New York’s Great White Hype is back and by the looks of things, the industry better keep its guard up. After retreating to the studio following the success of his critically acclaimed album “Voice of My Tears,” Staten Island’s own Mark D has re-emerged with “Blast4Me,” a full-blown lyrical assault on the senses.
The title track is a politically charged example of the commanding wordplay and drastically realistic topics employed throughout the album. From the 9/11 attacks, to the issue of global warming, “Blast4Me” addresses the fears, threats and struggles that New Yorkers face day in and day out in a post 9/11 world.
Production by Young Matt, Mental Instruments, Mike Cash, Mark D and Gooch, as well as guest appearances by Iron Mic of Ruthless Bastards, Crucial Tactics and Zudu Records’ Big E Da Prophet, Jerm Digga, GEM, and Ricky Cillks makes Mark D’s sophomore album one that will define hip hop in 2009.
Mark D is already making waves. In October, the video for “Blast4Me” was leaked on the internet and quickly spread virally throughout the world making it one of the most widely viewed music videos by a new artist ever on the web. (see the video on myspace)
“Blast4Me” has been a long time coming. This album has something for everyone.
If you want straight-up mind bending lyrics…this album has it.
If you want production by some of the most talented in the industry…this album has it.
If you want guest appearances that work to unite Staten Island and showcase the talent of the forgotten borough…this album has it.
If you want a southern track, followed by seventies throwback, a west coast banger, and a beat that is sure to shatter your car windows…this album has it.
Bottom line...this album has it.
For more info on the artist, visit www.myspace.com/somebodydude
"MEET MARK D" (Staten Island Advance Cover Story)
MUSIC: The great white hype
by Ben Johnson/Staten Island AWE
Thursday October 16, 2008, 1:00 AM
This week's cover of AWE.
How a hometown football hero & high school math teacher morphed into an undercover rap sensation
Mark D didn't want to tell you -- for six years, in fact, he's been avoiding it. But he's finally ready for people to know he's a pretty damn good rapper, and, as a white math teacher and assistant football coach at Monsignor Farrell High School, he thinks he's sort of an unusual one, too.
"The stigma of hip-hop has always made me fear losing my jobs at Farrell," says Mark DeCristoforo, 30, of West Brighton, who teaches math and is the defensive coordinator for the Lions. "But this is the time where I don't mind promoting myself, because I finally invested in my craft enough to where I'd like to see it turn into something."
To a certain degree, it already has.
DeCristoforo has receipts for more than 16,000 sales of his last underground mixtape. He rubs elbows with local rap stars like RZA and Remedy at View Studios on the North Shore. Last summer, he stepped to the mic at Hollywood's Knitting Factory in front of Death Row Records co-founder Suge Knight.
"In terms of playing shows and packing them out, selling his CD independently, Mark D is definitely the poster boy for Staten Island," says Ken Williams, 29, of St. George, a publicist who has worked with Def Jam Records, Funk Master Flex and DeCristoforo. "But that stuff costs money. What he needs now is major backing."
Of course, making a bid for the big time is tricky for the rapper, who chose the MySpace name "Somebody Dude" to promote himself online without revealing his true identity.
"I'm really stepping out of my comfort zone," says DeCristoforo. "I mean, even my name, Mark D, doesn't sound like a real rapper's name. But it's gotten big enough so as I can't control it. Kids from Farrell who I never told are downloading my stuff on iTunes."
Last weekend DeCristoforo performed at the University of Delaware, one of the off-Island locations where he has a strong fanbase. This weekend he's celebrating the release of his new CD, "Blast4Me," at Danny Boys in Castleton Corners.
"I named the album 'Blast4Me,' and I put it on a cross, because I want people to jump to conclusions and say, 'Oh no, he's a Catholic school teacher, and he's doing things about the church,'" says the rapper, who was a star defensive back at Farrell before returning to his alma mater in 2002 to teach and coach. "But if you listen to the record, all the messages are positive."
DeCristoforo started out making beats and singing through karaoke machines with neighborhood kids when he was a pre-teen in West Brighton -- the result of his father giving him a keyboard and setting him up with piano lessons.
But while music has been a constant presence in his life, DeCristoforo says he's always put it aside to do other things.
After attending Wagner College with a focus in finance (he says he graduated top of his class), DeCristoforo went to work on Wall Street for Morgan Stanley. He says he managed big accounts and made lots of money, but music always seeped into his social life.
