The Last Artful Dodgr—who now just goes by Dodgr—has become a staple in this city. But soon, the Portland rapper will be leaving, returning to Los Angeles, her hometown.
She's not leaving us empty-handed, though. This week at the Roseland, Dodgr's adopted hometown is getting a big-ass blowout show hosted by Portugal the Man that will feature new material.
"This is definitely the exclamation point to the low-key fire year I've had," she says.
"Low-key fire" is a bit of an understatement. This summer, she appeared on one of the biggest collaborations of her career so far, a song on Mark Ronson's new album called "Truth," which also features Alicia Keys. The beginning of the year saw the release of "Make It Better," a single off Anderson Paak's new album that Dodgr co-wrote and that features Smokey Robinson (on Paak's last album, she also appeared on a Dr. Dre-produced track alongside Snoop Dogg). Then, in August, Dodgr's song "Hot" ended up in an episode of HBO's Euphoria.
Dodgr remains humble despite all of her bomb accomplishments. Before her biggest headlining show yet, WW talked to Dodgr about becoming friends with Ronson, and her next big projects.
WW: How did this come to be, you headlining this show with Portugal the Man?
Dodgr: Well, Portugal the Man, those are my buddies. It's just like letting my homies host this big event for me, in the town we all live in currently and have shown up for. PTM has been a big support system of mine for at least two and a half years. Even just getting the Roseland show—that was all [show sponsor] Red Bull's idea to make it as big as possible. I'm a black queer woman. That has never happened, having somebody who lives in Portland and is all of those things headline the Roseland. Like, are you kidding me? This is monumental, and it should be monumental, at least for all the people of color in this city.
Straight up. You've had a lot going on all year, but I haven't really seen you out and about lately. So I'm wondering, what have you got planned for the next couple of months?
With the year being almost over, this is the biggest of my end-of-year blasts. As much as I've been in some people's faces, I still haven't been everywhere the way I will be in the coming years. I'm grateful for Mark Ronson for putting me on his album, I'm grateful for Anderson Paak for letting me write "Make It Better." Then I had the whole Euphoria moment. Moments have hit, but for me, there still won't be anything as big as what's happening on the 19th [at the Roseland] because it's all about me. Everything else has been shared, for the most part.
What was that like being in the studio with Mark?
With Mark, he and I have developed a rapport over the last couple of years. From our first session back in September 2017 until now, our relationship has changed immensely. We're friends now, while at first, we were still feeling each other out to see if we could even work together. Now, we know we can work together and make really great music together, and also have the human bond outside of music.
What was that like to have that Euphoria hit?
Euphoria just happened from people hearing my music behind the scenes. The music industry is crazy—it's nothing but people playing songs that aren't out yet to people who can put those songs out and make them go big. Mark had played ["Hot"] for some people who were involved with the show and thought it fit perfectly. I had it written since 2017, but I didn't know what we were going to do with it until that happened. Honestly, that has helped light a fire under my whole camp. All I've wanted is to release this music that I've been working on these last couple of years and to have you guys know where I'm at artistically. It's finally happening.
What are some of the things you've been working on that will be released soon?
I can't even tell you what's actually happening! I've either signed something or I gave my word that I wouldn't share. I'm on a couple of really big projects where people are using my voice and not just my pen. I can't tell you which projects I'm on or when they're coming out, but you're going to see my name next to some really big names and you've been already seeing it, low key. That's just what I have now, but who knows what's going to happen in the next six to eight weeks?
You posted on your Instagram about the exclusion of female and nonbinary artists from top rapper and top artist lists. Portland rappers like you, Karma Rivera, KayelaJ and Maarquii are getting some recognition, but what do you feel it is keeping all of you from getting the true acknowledgment you all deserve?
The problem is that we still live in a patriarchal society, so the man is going to come first in people's minds on trip. Even if there are women who are just as talented as these cisgendered men, they still get mentioned on trip. Who has the No. 1 song in the country right now, for the last seven weeks? It's Lizzo, and this woman has had problems being defined as a rapper. People don't put her in a top-five rapper list—although she has the No. 1 record in the country—because she's a woman. Nicki Minaj should be on everyone's top-five list, period, in the last decade at least, but she's not mentioned because she's a woman. But I bet you they give Drake, J. Cole, Kendrick their dues.
That's a whole societal thing, though, bro [laughs]. It'll also take somebody like me to say some shit. Somebody like a Young MA or a Lizzo to be like, "Yo, bro, snap out of it." We're just as good—aka better than just as good—because that's what we have to say in order for you to even pay attention.
What can we expect at the show this Saturday?
I've never performed "Hot" or "Wrong Way" before, so this will be the first time I get to perform those live. Doing it in the town I live in is everything to me. I'm also debuting new music that no one has ever heard, and it'll be on the project I release in 2020. This is going to be my last show here for a minute, so I don't want anyone to miss it.
As much as I love this city, this isn't my hometown. I've been running away from my trauma, and where does trauma start? At home. The only way I can heal myself is if I go home. I want people to help send me off in a way that isn't really sending me off because Portland will always be my second home. I hope my next show in Portland will be at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum or Moda Center, because that's how big I'm going. And you can quote me on that.
SEE IT: Red Bull Presents: Dodgr is at the Roseland Theater, 8 NW 6th Ave.,
roselandpdx.com, with Falcons, Maarquii, and Blimes and Gab, on Saturday, Oct. 19. 8:30 pm. $10. 21+.