The Grand Rapids hip hop artist and saxophonist prefers to unleash his art — and leave his legacy — in the studio. It paid off with his compelling new album, “Montshon.” Story, video, audio.
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Venson Dix explores ‘things unknown’ in new video, album
For Dix, there’s a “sense of urgency” about life and art that he just can’t escape.
On the Grand Rapids rapper’s newest album, “Montshon,” that urgency can be heard loud and clear through 11 brash, strong-willed tracks. He has a lot to say: about his wife and two kids, social injustice, religion and even conspiracy theories.
“Montshon” – also Dix’s middle name – was recorded and released in close collaboration with Jason “Nixon” Burke and Rick Chyme through their independent label, 5iveit Entertainment. Dix worked with several producers on the songs and even self-produced the song “Rap About.”
“Between work, playing with my kids and sleep, all I do is write,” Dix said. “I don’t watch television, none of that.”
Dix is militant about writing every day. It a rule for him, even if it’s a quick 30-minute session before or after work. It’s part of that “urgency.”
Whether anyone will ever see or hear those words doesn’t seem to matter to Dix, and yet, he has boxes of notebooks and hundreds of notes on his phone all filled with lyrics and thoughts. For inspiration, Dix falls down “rabbit holes” on the Internet, reading anything he finds interesting.
INQUISITIVE AND FUELED BY ‘TWO EXTREMELY DIFFERENT CULTURES’
“I’m inquisitive and curious about things unknown. If there’s something to know, I have to know it,” he said.
And Dix has been curious that way since he was young. Growing up in Grand Rapids in a mixed-race household, with a mother from Middleville and a father from Gary, Ind., was formative for his life outlook.
LISTEN: “If I Don’t Make It” (Produced by B-Coe Productions)
“I grew up with two extremely different cultures and I cherish that,” Dix said. “They’re polar opposites.”
Learning a variety of perspectives pushed him to listen to a variety of music, too. Dix cites artists ranging from Metallica and Slayer to Bootsy Collins and N.W.A. as early influences.
In high school, Dix began playing saxophone and, soon after, started making beats on a workstation keyboard and writing raps to them.
In his new song, “Claustrophobic” featuring Rick Chyme, Dix claims he would not have completed high school if he didn’t have band class and the saxophone.
Though he’s performed at venues around Grand Rapids since he was a teenager, Dix has decided not to perform live recently. He’s also not much into social media. The rhythm of life with a wife, two kids, two jobs and writing seems to keep him busy enough.
“I’d rather make music, release music and repeat. I find peace in that,” Dix said. “I don’t want to be a nationally touring dude. I have my priorities straight.”
Dix mused about a long-term career goal: that maybe 150 years from now, someone would find “Montshon” in a closet somewhere, listen to it and say “I’ve been looking for this.”
“So if you don’t try to make that quality music now, they’ll never find it,” Dix said. “I’m trying to leave a legacy.”
“Montshon” is available at vensondix.bandcamp.com.
VIDEO: “Guillotine” (Produced by Newstalgia)
Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC