Q&A with rapper Dylan Rottkov

SOUTH PORTLAND – Dylan Rottkov is a 15-year-old up and coming rapper from South Portland. Last week he both coordinated and performed at an event held at the Big Easy in Portland, where he opened for headliner, Hi-Rez, a Sony Records artist from Florida.

Rottkov’s stage name is Dylan Raw and he’s been performing both hip-hop and rap remixes live on stage and in a series of recordings for the past three years. His most recent effort is entitled, “The Raw Arrival.”

Rottkov’s ultimate goal is to keep improving both as an artist and as a concert promoter. He was born on Long Island, N.Y., but has lived in South Portland since the age of 4. He is now a sophomore at South Portland High School and in addition to music he enjoys sports.

He plays football in the fall and basketball in the winter. Rottkov also played baseball up until this spring when he decided to put time into weight lifting to bulk up for the upcoming football season.

Rottkov’s father, Richard, is a former concert promoter, who is also a past president of the South Portland Land Trust and the local Democratic committee. His mother works for an insurance company and Rottkov’s older brother was a star player on the South Portland High School football team. The family also has two dogs – Scuppers, an English springer spaniel, and Scouty, a mix breed.

This week Rottkov spoke with the Current about his music and his future goals.

Q: How long have you been performing hip-hop?

A: The first time I ever rapped was at the South Portland Boys and Girls Club where I decided I wanted to compete with an older member in a rap battle where two rappers write their best rhymes and perform them in competition.

The first full song I ever wrote was in sixth-grade. I can remember walking room-to-room at Mahoney Middle School performing the song to all my favorite teachers. My first live performance was when I was 12. That was at the Big Easy, and I performed in front of 200 people.

Q: What do you most like about this genre of music?

A: I’ve always been attracted to the controlled edge hip-hop music has. It’s got great energy and music, but the lyricism is really what drew me in. I love the creativity and metaphors my favorite rappers use. A few of my favorites are Jay-Z, Eminem, J.Cole and Drake.

Q: How did you come up with your stage name?

A: I was going under the name White Tiger before I met my mentor and current partner LOC D.A.B. He told me the name was “whack” and it needed a change. So with my raw talent and my last name being pronounced Raw-t-kov we decided I should go under the name Dylan Raw.

Q: Do you perform original pieces or do mostly covers?

A: In rap music there are no covers like there are in rock ’n’ roll or with pop bands. What they’re called is remixes. A remix is when a rapper will take an instrumental or beat from an industry song and rap their own original lyrics over that beat. You cannot make money off those songs because the beat belongs to the original artist. I perform mostly original songs because those are the songs I get the most crowd reaction from.

Q: Is there a difference between hip-hop and rap?

A: Some people will tell you that hip-hop is the more lyrical, old- school type music and rap is the more gangster, thug music. I like to think that every rapper has music for both genres. But it’s all about preference.

Q: What inspired you to pull together last week’s show featuring Hi-Rez?

A: I’ve been a fan of Hi-Rez since he was no more well-known than I am today. I got in contact with his agent last year about possibly doing a song together, and eventually we got familiar enough with each other that I asked him what he’d charge me to do a show in Portland.

From there it just took off to where I decided to really work and make sure it was a great show for the fans. Hi-Rez was also nice enough to do a song with me on my next single. The song is called “Dream Girl” and it’s a great record.

Q: Do you hope to be a professional musician/concert promoter?

A: At this point, it’s not very difficult for me to juggle the work of being a promoter and a musician. I like being kept busy. Eventually the more money and demand comes in for me and my group’s music the less concert promotion and side profits I’ll be able to do.

If this music thing doesn’t work out, though, I would love to be a high school history teacher and a basketball or football coach. Music and sports have always been my two biggest passions.

Q: How often do you perform and what do you enjoy about doing a live show?

A: LOC and I try to do a show every couple of months. We each perform solo shows, but we also perform together.

My favorite thing about performing is the crowd reaction. It’s a pretty amazing feeling seeing people dance and get excited to your music. The feeling is indescribable.

I am also part of a group of rappers, singers, photographers, videographers, investors and consultants all working toward the goal of making it in the music industry. This group is called Get*Um Gang. We’re a humble group that prides itself on making the best music possible and we are always trying to improve.

South Portland teen Dylan Rottkov is beginning to make a name for himself in local and national rap music circles. 

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