For the last dozen years, Doughboyz Cashout has been making raw, uncompromising hip-hop chronicling the highs and lows of growing up on Detroit’s west side. Formed in 2006 while they were all still in high school, DBC has achieved legendary status through a series of independent mixtapes, being signed to Jeezy’s CTE label, and DBC head honcho Payroll Giovanni’s deal with Def Jam.
StockX recently caught up with Payroll Giovanni, Darko, Fresh, and Chaz Bling to talk DBC history, hip-hop, fashion, and Detroit in the latest edition of “Off The Top.”
Below is a transcript of our exclusive interview, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
StockX: Would you mind giving us your family history?
Payroll Giovanni: My family is from the west side of Detroit. My mother is originally from San Francisco, and my dad is from Detroit.
You’ve mentioned before that you have a love for the Bay Area, it’s music and people. Is it because your mom and her family are from there?
Payroll: No. The Bay Area and Detroit…that music goes hand-in-hand. They’ve been like that since day one. There are lots of similarities in the music. Bay people mess with Detroit; Detroit people mess with the Bay. It’s been that way since before I was born.
Where did you grow up?
Payroll: Detroit’s west side.
I come from a block called Strathmoor.
What is your most vivid memory from your childhood?
Payroll: I come from a block called Strathmoor. When I was growing up, my block would clique up with the other couple of blocks over from us. The blocks were Mark Twain, Freeland, and Ardmore. We’d clique up with all the kids from those neighborhoods and then walk some miles to this other neighborhood, Schoolcraft, and it was an adventure. We’d go to the skating rink [Detroit Roller Wheels]
What is your first memory of hip-hop?
Payroll: I’ve been a fan of hip-hop since I was little. But the one thing that has always stuck out to me is No Limit Records when Master P came out. The “I’m Bout It” movie, I loved that! Also, the “Tru 2 Da Game” album, with the three skulls on the cover, and the “Ghetto D” album.
We were just in the streets and grinding. We were on the independent route, making noise.
What is your first memory of sneakers?
Payroll: Black and red Jordan 12s. I came to school with them on and I got a whole different response, from the girls, from everybody. They were like, “you go the Js on!” From then on I had to keep it rolling. I had to keep the girls happy.
Chaz Bling: In second grade I had the patent leather Jordan 11s. I had the all-white ones. It was tough keeping up with Payroll, he had everything. He had Gucci sweaters, all the Jordans…
Payroll: I remember Chaz saw me wearing Timberlands and told me how cool they were. My mom made me wear them and I didn’t like them at first. So Chaz made me feel better about them.
Darko: Grant Hill. I went to Mr. Alan’s to get the Grant Hill sneakers. He was big at the time, being on the Pistons. You know Fila was popping and they had a tracksuit to go with the shoes. So I had the Grant Hill sneakers and the matching tracksuit. After that is was Jordans and the Jumpman series. I mean, it’s always been Jordans.
After that is was Jordans and the Jumpman series. I mean, it’s always been Jordans.
Fresh: For me, it was between wheat Timberlands or the black and powder blue Jordan 14s. I was in the 7th grade. When I first got into Timberlands, I was in the 4th grade. My mom didn’t want me to wear my good Timberlands to school, but I had a Pelle Pelle coat that looked so good with them. So what I did was I would always wear my regular shoes to school, with my Timberlands in my book bag. When all the other kids would go outside in the snow in their UGG boots or whatever, I would put on my Timberlands. In Detroit, you got to have Timberlands.
How did you get into watches?
Payroll: I had a TechnoMarine when I was in elementary school. I didn’t start wearing Rolex till I was about ten or eleven years old. I’ve been into it ever since! I’ve always been into jewelry since forever, though. My favorite is the Rolex President. It’s classy; it’s timeless.
I didn’t start wearing Rolex till I was about ten or eleven years old. I’ve been into it ever since!
What are some of your favorite brands?
Payroll: Louis Vuitton, of course; Gucci; Off-White.
Fresh: I like Supreme.
DBC always comes correct with the outfits. How would you describe your personal style?
Payroll: Laid back, but still saying a lot at the same time. I might be wearing a plain black tee or something, but when you walk up on it, it might say Givenchy or something. I don’t like a lot of wild colors. Black is my favorite color.
Darko: I just put it together, I do me. I just go in with what I like. Calm, I’m like calm fashion: I don’t take too many risks. I like Gucci. I like Zara; I like the H&M brands. I just come at it with an openness, with an open mind.
Speaking of being putting things together, how do you put a record together?
Payroll: Usually, I’d make beats and then I’d send it out. Then I’d set up a studio session and we’d bounce ideas off each other. HBK might come with a verse that’s super hard, so I would have to go back in and change my verse up. It’s like a friendly competition that keeps us all on our toes. It keeps our skills sharp.
How did you end up on Jeezy’s Label, CTE?
Payroll: We were just in the streets and grinding. We were on the independent route, making noise. They reached out around 2012, 2013. He saw the vision and the work we were putting in and the rest is history.
He saw the vision and the work we were putting in and the rest is history.
Have you done a lot of touring?
Payroll: We’re selective. We put together our own tours. We basically reach out to the towns that mess with us and set up shows. That’s what we’re really about: just getting close to the people that really, genuinely care about us and listen to us.
It sounds like you have a close connection with your fans.
Payroll: They’re great. Every time I’m in public I meet someone. They have Doughboyz tattoos or Mob Life tattoos. They give me uplifting words to keep me going, too.
Detroit is also real flashy; it’s a boss’s city.
Payroll, how did you get hooked up with Cardo Got Wings and end up signing to Def Jam?
Payroll: That actually started from when Cardo was on CTE and he just reached out to me. He was a fan of my music and reached out to me by email. At first, I didn’t believe it was him! I thought the email was fake! I was already a fan of all his music with Wiz and all that he was doing. We ended doing a project together, “Big Bossin, Vol. 1,” and that was when Def Jam called.
Who are some other hip-hop groups to whom you compare yourself?
Payroll: Hot Boyz; Rocafella and Dame; Diplomats.
Detroit’s got more money than y’all! We got more ice than y’all!
What do you think of SoundCloud Rap?
Payroll: I don’t know SoundCloud rap. Whatever works for you, works for you. Everybody has a different path. My son, he’s about to turn eight, keeps me up on all the new stuff. He introduced me to the Juice world kid. I loved it! I downloaded all his stuff.
What should people know about Detroit culture?
Payroll: Detroit has a lot of different elements. You’ve got flashy; you’ve got grimy; you’ve got backpackers. You can’t just talk about Detroit and only talk about one thing. The part I grew up in was all about getting money and being flashy. It was like, just coming through with Benzes and all of that.
Detroit is also real flashy; it’s a boss’s city. The Detroit thing when I was growing up was to dress up and show out at a concert to show the rapper that Detroit’s got more money than y’all! We got more ice than y’all!
Do you think Detroit is accurately portrayed in the media?
Payroll: I ain’t ever seen it portrayed for real. Not the side I’m from.
We put it all out there. If you’re a fan, you know us: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
What does success look like, for you? How will you know when you’ve made it?
Payroll: Success to me, at this point, is having piece of mind. When you’re an old man laying in your mansion off the beach, with your kids running around outside, with five cars you hardly ever drive, and your jewelry is collecting dust, and you’re happy about it, that’s success. I’m trying to put together the right moves to get there. I can’t see the future, but I’m getting there. We’re all getting there.
Anything else people should know about Doughboyz Cashout?
Chaz: I don’t know. We pretty much put it all on the floor with our music.
Fresh: We put it all out there. If you’re a fan, you know us: the good, the bad, and the ugly.