dustin-prestige is an artist & entertainer in the houston music scene.
The success of regional Hip-Hop is only as strong as the sum of its parts. For Houston, Texas the reputation of its rappers slants in favor of pimped out rhymes in the name of the late DJ Screw. For Dustin Prestige, his mission rests not on changing the face of Houston emcees, rather diversifying it.
Dustin-Prestige is a "rapper," but it hardly ever feels accurate to describe him solely as that. On Plaid, his first LP (among the best Houston underground releases of 2012 as declared by Complex), he plays the role of rapper, shoegaze indie rocker, pop star and, somehow, reggae singer. And on Dharma, his follow-up album, he narrates an in depth story of love turned sour with the same artistic mastery one might not have truly appreciated in his debut.
While that sort of one man variety show generally alludes to an artist that hasn't yet found what he's best at, Prestige seems to traverse different genres with a natural ease, confidence, and ability. His flow is an unfettered stream of cool, regardless of what he decides to do, and he wields it without care for boundaries.
The early days of Dustin Prestige’s career were spent traveling H-Town’s indie rap circuit, luring fans in with his new breed of punchy, genre-bending rhymes he likes to refer to as “Plaid Rap”. Raised on a healthy diet of Slick Rick, Devin The Dude and Stone Temple Pilots, Dustin learned early on that music was multi-faceted and honing his skills would involve a variety of influences. “I liked what Rock N’Roll was able to do musically,” he explains. “There’s a different thought process behind it. Whereas with Hip-Hop, you don’t have to really think too much about the musical arrangement of it. You get a track – rap over it, say something that’s honest and introspective, but at the same time have a style to it that's uniquely your own.”
Starting out as a producer, Dustin and high school friend Jett I. Masstyr began making music together after graduation. The gravitational pull toward writing led Dustin to put down the MPC and focus fully on crafting rhymes, and mastering song structure. While in college, he penned several books of rhymes over the years in school…and there were many of them. “I enjoyed college to the ultimate degree; until I got a degree,” he jokes. Upon graduation, he reconnected with Jett I. Masstyr who was part of the indie rap renaissance happening in Houston thanks to artists like himself and Hollywood F.L.O.S.S. With the help of his new brothers-in-rhyme, Dustin would create a new collective of local rappers which he named "T.H.E.M." (The Houston Elite eMcees). Immediately after, Dustin dropped The Prestige EP in 2008 (produced entirely by Jett I. Masstyr), comprised mainly of “youthful angst, and songs about my life in college” as he puts it – yet still paying homage to the architects of Houston Hip-Hop that preceded him. A year later he continued that progression with Houston Presto Vol. 1, which showcased Dustin’s rhymes over popular Houston rappers’ beats. He then dropped Houston Presto Vol. 2: The Playoffs, an arguably tighter, more evolved work, with major blogs like Rap Radar receiving the young emcee well.
Yet Dustin was still unsure which direction in music he was traveling. He took the next few years to reflect while still making music recreationally. “Life caught up with me,” he admits. “I went back to school in pursuit of a PhD, and I didn’t have the motivation to get back into making music until I could let myself breathe.” It was at this time when his passion seemed to be wearing thin, that he would meet his soon-to-be mentor Killer Mike via the internet. "He stumbled across my music online, and told me he was a fan." Dustin explains. "I thought he was joking, until I heard him mention me by name on The Breakfast Club morning radio show." he says. The two would eventually meet in person at SXSW, and Dustin would become a student of the Grammy Award Winning emcee.
Through fellow T.H.E.M. member Hollywood F.L.O.S.S., Dustin then met a new producer Chris Rockaway, with whom he would charge to create his career-changing sound. The first project birthed of this was The Kelly & Jessie EP. This work fused all of the genres Dustin was aiming to focus on, while at the same time remaining devoted to the true school Hip-Hop he was born to craft. The work weaves Rock, R&B and Rap together in a way that not too many can accomplish successfully. “When I started rapping, I knew I wanted there to be a melody to everything that I did,” Dustin explains. “Melodies stick with people.” There is even an entirely Rock track titled “Army Of Me”. “I’ve had more responses from that song than almost anything else I’ve done,” he says.
The title and premise of the EP is a nod to ‘80s-‘90s sitcom Saved By the Bell, the ultimate Pop culture reference from Dustin who is admittedly a Pop culture junkie. That project, which garnered some indie critical acclaim, was praised by The Houston Press, whom also referred to Dustin as “unintentionally enigmatic” and called the work “springy and wiry and ambitious and generally indicative of the talent that had everybody clamoring for more Prestige when he first popped.” His notoriety quietly spread, and geared Dustin for the next round in his career.
Dustin-Prestige’s first LP Plaid is a fully engrossing work, Prestige harnesses every musical moment that made The Kelly & Jessie EP enjoyable and amplifies it to much heavier volume. Jack Freeman, B. Hardy & Blaze Burna all find themselves rocking the same particular pattern as Presto, more than welcome to piece together a tape that could not only knock for true fans but newcomers just now catching on. He seamlessly glides across different musical genres and in his words "when you can piece together so many different sounds and thoughts to make them 1 cohesive work of art… you have plaid".
When Prestige released the very sturdy but completely overlooked tape, it was mostly him showing off his skills with no real storyline. In 2014, he released Dharma, and it was mostly him making music in one very specific way: heartbrokenly. "..And it was gorgeous," as stated by writer Shea Serrano.
The specifics remain to be sorted—despite pestering, Prestige refuses to acknowledge whether or not the Dharma he addresses on the tape is a literary device or if she is a real, actual woman that really, actually broke his real, actual heart—but the conclusion is concrete: In ten songs, Prestige glowingly captures the arc of a relationship dissolved by whatever it is that dissolves relationships these days.
With his upcoming release DoPe, (produced in it's entirety by Chris Rockaway) he is back with a damn vengeance to tell a story of "American Vices," as he puts it. Not to mention, he's recruited local heavy hitters Doughbeezy, and Delorean to crash the boards with him.
With a mentor like Killer Mike and Houston, Texas in his hands, Dustin-Prestige still makes his motive very clear. “I want to make music that people can feel,” he states. He adds “I make the music I wanna hear, myself...And it just so happens, I like to hear myself.”....indeed.