Soul Singer DirtyWhite
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Soul Singer DirtyWhite talks influences, NC BBQ and more

Reviews & Dunn – Growing up in North Carolina, when did you realize that you wanted to pursue a music career?

DirtyWhite – Ahhh….thinking back…probably when I started to realize my voice was a force to be reckoned with. I’d guestimate around the age of 16 or 17, probably maybe a little later. However, I didn’t begin to promote myself until probably 24 or 25 years old actively. Since then, things have progressed slowly but surely, and I’m proud of my management team of Shawn Bonner and Anthony Burkett, along with Tara Thomas, our promotions director, for helping bring me into the public eye as of recently. Also, a massive shout out to CBT Studios, founded by Young Will, myself, and Bobby Dollaz, for giving me a place to be creative and thrive.

Reviews & Dunn How did you come up with your stage name?

DirtyWhite – I used to work at a screen printing shop, Xpertees, in Castle Hayne, NC. My buddies who worked with me used to talk smack to me, and I’d talk back. Eventually, I gained a reputation for having a dirty mouth and always having something witty to say. One day Scott came up to me and asked me if I’d ever heard of the band Foreigner. They have a song called “DirtyWhite Boy,” which started playing on the radio that day. The entire shop began laughing and calling me DirtyWhite Boy. Eventually, we shortened it to Dirty White, and it stuck. Honestly, I wasn’t always the biggest fan of the moniker, but I got used to it and finally accepted it and began to form the brand around it.

Reviews & Dunn – Did you always intend to focus on R&B?

DirtyWhite – Absolutely not. When I first started stepping into studios at the age of 17, I was very much JUST a rapper. Due to my religious upbringing, I only used my singing voice for praise music. At 17 and 18, I wasn’t mature enough to marry those two concepts, my religious past, and my secular present. As time went along, though, people around me began to beg me for a singing project, and finally, in 2019, I obliged with my album “Call Me When You Get This,” and since then, pretty much the majority of my singles and projects have all featured singing in some way shape or form. Shout out to Coley Oh, Breeze Davis, Johnny Angus, Young Will, and all the other unnamed folks who encouraged me to showcase my singing voice.

Reviews & Dunn – What was the inspiration behind the title of your first EP?

DirtyWhite – My first public project was “Last Resort.”  It was a ten-song project produced by 3KubeOnTheBeat, Sleazy, and myself. Honestly, I never thought I’d release a primarily trap-based project, and this was a breath of fresh air to me, creatively. I was also feeling stifled in my current musical situation, so it felt appropriate to name it “Last Resort”/. Shout out to Mike Onwubuya for recording me, as we as LilEddAudio for the crisp vocal mix. There is lots of singing on this project, heavy-hitting bars, and loads of experimentation. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Reviews & Dunn – Is there a particular artist or album you studied to learn about song structure and harmony?

DirtyWhite – I can’t point the finger at a specific artist in this case. But I can say that Chris Brown comes out on top. He was super influential to me early on. Also, I have the added benefit of being raised as a church boy. My childhood, even before birth, was filled with church choirs, cantatas, and concerts. All of those were full of harmonies and songwriting. As time progressed, I got interested in John Denver and his music, and I took some time to understand the “singer-songwriter” concept through his music and plenty of others. My cousin K.P. Colors and I spent hours on end studying Avenged Sevenfold, John Mayer, Brad Paisley, and a ton of others. I have to give K.P. much credit for pressing me to become a better songwriter.

Reviews & Dunn – You had a chance to open up for R&B luminaries Dru Hill and Ginuwine. Did you take the time to study their stage show or enjoy being around them?

DirtyWhite – Yes, I did, thanks to Ms. Coley, Oh and Stay Rooted Music Group. I didn’t get to meet the show’s stars, though, and I was pretty annoyed about it. Ginuwine left the stage after his set, and I had purposely lingered backstage to get a chance to speak to the legend. He walked past me in a huff, and when I stuck out my hand, he completely blew me off and ignored me. It’s all good, though. I enjoyed myself immensely, and I wowed the crowd, there had to have been at least 3,000 people in the venue, and they all were screaming by the time I got done with my set. Maybe that’s why Ginuwine didn’t want to speak to me, who knows. Wink wink…lol. But yes, I’ve watched plenty of footage of Ginuwine and Dru Hill performing, and they both have phenomenal stage presence and vocal ability. Something that all singers should aspire to, for sure.

