In the world of music, the journey to the top is one that is difficult for most. The countless hours of being in the studio, promoting your sound, and trying to convince labels or listeners that you are the next big thing, can cause devastation, doubt and a rethinking of if the industry is truly meant for you. The case is not the same for Dustin Hulton and DeeRobes – also known as hip-hop duo, AfroWhitey. The two, whose name produces the exact mental picture that you are probably imagining, have defied the doubts and talk of naysayers while keeping their humbled nature in tact.
BRINK Magazine recently had the pleasure of catching up the unbelievably talented men of AfroWhitey as they let fans in on their personal lives, what they have in store for the future, their favorite albums and much, much more.
How did you two meet?
Dustin: We actually both teach music at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. We teach recording arts and all of the studio stuff [laughs].
So are you both from Florida?
DeeRobes: No, I’m from Ohio.
Dustin: I’m from Philly. I came down to Florida – I like the beaches [laughs].
[Laughs] Ahh, I see! How do your students react to you being a group?
Dustin: You know, we’re trying to let it grow organically and let everyone discover us. As the students come in now, they’ve already been passed the music. We get a lot of good feedback and it makes them a lot more attentive. Once they start asking questions, we just load ‘em up on music. We don’t try to open the class up with “Hey, this is what we do”.
Totally understandable. Where did the name AfroWhitey derive from?
Dustin: Funny story. I’m the white boy and he’s the black boy, but we have opposite roles. It’s an ironic twist on so many different levels [laughs].
DeeRobes: The Goddess of love is Aphrodite. We’re two homeboys making music and we have fun while doing it. So, the name came off of the sense of us doing what we love to do.
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard your music?
DeeRobes: If electronic and hip-hop had a baby, it would be one sexy little baby that popped out. Our albums are so broad in some cases. If you listen to our club tracks, it’s high intense and a lot of velocity. It has some R&B, some reggae and some rap. It all depends on what side of the coin you look at us first on. Our songs are not just hip-hop; they’re more like musical stories. When you press play, you’re gonna feel why it was made.
Who would you say have been some of your influences?
Dustin: From hip-hop, it would be OutKast and The Roots. For dance music, you got Nector and Rusko.
DeeRobes: They [OutKast] were two different people who made a different sound. It’s broad.
If you had to choose your Top 5 favorite albums collectively, what would they be?
All Eyez On Me 2Pac
The Wall Pink Floyd
One Love Bob Marley
What do you think sets you apart from artists now that would basically secure your longevity with your fans?
Dustin: I think we can appeal to going from rockin’ the stage at Ultra in Miami or something with a dance scene to going on a talk show and doing something more mainstream. I think we’ve got that variety versus a lot of bigger artists that are out. I feel like we can really be across the board and mix it up and do more to keep people interested while still keeping our original vibe.
As far as success, what do you consider it to be?
DeeRobes: I do think I’m successful. What I consider to be successful is being able to progress and grow and being able to have your family around you. Having cars, clothes and all of that with no family around, isn’t success to me. Being around Dustin and knowing he’s always going to be around me is success. As long as my family is around me and they’re there at all times - that makes me feel as if I’m successful. Doing what you love and having your family there to do it with.
Dustin: Success is how you make every day. I’ve been blessed with a beautiful wife and kids and they live well. I would like to provide the people who have less and make my family as comfortable as possible. If I’m able to take that stress off of people’s backs, then that’s success. Not having a selfish outlook makes me feel as if I’m successful every day.
What do you want you fans and potential fans to take away from your latest EP, ‘Out Here’ as well as your upcoming summer release?
Dustin: You know Love Shock, our last album, was more of an emotional experience. Like a more in-depth look at the whole love thing and I think that the new EP is geared a lot more towards having fun and the summer life.
Do you have a favorite song off of the ‘Out Here’ EP?
Dustin: Um, that’s kind of a tough one. They all have their own type of vibe to it. I think the first single on there is very, very unique so I would have to say “Vapors”.
What do you feel is next for you?
DeeRobes: Big time. Not sounding conceited, but I love what I do and I love what Dustin does. Working on my craft my freestyle and my singing – and looking at what’s being played. The industry has been headed this way for the longest. We’ve got a head on it. We can do the club scene and the album scene. Me and my homie, we’ve been blessed enough to be able to already do this. D has been DJ’ing in electronic music for 15 years. That’s a whole different ball game - when you’re doing this music, knowing that you have somebody to push you higher…I feel as if it’ll be a successful mainstream and underground market.
Dustin: I feel like what we’ve got is so organic. What’s next? I feel some major tours and merchandise and hopefully getting some sponsorship and really, really getting out there. I feel like we can do the BET Awards. I would like to incorporate more of a band idea. So yeah, hopefully, some big sponsorships and get the album out there and push it.
More on Afrowhitey here.
- Ni’Kesia Pannell