Metro Times: What have the past few weeks been like for you on a personal level?
House Shoes: A roller coaster ride, baby. I'm good, man. I went on the whole journey from the highest to the lowest and back up again. I was out in New York for Dilla's release party having a good time.
Waajeed [of the Platinum Pied Pipers] played four hours of Dilla, it was beautiful. The next day, I copped the album, and Waajeed called me a few minutes later and told me that Dilla was gone. It was like having my heart ripped out. That was probably the first vacation I've taken not working or DJing, but just chilling in a long time. I ended up having to change my plans and fly out directly to L.A. for the funeral.
MT: How have you been dealing with the loss of such a close friend?
House Shoes: I've been drinking a lot lately. That's how I'm handling it. I actually blacked out the night of the funeral. It's hard. The night of the funeral out in L.A., I went to 7-Eleven to get some cigarettes and came back with 25 packs of Hostess donuts and was throwing 'em at people. Like, "these are from Dilla." I've also been hitting up Platinum [Detroit strip club] a lot too. That's the way Dilla would have wanted it.
MT: Do you have fond memories from your time spent in Los Angeles at the funeral with all of Dilla's friends?
House Shoes: Yeah, actually I do. Erykah Badu walked past me outside of the funeral, and I never met Erykah before in my life, and she was like, "Hey, Shoes." Like she was from Detroit or some shit. It was crazy. Plus one of those nights, we had a bunch of Detroit motherfuckers up at a club and the DJ was supposed to be doing some Dilla tribute or some shit. Whatever! I was real drunk. This was one of the nights that I blacked out, but I just walked up to the DJ booth, serious as hell, and was like, "Dilla wants me to play some records." And the dude just stepped out of the DJ booth. I could literally feel Dilla telling me to get up there and do my thing, so I did.
MT: ?uestlove of the Roots recently said that seeing you at Dilla's funeral dressed in jeans and a T-shirt made him feel a lot more comfortable. What made you go to Jay Dee's service so lax?
House Shoes: I was in New York on vacation when I found out that Dilla passed. I flew directly out to L.A. and didn't have no clothes to wear outside of that. But really, Jay didn't give a fuck. A funeral ain't a fashion show, it's about respect.
MT: Do you hold harsh opinions against the radio stations here in Detroit or feel that they didn't support Jay Dee properly?
House Shoes: Detroit missed out on the whole Jay Dee generation. The music that people fiend for worldwide was made right here in Detroit and most radio DJs still wouldn't play it. It pisses me off the man had to die to get his fucking songs played on the radio. Me and Phat Kat were up at WJLB last week doing an interview and the fucking program director, KJ Holiday or whatever the fuck his name is didn't even recognize half of Dilla's music that was played. He didn't even recognize Phat Kat's "Destiny" and the song is two years old!
Those radio cats are completely responsible for people in Detroit's ignorance about Dilla's music. The dude was a Grammy Award-winning producer from Detroit and people in his own hometown didn't know who he was. That's sad to me.
MT: What reactions do you see in Detroit's hip-hop community now that Dilla has joined the ancestors?
House Shoes: It's definitely gonna be a unifying point, we'll see how long it lasts though. You know how Detroit is, man. Ain't shit changed.
MT: You've been saying for a while that you're leaving Detroit and moving on to another city. Is it true?
House Shoes: Yeah, man, I'm moving to L.A. in July.
MT: What prompted your decision?
House Shoes: I've been doing this shit for 12 years, playing good music for the same people in the same city. I've got people to educate now. I'm going out there to strengthen the platform here in Detroit. I've basically done everything I can do for Detroit hip hop. So I'm gonna get out there to Cali and just rep Detroit 100 percent.
House Shoes: I'm going to lock down two to three weeklies, a couple of monthlies, my MP [drum machine] is back on and I'm about to start doing beats again. Right now, I feel more determined than I've ever been. I'm going to be 31 years old in March. As far as rap goes, I only got so much time. But it's like, since Jay passed, this shit is personal now. I'm about to be a bigger piece of the machine that keeps his legacy alive.Jonathan Cunningham is a freelance writer. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org