Duo From Bed-Stuy, Not About to Die: DUO LIVE
An amazing duo started their romance with music in '89, when Brooklyn was plagued by a crack epidemic. Fre and Sid rose above the troubles in their community, staying positive and producing original music. With music influences like Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, and Run DMC, spiritual guidance through the teachings of the Emperor Haile Selassie I., and the cultural expressions of the black South, Duo Live has put forth a distinctive blend of hip hop music. Positive rap songs are not hard to find when this duo has released over 200 tracks. What I like most about this group is how easy it was to contact and connect with them. They are available to those in the community; this is what they had to say:
B-E-M: Tell me about the name "Duo Live"
Sid and Fre: Well we are both from Bedford-Stuyvesant, known as Bed-Stuy so that’s where the “Duo” part comes from. The slogan for the neighborhood is Bed-Stuy: Do or Die. Our name used to Duo Die, however in 2000 we changed the name to Duo Live. We changed the name because we are really about life not death or dying. We’ve grown over the years so we wanted our group name to reflect that, we do not want to be associated with negative images of dying, we represent life.
B-E-M: How would you define Healthy Living? Sid: I think health is very important, for long life and personal growth. I am a vegan so I always watch what I eat. I am not a health nut person, for example, I do not exercise as much as I should- I’m still working on that so that I can have a good balance in my life.
Fre: I am committed to good health, I am also a vegan and I try to work out consistently. I am a Message Therapist and Certified Holistic Practitioner among other things. Health is also about keeping healthy thoughts, moving towards positive goals and staying in tuned with God, that’s what I strive to do in my life.
B-E-M: As far as being in tune with God, do you practice any religion or involved in any particular spiritual group?
Fre: No, I don’t follow any one religion nor do I identify with any spiritual groups. Sid: We do follow the teachings of Haile Selassie I, using Him as guide through our spirituality.
B-E-M: What do you want the world at large and the black community here in America to get out of your music?
Sid and Fre: Our motto is “It’s Redemption Time.” We hope to bring back some redeeming qualities to the black community. We want to stress the importance of family. The family structure needs to be revived- the family structure seen in ancient times. We, as a community and society, CAN and HAVE to rebuild family.
B-E-M: Who influenced you musically as well as in other aspects?
Fre: His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie, of course, Stevie Wonder, and Rakim. There are more but those are the main people who I studied as a writer.
Sid: Bob Marley and many of the older reggae artists and also Run DMC.
B-E-M: What are your ethnic backgrounds and how have these backgrounds influenced the music you produce?
Sid and Fre: Our backgrounds include the Black South and the Caribbean. Our music has been influenced by both of these regions. Its Hip Hop influenced by Haile Selassie’s impact in the Caribbean, what we like to call Rasta Rap. The music is also influenced by African ideals.
B-E-M: How long have you been doing music?
Sid and Fre: We’ve been doing music as a group since ’89 so that’s over 15 years now. It’s been a great journey.
Sid: I have always been involved music. As a child, I traveled with a group. I played the drums in the group and even played at the United Nations. Music has always been a big part of my life.
B-E-M: What current artists do you like to listen to or support?
Sid and Fre: When you start to do music, you sort of become your own fan. That’s natural because you want to work on your craft. Even though we are more fans of the 80s Hip Hop artists, there are some artists today that are great. We really listen to our music a lot, always encouraging ourselves to do more.
B-E-M: How do you feel about mainstream Hip Hop; do you think it is rising or falling?
Sid and Fre: It’s dormant, the music is standing still. There are some good artists out there, who are making high-quality tracks. As far as hip hop music overall, it is neither rising nor falling.
B-E-M: Let’s talk about the issue of “selling out.” What is your take on artists that sell out? Sid: This is a very touchy subject. Someone once told me that as an artist, your integrity stops when your album is finished. I understand now what that means. Some artists do not “sell out” intentionally. Sometimes, it has to do with how you are promoted and who uses your music. Artists may not have control over this and they are seen as sell outs as a result.
Fre: I would like to avoid direct marketing because that is how some artists get caught up doing things they never intended. I want to raise awareness in my community so I will not do a cigarette or alcohol ad, for example, in order to promote myself because I see what those things do to the kids in my neighborhood. That is what I call selling out. Just doing things to reach a level of fame, in the process forgetting what is important. These are things that come with the game, its capitalism and there is no way to avoid it.
B-E-M: What advice would you give to upcoming artists? Fre: The advice I would give is that it’s not about the messenger it’s about the message. People with positive music understand that your words come from God. I would try to help them understand that. I would also tell them to work hard on their craft, to research music thoroughly, and to stay focus with God.
Sid: It’s a process, work on it. Do your homework and research black music. Strive for perfection.
B-E-M: What community service projects have you been involved with?
Sid: I taught music production to young people in my community. I also took part in local activities helping out with kids.
Fre: I taught in an early childhood class. I created after school programs and basketball tournaments. The tournaments were great because the kids and fun while exercising; this encouraged them to stay healthy. I also assisted in coordinating a city wide science and environmental program. We plan to do more of this work in the future.
Album in stores Spring 2007. You can learn more about Duo Live by visiting their my space page: www.myspace.com/duolive Or the on their website: www.redemptionmusicgroup.com