UPDATE (9/15/15, 5:15p.m. ET): Dee-1 says that the release of Separated At Birth has been cancelled. In an Instagram post, the New Orleans rapper said he was threatened with “legal recourse” and that his “personal safety was also brought up.” For now, Dee said the mixtape is "banned" and not going to be released as planned.
What if Lil Wayne and his hypothetical twin brother were separated at birth? Now, picture that sibling rapping. That’s the scenario New Orleans rapper Dee-1 hopes to paint when he releases his upcoming Weezy-inspired mixtape Separated At Birth.
"We've got a lot of similarities and I was really influenced by Lil Wayne,” Dee told MTV News, noting that they both sport dreadlocks, are from New Orleans and speak with a similar accent.
But there are also some differences between them that Separated At Birth will showcase. "I’m rapping over Lil Wayne beats,” Dee explained. “But I’m doing the more conscious, thought-provoking versions of his well known songs.”
"The Block Is Hot," the first single off the Sept. 15 project, is an example of that. "When you say 'the block is hot,’ that’s slang for saying a bunch of dope and guns and violence is all on this block,” Dee said. "My thing is, what’s the solution to that? My song is telling the dope boys to get out the game and flip their money into something legit.”
While some may wonder how Wayne might take this project, Dee said he isn't concerned with that. "I don't care if he takes offense to it or not," Dee said.
"I'm not doing my music for him to like or dislike. I'm doing it for the fans to see that this is someone who heavily influenced me, but I'm choosing to take a direction with my music to where I want to be a role model. Lil Wayne doesn't seem to be concerned with being a role model through his music, through the content."
Part of this message was also conveyed on "Call Yo Bluff," a Separated At Birth track that dropped this week.' "You have all of this influence," Dee raps on the remake of Weezy's "Rich As F--k," "But who did you inspire?" Later on the track, he asks Wayne not to "mislead these kids."
Dee’s former students are part of the inspiration for the project. In fact, one of his ex-pupils reached out to the MC the day we spoke for this interview. The teen, who Dee described as "brilliant," now has pending troubles with the law due to a drug charge and he is "basically homeless." Dee wants to intervene both in life and through his music.
"For me to see what he has turned to, I know for a fact that these dudes listen to hip-hop," Dee said. "They start to live by partially what they've been taught in hip-hop. As he's telling me what he's doing with his life, I'm hearing the lyrics of different rappers that I know he probably listens to who told him that the streets are the way to go.
"The way he was talking to me over the phone, it almost sounded like a rap song," he continued, recalling their talk. "'Times is hard...I had to do what I had to do to survive and move this weight.' It's not because of hip-hop, but I know that hip-hop plays a role in dictating people's lifestyles. I am only in this game to help balance it out."