Readers of this site are well aware that Baltimore, MD has a squad of spitters that rivals the talent and heart of any urban enclave on the East Coast. Some of these elite include Ill Conscious, Guy Grams, Jay Royal, Jamil Honesty and the O.G.’s of this ish in that circle, Dirt Platoon. Composed of biological brother’s / emcee’s Raf Almighty and Snook Da Crook, Raf estimates that DP first formed in 1995 but it wasn’t until 2010’s Deeper Than Dirt album that they put out their official calling card to the world. Rugged-n-raw to the hilt you’d be hard-pressed to find more amped and aggro vocal tones outside of Onyx or DMX in their prime. While they are quick to lyrically beat the beat into submission, they also have plenty of heartfelt messages of family, loyalty and b-boy nostalgia that make them more well-rounded than many hard-rocks before them.
This month marked the release of Dirt Platoon’s first official full-length in several years, Get Ya Handz Dirty, which started press on a high note with the release of first single, “Black Sharpie” feat the legendary O.C. (D.I.T.C.) who actually sought the guys out (more on that below). Other features on the album include Dirt Platoon’s defacto third member, Fel Sweetenberg (who also produces half the album), Ruste Juxx and Guilty Simpson. Rounding out production for the album is Australian beat-maker Abyss Dwella (Buckshot, Masta Ace), French producer, DJ Brans (Blaq Poet, Big Shug) and Napalm.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you our convo with Dirt Platoon.
Being that you are both brothers and long-time rhyme partners, is it tough at times working together for so long or easy? How do you work on song topics/themes and do you butt-heads at times?
Raf Almighty: It’s never hard working on the project, it’s the work afterwards in which we might bump heads. We are both 2 crazy creative and loud m’fers! so you figure that for yourself…The song topics and themes comes from both of us. Crook might name the track while we cooking in the kitchen or I’ll call him and let him know the theme I’m working on .. It’s Easy Work to us.
Snook Da Crook: Its actually easy to work together cause we both know what we demand and expect from each other and we have great chemistry. People assume or may think we sit together and write but its the opposite, Raf will usually hit me up with a concept or a verse and I’ll write mine at home or wherever I’m at.
Were you able to record any songs on this album in the studio with any of the producers or guest features? How did you link up with each producer?
Snook Da Crook: Unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to work with anyone featured on the album except DJ Brans. We were in Paris on tour and we linked up. We’ve been working with Fel since we formed Dirt Platoon so he’s more family than co-worker. Deepstar contacted us years ago to do a feature and we loved his beats so much we wanted to include him in this project. He also mixed and mastered the album down in his studio in Australia.
Raf Almighty: We recorded “Do Work” in the studio with Napalm who we met through a mutual friend on the Baltimore Scene back in 2013.. Everything else recorded was just me / Crook and the crew.
Lyrically you guys are as tough as nails, but your subject matter varies to real life subjects (there was actually a love song on Deeper Than Dirt), what topics do you cover in this release and what topics are on your minds a lot as family-men and grown men of late?
Snook Da Crook: We wanted to keep this album as grimy and street as possible so we didn’t expand on many concepts. We do discuss police brutality and of course the harsh conditions people of color live in.
How does the Baltimore hip-hop scene differ now from when you started out? Is there still a strong culture for boom-bap in the area?
Snook Da Crook: When the Baltimore Hip-Hop scene started it was heavily East Coast influenced but as of late the music coming from our city sounds more Southern or Trap based. There is still some diversity but not much.
I’ve read that you guys have toured Europe several times on your own and brought out Guy Grams and Ill Conscious (on the Parimore doc). Initially what gave you the confidence as an indie artist to fly around the world? Was this solely self-financed or did you have any label support at the time?
Snook Da Crook: We saw that there was a big demand in Europe for our music. We were also signed to a European label the first time we went so it was really important for us to go. It was financed by us every time we went, either through our talents (taking advances from our shows and buying airline tickets) or our money and then booking more dates afterwards. The labels would help us book shows and features but other than that is was all us.
As the story goes, O.C. actually shouted you out before you guys collaborated with him on this album. Where did he hear about you guys? Can you give us an example of some other O.G.’s you connected with over the years that excited you as a fan of the culture?
Snook Da Crook: Yeah that story is true. He heard about us through PF Cuttin cause he would play us a lot on his radio show. The most excited I been when meeting some O.G’s in the game had to be Smif n Wessun.
What’s next for Dirt Platoon in 2020?
Snook Da Crook: I’m releasing my first solo album this year and we’re doing a European tour in the Spring. And we gonna record and maybe release another Dirt Platoon album.
More info / purchase Get Ya Handz Dirty here: https://dirtplatoonband.bandcamp.com/releases