness, the fast raps, and the moody, minimalist production from Eddy Braveaux. All the throughout, combined deceptively generic turn-up hooks with sorrowful lyrics on tracks like ‘Salutations,’ which mourned the Jacksonville’s destructive violence: “We attend more funerals than football games.” A few more tracks at the beginning of 2015 continued this trend of quality. And due to the apparent lack of traction in the blogosphere, DoLA was just as mysterious as when I had first heard him. But it was a developed and refined aesthetic, a rarity from an up-and-comer of his caliber.

When I ask about how this tour is going, their first step into catching the public eye in a major way, Alex’s otherwise cheery mood visibly sours. “The tour, to be honest with you, is going just ok.” he explains. “We did Chicago, we did Philly. We had to hold off on Baltimore because the venue got double booked by this promoter who wanted to work with us. This is the type of shit we have to deal with. We came out of pocket for this. We booked ourselves in these other cities because we were confident that the people who wanted to work with us would meet their end of the deal.” I now begin to see a different side of the group sitting around me staring at their phones and clowning on each other. This is the part that never hits Instagram, the pitfalls that come for the young artist trying to get off the ground. They’d slept in their van at least a few nights, and over the next few days I get to know DoLA and the crew, the preference for dining was always one word: cheap.

It goes without saying that for the up-and-comer, the right A-list cosign, the right blog posts, or just the right personal connection can make or break a burgeoning career. That’s why an artist like DoLA is here, why they’ve embarked on this tour. Alex is transparent about this: “Sooner than later, the right eyes will fall on Apply Pressure, our artists, and just the movement that we’re creating. We do enough in our region, and this tour is just how we get established in other markets, the Midwest and Northeast.” Not everyone can be a Fetty Wap, catching Lyor Cohen’s eye (no pun intended) and blowing up virtually overnight. If making connections that will help elevate DoLA to the next level of his career is the goal, the Paper Box show they were playing that week seemed to be a good look, featuring visual installations from A$AP Rocky’s art director, Robert Gallardo, as well as Codeine Crazy-videographer Uncle Leff.

I’d been trying to find my way in the music industry for a long time … I had to move back to Jacksonville and create a movement of my own.

Over the course of our conversation, DoLA repeatedly returns to what he believes is his edge in music: simple honesty. He cites influences like Lupe Fiasco, in which one can hear the language-bending punchlines and a heartfelt reaching, the harsh and gruff realities of DMX, and, of course Biggie. “The stuff [Biggie] was talkin’ about for hip-hop, at that time, was really dark. He has a song called Suicidal Thoughts. And for black people, that’s not common. I mean, people think about killing themselves all the time, I don’t care what color you are. But black people don’t talk about that. But Biggie put that shit out on the table. He was sayin shit like, ‘Mom dukes ain’t givin’ me shit/so for the bread n butter I leave niggas in the gutter.’ Who can’t relate to that?”

But the process of developing this intense and genuine voice wasn’t quick and easy. “When you come out and you’re rapping at a young age, it just seems like you’re supposed to rap about glorifying things that might not be true,” he says. “Like, I used to rap about killing people, drugs. In a really cool way. But it wasn’t honest.” That honesty prevailed in part due to aforementioned artistic influence, but also as a result of DoLA’s place of employment in Jacksonville.

“At the time I started working on Chapter 1, I was working at a group home for boys for about a year,” he explains. “It was just a job that I got by chance, and it honestly ended up being one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. I went through some crazy shit there, to the point I’ve had to call the police on kids trying to kill other kids. I’ve walked in on a kid with a plunger in his butt. I’ve been through some shit growing up, but I’ve never been anything like that. I’ve never seen kids who’ve been so fucked up, the things that’ve been done to them, and them doing it to themselves. I’ve seen them respond in the wrong way completely to people trying to correct them, people judging them, so I really try, in my music, to really highlight my faults, as opposed to the things that are great about me.”

DoLA - 1

It bears mentioning that most of DoLA’s music was first released the same year as Trayvon Martin’s killer was pronounced not guilty, the incident occurring only about two hours from Jacksonville. With the many, many instances of racially motivated violence within the past year, I was curious to get DoLA’s take on his music as a reaction, both the state-controlled violence of Ferguson, and his own personal experiences at home. For DoLA, though, music provides more of a necessary escape; it’s about balancing having a message with providing a sense of release.

