Dutch returns to MOS for a full-on virtual production (with collaborators this time).
Even though COVID-19 has forced many musicians to return to the drawing board and stunted their creative output, Boston mainstay and hip-hop provocateur Dutch ReBelle has welcomed the reprieve. She’s been rapping for over a decade, and had admittedly been stuck in a perfunctory way of doing things.
“There was a point where it just wasn’t fun anymore,” Dutch shares. “I became naïve to the fact that people wanted to hear what I had to say whether I thought it was important or not. I view this time as an opportunity to revisit what I’ve been doing to figure out what’s the best fit. Hip-hop culture is not just rap only—it’s everything we make it.”
Dutch says part of her reconfiguration was forced due to technological issues: her Twitter and Instagram accounts were hacked last fall. She was able to retrieve the former, but the latter was completely erased. Social media has always been crucial for artists to share and promote their work, so starting over from scratch was daunting. But hard work—including a sleek video for her single “Stony” featuring some of Boston’s most notable personalities, a popular freestyle on CWTFBradio, and modeling ventures—quickly paid off, and it wasn’t too long before the Museum of Science came knocking (again).
Dutch previously collaborated with the institution last July for one of their Subspace Sessions, a livestreamed “audio/visual experience.“ For that one, she advised, “Make sure you got the lights low, got your vibe accessories and enjoy the show.” This time, she is curating a whole original virtual live performance showcase from scratch for the MOS.
The rapper used her childhood memories for thematic fodder to devise Dutchy’s Planet: When Powers Combine, her modernized and more eclectic take on the popular ’90s environmental cartoon Captain Planet. As fans may remember, he magically appeared when the five elements combined. Taking place on March 25 via livestream, Dutch handpicked Boston artists who she felt could best correspond with each component of the performance to fill particular roles.
Earth takes form in the boisterous King Fiya.
Fire is represented by Haitian and dancehall artists Eddy Fish, Hundred Round Kado, Reem Skully, and Shellz.
Local dance unit Trend N Motion are wind.
Water is the soulful Miranda Rae.
And heart is singer Frank Vocals.
Dutch says she was strategic about connecting Black artists directly with the Museum of Science.
“I would’ve never known they’d offer their platform for people who look like us, you know what I’m saying?” she says. “I’m really excited to just be able to plug in the artists I’m plugging in. My goal post pandemic is to do this show live—but I would love for those artists to have their own headlining shows there at some point in the future.”
Dutch embraces her role as a tastemaker for this particular event. In planning it out ahead of time, she’s thrilled about the prospect of her selections being able to show off their imaginative sides.
“These talented people are really major elements in Boston and represent the city really well,” she says. “It’s important for them to be able to do whatever they want and bend the rules a little bit. It’s a full production and I really got in my production bag.”
This step in the rapper’s recalibration has made it feel like the beginning of her career all over again.
“I’m at the point where I’m really fine with not dropping something if I don’t want to,” Dutch says. “I’m focusing on connecting with my fan base, revisiting my imagery, and making sure they get what they want. I really love connecting with people in different ways.”
Candace McDuffie is a respected cultural critic and music journalist who focuses on the intersection of race, gender and entertainment. Her written work has been featured on digital platforms such as: Rolling Stone, MTV, Forbes, Grammy.com, Paper, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, Vibe, Tidal, Marie Claire, NBC NEWS and Boston Magazine.