Dewey decimate

Aka Jesse McDermott, Binns was born in New Mexico, but ended up in Lawton via a baseball scholarship to Cameron University. Although he still lives in Lawton, Oklahoma City is his musical home.

“I kind of think of Dewey Binns as kind of a character I’ve created,” he said. “It’s definitely Oklahoma City-based, as far as music and performance.”

Having dabbled in the hip-hop genre since the mid-’90s, he only started to take it seriously after finishing college in 2005. At that time, he was a member of OKC group 8bit Cynics.

“That made it official,” he said. “I did it full-time for several years.”

While influenced early by Wu-Tang Clan and Outkast, it was lesser-known indie artists like El-P and Sage Francis who really helped him define his approach to music.

“I was really into Atmosphere and Rhymesayers, these types of artists,” Binns said. “It kind of helps me have an identity and influenced my music the most.”

He described his music as “conscious,” approached from a creative writing style, hoping to tell a story.

“I want to say something in a way that it hasn’t been said,” he said. “I’m really into wordplay and imagery.”

His long tenure and method in the music scene have attracted a widespread fan base. 

“Another thing that’s kept me relevant and making good music: I can speak to a lot of different age brackets,” he said. “I can speak to a lot of different cultures and social groups.”

After 8bit Cynics broke up in 2011, Binns took some time off to focus on other things in his life. His return arrived with High Character, a full album he made last year with local producer Courtney “Blev” Blevins.

“It was another coming-out party for me,” he said. “That album, I think, has helped me come back in full effect.”

Blevins, who discovered him on a collaboration with fellow local rapper Josh Sallee, praised Binns’ musical abilities.

“I feel like he’s one of the most unique artists I’ve ever heard,” Blevins said. “His style is so cool; it’s laid-back. He’s also very intelligent with his bars.”

The feeling is mutual.

“He put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears on that album,” Binns said. “It’s just as much his album as it is mine.”

Binns’ wife recently birthed a daughter, so fatherhood has distracted him as of late, but only for the moment.

“I do want to be the best,” he said. “But I really want to make music that will still be relevant in 10 to 20 years. I want my music to kind of transcend time.”

Hey! Read This:
Dewey Binns’ Spare Tires Vol. 1 album review  
Josh Sallee at SXSW 2013

Ryan Querbach

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