Virginia youngins Divine Council received an absurdly large cosign this Fall when André Benjamin hopped on their song "Decemba." Although the group had met their label-mate André one time before, and have received blessings from Erykah Badu and L.A. Reid, nothing had prepared them for this moment. Just a day after dropping the song online, the group's producer ICYTWAT and rapper $ilk Money got a call from the Outkast rapper and sent over the beat. $ilk admitted to The FADER that when he found out that Benjamin wanted to make a remix he cried.
Over email to The FADER, Benjamin explained that the admiration was mutual, "I was already a fan of Divine Council since I was turned on to the "P. Sherman song" and their movement. About two weeks ago, I heard "Decemba" one time on Soundcloud and I was immediately inspired, just from the way $ilk Money was rapping. It was just good. I started writing and recorded the verse that day."
He continued, "Even though they had been signed to Epic, the label didn't know I was doing it until the song was turned in. They are a really interesting crew. The name Divine Council alone said to me that they were coming from a different place. Lord Linco, $ilk Money, Cyrax and ICYTWAT (dope ass names, ha) have a sound and approach of their own."
Yesterday, $ilk Money and ICYTWAT spoke with The FADER about how they came up with the idea for the song, how they felt when they heard Benjamin's guest verse, and how he's mentoring them to be better emcees.
Your wordplay is clever. How did you come up with the concept for the song?
$ILK MONEY: When we're together, we're always just fucking around and we'll just be saying hella cool ass rhymes and shit. We were in L.A. and I said, “I hold a bitch up like Simba and dropped the hoe down like December,” and I was like Yo, that shit is hard. I put that shit in my notes and kind of just kept it there for a minute. Then I came back to it. I had a beat before but it wasn't a ICYTWAT beat and I didn't fuck with the beat at all anymore. I hit Twat up like "Yo, let's make this song harder than it originally was like, let's do this shit for real.” Twat was like, "What kind of sound do you want for it?" I was like, "Nigga, I want some house music mixed with some mosh pit shit for real." He just crafted the whole entire beat around the vocals and some real artistic craftsman shit — he did it in three days. Then I got it back and it was just amazing.
ICYTWAT: $ilk sent me the vocals and I went in and did the drums because I already knew how I wanted it to sound. It was hard to tell, but I couldn't think of the right melody to really put on that shit because I didn't want it to sound like anything I had done before. I was like Fuck, what can I think of? When he told me the house/mosh-pit idea, it instantly clicked.
$ILK MONEY: Yeah, that shit happened quick as hell. We never usually drop a song like that. The track was made and the song was mixed, finished, and dropped all in the same day.
What was your reaction when you found out that Andre Benjamin wanted to get on the track?
$ILK MONEY: I cried. I dead ass cried. I cried tears of joy.
ICYTWAT: Real shit.
$ILK MONEY: Our manager Chris called me in the morning and woke me up like, "It's an emergency nigga. I need you to get the fuck up. I need you to send me that instrumental. André is in the studio right now [saying] he's already writing to this shit and he needs the instrumental because he's trying to get on it." I'm on the phone like, “Nigga, what?!” I sent the instrumental and I think by the end of that day, Andre sent the verse back and I'm listening to it and I'm dead ass crying. Like, we in this joint, I’m smoking a blunt, crying tears like What the hell is this? I can't believe this happening. That shit felt like a dream.
After you found out that he was getting on the remix, when did he send the final version?
$ILK MONEY: The day that we found out that he wanted to do it, he sent it back by the end of the same day. He said he was in the studio for eight hours recording that shit.
ICYTWAT: The whole thing was quick as hell. We finished the song Friday, dropped the song Saturday, and then had a remix by Sunday.
$ILK MONEY: When he said he wanted to do it and he said he heard it one time and instantly started writing because he was inspired by that shit is amazing because, for me to inspire him? That's just phenomenal.
He didn’t record the verse in the studio with you all, so when did Divine Council meet him?
$ILK MONEY: That was last year when things really started getting crazy for us. We got flown out to New York and we did our first major show. We performed at Leaders Of The New Cool at CMJ. We were just waiting at the hotel and then André walks in and I'm looking at him like This nigga looks deadass like André 3000. [Laughs]
Then he was like, "What’s up guys?" He sits next to us and the nigga is eating tomato soup on some "regular degular" shit, like he's not who the fuck he is, and he's talking about how he's a huge fan of us. We're like, “We're huge fans of you! What the fuck is happening right now?” He told us that the way he heard us was through his son Seven and I thought that was even crazier. [André] came to the show that night and we went to dinner and all of that. He was asking us who our favorite artists were and shit, and talking to us about a whale named Blue 32, aliens, and all kinds of cool ass shit over dinner.
Did he share any gems with either the group?
$ILK MONEY: He came to our Rolling Loud set and he wrote a whole list of shit that we need to improve on. I fuck with that. I love that shit because he’s like our mentor. The fact that he sits there and watches our shows and makes a list of shit that we need to improve on is great. It lets me know how involved he is and the greatness he truly sees in us. He always has all types of insight. He is probably the only nigga that could tell me shit in this music shit, anybody else I'd be like, "I don't give a fuck." But him? I'm taking heed to everything. My eyes and my ears are open. After he sent his verse, he asked me if I fucked with it and he was just talking about how much I inspired him. He said he wouldn't have gotten on a track or he wouldn't have dropped this song if he didn't fuck with it. He was also talking about how I'm the only nigga "rapping rapping" right now. Once he said that shit, I was crying again because there's a lot of niggas rapping.