Dulcinea Detwah with dancers DeJayé Joseph and Craig Washington.
Dulcinea Detwah is a trained dancer turned rapper. The artist, who originally comes from Detroit, found motivation to pursue hip hop after creating music for her dances.
Fast forward to a few years later, Dulcinea is touring in her spare time and seeking to introduce Detroit’s ghettotech genre to New Yorkers. The music genre blends classic hip hop with raunchy, underground techno sounds and lyrics.
I spoke to the artist about life in Brooklyn, the decision to change from dance to music, her latest video “Paradise” and what other projects are in her future.
How did you come up with your stage name? And what ties does it hold to your hometown?
Well, Dulcinea is the name of a character in one of my favorite books, “Don Quixote.” Throughout the book, Don was on a constant search for Dulcinea. He kind of imagined her. Some people in the Spanish culture believes she is representative of a woman who is unattainable and always seems to be a dream that Don could never attain, so I liked that idea. Also, it stands for a woman who is beautiful, sweet and kind. Every woman wants to be like this beautiful dream for someone.
Detwah is the French pronunciation for Detroit. Most Detroiters are very proud. It’s not a city that people would imagine people would be so proud of but I think we really take pride in all of the trials and tribulations that we’ve had to go through as a city. We just continue to keep our heads up and fight the good fight. It’s a very warm place in terms of the people.It’s not necessarily the city that gives me a sense of pride but it’s the genuine, down-to-earth people.
And now you are in Brooklyn, do you see any similarities between the two?
I’ve been in New York City for 11 years but I’ve been in Brooklyn for seven of those years. There a lot of similarities actually. I didn’t really know too much about Brooklyn until I moved here but I’ve noticed some similarities in how hardworking everyone is and there’s also a lot of diversity. Brooklyn has a good blend of neighborhoods from family-oriented places to industrial areas like Bushwick.
How did you get into music and rapping?
I’m a trained modern dancer. That’s what I originally moved out here for, but I got into music in 2008. I have always been a writer, but a secret writer, because I’ve branded myself my whole life as a dancer and I was afraid of people judging me wanting to be a writer and a dancer. But I would write poetry, music and lyrics. I didn’t feel confident until I was introduced to a producer in the Bronx. I started making music for my dance pieces and then somebody said, “That was cool, you should do it for real.” That was all I really needed. As long I can get that kind of feedback, I’m going to roll with it.
So, describe your music to me. What genre do you think it fits in best with?
My music is a blend of classic hip hop and Detroit techno music. More and more my music is becoming electronic rather than techno. By electronic I mean using sounds that originate from the laptop, not live instruments. My rhythm, cadence and flow are all very classic hip hop.
The sound, ghettotech, originated in Detroit. When I was growing up, people didn’t necessarily call it ghettotech but that’s what people are calling it to understand what it is. But if you could imagine regular techno, Detroit’s ghettotech is a raunchier version. It’s very similar to what you would hear in a Baltimore club or at an underground New York club. It’s very fast with a lot of electronic sounds. My music is that. I have a song called “If You Know What’s Good,” that’s classic ghettotech. It has a lot of electronic horns and bass. And while my lyrics aren’t as raunchy as the ghettotech songs, I used those types of instruments and the rhythm.
Now, let’s get to your “Paradise” music video. Between the man chopping meat to your displayed sexuality, it was very provocative and visually striking. Did you come up with the visuals?
It was a collaborative project between me and the videographer. Originally the video was going to be something completely different. I was going to be on stage, talking about the world and I was going to dress like a mermaid. It was going to be so different. The videographer really wanted me to take a risk and be super creative. She asked me what would I like to do with this song in my wildest dreams. That’s how we came up with the concept. It didn’t start off being so sexy like it is, but we just started talking about feminine energy and what people think about in today’s society in terms of gender norms. We wanted to explore how people view what a woman should or shouldn’t be doing and that’s how the character turned into this black widow type of person. She’s meant to be sexy but has the power to kill you.
Did your friends and family who knew you as a dancer end up supporting your career move? Is music your full-time gig?
Yeah, that’s the beauty of being here in Brooklyn. Most of my friends are also artists. They’re all really exploring themselves as well so when I told them I was going to start creating music, they were all really supportive. My family has always been supportive of me being an artist.
I’m a freelance arts manager. I work with a few non-profit arts organizations around the city. Some of my co-workers only that I’m an artist, but I do have some co-workers and clients who do actually come to my shows. They’re always like “Wow, I can’t believe it.” They’re seeing me in a whole different way.
Besides your EP “Cool Kid,” are there any other upcoming projects?
Yes, I have a few outdoor shows coming up in the next few months. I’m working on a full-length album, which I’ve been working on for the past two years. It’s been really slow because I’ve been performing. I really want to craft a story that I want to tell. Part of the full-length album will be “Paradise” and other songs that are inspired by living and working in Brooklyn. I’m also working with a lot of artists in the LGBTQI community. Some of the songs have been produced by transgendered producers and there are collaborations with gay rap artists. I’m hoping it will all be released in the fall.