Dope $ociety Interview
by Matthew J
Tone, I want to start this interview by having you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us all a bit about Dope $ociety. What’s Dope Society? Who is in the group? What inspired its formation?
What’s up? My name is Tone. I am a creative kid from Toronto and a founder of the brand / collective D.O.P.E $ociety.
Dope $ociety is an art collective comprised of creative, outspoken and socially aware individuals. This conglomerate strives to encourage the public to think freely
Originally a couple of us met at a creative arts program called The Remix Project in Toronto. The rest of us skipped class during high school together and everything else manifested itself. What people may miss when they hear about the brand D.O.P.E. $ociety is that DOPE is actually an acronym for Dealers of Potent Expression. We play on the word DOPE in order to insight interest, and those who take the time to enjoy how we choose to express ourselves learn that this is a movement and a lifestyle. We are all dealers of potent expression and want to introduce to you our art that we hope will encourage others to do the same as well. D.O.P.E $ociety is a large family along with a diverse set of members, which includes; rappers Frederick Reginald, Redway, Fresco, Moses and Never. We also have Cristo Meth who is a producer, Buruk Early a photographer, and IrrLu a fashion designer. Aside from being a brand as well as a collective, D.O.P.E. $ociety is a movement and one that we hope will thrive.
Toronto seems to be going through a huge swing in terms of momentum; musically (Drake, WunderGirl, Weekend), athletically (The Raptors had a stellar season, last year), and yourself in design (DOPE SOCIETY is making waves). Now, everybody has an opinion as to what is causing all this, but I want to know do you think is the cause of this momentum? Is all of this new or have people been sleeping on Toronto? What would attribute to the collective, artistic boom?
Toronto and Canada as a whole have never been a topic of much debate, unless of course we’re speaking about Hockey. For many years Toronto has been over looked. When it comes to Hip Hop culture, compared to cities like: Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, Toronto has always been the perpetual little brother. Though the city has had a vibrant Hip Hop culture for some time now, we’ve never really had anything to “hang our hats on”. With that being said, this combustion of Toronto talent is no surprise. Toronto’s current movement is simply the product of years of being swept under the rug and virtually excluded from the Artistic community. It has definitely been a long time coming. With this recent surge of talent, it seems that the City as a whole has made a conscious effort to bring awareness to the creative minds that have been created from the diverse communities of the Screwface Capital (Toronto). Simply put, this is your classic underdog story.
Where do you hope to see Dope$ociety within the next five years? What are your short-term and long-term goals for the collective?
Dope $ociety, as whole is a forward thinking group that tirelessly searches for ways to improve and develop craft. Feeding the people with substance is a must. With that being said, some short term goals for the collective are as follows:
- The launch of of 2014 Summer D.O.P.E collection
- The second annual D.O.P.E event
- The release of Fredericks Reginald’s Debut Project: Nappy Headed
- The release of Red Way BLVD’s Debut Album: Years Ahead
- The first ever D.O.P.E Society Art Exhibit
At the end of the day we are chasing our dreams. D$ never loses the essence of why we are doing this and
we never lose sight of what we are striving to accomplish. Some of the long term goals for D$ are the following:
- Create a worldwide following.
- Bring awareness and truth to the people and hopefully start a revolution of some sort
- See that all members thrive within their crafts and accomplish what they have set out to do
- Expand D.O.P.E $ociety Clothing
- Expand as an art collective and add more creative minds to the Dope $ociety roster
How does Dope $ociety stand apart from other creative groups in Toronto and internationally? What do you feel makes your collective so unique?