“Honestly, I don’t feel like I touch on violence in my city too much because I want to keep people in an upbeat mood,” he says. “It can be depressing, and I don’t wanna bring people down, I want people to be enlightened. A song like ‘Salutations’, it’s so meaningful to me, but people can still have fun to it. And maybe in their spare time sit down and listen to it, get more of the message. But still have fun to the music that means so much more to me than just a song to have fun to. The violence in Jacksonville, in Florida in general, is just crazy… my friends will tell you, I don’t even watch fights on the Internet. I don’t get enjoyment out of that, it’s kind of sick. A lot of the shit I see every day, I don’t get super mad about, like police killing people. I know a lot of people killing each other. I have a friend, which is a reason I wrote the song ‘Unresponsive’… The day I did the show where Quan and Alex first saw me perform, the day afterwards I found out my friend got shot. And he’d never seen me perform, he was supposed to come to my first event. It wasn’t from police, it was just somebody from my neighborhood just drove by my grandparents’ store where my friend was at and lit the store up with a chopper and my friend was left crawling inside the store with his fucking intestines hanging out. I mean, I can be mad at all the white people in the world, but it’s not about that, it’s about violence in general. It’s a bigger problem.”

A few days later at Paper Box, I sit and chat with DoLA and the team while Quan sets up. For them, it’s the end of a long tour of ups and downs, their first big foray into the national hip-hop community. It didn’t catch the eye of a rich angel investor, they’re still going to go back to Florida to grind out for as long as they have to. But they did it, they made their contacts, and they’ll do it again. And when Quan gets going—dropping tracks from Jacksonvillians up here in Brooklyn—DoLA and Eddy are on stage with all the other Floridians that have come out to see them. In that moment, being the biggest rapper, having the most money, having a record deal didn’t seem to be on anyone’s mind. It was three friends from North Florida, able to play music for a crowd thousands of miles from their home.

Finally, DoLA and Eddy both took the stage. I hadn’t even known of Eddy rapping up until this point, but his energy was tangible, and the crowd took notice. Finally, in the sweaty little Paper Box on a hot June night, DoLA thanked everyone for coming out, and proceeded to deliver four tracks with the intensity of someone who’s now made music their sole means of survival. The sound was awful; the people didn’t know what to think of this virtually unknown artist ripping it up. But then he thanked everyone for coming out again, fell into hugs and daps from friends, and that was it. A few other artists performed, but I didn’t catch it. I was too busy standing with DoLA and the crew on Meadow Street, listening to them plot their next moves. Kooker’s Park and Rec, out later this year. - Impose Magazine (Brooklyn)

""The Squeeze" with DoLA"

Jacksonville can be a rugged place; it’s the largest city in the United States, with over 840 square miles of land. Off rip, most people would be quick to dismiss the Northern Florida city’s music scene, especially for Hip Hop. That is, if they have yet to discover Jacksonville’s very own DoLA: a rising 24-year-old rapper who released an impressive debut album entitled Ch. 1 Night Vision.

Citrus Rap strives to bring the people fresh original content. In this instance, not only do we have an exclusive interview with DoLA, but him and his management team have been gracious enough to allow us to premiere his first single of 2015, entitled “What Now??” (Prod. Eddy Braveaux).

photo 1

How was your come-up as a kid? You mentioned your father exposing you to hip hop and your mother encouraging your writing. Elaborate on that, and some of early signs indicating that you would eventually become a rapper.

Growing up, my dad was really into hip hop. He showed me Jay-Z and Nas early on, but my mom bought also me a DMX CD in 5th grade, and I would eventually go back and listen to all the other albums. I had a cousin, about 10 years older than me, named Giraud. He was the coolest nigga in the world to me because he could do backflips and he rapped. I was probably around 6 years old around him when I wrote my first rap. I remember years later, after graduating high school with my friend who was about to join the military, we came home from the strip club and he told me to start writing raps. After that, he told me I had a gift and needed to take it more seriously. So I moved from Jacksonville to Atlanta in 2008, but It didn’t work out and moved back to Jacksonville, then back to Atlanta again in 2011. This time, I was able to meet some people, but, life situations got in the way and brought me right back to Jacksonville. This provoked a brief epiphany to stay in Jacksonville and start my own movement right from home, somewhere no one really knows about. Now that I have my feet planted out here in the scene, I’m definitely working on going to Atlanta again to finish what I started out there, but I still want to continue to hold my city down.

