Higher Style is based in Minneapolis, MN but keeps tabs on fashion trends from all over the world. Since the early 80’s, scene’sters have been dubbing Minneapolis, “The Mini Apple.” Comparing it to USA’s most recognized city, New York, often being referred to as “The Big Apple.” Minneapolis has stepped in line as a mini New York City. Providing residents and visitors with everything New York has to offer but on a mini scale. Like NYC, Minneapolis has one of the USA’s most impressive skylines. The Northwest National Life Insurance building (downtown mpls) is the work of Minoru Yamasaki, who was also the architect of the Twin Towers in NYC. Minneapolis ranks 2nd to NYC for theater seats per capita. There is an enormous amount of art and street culture in Minneapolis. Like NYC, Minneapolis produces creative artists, spitting out budding musicians and fashion designers by the mouthful.
The similarities between the two cities attracted Higher Style to the underground street fashion and music culture of NYC, specifically the street wear scene in Brooklyn. We have connected with one of Brooklyn’s alternative/indie hip hop artists to talk about his music, shopping habits, stage presence, and the street culture Brooklyn provides.
We are honored and thrilled to introduce and collaborate with Brooklyn, NY hip hop artist, Dan Dillinger.
Dan starting writing lyrics in high school. Being inspired by artists like Aesop Rock and Black Star. While in college, he made the decision to create music and dedicate his life to it. Higher Style had a conversation with Dan about his music and how it influences his style.
Higher Style: Dan, you’re from Brooklyn. Were you born there?
Dan Dillinger: I am 100% from Brooklyn but I wasn’t born there. A lot of people don’t know this, but I was adopted when I was a month old from the Dominican Republic. So, I was born in Santo Domingo and came to Brooklyn when I was 1 month old.
HS: Describe your music. Would you label yourself a Hip Hop artist? Or, do you prefer to be categorized by some fancy sub-genre group?
DD: I’d consider myself an alternative hip hop artist. It’s kinda funny though, because I only know how my music sounds to me. I don’t know how other people interpret it. I grew up listening to so many different genres of music that I feel like I try to add as many elements as I can into my own. I mean honestly, if I could… I’d love to meld the grunge/metal-core/shoegaze and hip hop sound together, but not in a shitty way. I used to be such a hater, kinda like, “man, that’s too mainstream sounding”, or “oh, that’s not REAL underground hip hop.” Now, If I like how it sounds, I’m gonna do it no matter what, and hopefully in the process connect with someone through the emotion and lyrics
HS: Do you feel that Brooklyn has influenced your music?
DD: I think for sure Brooklyn has influenced my music. I mean Black Star was huge to me when I first got into hip hop. I vividly remember walking down the block with my headphones on, spring and summer, and just vibing out to a sound I only knew as Brooklyn hip hop. Like I said earlier, I just grab things that peak my interest and try to infuse them into my sound. Brooklyn is an incredible place, and if you pay attention close enough, there’s an unlimited amount of inspiration and influence everywhere.
HS: Do you feel that Brooklyn has influenced your style?
DD: I think there are definitely elements of Brooklyn that have influenced my style. Like, fitteds. I used to rock them super heavy but I’m not a huge baseball fan, so I wouldn’t wear a Yankee fitted. I remember buying a San Jose Sharks fitted because they’re my second favorite team (Rangers are my first, but I’m not a huge fan of the colors) and not too many people I know like hockey. Around that time, I also flipped up the brim, kinda west coast style. I like to try to differentiate myself as much as possible from something I see as being a “trend” or something that everyone else does. I wasn’t always like that… obviously there was a time where I just wanted to fit in but as I got older, I was kinda like ..”fuck that.” One thing you do notice walking around NYC, or Brooklyn, is that after a while… you see so many people trying to stand out, that they start to look the same. Which I always found interesting.
HS: Describe your style for the masses.
DD: I’d say my style is a mix of skate/bmx/punk with some flair, small variations on hoodies, shirts and jeans. My favorite clothes are for sure, hoodies and jeans. I guess that’s why I love the fall weather. It’s perfect for that. I definitely wear a lot of black. Not really sure where that came from but I guess that’s me. I think a lot of my style choices come from the fact that I see other things I like on other people, but feel like I couldn’t pull it off? So I kinda just leave it to them…until I think I’m ready to just go for it. I like flannel shirts too, or button ups. Totally button up all the way to the top too. My closet, or dresser, isn’t messy. It’s definitely not color coordinated but I’d say it’s coordinated by article of clothing. I’d attach a picture of it, but I’m currently in my girlfriend’s living room in Buffalo, NY! **Shout Out to Dan’s girlfriend for taking the photos featured of him**
HS: Do you enjoy certain designers/labels/lines?
DD: I honestly don’t think I’m into any particular designer or label. I think I’m more attracted to the look of the piece of clothing. Or how I think it’ll fit into my current wardrobe. Or even, how I can incorporate it into my style. Sometimes, I’ll see something and say to myself “Hmm, I don’t know how that’s gonna look, but try it” and then if I get a response from people like “what the hell are you wearing!?” then I know I’m heading in the right direction of differentiating myself on some level. In the same breath, I’m not saying I look down on anyone who has similar styles or tastes… obviously everyone coming together… unity is the goal. At the same time, I do like to try to stand out and also be acknowledged as an individual. I probably couldn’t live without my hats. I don’t know if you’d consider that clothing or an accessory, but I LOVE hats. I don’t even really know where it came from but I wear them ALL the time. Fitteds, snapbacks, beanies, slouchy beanies, 5 panels. It’s kind of embarrassing actually now that I think about it.
HS: What about your shoe game tho?!
