Danielle Dorky was lucky enough to snag the first interview with Awkward Black Girl-affiliated and “sophistiratchet” hip-hop group The Doublemints, who debuted their live performance last Saturday at Fais Do Do in Los Angeles.
The Doublemints belong to a new brand of hip-hop dubbed “sophistiratchet” that satirically pays homage to the hip-thrusting jams that defined 90’s R&B. “Sophistiratchet” recalls artists like Mokenstef, who bragged the lyrics, “He’s mine, you may have had him once, but I got him all the time” with such passion and confidence, we didn’t think twice about singing along.
Comprised of Los Angeles locals Issa Rae, Daisy O., Jai Lorenzo and Devy Dev, The Doublemints recapture this nonchalant swagger with tracks like “Booty Shawts”, which consists of each member tallying the reasons why they’re so irresistible in their booty shorts. The song was conceived several summers ago while the four friends were waiting in a seemingly never-ending line at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Statuesque Daisy O., outfitted in daisy dukes at the time, busted out an impulsive chorus, and the initial, freestyled lyrics proved so catchy that Daisy followed up with the group shortly afterwards, demanding they pen actual lyrics and record “Booty Shawts.”
The song premiered on Issa Rae’s award-winning web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl in 2011 and ended up getting more attention and praise than the episode itself. Although they originally released “Booty Shawts” as a fictional group within the show called The Doublemint Twins, that initial reception was exactly the push the group needed to fully pursue their side project. Three years later and one slight legal squabble out of the way, The Doublemints premiered their “sophistiratchet” brand to a live audience for the first time.
The Doublemints hand-picked their line-up for the evening, and the result was an infectiously energetic and eccentric array of performers hailing from all over Los Angeles. DJB started spinning soon after doors opened at 9pm and guests naturally gravitated towards the stage as they trickled in, almost hypnotized by A$AP Rocky remixes that segued into Mary J. Blige hits.
Tone Oliver took the stage first, sporting one of the most impressive wash-n-gos in the building, his lustrous curls shook back and forth as he spurted purposeful lyrics about peace and love. He seemed to strip off a layer of clothing for each song, and by the end of the performance was shirtless, revealing a tattoo of The Beatles logo on his chest as he encouraged the audience to wave their two-finger peace signs in the air.
BEeFF, which stands for Betran, Evan and Every F*cking Female, was next, lightening the mood with their imagery-rich lyrics and an interactive stage show. The group claims their influences are a mixture of Mickey Mouse, moon boots and David Letterman, and they fully represented this randomness in their performance, ultimately pumping the crowd up even more with well-produced, groovy beats and an unmatched enthusiasm.
The final opener was Enimal, member of former rap-trio the Fly Guys and brother of The Doublemints member Issa Rae. The baby-faced rapper pointed out that his name backwards spells LA Mine, and followed this claim with a performance that perfectly encompassed Los Angeles swagger with laid back beats and boastful lyrics. Enimal was joined onstage by fellow Fly Guys Tone Oliver and DJB for a special reunion performance that roused the audience into a perfect frenzy before The Doublemints took the stage and closed the night.
Shortly after midnight, The Doublemints stormed the stage and launched into a performance routine so well-executed you’d swear they’d hired Laurie Ann from Diddy’s infamous Making the Band show for choreography. They performed a couple previously released tracks like “Booty Shawts” and had us “Feenin” like they were Jodeci in 1993 when they coyly began tossing lace-trimmed panties into the crowd during a bold rendition of, “Take My Panties Off.”
Unlike a lot of the “ratchet”, “trill” or “trap” music I hear that makes me halt my bopping head and do The Rock’s people’s eyebrow at some of the offensive or tasteless lyrics, The Doublemints are lighthearted and playful enough that listeners can laugh while they continuing to get their jig on.
Prior to the packed show, I sat down with The Doublemints and discussed the close-knit friendships within the group, individual endeavors and where they plan on taking their “sophistiratchet” brand next.
DD: When The Doublemint Twins first premiered “Booty Shawts” on Awkward Black Girl in 2011, did you have any plans to turn the project into an actual music group?
Issa: I think we kind of did, actually!
Daisy: We thought about it, yea.
