Defacto Thezpian spreads hip-hop good cheer

Published Fri, Apr 18, 2014 10:16 AM
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Submitted by Craig D. Lindsey — Correspondent

When we last ran into Defacto Thezpian in these pages, the 20-year-old Durham MC was trying to get by without a driver’s license. “But I’m intimidated at the DMV at this moment in time – the long lines and such,” he said back in 2012.

Now, he’s 22, and fully licensed. No longer does he have to ask his boys for rides. “You know, it was a matter of time, younowhamsayin,” says Thezpian. “Because I had the permit or whatever, and once that expired, that kind of threw everything to a halt. I can’t present anymore because it expired or whatever. So, I was like, man, I might as well go ahead and just get this license processed.”

Considering how Thezpian (real name: Raheem Royal) has become a continuing presence in the Triangle rap scene these past couple of years – appearing on bills along with local MCs like Joshua Gunn, Blaze the Sky and Toon & the Real Laww and opening up for touring acts like California’s Pac Div – driving to and from shows to perform seems like a necessity.

His full schedule isn’t letting up anytime soon.

As of late, Thezpian, who is headlining April’s DURM Hip-Hop Summit Concert Series in Durham on Friday, has been busy hyping up his latest mixtape, “Chicks & Rhymes Vol. 3,” which dropped in February. (You can download it for free on his website, And as in previous installments, Thezpian raps about girl problems. “At the time, I was going through a breakup with this girl that I call out a couple of times on the mixtape,” he says. “The mixtape is more based off of my tales with her, younowhamsayin – like, a beginning, middle and end.”

“Chicks” is virtually a high-school reunion set to music, as Thezpian collaborated with several of his fellow Hillside High alumni (Kourvioisier, producers Dre Rubio and Ron BurGndy).

“When you talk to a lot of artists in Durham, that does music right now, a lot of them went to Hillside,” he says. “I don’t know how that works out, but that’s just the case.”

Just this week, Thezpian released a video that melded two singles from the tape, “Prince” and “Sunny D and Mid.” The “Prince” half is the most amusing, a one-take, minute-long shot with Thezpian, in a pimp suit and a mop-top wig, lip-synching the song (which samples “When Doves Cry”) and sauntering down Durham’s Ninth Street. (The video was going to be shot on Main Street until he and the crew were shooed away while they were rehearsing by security guards, who were threatening to call the cops.)

As someone who raps as well as he acts (he’s done theater productions in Durham), Thezpian knows that if you want to stand out as a performer, you shouldn’t be afraid to be a bit outlandish.

“I hate being cliché to the point that, you know, I’ll dress differently, I’ll do a whole bunch of dances differently,” he says. “You know, when people see me in shows or whatever, most of the time I’m, like, dancing or cracking jokes or whatever. When you see most rappers or artists in general, they’re just all serious – you know, laid back in the cut.”

And now that he has the proper driving credentials, Thezpian can get in a car and dispense his brand of hip-hop good cheer wherever it’s needed.

“I just like making people smile,” he says. “So, being on stage or whatever, I just try to bring different elements that I feel like will make people happy.”



Who: Defacto Thezpian, with Young Dirt

When: 9 p.m. Friday

Where: Devine’s Grill and Sports Bar, 904 W. Main St., Durham

Admission: $5

Details: 919-682-0228 or

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