Weekender

Rapper Count Bass D’s new album a reflection of his evolution

Count Bass D will perform on Friday at the Bremen Town Ballroom in Millheim.
Count Bass D will perform on Friday at the Bremen Town Ballroom in Millheim. Photo provided

Longtime rapper/producer Count Bass D will perform at 8 p.m. on Friday at the Bremen Town Ballroom in Millheim.

Count Bass D, real name Dwight Farrell, has been making music his entire life.

“I first got into music from being the son of my father, who was a preacher,” Farrell said. “And so, my exposure to music was through gospel music. I never sang in the choir; we didn’t really have a choir like that. My parents are from the Caribbean so it’s not really church like it is for black American families. The church music from down there sounded almost like calypso music. I kind of got into music that way. But, after we migrated to America, I started to see more of the black American style of gospel. I really got into that. That’s how I began with music.”

The young musician found rap in high school.

“I didn’t really know that I wanted to be a rapper until I was about 16 or 17,” he said. “I was in high school. My musical journey has gone very far and wide as far as being exposed to classical music and things like that. At that point, I was going to boarding school and had a lot of emphasis on music. I went to music camps and things of that nature. When I saw the Digable Planets come out, I saw an angle as far as to be Count Bass D and bridge my musical background with my hip-hop background. My life had been parallel with hip-hop the entire time. My musical path had been parallel with hip-hop the entire time just because of my age. That’s when I decided I wanted to get into rap.”

“Instantly New,” Farrell’s latest release, is a reflection of his natural evolution and a return to simpler times.

“My new album is a record that I worked on for about two years,” Farrell said. “After I got off of a tour in 2014, I started using some different modules and some more modern tools to make music. I decided I wanted to make a record that didn’t use any samples. I hadn’t made a vocal album in five years. So, it was time.”

Under his “Count Bass D” moniker, Farrell has released 16 studio albums and a plethora of other projects.

“If you take a look at my catalog, each album is pretty much all over the place,” said Farrell. “I’ll do it an entirely different way. I’ll learn a new machine, or I’ll learn a new digital audio workstation. Whatever it is, as I’m doing that, the learning curve usually brings a lot of new ideas. It always changes my sound. If I’m learning a new piece of equipment, I don’t have to worry about my sound getting stagnant because I’m learning something brand new.”

While Farrell has a large and eclectic musical background, he does not believe in labeling his music to any specific genre.

“I’m a musician. The ‘genre’ is only a marketing tool to decide who they can sell the music to,” said Farrell. “I allow whoever is putting music out, whether that’s myself, whatever, just depending on what I think it’s going to be closest to.”

Honest emotional content is the most important part of rap, Farrell said.

“With all of rap lyrics, coming up as underprivileged minority youth, there’s a lot of self-esteem issues,” Farrell said. “The lyrical content is something that we use in order to kind of break the fact that everywhere we go … you know, I’ve driven all over this country, and I’ve been stopped a few times for no reason. You rap and you say these things out of a lack of self-esteem. Everything is an approach to try to say something to make you feel better about yourself because of what I deal with on a day-to-day basis. At least, me personally. I can’t say this for all rap, obviously. You have to say something to really help yourself feel better about yourself. That’s where all the bragging and all these other types of things comes from.”

Farrell treads lighter through his lyrical content these days, making sure to keep his music open for everyone.

“It’s very hard to speak your mind in 2016,” said Farrell. “The punchlines and the witty things that we used to say in the ’90s and in the ’80s; you get beat up about it on social media these days. So, it takes a while to vet your own lyrics and make sure you’re not saying anything that’s going to distract people from the album.”

Extensive musical training sets Farrell apart from several other rappers and has solidified him as a great musician as well as a rapper. But, the M.C. believes that’s part of the draw.

“I mean, it’s a different world we live in,” Farrell said. “If I would’ve come up in the ’70s, and my music was coming out along Sly Stone, Earth, Wind & Fire or Prince or all of that, I wouldn’t be considered that kind of a musician. It’s pretty easy now that we’re in a different world. It’s mainly computer programmers out there now, and they do really great at that. I’m trying to get better at that. I worked so hard to be a great musician, and now I’ve got to work real hard to become a computer programmer.”

Farrell believes that music may not have the cultural impact it once did.

“It’s gonna die out,” Farrell said. “At this time, I don’t really even know if the people honestly even enjoy music anymore. It’s a situation where, in a lot of ways, people are more interested in a lot of the jokes that go around and the parodies. ... Music is more on the fringes. It’s getting harder, it’s getting a lot harder. But hell or high water, I’m gonna do what I do. Knowing how to really capture an audience and harness them and make that kind of a huge record — if it happens? Beautiful. But, unfortunately it’s not really something that I’m all that great at. Honestly, I just do what I do. I love doing it. It’s been second nature to me as far as I can remember. I was 4 years old when I started writing my first music. It’s just my life, man. It’s proven to be more loyal than any other thing that I’ve come across in this world. I’m gonna stay loyal to it until I’m out of here, I think.”

Ever humble, Farrell believes you should make up your own mind about coming out to his show Friday night.

“In these modern times, people have the ability to come and check me all the way out,” said Farrell. “If they feel like it’s something they want to see; great. But, at the same time, I don’t really have any superlatives to run around. I’m not really a salesman. I do what I do, and I think I’m pretty good at it at this point. But, it’s a matter of opinion.”

IF YOU GO

  • What: Rapper Count Bass D
  • When: 8 p.m. Friday
  • Where: Bremen Town Ballroom, 105 E. Main St., Millheim
  • Info: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2533666
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