King Dylan dishes out a royal dose of alternative hip-hop [Interview/Article]
Calgary, AB – There’s virtually nothing that local rapper Dylan Roberts, better known as King Dylan, hasn’t dabbled in. He has taken ballet lessons, trained for professional speed-skating, and holds a communications major and arts minor from the University of Calgary. This ambitious regime translates into everything the king reigns over—hip-hop included. The self-described “alternative rapper” plays piano and bass guitar, while contributing his own lyrics and vocals to his tracks. “I want to try new things. I don’t want to be doing the same rap song over and over again,” said Roberts, admitting that he recently picked up music production and has decided to teach himself the guitar. He also does a killer freestyle to Andre Nickatina’s “Ayo For Yayo.”
It’s a Friday afternoon in downtown Calgary, and the coffee shop is packed. “That is so hipster,” says Roberts. He’s referring to the junior-sized glass bottle of Coke that the barista has just handed him. His face breaks into a smile—ear to ear—and his eyes light up as an infectious laugh erupts from his lungs. It’s evident that the reviews of Roberts’ latest album have it all wrong—King Dylan is anything but depressed.
His latest album and debut EP release Looking For the Sun was released in March of this year. While the album touches on darker subjects (the King admits that “Blind Man” was written following a feud with one of his long-time friends), it still manages to embody Roberts’ upbeat, borderline-infectious listenability. “I don’t need anyone to tell me if I’m happy or sad,” says Dylan. “I know when I’m sad. I write songs.” Tracks like “Queen” appeal to the lustful twenty-somethings still conquesting to end their singlehood, while others like “Shine Bright” are genuinely catchy pump-up tunes.
Roberts grew up in small-town northern Alberta in a tiny hamlet called Wabasca. Roberts’ parents were teachers on the native reserve and had a strong aversion to television. Roberts and his siblings grew up playing outside without technology and listening to cassette tapes of children’s entertainer Raffi. However, Roberts has fond memories of rapping along to his brother’s bootlegged Young MC and Fresh Prince of Bel Air tapes.“He also brought me Motley Crue,” Roberts adds.”[It] was equally as awesome at the time.” These early musical influences are unmistakable in King Dylan’s music, which boasts an all-embracing mix of mellow keyboard ballads, angst-ridden raps and rhymes, and poppy choruses.
Although Roberts is most well-known around the city for his ambitious 10@10 performances and novice coffee house sets, he recently made a jaunt to Toronto for the annual Canadian Music Week to network and perform for a fresh fan-base. Roberts also recently received $15,000 through Calgary’s AMP Radio Rockstar contest and has seven full-length, self-produced albums under his belt. While the King is settling down for the next while, he will be trying his hand at production and intends to begin work on his next music video. In the meantime, check out his music video for “Blind Man” and hit him up on Twitter to see what he is up to.
Twitter | @TheRealKingDyl