Artist of the Week: Dem Southern Folkz

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Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to introducingliston@gmail.com.

Normally, we do everything we can to avoid anything Dallas-related. (It’s just a godawful place. They don’t even have running water; we heard they drink rain water or Big Red or something.) But after hearing a few tracks, we had to make an exception for trio Dem Southern Folkz, an emerging player in the Texas hip-hop scene. (It helps that the group's label, 100 Spoke, is based in Houston.)

One of the dopest things about DSFZ is that two members, Thomas Benjamin and Richard Jackson, are on active duty in the U.S. military. Geographical jokes aside, that’s reason enough to cop the Folkz's new album,

The Message

. We caught up with DSFZ shortly after Benjamin was deployed back to Iraq and had them answer a few questions for us.

Houston Press: So, first things first: Do you guys really expect to be taken seriously? We mean, your music is really solid, but c'mon, you all are from Dallas. That’s like, the butthole of Texas.

DSFZ: Energy can not be created nor destroyed. It travels from state to state. Dem Southern Folkz's movement is global. It travels the world.

HP: Dude, what the hell? Is that some special Dallas language? You’re on some otherworldly stuff right now.

DSFZ: Exactly. Dem Southern Folkz's music speaks for people around the world. No matter where you’re from.

HP: You guys are in the military right? How'd that work out? Do you guys rap about tanks and shit?

DSFZ: We prefer the statement: Two Soldiers (one former) and a college graduate. You could listen to our album 22.3 times in a row and you won't find any reference to Saddam, G.W. Bush, Osama, ninjas, Power Rangers or Jesse Jackson. Also, no animals or children were hurt in the making of The Message.

HP: Seeing as how one of you is currently serving in Iraq , how do you all feel about the war? What's it like over there?

DSFZ: Our hearts go out to all those who served, and are currently serving, their country. We also would like to take the time to send a special shout-out to those who fight daily battles in the streets of America, Africa, Europe and around the globe.

Being overseas in a war is like wearing a double suede and leather woolly mammoth winter jumpsuit with hot blue steel-toe boots and a No-Drip Triple Wet Curl... get the picture? It's nothing to glorify. There are people dying daily: Americans, Iraqis, Afghans. We in the free world take for granted the little things like soap, hot water, fast food, parents and freedom of speech and choice.

HP: Word. There's a line in "The Message" where someone admits to having caught an STD from a video vixen. Is that true?

DSFZ: Yes and no. Yes, for some people. No, for Dem Southernfolkz. We have got to be more careful out here. It doesn't matter if you’re famous or regular; STDs are real! One of our members [Kinfolk Jack] lost a parent to the AIDS virus and has a sister with HIV. Dem Southern Folkz would like to tell people to strap up, get tested and be careful of who you become intimate with.

HP: Whenever a new artist or group comes out and is promoting their music, essentially what they're saying is, "We're better than whatever you're listening to right now." So give us five artists that you guys are better than. Five artists that, if someone is listening to them right now, they'd be better of turning them off and turning you on.

DSFZ: Dem Southern Folkz speak for the people. Anyone who has ever picked up a mic, instrument or equipment helped pave the way for us to do what we love. If we dis another artist we become part of the problem and not part of the solution. The state of music sucks right now partly because of this very thing - artists dissing each other and making destructive music. Where is the balance?

HP: Meh. We would argue that if the state of music does suck right now, it’d be because people are making sucky music, not that people are dissing each other. But since you brought it up, finish this: The worst song on the radio right now is...

DSFZ: Programmed music, every hour on the hour. Free the DJ!

Keep tabs on Dem Southernfolkz (and find The Message) at www.myspace.com/demsouthernfolkz - Shea Serrano

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