You can’t sleep on Duke Deuce. A Memphis-native through and through, Duke has been developing a name for himself within Tennessee’s rap scene for years. He’s the son of local legend Duke Nitty, a torchbearer of the crunk movement, and well on his way to becoming a bonafide superstar. And he’s willing to put in the work: “I’m willing to work as hard as I can to get to where I need to and I ain’t fucking around.”
The self-proclaimed King of Crunk has a breakneck flow that separates him from his rap contemporaries. Beyond the music, Duke personifies Memphis’ cultural impact on the world, propelled by a willingness to flex his natural talent. “My whole family is full of performers,” he says, crediting much of his confidence in music to lineage.
Any Duke Deuce track is meant to be played out loud. At his best, Duke doesn’t conform to the traditional structure of Memphis rap music. His influence expands beyond regional acclaim, suffusing animated proclamations with hard-hitting beats neatly into his discography. He has a knack for exploiting hidden pockets within instrumentals, branding the beat with an exceedingly well-balanced flow.
Though he’s released just one full-length album this year (Duke Nukem), Duke exists outside of the boundaries associated with his talent. Like much of his work, the project plays host to his signature “what the fuck” adlib and explosive energy. Duke’s gritty style permeates the work, coupled with an aggressive delivery that offers a new voice to Memphis’ mushrooming soundscape.
Ahead of his performance at Rolling Loud California, Dirty Glove Bastard spoke to Duke Deuce about receiving co-signs from Three 6 Mafia, his heightened level of confidence, crunk culture, and knowing your worth as an artist.
How important is style in today’s rap landscape?
It’s very important, especially when you got a style like mine. I gotta put this shit in their face because I’m a different type of artist and they try to sleep on different artists, but they got Duke fucked up.
Let’s expand on this. Do you feel like you’re considered an underrated artist?
I know what I’m worth and I know what I deserve. I’m willing to work as hard as I can to get to where I need to and I ain’t fucking around.
Personally, what does crunk mean to you?
It really means energy and it also means a way of life, expressing yourself. It can mean so much more but it’s about what you put into it. It’s a lifestyle, bro. It can be how you feeling today, you wake up in the morning, you finna go to work and you turnt. Usually, you don’t like to go to work, but this day you turnt. You got that energy in your system that makes you feel good, that’s what crunk is.
How do you personify that through music? Some artists struggle with making that connection.
It’s a natural thing for me. Shit, that’s what I came up on. You just gotta have it. It’s like having game, you gotta have it or you don’t. And when you feel it, that’s when you in it. That’s just what it is.
Talk to me about performing at Three 6 Mafia’s Verzuz battle. How did that come together?
That was a legendary stamp right there. I felt like they passed the torch without really saying it. They know I’ve been holding this shit down so it’s like, why not bro. And I really appreciate the situation. I really appreciate the shit, you feel me. And the prices are up.
Your style of music is impossible to ignore, it possesses real in-your-face energy. Have you always had this high level of confidence with your delivery or is that something you developed over the years?
With confidence, as far as performing, showing my talents, I always had that confidence. I think I get that shit from my pops and moms. My whole family is full of performers. They were always like that. It’s a natural thing to me.
What can we expect from a Duke Deuce Rolling Loud performance?
I just go with what I wanna open up with. I go off of sound. I know I got a lot of crunk shit so it’s really easy, though. When it comes to crunk shit, you can dance, you can do whatever the fuck you wanna do wit that shit so it just make sense. I’m in my own lane mane, you feel me – and I got the controller.