DoppleGangsta rappers bring ‘Myrtle Beach’ and more to the masses
By Steve Wildsmith (email@example.com)
The enigmatic nature of local hip-hop duo DoppleGangsta stretches beyond the rhymes.
On the surface, the guys – Lil’ Lord Faulteroy and Reginald Birch — seem like a pair of merry pranksters, their earnest declarations of rap mastery bordering on the ridiculously sublime. They’re vague about their backgrounds but drop enough references to specific East Tennessee locales — places like Los Amigos in Maryville — to raise eyebrows. They spend five minutes talking about how they have nothing in common outside of a studio, rarely hang out together and honestly can’t stand one another — “except,” Faulteroy adds, “we’re also best friends.”
And an initial listen to the two songs DoppleGangsta has released so far (three, counting a recent track cracking on the book and film franchise known as “Twilight”) can elicit a smirk and a casual dismissal as the product of hipster white boy goof rap.
But as with everything DoppleGangsta does, there’s more to what’s on the surface than meets the eye. How else can the overwhelming popularity of the duo’s summer party anthem “Myrtle Beach Ya’ll” be explained?
“From what they’ve told us at WUTK (FM, 90.3 “The Rock,” the University of Tennessee campus radio station), when they play our song, they continually get requests for other songs while the song is still playing,” Faulteroy told The Daily Times this week. “We’re gonna give you the stock answer we give every journalist — basically, we had not heard a proper summer anthem since Tag Team’s ‘Whoomp! There It Is’ in 1993.
“Well … maybe, if you’re going to split hairs, ‘Miami,’ by Will Smith. But we decided to write a song about the greatest place on earth, literally — Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.”
It’s a wickedly funny tribute to that popular East Coast destination and all of its wacky, tacky, Gatlinburg-by-the-sea splendor and includes shout-outs to such things as feral cats, Black Biker Week and “green ocean sludge.” Again with the enigma — it sounds like the boys are poking fun, but in regaling the wonders of the Grand Strand, they refuse to be anything but deadly serious.
Ditto for their own career, although both admit they didn’t think they had a future in the hip-hop game, at least in the beginning.
“Honestly, we thought five people — like, our closest friends — would think it was funny, and then we would get bored with it,” Faulteroy said.
“We started doing it for fun and were having a good time and had a lot to express,” Birch added. “We didn’t think anyone would take it seriously, but then it went to another level.”
The first song the duo wrote, according to Faulteroy, was a freestyle rhyme that has yet to see the light of day titled “Why My Car Say Wash Me?” The second was an ode to women with large posteriors, particularly the ladies who make biscuits at Cracker Barrel – the pair’s favorite restaurant. They actually recorded the song, they claim, over the course of several days in the gift shop of a Cracker Barrel in Nebo, N.C.
“People would call and request that song at radio stations around town, and they would think it was a prank call,” Faulteroy said. “Especially stations that consider themselves legitimate hip-hop. They hang up on them.”
That was no deterrent, however, to the greatness to come. The duo have a method to their madness — sitting with an instrumental loop for hours at a time, no talking allowed, as a timer counts down to zero. Once the alarm goes off, they burst into a cacophony of rhymes untethered by conventional constraints, and whatever works is kept.
So far, the strategy seems to be working. This weekend, DoppleGangsta will perform as part of the WUTK “Exam Jam” concert on Saturday night, bringing to the stage the sound and fury not just of themselves, but the newly minted local hip-hop collective of which they’re now a part – Magic Hu$tle Entertainment. It’s a cooperative that teams up DoppleGangsta with Lil’ iFFy, the Harry Potter rapper profiled in this section last month, and it’s just the beginning, the guys claim.
“We just try to keep up with our contemporaries,” Birch said. “To be better than your contemporaries, you’ve got to be better than yourself. I think Will Faulkner said that once.”