206UP.COM is happy to feature R&B singer/MC Dice in this edition of THE SIX. Reflections in Broken Glass is Dice’s recent album, a self-assured collection of mid-tempo grooves that deals heavily in matters of the heart. Love for your neighbor, your romantic partner, your self, and your ‘hood are all touched upon by the talented vocalist who operates at an easy and mellow pace. Contemporary R&B/hip-hop can often shoot off in aimless, haphazard directions these days. Reflections in Broken Glass is a calming influence among the chatter.
What’s the origin of your stage name, “Dice”?
I chose the name Dice when I was 14. Originally the full moniker was Pair-A-Dice. Literally, I was flipping through the dictionary one day reading the definitions of words [and] I wanted something with meaning — multiple if possible. Due to my tendency to be all over the place stylistically I didn’t want to be stuck in a box with my name, I wanted something timeless that expressed my variety. Under the definition of a die roll it said something [about] lacking predictability but not lacking cause or purpose, I felt it fit perfectly. I have old school homies that still call me Pair-A-Dice, but it got shortened to Dice over time and through casual use as a nickname by friends and family. My mom has even taken to calling herself “Mama Dice”.
Reflections in Broken Glass, like your past releases, is a more dynamic listening experience than a lot of local albums because you sing and rap. What did you originally start with, rapping or singing, and do you prefer one over the other?
I was raised in a musical household. My mother sang in an all female barbershop chorus throughout my childhood and her long term boyfriend played in a rock band. When with my mom it was all about oldies and Motown, with pops, everything from AC/DC to Bob Dylan; we would sing in the car and my mom would teach me how to harmonize. She got me involved in choir from a very early age, so there has always been singing. As for the rapping aspect, both parents were avidly against hip-hop/rap and I was for the most part not allowed to listen to it around either of them; that came later.
Who is your favorite R&B/soul singer of the moment?
I don’t have a favorite singer “of the moment”. Admittedly, I don’t listen to a lot of current music as the content doesn’t interest me much of the time. The vocalist, and writer, I have had the most recent listening infatuation with is Adele, though I’m giving both of [her] records a rest at the moment. For the record, Erykah Badu will likely be my favorite of all time, forever.
Reflections is appealing because it sounds so composed and well-intentioned — you’re moving at your own musical pace, not trying to cater to current radio expectations. Do you ever feel artistic pressure to drop a club track, or something that’s not otherwise consistent with your vision as an artist?
I feel that pressure constantly. Whether or not I allow it influence the music I make is another matter. “Celebration” was borne of that pressure. I felt I had nothing “feel good” that people could actually move to at a party or a show. The challenge for me was finding a topic I found suitable and uplifting without becoming cliche or corny, something gangsters and grandmothers alike could two step to in the same room. In regards to vision, that is the one thing I would never sacrifice. I have my musical morals, all artists do, mine are just based in the belief that my music can be detached from today’s pop music-palooza, still be relevant and garner a diverse following.
“Celebration” – Dice (prod. by DJ El Grande)
Talk a little bit about your relationship with Vitamin D. How do you two know each other and how did you come to work together?
Vita and I have known each other a few years now, I honestly don’t remember how we met. [Laughs] He is a great friend and mentor [who] has taught me a great deal about myself as an artist and [someone] I hold in high esteem musically, as so many rightfully do. The man’s ear is wild and it still makes me giddy when he DJ’s Hip Hop Kitchens. I had done some vocal work for a few town artists at the Pharmacy when it was still up and running, a while later we connected to record “Things I Couldn’t Say”, produced by Retro, and since then have gone on to work on many things, most recently Reflections, which he produced four joints for.
“Flat Tire” – Dice (prod. by Vitamin D)
Any new projects or shows coming up soon?
There are always new projects in the works, but nothing I’m ready to announce just yet. As for shows, the next few months are going to be busy, several shows and some traveling. Headed to Oakland March 3rd for a show with my WBMG family then back home for a March 8th evening at Lucid Jazz Lounge in the U-District with my band The High Rollers. I will be performing covers of some classics as well as my smoother original material. [It’s a] very intimate venue with limited seating so that will be a blast. [I’m] also juiced to be opening for Ryan Leslie at Neumo’s March 26th with my guys Nate Vibez and Zach Bruce, also with my band.