Reviews & Dunn – One of my favorite covers of yours is Smokey Robinson’s “Ooh Baby Baby”. How many takes of the song did you do before you knew it was right?

DirtyWhite – I appreciate the love, for real. Shout out to Shawn Bonner, once again, for bringing that song to me. I actually did it in the style of Teena Marie, modeled after one specific video that Shawn sent me from YouTube. It probably took me a week, honestly, before I was satisfied with my take of the song, after countless hours of perfecting the version I wanted to do. You can’t rush greatness sometimes, that song definitely holds its own, as far as a performance standard, and I wanted to record something both Smokey AND Teena could be proud of.

Reviews & Dunn –  Kendrick Lamar and Drake reach out for permission to sample “Reckless in Romance .”Whom are you going to let sample the song first?

DirtyWhite – AHHHH, I love this question… I’d say Kendrick would get first pick, personally, simply because I’m a bigger fan of his than I am a fan of Drake’s. Although with that said, that’s purely a personal and stylistic choice. We both know Aubrey’s version will sell more records, hahaha. 

Reviews & Dunn – The year is 1984, and you have the chance to sing background on either Prince’s Purple Rain tour or The Jacksons Victory Tour. Which tour are you blessing your talents with?

DirtyWhite – Prince….Prince is so legendary….that man single-handedly influenced music in a way that no one else has done or will ever do. I’m going with Purple Rain, hands down. To be on that tour would be a dream come true….shoot, backup singing? I’d be happy handing him his guitars during sets, for Christ’s sake, lol. The vibes are immaculate. Plus, according to Charlie Murphy, Prince makes a damn good waffle. Breakfast food on the road tour? I SAY YES!

Reviews & Dunn – Where is your favorite spot to grab some BBQ NC?

DirtyWhite – It all depends on what kind of BBQ I’m Craving. Off top though, I’ll say Nippy’s Soul Food, Casey’s Buffet, or Carolina BBQ. North Carolina barbecue is famed for its spicy, vinegar-based flavor, best experienced at Carolina BBQ. But for some sweet, tangy BBQ, go to Nippy’s.

Reviews & Dunn – Do you have anything cooking up musically for 2022?

DirtyWhite – In addition to dropping a mixtape with Gatorfit Records, I’ve already dropped multiple singles, and I’ve got a project cooking up with J-Stylz formally of Blackstreet over at EQ Studios in Charlotte, NC. Shout out to Shawn for introducing me to him and his incredible talent. You can also expect to see multiple visuals on my YouTube Channel. I currently have a video for my song “SAD BOI” with my main man TVM Killa (@tvmfam on Instagram), a hilarious take on exorcism. In addition, footage of my newest original song, “What A Time We Had,” is in the editing process. For that one, I had the pleasure of traveling to Huntington Beach, California, and filming the video on the pier with the sunset behind me. I’m incredibly excited about all the videos we’re in the process of putting out.

Reviews & Dunn – Is there anything you would like to add, and where can fans find you on social media?

DirtyWhite – I’d like to take a second to shout out a few folks that have helped me along the way. Massive Love to DJ Young Will, Bobby Dollaz, TVM Killa, Shawn Bonner, Anthony Burkett, Tara Thomas, Brent Moorer Gaskins, Eboni Joi, Coley Oh, Stay Rooted Music Group, Breeze Davis, Tut Grady, Mike Onwubuya, Lil Edd, my mom Jodi McClellan, all 4 of my little brothers for supporting me 100%, Jacob, Seth, Max, and Graham. Shout out to my cousin Chloe Love Dale, R.I.P, and my grandma Nonie McClellan, R.I.P.  And a special shout out to you, sir, and your staff for having me on for an interview and helping me showcase some of this music. You guys are fantastic. You can find me on all social media @DirtyFWhite, as well as all streaming platforms by searching “DirtyWhite,” all one word. I’m on every platform from AudioMack to Soundcloud to Spotify. Thank you so much for listening and subscribing. DirtyWhite OUT!

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