The Stories Behind DJ Deadeye’s “Substance Abuse”

DJ Deadeye makes no apologies for saluting traditional East Coast boom bap. In fact it’s quite the opposite sentiment, as, along with ST. da Squad affiliates like Termanology, the Lawrence-bred vinyl sensei and beatmaker has ushered unapologetic, lyric-heavy hip-hop back into the forefront. His seven-years-in-the-making debut, Substance Abuse, is a throwback of sorts in that Deadeye took the time and energy to unite more than 30 MCs and a dozen co-producers for a stew of thoughtful, thematic blacktop bangers.

In curating his spread, Deadeye looked to emblematic examples of mixtape mastery along the lines of DJ Clue’s Def Jam releases and the Tony Touch LP classic, The Piece Maker. Like Touch and Clue, he’s dropped a slew of mixtapes, and stockpiled his heaviest heat for the big moment. Sure – DJ Khaled still runs with the classic formula, as do a select number of commercial-minded tastemakers. Nonetheless, Deadeye is the anomaly who keeps it close to the street, and who rarely veers off of the Atlantic. We met up with him around Fenway to get some background on his long-awaited smorgasbord.

01. Substance Abuse (feat. Gauge / Termanology)

This is the lead-in track for a reason. The first joint made for the project, Deadeye snagged the drums from producer Arabian Night in 2004, right around the time that Knight was living here in Boston, recording with the Kreators, and smoking the legendary GZA joint, “Breaker Breaker.”

02. Get Out Our Way (feat. Ea$y Money / Ghetto / Reks / Superstah Snuk)

Looking to J. Cardim for a cinematic backdrop (that dates back to 2005), here Deadeye and some Lawrence comrades reach for the stars, with Ea$y Money (formerly Ed Rock) flashing his vocal range on the hook. Ghetto, Reks, and Snuk commence with major mic theatrics.

03. Hispanic Mechanic (Skit)

“My father’s a hispanic mechanic, and Term’s dad is a hispanic mechanic,” says Deadeye, “so that was that. They’re all crazy old school dudes who work hard – it just made sense.”

04. Wild Puerto Ricans (feat. Tony Touch / Termanology / Ea$y Money)

Originally an exclusive for Deadeye’s debut, this Tony Touch blessing wound up dropping on Termanology’s Time Machine project first. “It was popping so hard that I just let him hold it for the mixtape.”

05. Favorite Town (feat. Geechi Suede / Steele / Esso / Ali Vegas / Trife Diesel)

A salute to Deadeye’s favorite metropolis to visit, this one features an MC from every borough (Trife’s verse is particularly fresh). “I picked dudes who could hold it down,” says Deadeye, “Esso is an up-and-coming dude from Harlem, and you know who the rest of them are.”

06. Had It Comin’ (feat. Big Shug / Freddie Foxxx / Panchi (NYG’z))

“Victory, who’s my dude from 978, has had this beat forever, just chilling,” says Deadeye. “It was time to pull it out…This shit is hard to say the least.”

07. M.A.N.Y. Styles (feat. Kay R / Larry Cheeba / Famoso / Artisin / Sha Stimuli)

With an assist from Larry Cheeba, a Worcester vet who used to rock as L da Headtoucha, Deadeye used this platform to showcase slept-on talent. “These are dudes who I know who are ill, and who haven’t gotten the shine that they deserve,” he says. “I also wanted to make the connection between Mass and New York – they’re closer than most people think.”

08. I’m Gonna Make It (feat. Kali / Willie The Kid / Young Vaughn / Jon Hope)

The most geographically diverse cut on the project, this J. Cardim ringer reaches all the way from Providence to Los Angeles for some pimped out, Shaft-ready rhyme wreckage. “There’s no denying that we usually keep it close to the East Coast,” says Deadeye, “but nobody can deny that I know where the talent is from all over the country.”

