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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Daniel Laurent Local Sensation

Daniel Laurent Local Sensation

Daniel Laurent, or DL, does things differently from the average underground MC. Laurent is as complicated as human nature. Laurent is singular, a paradox, and he’s making some of the most innovative music in years. His new album, The Suppression, is a must buy. This is the hit that Boston hip hop fans have been waiting for. The album comes with a DVD, a video tour of Boston’s hip hop community with lots of guest appearances.

To kick off his recording career, Daniel Laurent produced his own CD in 2003 and brought it to a show he opened for at the Middle East. After his set, Daniel Laurent said, “My CD’s are for sale in the back for the dope fiend price of $1.” Daniel Laurent says thirty people bought his CD and left, without seeing any of the other acts.

Don’t let his brilliant marketing tactics disenchant you, Daniel Laurent is as selfless as he is self assured. Jesse Massive, of Massive Records said, “DL’s part rapper part activist. He’s very involved in the community, basically he shows the community the positive side of hip hop.”

I met DL on a rainy Saturday at the Breezeway in Roxbury. There, Daniel Laurent made it clear to me that he was serious about promoting the people around him as much as he was interested in promoting himself, “If I don’t make it, maybe someone around me will.”

“DL is very conscious. It’s not an act,” said Jesse Massive, “Some people may try to do that as a business move, but with him it’s totally genuine.”

“Maybe I’m getting old,” DL told me, “I’m starting to have a problem with then n word.” DL talked to everyone whom he had recorded with, then he edited out the n word from tracks on his album. This turned out to be a great marketing move, the entire album was radio friendly and has since enjoyed extensive radio play. DL says that the n word is overused, now; it has lost its power, and its original meaning and connotations become muddled when it pops up all the time offhand in conversation.

The name Daniel Laurent isn’t your stereotypical MC name. DL said that he’s gone by other names, Alkatraz and Smooth D “That wouldn’t fly now,” he smiles. DL goes by his first and middle name Daniel Laurent, or DL which is easier to hear over loud music in a club. Daniel Laurent’s handle fits his unabashed honesty and willingness to get personal. This is a very refreshing quality in hip hop culture which has traditionally been more about bravado than baring one’s soul. DL has gentle power and confidence combined with a gift for the art of storytelling. “I’m Boston’s author,” he says on a radio interview featured on his album.

The song “Millbury Plain” opens with Daniel Laurent speaking, “I have an idea / What if um / For instance / You take a rapper that you actually want to know a little bit more about / Get a little bit more personal / And actually allowed him to get more personal, / For instance, Lyrical…” the beat then drops in, wavy, jazzy.

DL reached out to Edu Leedz of Leedz Edutainment. DL had noticed that the shows that Leedz would bring to Boston, with big name stars, would sell out and be big hits, but the crowd would leave after the local acts opened. He said that in many cases the local acts were better performers than the national acts. Leedz acquiesced and set up a collaborative show to feature a host of local rappers. The show is on June 10th at The Middle East.

DL says he has been compared to Kanye West and Tupac Shakur, but the personality, depth, and approachability of his lyrics sounds more a reflection of hip hop elders Q Tip and De La Sol’s Pasdnous. DL’s influences range from Jay-Z to the Cranberries.

Daniel Laurent doesn’t want to run the gauntlet of guest appearances or duets with his fellow MCs. DL stresses that he’s cool with people, but that doesn’t mean that he wants to record a track with everyone. Right now, his production company, Self Made is all self financed. He said he’d be willing to take on a silent partner, but he understands that with money comes artistic direction.

This local artist isn’t all underground, he’s the first local Boston artist to win WERS’ Album of the Month. Daniel Laurent is up for Male Performer of the Year, Lyricist of the Year, and Performer of the Year, at the Mass Industry Committee Hip Hop Awards. DL has plans to tour Europe this summer with The Foundation.

To pay the bills Daniel Laurent masquerades in movies, and on TV in commercials. Daniel Laurent played Jamal in Lift, which is a really engaging movie with lots of Boston footage. DL has appeared as a stand-in for other major motion pictures and has appeared in commercials.

Daniel Laurent never had it easy but he doesn’t want to glamorize his childhood. Too many hip hop artists try to portray their life as the hard life, says DL, “Go to Sudan, see what that looks like. Look outside, we have cars, come here and get some food” The day before I spoke to Daniel Laurent there had been a triple shooting in Dorchester. “It’s painful,” he said, “We’ve all heard that story before.”

When Daniel Laurent was growing up his parents used drugs and hustled to support their habit. “There was never a time when I was going to sleep hungry,” DL made clear, but both of his parents spent time in jail. When Daniel Laurent’s mother was in jail, he got busted for dealing drugs at Boston English High School. “It wasn’t in it for me to do it,” says DL. He has a theory that all these tough guys that boast their prison records must be doing something wrong. He said, “Jail records aren’t anything to brag about.”

In the late summer of 1999, Daniel Laurent’s fiancée was murdered in Atlanta, part of a brutal mass murder. Jason Pierce pled guilty in 2003, and got a life sentence. He was apprehended after a shoot out with the police near Hammond’s Pond in Newton, MA. Pierce’s accomplice in the getaway, Sean Taylor shot himself when the police raided his apartment, after eight months on the lam. Perhaps it is the local coverage of this tragic affair that led Daniel Laurent to write the song, “Headlines.”

“If you’re going through something that you know someone else has been through, you want to hear them talk about it and how they overcame it.”

Daniel Laurent has a unique drive to honesty and disclosure. The song, “Contagious Revisited,” (Produced with one of his best friends, Terrence, or TW) goes farthest into what drives him to rhyme.

Daniel Laurent works in the executive board of Mayor Menino’s Hip Hop Roundtable, where members of the hip hop community and members of the mayor’s office talk about strategies to promote peace in the inner city. Daniel Laurent loves his neighborhood, and told me that he never feels uncomfortable being there, he’s even thinking about buying some property, because he thinks that Roxbury will experience the same kind of renaissance that the South End underwent not too long ago. He said “Everything that we do today, tomorrow – will be done in a few years.”

Daniel Laurent’s album, The Suppression is available at Newbury Comics as well as fine independent hip hop outlets throughout the city.

The Mass Industry Committee Hip Hop Awards will take place at 180 Berkeley St., Boston, on June 6, 2006 (Get it? 6.17…2006) visit www.DanielLaurent.com