by Jimmy Smooth

It was a pleasure and an absolute honor to be able to sit down with my childhood friend, up-and-coming Akron artist Duece Dime. He has done paintings of fellow Akronites Cazzell Smith and LeBron James. He isn’t unapproachable, but believes in letting the work speak for itself instead of doing a lot of unnecessary talking.

The best part about being able to have this Q&A with my brother is where we come from. You could’ve gone left or right, and I don’t need to explain how life can get when you decide to go left. Duece took that right turn and is becoming a trailblazer in the Akron art scene.

We spoke about a few things he has coming up in the future, Akron’s appreciation for its artists and what hip-hop means to him. This was a conversation over cognac between two cats who have known each other a long time, who started out reminiscing about sneakers we once had and cassette tapes we traded in the 90s.

Someone once told me that a lot of artists don’t get their props until they die. Deuce said they were kind of right. But I’m not trying to hear that. I’m trying to smell my roses while I’m still here.

Jimmy Smooth: So for those who don’t know, Duece is an acronym. Please break that down for the people.

Duece Dime: Duece stands for “Do U Everyday Creating Elevating”. It also ties in to my birthday, which is February 10th.

JS: At what age did you start drawing?

DD: I came out the womb drawing (laughing). I was born with it in 1983. I started out drawing a lot of comic book superheroes… around 1986 or ‘87. I was living in Connecticut at the time. I was born in Akron but lived out there for a hot one and came back in the early 90s.

JS: Do you think attending Miller South and Firestone High School helped you become a better artist?

DD: Absolutely. They both had a huge impact on me. I had teachers showing me different things to help me enhance my craft. Also, being around different races — the diversity helped me to see things from different perspectives.

JS: At what point did you know you were nice with the art game?

DD: I always been nice, man. (Both laughing.)

JS: But was there a certain piece that you did that made you feel you could do it professionally?

DD: When I did this Biggie and Tupac split drawing in ‘97, I got a lot of love from my peers for that one. My cousin ended up getting it framed for me. (Shoutout to my cousin Habeebah.)

JS: Let’s talk about the mural that you did of LeBron and the response you got from the community.

DD: It was a real big response, and it’s gone be even bigger once we get it out there. We plan on putting it up in front of the Maple Valley Library on Copley Road once the weather breaks. This past summer, @PLAY Akron did a preview of the mural at Perkins Pool. I also signed postcards of the mural at the Pool and the Bubblefest at Joy Park.

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JS: What does Hip Hop mean to you?

DD: That’s life. It is something that is incorporated into almost everything that I do.

JS: Let’s talk about the artwork you did of Raekwon and Ghostface Killah from the “Can It Be All So Simple” video. That piece is supposed to be in the upcoming Wu-Tang documentary?

DD: I’m waiting to see it myself. All I know is I got a contract from Mass Appeal asking to use the joint. When Rae came to Akron, he signed the original, and I sent him a copy of the artwork later.

JS: I know you are a Wu fan. Who’s the best in the Clan?

DD: Damn, I’m gone have to give it to Ghostface.

JS: Was Ironman better than Purple Tape?

DD: No, but Supreme Clientele could be in that conversation.

JS: Do you think the city of Akron appreciates artwork and its local artists enough?

DD: Does the city of Akron appreciate Ghostface enough? (Both laughing.) Nah. We getting there. It’s certain people. There are certain people that go out of their way to show love to Akron artists, and that’s what we need. I’d also like to see Akron artists come together, because we got some real talented people in the area. But Yo! Shoutout to those that rock with me. Y’all know who y’all are.

JS: I also know that you are a sneakerhead. What’s your favorite sneaker of all time?

DD: Air Jordan 6 Carmine with the Nike Air on the back. I hope they drop those this year.

JS: What can the people expect from Duece in the near future?

DD: I see my own gallery in the near future. That’s up next. I have a 14-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter. My daughter is looking like she definitely could be a hoop star. She nice on the court. I want to push and support that as much as I can. And my son nice on the production side with the music, making beats. I want to help get him out there, let people hear what he can do. And you know me, I’m already on the path I need to be on, so I’m just gone keep going.

Reach Jimmy Smooth at jimmythesmooth1@gmail.com.

Artwork by Duece Dime. Images used with permission from Duece.

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