Welcome to the world of Atlanta artist Dillon, boasting over a decade of experience as an emcee/rapper, beatmaker, DJ, and chef. Peep the Q&A below as we ask him about managing an underground Hip Hop label, (Full Plate) his collaboration with the late Paten Locke (RIP), and much more in this exclusive interview.
Your based ATL, how long have you been there and why the move, how long did you live in Jacksonville?
I was born in Ann Arbor, MI in 1983. We lived in Ypsilanti, MI until ’89 when we moved to Jacksonville, FL. I moved away in 2001 when I was 17 to go to school at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL where I 1st cut my teeth on the live music scene.
I graduated in ’05 and my DJ at the time, Dirty Digits was planning to move to Atlanta cause his girl at the time was going to school there. Dirty Digits & I had just played the very 1st A3C festival that year and when we hopped off the stage, the festival owner who was an owner of ATF Records (Arc the Finger) said to me ‘if you move here, we’ll sign you’. So I was like… I guess I’m moving to Atlanta. I arrived in August ‘05 and never looked back.
The Smile Rays – Sundial ‘Party...Place’/ Full Plate
How did you link up with Paten Locke? Tell us about Full Plate?
Paten Locke aka DJ Therapy of Asamov was a Duval (Jacksonville) hip hop hero ever since I was a teen. I remember seeing DJ Therapy in the newspaper and thinking he must have been cool as hell! I was like 12 lol.
When I was in school at UF, Asamov was killing it and they were the flag bearers of North Florida hip hop and I knew I had to be down. My crew at school, The UF Hip Hop Collective threw huge bboy jams every year and my junior or senior yr we threw an Emcee Olympics and I had to opportunity to bring Paten to town and pay him as a judge, which he was pleased with and started to take me seriously as an MC.
That same year, my 1st single that I pressed up myself (as Intellekt) made it to his ears courtesy of DJ Basic (also of Asamov – RIP) and I heard Paten wanted to meet me (to tell me that I wasn’t as nice as I thought I was hahaha). So I went to his crib in Jacksonville to break bread and I got my 1st beat from him that he made for me on the spot, which blew me away!
I was like 19 or 20. From that 1st day we were thick as thieves, even with him being 10 years older than me, he took me on as a little brother instantly and always looked out. We knocked out our first album, Studies in Hunger from 2005-2008, and finally released it in 2009.
This was before streaming, social media, all that. In 2013 we got the rights back to our album (shouts to DJ Fisher & Domination Records) and flummoxed with what to do with the album. We decided to finally start our own label as a home base for ourselves and our Duval counterparts, Batsauce, Willie Evans Jr, etc. It’s 2023 and we’re still going…
FULL PLATE just came from the fact that we were both CONSTANTLY busy and working on 25 projects at a time and I also had the food events popping and just a love for food in general. I have my dinner party ‘Plates and Crates’ and Paten had his all 45s night ‘Little Plates’ and it all fell under the umbrella of FULL PLATE. Not just music but food, events, the whole nine.
Any major hurdles you’ve had to overcome since Paten’s transitioning?
Too many. By far the hardest part has been organizing (and finding) his vast catalog of unreleased music and putting it out into the world the way he would have wanted it. Paten transitioned so quickly and I had to work as fast as I could before he passed to make plans but in a snap he was gone.
Clean Plate Club Vol. 1 by PATEN LOCKE / FULL PLATE
I have done my best and I’m constantly meditating on him. I think he was so tied to his music that I really do feel his spirit shining through and I do feel like part of him is still here to help guide me and make sure I don’t MONKEY WITH THE FUNKY (P’s words).
Another difficulty for sure has been dealing with the multitudes of folks who casually had their hands on a Paten beat (Paten sent batches of beats out to many of his cohorts. Sometimes just to be heard not necessarily to be posthumously released) and now they want to release music with it.
It’s a tricky situation and Paten had many relationships with many folks with varying degrees of artistic brotherhood attached. Sometimes cats will approach me and ask for my blessing which is impossible to give since Paten isn’t here. I wish type of stewardship on no one.