"We would always act like we were in a rap group, my friends and I," he says. "I would even rap on the trading desk, and guys would encourage me, saying I was good and should try and do it for real."
A big change came on 9/11, when DeCristoforo says the terrorist attacks made him re-evaluate his life. "I said to myself, I have two dreams in life: To make a real CD -- whether people laughed at me or not -- and to work with kids. So that's what I decided to do."
Going to work in the daytime at Farrell, DeCristoforo spent his nights making basement tapes and performing at various rap showcases around the city -- some of them pay-to-play affairs. But overall, these performances helped grow DeCristoforo's fanbase and get his name out among the underground.
"I really won over these gangster types at the Sucker Free showcase," says DeCristoforo. "I got up on stage and said to them, 'You know, I don't really fit in here, but I had to write this song about my girlfriend.'"
That song -- "If I Ever Blow Up" -- apes the melody of the hook Nate Dogg sings in the 1994 hit "Regulate," and tells the story of a girlfriend who doesn't support her man's aspirations toward rap stardom. It's currently DeCristoforo's most popular track sold on iTunes, and the song that got him noticed by promoters.
"Anybody can rap," says Mex Guevara, 29, of New Brighton, a manager and promoter who organized the early Sucker Free showcases in Manhattan. Guevara put unknown acts like DeCristoforo on stage with known performers like Brooklyn wordsmith Joell Ortiz, and the result drew the attention of BET and MTV as well as some major rap magazines. "The thing about Mark D that impressed me the most was his attitude about the game. He was persistent. He stayed on me. Sometimes it's not how good you are, its how much drive you have."
Guevara, whose company is called Another Mex Creation, helped DeCristoforo put out his first real mixtape, "The Voice of My Tears." They pressed 6,000 copies and DeCristoforo kept performing in the Northeast, from NYC to Rhode Island and Connecticut to New Jersey. Soon they had to press another 10,000 copies to keep up with demand, and DeCristoforo was asked by Pat Restaino of Sony Records to perform at a showcase in Hollywood where Suge Knight and others were in attendance.
"I may never get famous, but I was out there in a swimming pool with models at the Roosevelt hotel in L.A.," says DeCristoforo. "I don't think that a lot of Staten Island underground cats -- at least none that I know of -- are doing their album release in another state. I don't think they were featured all by themselves at the Knitting Factory while not really trying to promote themselves. I'm not in any way arrogant about it. I never thought I could even rap a whole CD by myself."
The school teacher says that his new album -- featuring collaborations and performances with local rappers like Crucial Tactics and Ruthless Bastadz -- is the one he set out to make. He's still worried about the repercussions -- even though he has the support of his teacher's union -- but it's time to make a move.
"I say to my wife, 'This is it; this is a risk,'" says DeCristoforo. "Something big could come of this, or it could ruin my whole life. I have a feeling we'll talk again when this album gets around, and either I will have lost my job at Farrell over hip-hop or I will have made it very accepted in a different type of world. I'm hoping it's the second one."
"New York is the city of dreams, but for aspiring rapper from Staten Island, it took one nightmarish moment- the terrorist attacks on 9/11- to fuel his entire career.
Seven years ago, the graduate at the top of his biz school with a double masters degree, Mark D was working on Wall Street, but after seeing death and destruction, he decided his artistry needed to be exposed before it was too late.
So he started taking hip-hop more seriously, and after appearing on a HOT97 On The Come Up mixtape in 2005, he spent the next year in a Staten Island recording studio crafting his debut album, The Voice Of My Tears. The album sold over 15 thousand copies, earning him a gold plaque. Through performances at the Sucker Free Showcases in New York, he was spotted by countless record label reps, and invited to the Left Coast, where he was the featured act at LA’s famed Knitting Factory.
Mark D’s unique brand of rap meshes singing and harmony with brutally honest lyrics. His style is as diverse as his influences ranging from Springsteen and Billy Joel, to Public Enemy and the Fugee's. At his least he is unique and a breath of fresh air in the hip hop game. He’s now preparing to release his 2nd LP, Blast4Me, which he created all while being filmed by an independent documentary team. Acting as his own manager, promoter, publicist, Mark D is one-man music industry wrecking crew. Itunes calls him the “Great White Hype.” The streets, however, say he’s hip-hop’s last hope"
-Paul Cantor XXL Magazine, MTV.com Sucker Free Blog (2008)