Skank Dollar is a survivor, however you’d like to interpret the word. He’s the Brooklyn native who raps about the life that he’s known. One of his career-defining collections Live from Da Trap, gives personal-diary-like details of life as he sees it. Prior to that work, he put out The New York Times Tape 1, a concept mix tape with each song symbolizing the figurative headlines from Brooklyn’s lyrical yet tough streets.
Kreyolicious: How did you get the name Skank Dollar?
I got the name Skank from my older brother…a Flatbush Brooklyn street hustler who was given the name after he escaped a police custody situation. He stole from a female officer he slept with. One of the guys from the neighborhood caught wind of his local acts, and deemed him Skank for his influence on young women from around the neighborhood. He later added the Dollar part in hopes of creating a music persona after surviving a massive trailer accident on the the corner of Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.
Kreyolicious: Did hip-hop choose you or did you choose hip-hop?
Skank Dollar: Since his passing, I’ve actually chosen hip-hop as a way to deal with my own personal grief. Being an “early adult”, I wasn’t familiar with death of a loved one before this…I actually lost school friends in the area, but never lost someone so close to me. So, I was moved down South by my family due to poor school grades from my Brooklyn neighborhood. And engulfed in the lifestyle, my family tried to prevent me from. The news of his passing was sent to me and my older brother. The hip-hop aspect came beforehand after picking up frivolous drug-dealing aspects and skills from local notorious thugs in the South Florida area. It was like a pastime. After hustling, I thought myself remembering how much he wanted to be a rapper instead. So once I acquired the gift, I began to pass it on to my fellow streets hustlers who had long taken me in as if I was a runaway stray…And I felt like one too…At the time I was forced to go into this new area by him at the time due to his numerous exploits in the neighborhood we where from. So the rapping came naturally. My new friends were excited that I was from New York and expected me to be a good rapper…So, me being inexperienced, it was a perfect place to practice after my hustling duties…[Laughter] I was deemed the rapper out of my group because I was from new York. Cliché…I also had to open the minds of my friends to Northern hip-hop and vice versa…That has had an effect on my style of rap personally. So when I do hip-hop today, knowing I have influenced many in my travels, I keep the Southern style in my heart. Knowing my siblings had a more boom-bap style, he would’ve surely used before his soul was called home.
Kreyolicious: When you’re creating, what’s the process like from start to finish?
Skank Dollar: Honestly…it comes kinda natural…it’s random. I tend to find female partners first. sometimes I Freestyle songs over my live feeds today in time but when I was younger in the early and mid-2000’s I had less resources. I’ve since adjusted my style of rap and formed a conscious trap style of rap with is sort of an explanation in a sense… like I mixed the North and the South as much as I could. So sometimes I’d sound like I’m from the North, but spoke like I was from the South, or I’d sound like I’m from the South, but spoke like I was from the North or Midwest.
Kreyolicious: Which rappers have had the most profound influence on you?
Skank Dollar: I’ve pretty much today met all of my influences aside from a handful of artist like Jay Z, Mobb Deep, Trick Daddy, The Wu-Tang Clan, Dr Dre, Ice Cube, Wyclef Jean, LL Cool J, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, and Sean Combs. But I’ve come across many and some I didn’t take photographs with or met this decade. My social networks tell a different story today. But it has been a long time coming and very difficult. I’m talking about from Ludacris to Tip Harris in from the mid to late 2010s. Too many to count and I’m still in the streets.
Kreyolicious: You ever been to Haiti, dawg?
Skank Dollar: Nah. I ain’t have never been to Haiti. Unfortunately, but I do plan on visiting very very soon. As a young teen, I had a spoiled friend who visited Haiti with his family members. Unfortunately he had nothing but bad things to say about it being a spoiled American. In my adulthood, my mother took the time to inform me of my extensive background. So, I’m still learning about myself as I build my image and name.
Kreyolicious: Do you think there will be a time when hip hop won’t matter?
Skank Dollar: No. I believe hip-hop music as a music form will be preserved for decades and generations to come…It will be around for a long time…and as a young boy from Brooklyn I’ve long begun my quest to leave my stamp.