Figuring out and staying true to your identity is a sentiment most creatives can appreciate. The process of carving one’s path and sticking to it takes a determined mind and a large amount of effort. For an artiste like Dede Speaks, the process of finding self is a journey and her debut  EP ‘Tribal Marks‘ is the first step in toward self discovery.

Dede Speaks is a spoken word poet and musician concerned with reproducing art that is ‘most authentic to self’. In 2020, Dede rapped on PKT Lagie’s funk filled “Ya Don’t Know”, a feel good track on ignoring the naysayers in your life and pursuing your goals. Carrying forth that feeling to 2021, Dede is taking charge of her destiny and sharing more of herself with the world through her debut EP ‘Tribal Marks’. Dede  shared, ‘Tribal Marks is a six track EP that sheds light on who I am, what I want,and what I feel.’

On the lead single Kae, the versatile singer shares defiant assertions on valuing herself and her desires above everything else, especially toxic relationships that no longer affirm her. Lyrics like ‘rest in peace to the old me, I’m dead and gone now you want to say you know me’ speak to emotional breakthrough and letting go over a stripped production by producer 2shuus. Dismissing a love that is self sacrificial, Kae is a song that affirms anyone that has been stuck in an unhealthy situation that no longer serves them. To find out more about what identity and acceptance means to Dede,  she was asked 8 questions centered around her craft and who she is. 

You call your new EP ‘Tribal Marks’ “a mark of identification”, Who does Dede Speaks identify as?

Dede Speaks identifies as a musician and creative. I am allowing myself to be true to my feelings and what I want to do, in the hopes of creating music that is original to self and my sound.

Can you tell us more about the sounds and narratives can we expect from Tribal Marks? What are some of the moments explored on the tape?

As far as the sound, Tribal Marks contains a blend of hip hop, drill, and afro elements. In working with my producer 2shuus, we wanted to experiment with sounds and creating something a bit different to the ear. I wanted to channel all my pent-up energy into something, and Tribal Marks was it. I was going through a lot of emotions from doubting my relationships to feeling unappreciated in all my efforts in life. So if you listen closely, I speak a lot about finding yourself amid various situations, like in the midst of love and rejection.

What inspires you to create music? How has being a spoken word poet helped you with your music?

Wanting to express my feelings openly is what got me into creating music and even writing poetry. In my personal life, I am terrible at speaking up about how I feel especially if the person is close to me, but when I write nothing holds me back from being honest. Starting with Spoken word has helped me to be conscious of my thoughts and the messages I am conveying in my music.

How have you balanced making music with other parts of your life?

Honestly, no not yet. I think that balance will come with a lot of experience. I make time for my music but not in the way I would wish or would want.

What is your personal style like?

Fashion-wise: I am a tomboy who loves to beat her face. My whole style is centered around the word comfort and feeling confident. Naturally, I gravitate to the t-shirt, oversized blazers, and suits. There is just something about an oversized blazer that I love.

What are some musicians that inspire you?

First of all, I love Lauryn Hill, André 3000, FOKN Bois, and Wyclef. To me, these musicians embody a level of authenticity and originality that I hope my music also contains. But in the tape, you will hear influences from Daasebre Gyamenah, M.anifest, Chika, Michael Jackson. I love music and I listen to a variety of sounds.

What keeps you going?

I really don’t know. There have been many times that I told myself that I am done, but something will happen that forces me to start creating. For example, I was in the mindset of I am done, when 2shuus reached out to me with a beat pack. From that beat pack and my emotions, birthed my first single Kae. So to be honest, I don’t know what keeps me going, but if I had to say, I guess signs from the universe and God keep me going.

What’s the next steps from Dede Speaks?

The pandemic has given me time. The time I didn’t have at first. I now have time to create and become dedicated to my music. The next step for me is consistency. I want to put out music consistently and develop a solid fan base. I am still experimenting with various sounds and genres so expect different sounds from me this year.

For Dede Speaks, music is a form of self expression and a tool to navigate all that she encounters in life. For a lot of creatives, the craft starts off as a personal experiment in discovering themselves and their POV. Familiarize yourself with Dede now.

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