Interviews

Published on March 11th, 2019 | by Jerry Doby

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Dot Cromwell: A Voice From a Driven Society

Dot Cromwell, is a Flagship Artist & Director of music at Driven Society a multi-cultural and multi-faceted community of creative entrepreneurs. He currently resides an Afro-Victorian Brownstone in Brooklyn called “The Parlor” which by the way, was formally Jidenna’s abode before he signed with Janelle Monae.  Cromwell has been blessed to feature on music with Jidenna in addition to Wale, & Quavo and now he’s focused on his solo music His new project “Full of Sin,” is a wholehearted showcase of lyricism and funky grooves that set the stage for what should be an incredible ride for this young lion. Take a listen below and you’ll hear why I’m on this cat so hard…the project is a straight ride through…no skips!

We got Cromwell to weigh in on a few things:

From the outside looking in, who is Dot Cromwell?

So I’m an African American musical artist from Philadelphia. I grew up in Southwest Philly and although I initially lived in a tougher neighborhood, My mother and father worked extremely hard to see to it that I attended Catholic since the thought process, then was the education was better. So I’m going to a PWI (predominantly white school) but then coming home back to our own people…every day was a culture shock. I think all of that made me a super balanced person, made me a person who connects people from different worlds…I like to call myself a Cultural Architect.

What brought you to the entertainment industry, music specifically?

Man, that’s kind of a loaded question for me..ok so I started off making music when I was younger. I think the first albums I had were Jay-z’s “Hardknock Life Vol.2”, Mase’s “Harlemworld”, & Puff’s “No Way Out”. I just remember hearing and seeing guys who looked like people in my neighborhood living like rich folks, all of that motivated me to want more. I automatically found myself on a karaoke machine at my friend’s house overdubbing peoples cassettes and using construction paper to make album covers, lol I went down a musical rabbit hole after that. Fast forward a ton of rap cyphers at the park, rap battles at school, and failed studio recordings I ended up at a crossroads. My father had just passed from cancer, I was fighting an armed robbery case (which was mistaken identity), and I just felt trapped in Philly! While I was out driving around Philly one day probably on some dumb shit, My mother snuck into the basement and burnt a cd of my freestyles and got me a full scholarship to UArts in Philly! I think sitting down with…I forgot his name, I just know his last name was Garvin, but yea sitting with him really pushed me in this direction…With the exception of my mother that was the only other adult who looked at me like I had an extreme talent that needed to be groomed for music instead of a 9-5! Yea I know that was alot…lol but I lived a lot of life.

What do you want people to get from your music?

Well, I believe in balance and self-confidence! So many people I’ve met stayed stagnate for different reasons, mostly fear. Not fear like they’re scared of anyone, actually on the contrary because Philly has some of the toughest people I’ve ever met, but more so the fear of failure. I want people to walk away from my music understanding they can live life without walls too! You should NEVER base what you can do on what someone else couldn’t. Flaws and all…My flaws are mine, and in every project, song, and performance I plan to put it all on display.

Tell us about your current project “Full of Sin” and what it means for you!

I think I heard Jay-z say it took him his whole life to write his first album, and then after that, each album just flowed quickly. Right now I’m in a transitional phase in my personal life and music so “Full of Sin” is the first step to me documenting my life up until this moment. These songs are very close to my heart because it’s my story and its the one thing I have in this world that is unique to me. I got a lot to cover so it may take me a few more small projects to catch up to where I am in real time.

For new listeners, what song of yours would you pick as an introduction to you as an artist?

Although “Mood” is the track that sets everything off for “Full of Sin” I feel the song “Jameson” is the moment when you start to see my character open up. All of my live shows are a roller coaster and there’s a moment where we journey deeper into vulnerability, and “Jameson” is that moment for my project. So I think Jameson gives you an internal perspective of what’s on my mind and leaves you curious for the solution to these issues.

Tell us a bit about your work and passions OUTSIDE of music…

Okay cool, so you remember earlier when I referred to my self as a “Cultural Architect”? Yea, so outside of music my main focus is connecting leaders of communities and creating platforms for multicultural millennials. I work closely with two of my colleagues, Travis Weekes the founder of Driven Society & DioMara Delvalle the founder of WNDR WMN. Collectively we’ve supported each other in curating/creating a myriad of edutainment events sitting at the intersection of entertainment and technology, servicing clients such as HBO, BK HipHop Festival, & Moet Hennessy to name a few. On the less rigid business side, I live in an Afro-Victorian Brownstone in Brooklyn called “The Parlor”, where I host Dinners, Jam Sessions, and House Parties.

Last but not least, HYPE wants to know…What’s your CRAZIEST “Where they do that at?!” aka WTF?! moment…

Yooooo you know what, its funny cuz I was just talking about this shit with my boy. Back in like 2013 at our last house “The Helipad” (Yes we name all of our houses lol) We had my boy crashing at the crib for a while. So I think it may have been Halloween that year, he invited us to a costume party in Harlem, which was easy cuz I was going through this prohibition era where I dressed like the cast of boardwalk empire…I was fresh as f*ck, don’t debate me. Anyway we go to this house party and it’s got a dope aura, I peeped they had a balcony and I and my boy Chief already had some moves to speak about so after being a gracious guest and giving a bottle of champagne or two to the party we hit the balcony. So I wanna say after about 10 minutes, different girls from the party kept asking if we were gonna join the party, mind you the party is packed so no one should be missing us. We let them know we’d be right in, after finishing the conversation! So for the next ten minutes, we kept seeing this girl (the host) keep checking the window…was starting to get weird that she was policing the party so hard, but whatever lol. So then BOOM, she comes out and says “yo the party is over everyone gotta go home”, Chief and I look at each other mad confused. We walk in and all the lights are off, but we can hear and see silhouettes of mad people just silent…sitting in the dark…weird shit. So we go to step out and the lights come right back on and the party starts smh lmaooo. Later that night my boy says that no guys were giving her (the host) attention in that party so she took it out on us since she didn’t know us….I’m just like…bruh you owe me a bottle, I just wish I had my bottle of f*cking Champagne back lol….Where they do that at?

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About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, and internationally published arts & entertainment journalist. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture as well as the United States Press Corps.


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