When I heard D-Sisive’s first EP, The Book, two years ago I was absolutely floored. The rapper, whose real name is Derek Christoff, spoke brutally honestly about the deaths of his parents — his father died in 2006 of cirrhosis of the liver; his mother passed away of breast cancer in 1997.
His candid lyrics shook me — my wife’s mother died of cancer around that time, so much of what he said resonated in a strange and sometimes disturbing way. But I wasn’t the only one who was mesmerized by his words.
Since then the Toronto artist has developed a rabid fanbase and while he’s a strong rapper, it’s his passionate rhymes that he hopes people will remember him for. “I’m not trying to be the best rapper alive,” he tells Metro. “My goal is to be respected as a songwriter.”
That’s why he says he’s been “harassing” Ron Sexsmith to sing on one of his records for years.
“He’s got a career that I pray I can have,” says Christoff. “He’s respected by the best songwriters in the world.”
Sexsmith finally sang on D-Sisive’s new record — Vaudeville — on the song Liberace, about homosexually and having to hide your real self.
Christoff may have to put out a few more albums before Sexsmith fans such as Elvis Costello and Sir Paul McCartney start singing his praises, but make no mistake, it’s going to happen. D-Sisive doesn’t focus on his parents’ death, and self-sabotaging his first chance at a rap career (he was courted by majors in the early 2000s) like he did on his EP and subsequent two LPs, but his words are no less direct and though-provoking.
The reggae-tinged Never Knew Me could be about a failed relationship, or perhaps he’s looking back at his old, ego-driven self. Either way its vivid lyrics like “this is it, eh? Who would have thought the seams would have ripped the jeans were a fit, blame it on the rain or the weight gain, know my hat size it’s all passé” that will keep his career going well into this decade.
It also helps that he has a sense of humour. While his first records, especially The Book, were bleak, Vaudeville is full of pop culture references and genuinely funny moments.
Christoff purposely made a lighter record, starting with the title of the disc. “When I referred to this record I said it will be my song and dance disc,” he says. “It wasn’t going to be another ‘I’m so sad, no one likes me album’ — I’m going to get happy and bring the jiggy back.”
But even though he’s a sap singing about romance on I Love a Girl, he doesn’t want people to think he’s gone too soft. “I could put out an album with 13 I Love a Girl’s, but at the end of the day give me a mic and two turntables and I’ll still whoop your a—.”
Bryan Borzykowski is a business and entertainment writer. Follow Metro Music on Twitter @TheMetroMusic