St. Louis artist Dante Wolfe has had my undivided attention since the release of his EP Carlton Ave. This is his second independent album and you can hear his growth almost immediately. Dante Wolfe is just a dope artist. He creates experimental, yet easily relate-able tracks that sticks with you. It’s amazing to watch his rise and I was so happy to sit and catch up with him.
There is more to the project than you think, which he has described in our interview below. We also learned more about him and where his name originated from. Read his insightful words below and stream Carlton Ave above.
Before we get started, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure, my name is Danté Wolfe. I’m a rapper from St. Louis, MO. I am also a Lehigh University graduate. And I am also apart of the St. Louis collective MME.
Where did you grow up? When did you decide to pursue hip hop?
I grew up in St. Louis. HipHop is something I grew up with. I started rapping very early on just putting words together. But I really got my focus and started working on my craft as a recording artist when I got with MME. That was in 2009. It’s always been my focus to have a career or be in that field that I enjoyed. And with my talent as an artist. I knew this was something I wanted.
What was it like growing up there? Did that have any impact on your music or your decision to take a go at music
Growing up in St. Louis you get introduced to a lot early. When I left Missouri for school and started going to different states there weren’t many things that could surprise me. Carlton Ave has a specific focus but I often rap a lot about things I saw and experienced growing up. I will say, most of the hardships I endured occurred after I left St. Louis and went off on my own. I didn’t have to struggle for real as a kid. But I was exposed to a lot of things going on around me and observed and learned from everything. Nothing about the city itself really pushed me to music. Or to become an artist. I just have a love for music and the creative process. That’s my favorite part, creating a song.
I would say my biggest musical influence is The Wu Tang Clan. I grew up listening to a lot of east coast rappers. Wu Tang, Biggie, DMX, Redman, Nas, Slick Rick. Just to name a few. As of lately though I’ve been listening to a lot of Nipsey Hussle and Mvstermind. I get inspired when I hear good music. When someone comes up with a bar and you just have to run it back or make a certain type face. That inspires me. Steel sharpens steel. I also get inspired when I see artist display honesty in their records. People doing what works for them and seeing it work, that inspires me too.
Where does the name Dante Wolfe come from?
Like many before me, I had a few stage names before I landed on “the one”. When I was deciding what was going to be “IT” I knew I wanted a piece of my real name in it. So I spent some time researching my name. First middle and last. I was liking everything I saw but ultimately I decided I was going with Danté. Which is my middle name. I read something that said the name meant Everlasting. And I felt that was a word I would love to define my music and career. Then Wolfe came into play because I was trying to find something to describe myself and personality. Wolves are pack animals and they have a way of life that they stand by. At the same time there’s the aspect of the lone wolf. I also wanted to make sure I had name that translated well and look good in all mediums. So I decided it looked better with an “e”. The say you can be a sheep or a wolf. So I made my stance clear.
You’ve recently dropped an EP titled “Carlton Ave.” What is Carlton Ave and why did you decide to name it that?
The album is about my time in college. It’s reflective and autobiographical. So I decided to name it after the street I lived on while in college. Of my whole time there when I finally moved off campus I lived on the same street the whole time. We threw some of the best parties on that street and made a lot of memories there so I felt that it fit perfectly.
I loved it because every single song was different and the track-to-track transitions was smooth. Was that purposeful? What was your strategy behind it?
Thank you! I appreciate that. Yes, all of that was purposeful. I was on a mission when I made this album. This follows my first album “The God Complex”. Now I love that album. And I feel it’s definitely classic. After its completion though I felt it was a great musically but I needed something more to make a live performance. So when I was making this album it was my goal to be able put together a great live performance between this material and ‘The God Complex’. I definitely achieved that. Now like I said, this album is autobiographical so I want to create something that made you feel like you were right there in the action. My major was theatre so that also plays a large part in it. I wanted the piece to come alive and I also wanted you as a listener to be able to play it straight through. We sat in the studio timing the start, stop, and transition of each song.
This is your second independent album. How do you feel about your older songs? How do you feel you’ve grown as a person and artist since those drops?
I still love all of my older songs. They all helped me find myself as an artist. This is my second independent album but I released an EP and a mixtape before “The God Complex”. I knew I could do better and I did but those verses still mean a lot to me. Because I put a lot of myself in all my verses. As far as my two albums though. They both released this year. “The God Complex” was Jan. 4 & “Carlton Ave” was Nov. 28th. I see my growth as an artist in my pen. This time around I wrote some of my best bars. The more in depth you listen the more you’ll hear, but it’s dope on all levels. I see my growth in album execution also. This body of work is really solid. Putting together a good album isn’t simple as just putting a good group of songs together. That’s just a nice playlist.
Are you signed to a label? Do you have any interest in that?
I am currently independent. MME has our own independent label “MMETTMLDOM LLC”. I don’t really have much interest in signing to a label. I would love to build what we have. Acquire a (physical) distribution deal and keep making moves. I will say though, there is one label in particular I would sign too if they ever come knocking. But that’s not my main focus.
That’s amazing that you graduated from college, I’m currently in college right now. What was college like for you? Do you feel that it helped you grow as a person and a artist?
Word that’s what’s up! Where do you go? And college was really amazing for me. Don’t get me wrong, it was a helluva time and I struggled a lot at times. Both academically and personally. But that experience was the best thing for me. I went pretty far away from home for school. I got exposed to so many different cultures. I also took that time to really figure out who I am, and that was happening at the same time as me figuring out who I am musically. That was a time for me to learn how to do things on my own with no safety net. Being in school definitely helped me create some good content. Studying theatre gave me new perspectives to take to my music and helped me develop my creative and preparation process. For in the studio and for live performance. So it helped me grow in all those ways. At the same time I have younger siblings and I felt it was necessary for me to set that example. I can’t really get on them about school and I didn’t take care of my own business.
I go to the University of Wisconsin Whitewater. So I understand your struggle with college (laughs). Just to wrap up…can you tell us any details of what’s coming next for you? Any upcoming shows or videos?
A lot of visuals. That’s all. 2017 is going to be about me putting a face behind my music. I will be performing Jan. 13th in St. Louis apart of the “Off The Map | StL” show being hosted by Team Backpack.
Any last thoughts, shout outs, or words of wisdom?
I appreciate you reaching out and for the opportunity to chop it up. S/O to Mvstermind, he’s the engineer behind “Carlton Ave”. The “Cusp EP” is also available now online everywhere. S/O to the WSC too! They’re all working hard and achieving. Grabbing masters degrees and building their dreams. And definitely a S/O to my team MME & the city man. St. Louis.