Jai Lorenzo: We had no idea it would turn into what it has or that we’d be putting out a mixtape though. At first it was just four friends having a really great time at Magic Mountain. (laughs) And then the Awkward Black Girl episode aired and there were all these comments talking about “Booty Shawts”, so we were like hold up, wait we might be on! (laughs)
Devy Dev: We were always a friendship clique though. We came back from a weekend in New York in 2009 and threw a house party and we were like we should introduce ourselves as The Doublemint Twins because Issa and I share a birthday and so do Jai and Daisy.
Daisy: And then it was after that trip to Six Flags that we were like, alright, we’re making songs now! (laughs)
DD: How do you guys all know each other?
Daisy: We were all in high school together at King Drew Medical Magnet and we were all really great students and went to college. It was during college that we really got closer. We would always make time to see each other. Devy and I went to UCLA and Jai went to Cal State Dominguez, but we’d road trip together up to Stanford to visit Issa.
Jai Lorenzo: And whenever Issa would come down we’d always make sure we got together.
DD: Can you define “sophistiratchet”?
Issa: Sophistiratchet is like the best of both worlds, it’s a woman or a man who can walk that fine line, because I think the ratchet culture is very epic, but if that’s all you have, that’s kind of frowned upon. With us, we’ve all gone to great schools and received great educations, we definitely value the finer things in life (laughs). But at the same time, we’re still into this ratchet culture, we like to party, we like to get down, we like to “get ignorant” (laughs), so just because we’re involved in that culture, we still don’t want to be classified as one or the other, so it’s a perfect word to describe what we’re trying to do.
DD: What would be some examples of sophistiratchet songs from the 90’s?
Jai: I think all 90’s songs were sophistiratchet! Like when you think of SWV? Coco and her nails? Coco, you ratchet girl! (laughs) But you would still go to their concert, you know?
Issa: I think Mary J. Blige is a good example.
Jai: Exactly. I think a lot of our music has a 90’s flare because that’s when we grew up. That’s really who we learned music from.
Devy Dev: We definitely dedicate our music to the 90’s!
DD: So I’m curious, what does a typical songwriting session with The Doublemints look like?
Issa: (laughs) It’s different each time and I think we all have a different vibe, but when we write together we write the best.
Devy Dev: When we’re together we’re bouncing ideas off of each other, and we’re able to get immediate feedback and collaborate more. When we write separately, it doesn’t always flow together as well.
Issa: We have a lot of fun, but we also take it very seriously. Our music is very satirical in a way, but we’ll be having so much fun that we start to really believe the lyrics like, “Yea I am the bad b*tch on the track!” (laughs) At the same time, we’re not afraid to critique each other.
DD: Who does The Doublemints production?
Jai: Enimal is our executive producer. Enimal has been around for a while and so has his rap group The Fly Guys. In fact, our first track “Booty Shawts” was recorded in the studio with DJB from The Fly Guys. We’re really into cultivating stronger friendships with our music, so everyone we work with are friends of ours. We’re also working with the producer Trs10, who is in The Counterfeit 20s. He plays “Baby Voice” Darius on Awkward Black Girl and happens to be a great producer.
DD: Can you tell me a little bit about your individual careers outside of The Doublemints?
Daisy: I’m a model and actress and I just got my Master’s in Social Work from USC so I really want to work in the community, but right now I work at UCLA and I primarily just help them to be better people.
Issa: I’m a writer and producer currently working on various projects. Right now I’m working on a show for television and a book. I’m also working on a venture called Color Creative where I’ll be highlighting up and coming shows from writers of color on my YouTube channel.
Devy Dev: I work at UCLA, but besides that The Doublemints are something that I’m really passionate about and that is my biggest focus outside of work.
Jai: I’ve been an operations and customer service manager in the fashion industry for about seven years. Outside of that, The Doublemints is really where I’m putting my focus now.
DD: What’s next for The Doublemints?
Daisy O: A mixtape! We’ve got a mixtape coming out in June and a music video premiering on April 1st.
Issa: Our mixtape is called “Reality Show” because we feel like reality shows have helped catapult ratchet culture into the mainstream and so it’s an ode to ratchet reality shows.
With a secure network of friends investing in and rooting for their success, it’s difficult to imagine that The Doublemints won’t successfully revive the carefree, rump-shaking jams of the 90’s that got lost somewhere between Ashanti and Keisha Cole.
Look forward to The Doublemints first music video set to premiere on April 1st and their Reality Show mixtape releasing in June!