Have you always lived in Jacksonville, if so, what about the city has changed in front of your eyes that comes sort of as a shock to you?

Yes, and one particular event that showed me potential in Jacksonville was when we had the Super Bowl there. I wasn’t even living there at the time, but I went to visit, and it was a lot different. There was so much more going on with nightlife, when the city used to shut down after 2am or earlier. From then I saw a lot more people working together to make things happen in the downtown area. We have this event called One Spark that has a lot of notoriety nationally, and I took part in that and did probably 11 shows in that 4-day period.

You had shows of yours get shut down for violence in Jacksonville. That’s obviously not a Jacksonville thing, but certainly an urban one. How does that make you feel, and what instances have you personally seen in which there have been issues with the police?

In any urban area, you always have to worry about your safety at night. I wasn’t surprised to see my shows shut down due to fights, because you can’t always control who gets allowed into the shows, and anything can happen. As far as police, I’ve been lucky to stay on the better side of things. But I remember when I was young, like 7 years old, and they came into my grandma’s house and whooped my uncle’s ass…like, beat this nigga’s ass! …just because he fit a description of a suspect, but it ended up being someone completely different. I’m not surprised about the police corruption because I’ve been exposed to it.

Wow, sorry about your Uncle, man. I can only imagine, when you reside in an urban area with rich southern roots, racism is something you deal with on more than just one occasion. What are your feelings towards racism in your area? Can you recall any particular event in your life in which you witnessed it first hand?

Yea, especially in the north side of Jacksonville, like Oceanway: a predominantly country area full of people who go hunting and shit, and they aren’t too fond of the gentrification of the different races moving into their area. There’s always been racial conflict in schools too. One of my high schools made the news when I was there because someone hung a black doll in a noose from a tree. You can’t live in fear and let that affect your everyday life, though.

Connecting with your music, you have alluded to wildlife, animals, and so forth. Where does that come from, is it a metaphor for Jacksonville being a jungle?

It’s more so a metaphor for the way I view the world. [I view] my surroundings (including people) as just wild. An animalistic perspective. I put out a song called “Raised By Wolves” and that’s a metaphor for my parents being pretty young raising me and my sister. Like, kinda, not ready. I say [in the song] “one day my father told me it’s okay to be a thug”. I talk to my father about this all the time. One day my dad was a truck driver, I was in 6th grade, we were driving and he asked me if I was a thug, and I said “no”. And he said “why not?” and I really didn’t have an answer. He told me it was okay, I could be a thug if I want to.

That’s pretty interesting. So was your father, in a way, encouraging you to thug out?

My father kinda grew up on the rougher end. He was a drug dealer for some part of his life so I don’t feel like he was encouraging me to deal drugs, but more so encouraging me to hold my own because he understood me. I was always one of the smallest niggas in my class, and in any predominantly black school, if you were a light-skinned nigga, niggas gon’ try you. I didn’t have a brother, so my dad wanted me to hold it down, like if I had to walk up to the biggest nigga and bust him in the head just to let people know not to fuck with me, then that’s what I had to do and that’s kind of always how my father encouraged me.

Can you tell us about your music’s subject matter and give us some insight into some other subject matters you have yet to touch on in your music thus far?

I try not to be so directly in cahoots with what goes on in the industry, because it doesn’t apply to my life too much. I live, pretty much, a normal life so I want to relate to normal people. I don’t want to fabricate anything in my music. I feel like, on my last album, I spoke a lot on the starving artist struggle and the natures of who I am based on who my parents are, or who I am in spite of who they are. Mostly, I want to touch on subject matters that are going to be able to help young men, because that’s really what my aim is. I used to work in a foster home, and that has really inspired a lot of my music lately.


Ch. 1 Night Vision is your debut release. Was it important to you to release it with any hype or was it more of a stepping stone/therapeutic release?

