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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Despot Still Wants to Be a Rich Drug Dealer

Posted By on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 10:33 AM

By Reyan Ali

On the afternoon of Friday, September 19, El-P decided to let off some steam in 140 characters or less. "this motherfucker @despotroast," the MC tweeted, referencing his friend and Queens, New York-bred, Brooklyn-based rapper Despot, "lives like ten blocks away AND is driving and is still 42 minutes late. and THAT, kids, is where his album is."

Despot -- a.k.a. Alec Reinstein -- protests the charges leveled against him. "First of all, El said ten blocks. He don't live ten blocks away from me. He lives like, pfft, twenty blocks away from me," Reinstein, 32, says of his current tourmate, speaking from Charlottesville, Virginia. "And he lives in a shitty-ass fucking part of Williamsburg where you can't park your fucking car 'cause all these dickheads got all the parking spots, and that's what happened. And I was still early!"

Dickheads and automobiles notwithstanding, he soon tries to explain why he actually ends up late so often. "I don't know why. It's 'cause I'm lazy. I don't want to do anything. I don't want to do most things. I was always late to school. Then, I just stopped going. I never really had a real job because I'm late for everything, and I just blame everything on everyone else, so yeah, that leads into the album. I don't have an album out because it's probably everybody's else fault, but I don't know why. It's definitely my fault. I'm lazy."

Reinstein speaks in a dry, chilled-out, profoundly deadpan voice, making him the kind of cagey conversationalist whose tone is a tough read. Like El-P with that original tweet, you get the sense that he's half-serious, half-tongue-in-cheek when discussing the September situation and why he's always running behind. That said, by this point, the stigma surrounding We're All Excited -- his perpetually in-development debut full-length made alongside electronic rock two-fer Ratatat -- has to be getting to the guy. Despot first gained broader exposure by being connected to indie hip-hop label Definitive Jux and its surrounding scene during its watershed period in the 2000s, and he has been plotting that first record since George Bush was serving his first term.

Over the years, Reinstein, who also co-owns noteworthy Manhattan venue Santos Party House, has slipped on and off hip-hop heads' radars. After spending 2005-ish to 2011-ish touring with Ratatat, working on since-trashed songs and being largely inconspicuous, he re-emerged around 2012 by doing guest shots on songs by rap artists Das Racist, Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire and El-P, plus Blood Orange and Vampire Weekend. Artists reaching out to Despot to work with him has become the primary source for new material from him. "I do have a lot of friends who make music and are successful, and I sometimes do stuff with them," he says, "but I have been doing it since way before most of them have even been making music."

Around age seven, Reinstein was a fan of hair metal outfits like Mötley Crüe, Poison and Whitesnake. As he grew up, hip-hop like Run-D.M.C., the Fat Boys and Young Black Teenagers caught his ear, which eventually led him to underground rap. With hip-hop being the sound of his neighborhood, it was an easy fit for him.

Continue to page two.


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