This is part of CP's Music issue — check out our other profiles of Philadelphia musicians like Cinderella's hair-metal comeback kid Tom Keifer, harpist Gillian Grassie, London-born bassist Anthony Tidd and OCD: Moosh & Twist, who keep getting shows shut down due to drunk teenagers.
One zigs while the other zags. One stays put while the other hits the road. One has a voice like silk while the other’s is rough-hewn. Thankfully, Philadelphia’s Sgt. Sass — rappers DeShawn Timothy and DaQuan Motley — is the sum of its differences.
“What brings us together is our infinite love and passion for good music and great art,” says Motley, on the phone from Connecticut, where he’s mastering his solo CD, The DaQuan, at Killingworthsound Studio. “No, I’m not on the run. Life makes me to be nomadic. My family is travelers. Guess it’s inherited.”
What truly keeps Sgt. Sass apart is a restlessness that finds each rapper releasing stuff before they can put a full-length effort together. While Motley is on his second solo CD and readying a third, Timothy drops Merge, his first solo EP.
Together, Sgt. Sass has been producing the spare sound of two self-professed “down-ass faggots who done picked up the mic” since 2007’s Double S 4 Mayor mixtape dropped. Since then, they’ve released the 2009 EP Body Rock and 2011 mixtape Art Fggt/Fggt Art.
They and their DJ, Nasty Sinatra, have forever been planning a full-length testament to Sgt. Sass’s wild-ass Missy Elliott-meets-Tyler the Creator-like electro hip-hop, Black Nail Polish. Still, it’s only tentatively scheduled for a late 2013 release.
Though they met in 2002 at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, it wasn’t until the pair discovered out Philly hip-hoppers V.I.P. Party Boys that the duo knew their mission. “DaQuan and I wanted to create hip-hop along V.I.P.’s lines, without boundaries, without any hang-ups regarding our sexualities. After a few DJs, we met DJ Nasty Sinatra in 2011 and everything fell into place,” says Timothy. “As a group, DaQuan fell into the aggressive sergeant role and I have been the sassy one all along.”
While Timothy’s magnificent Merge and songs like “55” and “Werq” have all the earmarks of sashaying dance-floor ragers, The DaQuan is beefy yet laid-back hip-hop with spoken-word soliloquies like “Where Did You Go?” and chatty stories about Motley’s heroes (like “Molly Ringwald,” his first female-star crush) as its centerpiece.
“Merge has all the qualities of a genuine club banger,” says Motley enthusiastically. “DeShawn and his producing partner Good Goose really went off. My thing? If I had to pick a place you’d be likely to hear my project, it’d be some sort of chill open mic.”
For all the solo stuff that the two are currently concentrating on, each promises Black Nail Polish is their ultimate goal. When the pair isn’t in one room, they’re apt to use video conferencing to communicate.
“It’s like magic watching us brainstorm subjects for songs and shows,” says Motley. “Once an idea hits the floor, we run with it.”
Sat., Feb. 23, 11 p.m., $8, with Icon Ebony-Fierce, Rachel Tension and DJ Nasty Sinatra, Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., 215-291-4919, kungfunecktie.com.