09. Bang!!! (feat. Lunox / Clip / Singapore Kane / H Blanco)

Deadeye’s been stashing this militaristic MGI & Goodwill heater for half-a-decade, but feels confident in its evergreen aesthetic. “It’s on some old school Prodigy shit,” he says. “I also knew I wanted Lunox on the hook – his voice is crazy, it was perfect for this.”

10. Livin’ Lost (feat. Slaine / Esoteric / Krumbsnatcha / Ea$y Money)

“Slaine came through and was the first one to rap on it, and he spit this insane verse about his life being fucked up and shit,” remembers Deadeye, who has a video dropping for this soon. “At the end of the verse, he said “living lost,” so that was the name of the song – it fit.”

11. Just In Case (feat. Chaundon / O-Dash / Big Pooh)

“Chaundon is a mad funny dude,” says Deadeye. “I met him on tour, and we said we had to do something. The track is about how if this rap shit doesn’t work, niggas is going to go back to what they were doing before.”

12. We Run It (feat. ST. Da Squad)

“This is kind of like our street anthem, but it has kind of a clubby vibe,” says Deadeye. “It’s a little bit different from what people have heard from us before.”

13. Showtime (feat. Termanology / Superstah Snuk)

“They go at it in the lab together,” says Deadeye of the deadly ST. da Squadrons. “They go back and forth on this whole song, complementing the shit out of each other.”

14. Intermission (feat. Cormega)

“Mega’s just cool man,” says Deadeye. “He’s a cool ass dude – I saw him at the 1982 release party at S.O.B.’s in New York, told him I needed him on this, and he made it happen.”

15. The Law (feat. Lunox / Hectic / Sonic / Ghetto)

“That song is totally about Lawrence,” says Deadeye. “It starts out with a robbery, and with me on the street hustling. It’s basically a 978 story, so everyone on there is from Lawrence.”

16. Un-Cut (feat. Craig G. / Mr. Cream / Checkmark / Blacastan / Lord Nez / Reef the Lost Cauze)

“J. Ferra who produced this – I never knew much about him, but I’m friends with his manager,” says Deadeye. “I was looking for cats in the Bean who had fire, and he had fire…I saw Craig G at the Knitting Factory when Statik spun for Consequence and Kanye, and we chopped it up. The joint is kind of like a boxing match with dudes just going in. Everybody kills their shit on this one…Mr. Cream, by the way, is Redman’s cousin – the dude sleeping on the floor in that episode of MTV “Cribs”.

17. Blood Brothaz Pt. 2 (feat. ST. Da Squad)

“The first version of this, which also had a Moss beat, was on the [Commonwealth Records release] A Boston State of Mind Volume 2,” says Deadeye. “This is a completely different beat – the first one is more RZA-esque, while this one is more Premo-esque.”

18. Girl Interrupted (feat. Termanology / Skyzoo)

Deadeye puts this one simply: “Anyone who’s ever head these guys separate and on their own knows why I had to put them together.”

19. The Storm (feat. Hectic / Clip / Ea$y Money / Letia Larock)

“This one has a bluesy kind of feel to it,” says Deadeye. “It’s about repenting for your sins, and talking to God. We did this in 2009, and we got Letia to do the hook with this other singer named Jazz.”

20. My Addiction (feat. Nash / Donny Goines / Ea$y Money / Nick Javas)

“This is just about being addicted to certain things, whether you realize it or not,” says Deadeye. “Nash is my dude from Philly – a singer and producer with million-dollar hooks. Nick Javas is Premo’s main artist – a white dude from New Jersey. He’s a good dude, and he does a great job outside of his element here.”

2 Responses to “The Stories Behind DJ Deadeye’s “Substance Abuse””

  1. sippa Says:

    “the Lawrence-bred vinyl sensei and beatmaker”

    farone are u fucking serious?

    vinyl sensei?

    wut tha fuck is wrong with you?

    how can any of u fgts that know and hang around with this kid actually stand him?

  2. wite Says:

    face lookin like a worn out catchers mit

Leave a Reply