Initially, when I first started, I wanted to have hype around me before I dropped it because I didn’t want to say so much that was built up over the years and then have nobody get to hear it. But it got to the point where it felt like I needed to experience putting out a project, and I had so many songs recorded, so I put the fire under myself.

One aspect of your style in this album that stuck out to me when listening to it, is your experimentation with flows. You do not seem afraid to take risks with them. Where does that derive from?

It comes from me growing up listening to a lot of music. My dad is one of my biggest critics, and before the internet was around, he knew what good music was and who was hype. He knew what people were going to get on. I listen to his opinions and keep them in mind when making music. I listen to people’s opinions on other artists, and people complain that their flows never change. I make music for myself, but at the same time if I’m selling it, I have to entertain and be entertaining in some sense.

There is something about a rapper’s first project that makes him or her bring some of their best material. Is this true for you?

I don’t think that’s true for me because before I dropped my first project, I constructed it and made so many songs that could have been the first project, but a lot of them didn’t end up making it because I wanted to save them for future projects. I wanted to spread it out so that people don’t just experience one side of me. A time-lapse of my life, instead of just one era.

You had the privilege of performing not only as a featured opening act next to some national headliners, but in areas outside of Jacksonville. How important is that to you, and can you recall anything in particular from doing so that has affected your game?

It’s definitely been my favorite part. I always think of my dad when performing. He told me that he wouldn’t pay to see Jay-Z live and watch him stand around and rap. He said one of his favorite concerts was Goodie Mob, and talked about how entertaining they were. I take that into consideration. I try not to be a fanboy, and I’m sometimes standoffish, but I’ve gotten some advice from people like Key, who is a very humble individual. He gave me some good advice. Blu gave me a little advice, but he was pretty stoned, haha! Denzel Curry gave me mad props after watching my set at my first performance in Miami. That was definitely one of the highlights of last year.

I have personally seen you perform alongside some acts that are so far left of what you are doing and what you sound like. Knowing that ahead of time, do you make any adjustments?

I try to, because I know the fanbase is different. I don’t ever change lyrics, but I had songs lined up for the Two-9 show that I definitely didn’t play at the Blu show, you know what I’m saying? At the end of the day, people appreciate a good performance, regardless of demographics.

Discuss your relationship with Apply Pressure, the management company that has been backing you for quite some time.

Everything has been so organic. They saw my set at my One Spark event, and approached me about doing more, and getting shows outside of Jacksonville. With them, I’ve been doing more shows and getting the type of exposure that most artists would usually have to pay or sell tickets for, so it’s been great.

Tell us about the new Single, “What Now” (Prod. Eddy Braveaux).

It’s called ‘What Now’ because it’s really about growing up, and the mysteries that live on the other side of that threshold the takes you from boy to man.

Lastly, discuss some of the future events/plans.

If anyone tells you Ch. 2 is dropping soon, they’re lying. But I will promise you this: We’re working on some stuff. Hopefully more shows! - Citrus Rap (Florida)



Jacksonville’s DoLA is one of the most up and coming artists in Florida. His musical content, work ethic, show history and online #’s back this up 100%

Since linking up with Apply Pressure in early 2014, DoLA has done an extensive amount of regional shows with artists like KEY! , Post Malone, Father/Awful Records, Denzel Curry, Robb Bank$, Black Kray, Casey Veggies, Two-9, Worlds Fair, BLU, MetroBoomin, Yung Simmie and many more. These shows & more also happen to be events booked by Apply Pressure in different markets throughout Florida & the South.

To this date there are only 15 DoLA songs that have been made public.
The first 10 songs are his debut project, “Ch. 1 Night Vision” which released in September of 2014 and was very well received regionally. His most popular songs from it are in the 10,000-15,00 plays range.

We released 4 songs in 2015 began and all those have broke the 10,000 plays range on soundcloud

"What Now" is DoLA's standout single of 2015 with over 42,000 plays

DoLA's sophmore EP is scheduled to release in late February of 2016.

The 5 track EP is produced by TeamSesh producer GhostnGhoul. On 12/18/2015 we released the lead single "Endor" out of nowhere without any kind of premiere or promo just to see how it would do since its been 7 months since DoLA's last release & it did 5000 plays in just over a week. 

Be on the lookout for BETTER/\/3D on CD, Vinyl and all major online music streaming platforms!

Band Members