Dungeon Family’s Own Backbone Discusses Getting Healthy, Black Empowerment and Making A Difference

Words + Interview By: Tyrone Davis

Assistant: Candy Fields

“I am Backbone aka “Dr. Bartholomew Funk”. I am Dungeon Family: First Generation.” – Backbone

I met Backbone for the first time in 2011 when my team and I were in Atlanta to network during the weekend of the BET Hip Hop Awards. At some point, we ended up stopping at a random hotel to meet up with someone and ran into former No Limit artist, Fiend and after a quick video interview, he said he had a recording session the next day at Stankonia Recording Studios and invited us. While at the studio, we ran into Killer Mike and Backbone and were told Chamillionaire was in a session as well, though we never caught up with him.

*To see the video from that session, click here.

I’ve always had a deep respect for anyone in the entertainment business who has both entertained and made an impact on my life at any point, regardless of the magnitude. I grew up in the 90’s and I was big on supporting the crews of major acts because if they were dope and they co-signed their homies, I rocked with them as well. No Limit Records, the Dungeon Family, Death Row and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s “Mo Thugs” were a few of my favorite camps. So, being that I had met Fiend, Killer Mike and Backbone all in the same weekend was a big thing. You never know who you’ll run into which is why networking and putting your feet on the pavement is important.

Backbone and I kept in touch over the years, speaking every now and then and I’ve interviewed him 3 times on film. The latest time (2016), he reached out to me to let me know that the Dungeon Family and Organized Noize would be performing together with all of the members present at the ONE Musicfest, which Backbone thanked Jason Carter, Orlando Mcghee, and Moetown Lee for making happen. I didn’t make the show, but caught up with him some time later for a follow up interview.

The following is a few points from the interview, which will be released on video in full for the first time along with an upcoming film (untitled at the moment) we will be releasing later this year. The film will feature highlights of concerts and never before seen footage and interviews, events, etc. One of my resolutions for 2018 is to purge all of my unseen work by releasing it to the public. I think I’m doing both myself and the people a disservice by letting it collect dust on multiple hard drives. Plus, I actually had one crash last year and lost a gang of content I’ll never get back. That hurt. With that being said, I’d like to take this time to show my appreciation for Backbone and his contribution to the game by letting people know that he’s “Still Buckin’”.

How he joined the Dungeon Family:
We were put together, devinely. I knew Cee-Lo Green when we were kids. He was 8 years old. I’m a couple of years older than him. Long story short, I met Kudjo Goodie in high school and the rest is history.  There was a lot in between that, but that’s how it all started. We never came together just to say we were going to do music one day. We never knew that. We just met as homies and things transpired over the years.

On his health related IG posts: 
Around 2012, I was told that I had diabetes. I didn’t believe it but it showed up. I’m not the type to take medicine so I sought out a naturopathic doctor and he put me on a vegan diet. I ain’t vegan no more, I eat chicken wings. Let me make that clear, lol. I’m back on the meat a little bit but it’s not as intense as it was. My diet was CRAZY back then but I sought his help, he put me on a vegan diet about 90 days, I went back to the mainstream doctor and everything was all clear. I no longer have diabetes. I maintained the weight loss and I’m here now.

I will be a registered dietitian in about a year and a half. I’ve been in (school) since 2013 because once I found that out, I wanted to let people know that there are no incurable diseases. All diseases are curable, HIV or whatever. You have to clean your insides out though. It can’t live in an alkaline state.

On the current state of our music: 
The plan that the enemy wanted to implement years ago has finally come to surface. It’s now a psychological warfare. From the music to the food to everyday living conditions. When people succumb to some things, it manifests and they’ve been building this forever but the energy is shifting. The music will return to it’s essence. Not to discredit any of the music that’s out but that’s just the environment. That’s what was rooted. That’s what grew but it’s up to us OG’s to replant these seeds. We have to start over and that’s what I’m doing with my record label. I’m grooming a roster of artists that are going to make a difference out here.

On Killer Mike: 
Killer Mike is a rebel for the right cause. He’s an entrepreneur now. I’m proud of my little brother. He’s done a lot and he’s MADE his way in the industry. Of course, he was one of Outkast’s first signees, him and Slim Calhoun but after it slowed down, he reinvented himself with the “Run the Jewels” and you know what he’s doing now.

Ways we can turn the state of our people around:
We have to get better food networks in the community. We have to start gardening. There are a lot of community gardens sprouting up in Atlanta. People are buying food closer to home and we have to understand which foods are better for us. If it’s $5 and it’s quick, it can’t be that good so I’d rather take my time and let something cultivate and grow and then we’d “Farm the Table”.

Also, you have to research. You have to read. You have to know where you come from. A lot of people think our history started on those boats. We come from a lineage of Kings and Queens. We are powerful. We are the bloodline. When you touch yourself, you’re touching people from hundreds of years ago. We’re touching our ancestors so now we have to give that thought back. One day, we’ll be in the ancestral realm and we will have to leave a message for somebody but what are we going to leave them? I’m going to take responsibility to write my chapter in the book of life and I just wish others would do the same. I push for it so I surround myself with those types of individuals.

On the shift in Atlanta culture and new artists:
Atlanta has always been a party city. We just took the party to TV. When we became OG’s, a lot of the younger cats wanted to already be in the party. They didn’t understand the grind. They didn’t understand the come up. They didn’t understand the hustle. They got Youtube and all these social media platforms where they can put out a song tonight and be sleeping on the floor and tomorrow, it got 3 million views and everybody wants to know who this kid is and money is just flowing. We have implement that hustle again so they know that this is a business. It’s not just overnight success even though it happens for some of them like that but you have to grind. I was with the Dungeon since I was 19. My first album didn’t come out until I was 27. Goodie Mob had 2 albums out. Outkast had about 3. I still hadn’t come out yet. I was the last of the first generation so all of that grind is education.

On his creative process:
I try to pick the timeless tracks that I know might not come out right away. I don’t have that machine or some of the spotlight like some of these guys have but I’m appreciated in my own right. I try to find songs and tracks that will stick around for years. I got a track that I’ve been sitting on since like 2000 and it’s never come out at all but when I put it out it’s going to feel just as relevant. The message is still clear and the track is tight.

On ADHD (Question asked by Candy Fields):
I used to date a young lady and her son….he was cool, but then they started giving him those shots and it triggered it. I know through diet, all that can be reversed. We can help that young man by feeding him “life food” instead of their food. Quit eating out of boxes. Those boxes are designed to keep you boxed in. I’m not the best at eating right now because I can’t cook a hot dog, but I try to find the best resources. I’m about to go pick up some Sweet Potato Cookies and Kale Wraps from my chef. I try to surround myself with things like that but definitely, diet will cure a lot of diseases.

The full video interview will be available soon. In the meantime, follow Backbone on Twitter @Backbone_DF1G and on Instagram @Backbone_Dungeon_Family. Check out his clothing at www.thebackbonestore.bigcartel.com as well.

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