DD: I used to think I was a sneaker head, but I’m totally not. I like shoes a lot but I’m not a sneaker head. Right now, I have 2 pairs of Supra-Stacks II (black/gum), a pair of Supra-Ellington (black/gum), a pair of Emericas-Wino Cruiser (black), a pair of Etnies-Viva Los Stupidos (blue), a pair of Adidas-Busenitz (light grey), and old ass pair of Nikes (midnight blue/red), a pair of Ecko boots-Cut and Sew (haha!) (Brown/tan plaid), a pair of Thursday Boots-Captain (Natural), and a pair of DSW boots (midnight blue/brown). I’ve never owned a pair of Timbs believe it or not…I know, haha, and I’ve only owned ONE pair of Jordan’s and I was like 7 when I had them. Funny thing is, they were Jordan 7s retro in black and grey I think?
HS: Where, in the Brooklyn area, do you shop for clothing, shoes, or accessories?
DD: I do most of my shopping online. If I actually get something in person, it’s usually kind of like a one-off thing. I will say, that as much as I try to be an individual, I like to browse in Zumiez, and Pac Sun and shit like that. That being said, I do enjoy the mom and pop shops that carry stuff that most people haven’t heard of, or a select few have. There is one shop I’d like to shout out. They’re located in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. They’re called Park Delicatessen. They sell flowers, skateboards/skate accessories, and some dry goods. parkdelibk.com and then their instagram is @Parkdelibk.
HS: Do you have a stylist help you perfect your look before a performance?
DD: I definitely don’t have a stylist, HA! I honestly don’t know if I’d even like it? I’m definitely conscious of what I’d like to wear, or how I’d like present myself on stage. But, I also have this thing about myself and my music, where what you hear and what you see, is going to be VERY close to how I am outside the studio and off stage. I mean, on stage I may be an exaggerated version of myself, but you’re still getting me. So, I don’t wanna go crazy with what I’m wearing or how I come off, because to me, you wouldn’t necessarily be getting an authentic version of who I am if I put on an act. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ALL about the theatrical and over the top shit too though. When I was in middle school, Marilyn Manson was my FAVORITE artist, and then I got into Slipknot and Mudvayne pretty heavily too. So visuals are definitely important to me and I tend to lean towards darker imagery for some reason. I like to show that side of me through my lyrics sometimes and then in my videos, or my artwork. That being said, it’s not to say that I’m a dark person and I wanna kill chickens in the recesses of my sadistic mind (laughs). Not at all, I just love the visual aspect, and the shock value of it all. I also enjoy the idea that behind a mask or face paint if gives you a cloak, or a safety net, where you’re hiding, but also able to really let go, because everyone just sees the mask, or paint.
HS: Judging by your Instagram, you don’t wear a lot of “bling”. Do you wear any jewelry?
DD: Yeah, I really don’t wear too much jewelry just because I never really got into it. I used to wear earrings but just stopped after a while for no reason in particular. I used to wear rings in like 6th grade because that was the thing back in ’96…totally dated myself there. J I do wear two necklaces though. One is a razor blade, and the other one is an axe. The razor blade is pretty old, and I just thought it was something that not many people would have, or wear. So I went with it, and it’s become an identifying symbol for me and is incorporated into my logo, which is kinda dope. The axe, I got this year and I was honestly just kinda going in the same vein as the razor blade to be honest.
HS: Does your style reflect in your music?
DD: I grew up at a time where grunge and alternative dominated the musical landscape. I was always trying to be counter-culture, or influenced by it. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted tattoos and piercings. Simply because I liked how they looked. And as I got older, I got into riding BMX and TRYING to skateboard. So, that culture also influenced me. In some sense it’s very similar to the grunge/alt. culture because at that time, it was an underground kinda thing. The X Games had JUST made it to TV and it was all just super exciting and different.
HS: Would you mind elaborating a little about your tats and piercings?
DD: I have a bunch of tattoos and only one piercing I currently wear (nose). The first tattoo I ever got is on my back and says “Rise Above”. I totally stole the idea from skater Mike Vallely, but I was 18 and impressionable. I have both arms and hands done, fingers too. My right arm I consider my “New York/America” arm. So, lots of New York imagery: Twin towers, Empire State building, a time piece on my hand with the time the first tower got hit, an eagle and American flag in there too. I plan on finishing it up with the Brooklyn Bridge. I’ve also got roses as fillers in there. On my left arm, I left it up to my artist (Shout out to Willie Paredes, of Brooklyn Tattoo) to come up with the images for an idea I had. Which was a “heaven to hell” theme and everything in between. The reason for that is because I feel EVERYBODY goes through their own version of both during their lifetime, and I wanted to convey that. So there’s a scene of an angel (upper arm) and a demon (lower arm/wrist) basically having a tug of war with a guy who’s blindfolded, and wrapped around by a snake (earth) and octopus (sea). I have flames and hellish imagery at the wrist for the “hell” part, some waves in the middle, then some clouds at the top around the angel. I have the head of a crow on my left hand with the quote “It can’t rain all the time” above it. Which is from the movie, The Crow, which is one of my favorites. And then finally… on my fingers it says “Brooklyn” on my upper knuckles and then “Fall/Rise” on the bottom knuckles. So, obviously showing where I’m from, and then reminding myself that whenever I fall, the next step is to rise. Most of my tattoos are done by Willie Paredes, as I mentioned before. He did both arms, hands, and my Brooklyn fingers. The Fall/Rise was done by Mic Excel from Buffalo, NY out of Madd Tattoo. Mic is also an emcee as well. I can’t really even remember who did my first one cause I’m old and that’s what happens when you get older.
Check out the following links for rhymes, beats, show info, and other Dan Dillinger media/merchandise:
Reverb Nation: reverbnation.com/Dandillinger
If anybody is interested in Dan Dillinger Tshirts, he welcomes you to DM him on any of his social media pages 🙂