Dope $ociety stands apart from other creative groups for a couple of reasons. The first reason is due to the fact that all of us were born and raised is in a City that is known to be a cultural and ethnic melting pot. Our multicultural surroundings definitely had an impact on how we view people of all shapes, sizes and colours. Torontonians have a very “down to earth” and open-minded personality, which is definitely exhibited within all aspects of our art. The second reason as to why D$ stands apart from other creative groups is because we strive to challenge the individual. D$ likes to provoke the audience. Dope $ociety challenges its audience to think rather than just confine to what is being given to them. We encourage free thought and self-expression to the upmost. Something else that sets D$ apart from other creative groups is that every single member contributes unique qualities to the movement. Diversity is what really allows us to create profound work. Every member is different; therefore creatively there is no boundary as to what we can give the world. We don’t have rules or restrictions. We create what we feel, not what we feel is acceptable or correct in this blind world.
In terms of artistry that goes into your work, where do you draw your inspiration from? What things inspire you to create and motivate you to push new boundaries?
In terms of inspiration, D.O.P.E $ociety pulls from life and society itself. Throughout this interview the idea of free thinking and freedom of speech were touched upon on various occasions. This is what inspires us
We seem to be living in a time and place where many of us have forgotten how to think. D$ is geared towards promoting the progression of the masses. We will cover the world in art, the world is our canvas and nothing will prevent us from spreading our message to the people.
Is it fair to say that underdog mentality (something you mentioned Toronto having, in a previous question), and the feeling to prove yourself are the main driving forces behind DOPE SOCIETY? How are you/your collective able to push yourselves through the frustrations which undoubtedly come from being overlooked? Some folks throw in the towel and quit … whereas you’re still progressing. What would you attribute to your resilience? How do you keep the motivational fires burning?
Yes, but that is not the only thing. The main drive behind this whole movement at the beginning was the want to be that ‘change’. And when I say change I mean, we want to inspire people with what we do in order to get them to question what it is that they are doing and to encourage them to be creative without fear. Many of us are put in positions where we stifle our creativity because it is permeated that in order to become successful you have to acquire a post-secondary education in the hopes of obtaining a job such as a doctor, or a lawyer etc. DOPE $OCIETY continually finds inspiration; we know that nothing in this life comes easy, so we find inspiration within ourselves and each other. We push ourselves collectively, through thinking outside of the box which helps with our growth. It is easy to find inspiration in our everyday lives, be it meeting new people, or hearing new music, seeing street art, or finding neighborhoods we have never been to. Basically no matter what the case is, the world keeps on moving with or without you. Change is a form of progression, and as the world changes we will change with it. We are our motivational fires, cause no matter what the situation we all believe in each other’s talent, so if one falls we all fall. And we will continue to do our best to work together and influence each other as much as possible. We are all resilient people, and quitting is not in our vocabulary.
Everybody draws inspiration form something/somebody, none of us are totally self-made. Who are some of the individuals that have inspired you – artistically?
That’s a hard question because there are so many people who inspire me. Just to name a few off the top of my head I would have to say 2Pac, Banksy, and James Redfield.
I first caught wind of DS from your BHM – Black History project, earlier this year. I’d like for you to tell me about that project and its importance to you. Obviously, it’s an important honor our ancestors, but I want to know why you chose this particular route to do so, and what motivated you to create that particular project, and choose those specific names you used?
I saw a post online, and it was so powerful. It was a picture of a bunch of slaves and they tried to make them seem intimidating, like they were these huge black guys. And there was a quote “when you have to face your ancestors in your after life, what will you have to show in return for what they have sacrificed for you”. When I saw that I was like “God damn”, it hit the nail on the coffin basically. I am pretty sure I did that, that same night and stayed up until like 4AM to finish it. Stuff like this, is the type of things that inspire us to create. When I saw how many hits it got on Tumblr, I was overwhelmed with gratitude because I know that it would inspire more people just the way that original post inspired me. With regards to the specific names I used, all of those individuals were inspirations to me at some point in my life, so it seemed only fitting.
Let’s wrap this up with some shout-outs. Is there anybody whom you want to show your respects to and give them props? Who would you like to thank?
I’ll keep this short and sweet, so I would definitely like to take this moment to shout-out, thank, and give love to ALL of DOPE$OCIETY, Redway, Deanna Simon, and I would like to give a personal shout-out to FRESCO P, stay up. Don’t forget to check out: www.dope-society.com