Alien Nation and the Black Adolescent by The Difference Machine / Full Plate
Have you always been an Entrepreneur? Any businesses outside of rap??
Yes, I get it from my Pops (RIP) who was an independent insurance salesman and always worked/hustled for himself to leave time for his writing which was constant. He instilled that in me at a very young age.
If you’re passionate about something work for yourself so you can do what you want with your time and follow your dreams. In college I did my Honors Thesis on ‘Independent Hip hop as a Business Model’ That said I just turned 40 and I’ve never had a proper job, just waiting tables and such. Whoops!
In 2007 I started a social media management company ‘FoodRunner’ where I started to post pics for the restaurant I was working in at the time. That expanded and I still do social media for a handful of Atlanta restaurants and beyond. For the past decade plus I’ve been a full-time DJ in Atlanta working mainly in hotels & restaurants, weddings, corporate events, etc.
Friday the 13th (Imma Play Jason) by Dillon / FULL PLATE
I also book other DJs out so that’s a company of sorts. I’ve also been making Educational Rap music since 2007 for a company that will remain nameless. A food business is in my dream plan and hopefully will manifest for me in the decade…
How does the ATL underground hip hop scene differ from the Florida scene?
I can’t speak on all of Florida (Florida is actually like 8 different COUNTRIES) but the North Florida (Jax) and ATL scene are similar in a lot of ways. Both scenes have a lot of Northeast (NYC / Jersey / etc) transplants which adds an East Coast flavor to a lot of the music being made down here.
Both scenes are highly overlooked and chock full of talent just waiting to bubble up to the top. Both scenes can also be a TRAP – they can offer a lot of room to grow but there’s a ceiling that you yourself have to decide if you can break through it or not.
’83 Kids by Dillon & J57 / FULL PLATE
Do your dj sets consist mostly of hip hop and your favorite spots to Dj in Atlanta??
I wish! As a working DJ always in a suit & tie (my choice) I rarely get the opportunity to play great hip hop. I find myself playing more boogie, disco, and various decades of R&B/party hits. Luckily I do still get to play hip hop when I DJ at Handlebar for 4-IZE’s ‘Atlanta Beat Street’ (Monday Nights). RIP to The Soundtable which was Atlanta’s home for DJs to play what they love. Hardly any spots like that anymore in ATL.
Serato or Vinyl??
Depends on who’s paying, ha! I have been collecting wax since I was a kid and LOVE when I get to play it out but it has to be the right opportunity and reason cause it’s a LOT more work than just getting busy on a laptop. I’m def more into 45 sets these days as that’s less to carry ha!
Is Fullplate looking for artists to manage?
Can’t say that we are – but if the right opportunity presented itself, can’t say that we aren’t.
Dispatches From Da Nang by Batsauce / FULL PLATE
Tell us more about ‘Plates And Crates?
Plates & Crates is a house party/dinner party I started. Always all vegan, always DJs playing (and selling) all vinyl. It grew to become a beloved staple of ATL’s indy scene and it’s the #1 thing I get asked about to this day.
I started it as a means of tricking people to pay attention to me and then BOOM I hit ‘em with the music, but it took on a life of its own. DJs tell me it’s their favorite party to spin at. Hip hop heads & normies alike say it’s their favorite Atlanta party. I miss it dearly and plan to relaunch at the top of 2024.
Anything MEXICAN. I love making a huge pot of black beans and then making 5 different dishes from them over the next 3 days.
Last words or shout outs??
Paten Locke and DJ Basic – THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE – RIP LEGENDS.
Shouts to Batsauce & Lady Daisey, The Smile Rays, Willie Evans Jr., The Difference Machine, Day Tripper, Yamin Semali, Kenski (our main artist / designer), Diamond D, J57, Supa Dave West Mr. Krum, Justin at AE Productions (our UK partner), the team at Fat Beats (physical distro), Soulspazm (digital distro), Pizza Galore, Janie Kol and Asha Bear.