Dro Kenji & Mike Dimes: The ‘DND’ Interview

CHICAGO — All smiles on a dreary Sunday afternoon, Dro Kenji and Mike Dimes stroll into Lyrical Lemonade HQ just hours before their show at Bottom Lounge. Having traveled 18 hours from Salt Lake City, the duo — not only known for their prolific solo output, but high-octane collaborations like “PAMPER PAMPER,” “STEP BACK” and more — are the definition of dynamic. So much so that their joint DO NOT DISTURB tour seemed to be destiny, with both of them recently realizing they may be blood cousins; Or so they think.

“How did you know that?”, Kenji laughs off sitting on the couch in LL’s nostalgia room, which is plastered with Michael Jordan posters, old school PS2 games (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is a personal favorite) and Simpson’s toys tightly tucked in each corner. “We just probably cousins… We were basically talking about our families one night when we were kicking it, and it just started to get deeper and deeper — where weird things just started lining up.”

While Kenji represents Summerville, South Carolina, Dimes (although hailing from Texas) moved around quite a bit during his childhood due to his family’s military background, also living in South Carolina at one point. “Both of our families are from small towns in the same area… we went down a whole wormhole of a conversation,” Mike added, as both “Dro N’ Dimes” — the foundation of DND’s tour name — have become must-see talents at the precipice of superstardom.

Dro Kenji (left) and Mike Dimes (right) having a bit of fun in the LL living room | via Danny Pleckham (@pleckham)

Both artists dropped impressive albums this year (Kenji’s WISH YOU WERE HERE and Dimes’ TEXAS BOY), which evidently built anticipation towards the 25-date DND trek this Fall. TEXAS BOY collected an infinity gauntlet of features, however, Dimes’ relationships with Denzel Curry (“ARSENAL“) and Joey Bada$$ (“HATCHBACK“) ultimately made his sophomore record glisten with tenacity and determination.

“Zel is like the big bro. He understood. When we made ‘ARSENAL,’ he was in Thailand, and I was in the studio with Joey. He sent his verse while Joey was recording HIS verse… it was a crazy moment for me,” said Dimes. “Joey makes me nervous, though. Because I looked up to him for so long — watching his interviews and listening to his music — so when I met him, I felt like I already knew too much about him. I didn’t want to say anything crazy. But when it comes to the music [with him], if Joey likes it, I like it.”

Alongside inspirations in Joey and Zel, Kenji appeared on TEXAS BOY‘s lead single “KISS N TELL,” where Mike swiftly returned the favor on the Internet Money crooner’s WISH YOU WERE HERE weeks later (“PAMPER PAMPER”). Stemming from their fan-favorite cut “STEP BACK,” calls for a joint tape between the two have grown louder over the past year — and it seems they have enough in the vault to make it happen. “I don’t want to say an album is like ‘f–k yeah, it’s coming out.’ But just know we have a lot,” Kenji revealed. “Don’t be surprised if we did drop an album [together].” Yet, this is better left on “Do Not Disturb” until then.

Kenji’s output is one of the most fascinating things about his come-up. The MiraTouch artist’s consistency is unrelenting — dropping a total of eight projects since his debut tape, TEARS & PISTOLS, in November 2020. It’s been a long road of growth and prosperity for the now 21-year-old singer-rapper, who views his latest album as his most “mature” project to date.

“I felt like I was a little boy back [when T&P dropped]. I feel like [over the past three years] I discovered who I was and what the f–k I wanted to do with this — what message I wanted to put out in my music, what things I don’t want associated with it. I just have been really figuring out how to be an adult and the music reflects that for me,” he said. “WYWH is a very mature body of work. There was a point where I took a step back and was like ‘damn, we might need some more fun shit on here.’ But no, I liked the whole message of it and it was still within my world and built a whole world within it.”

Mike Dimes (left) and Dro Kenji (right) posted up in the LL nostalgia room | via Danny Pleckham (@pleckham)

Already knowing the answer, I ask, “You guys performing your tracks on stage?”. “When’s this interview coming out?” Dimes replies, hinting that the tour’s finale fireworks are well-worth the price of admission. The kind of ammo they had loaded was one-of-one, however, Mike Dimes didn’t perform Sunday night (Oct. 30) in Chicago. Having seen him just hours before, it was a shock to hear that he fell ill and wouldn’t be able to go on. “I’m so sorry y’all,” he posted on his socials cryptically, later revealing that he would re-join Dro and company on Nov. 5 in New York City. This isn’t far from what Kenji experienced last year on his dual-tour with midwxst, prioritizing his health this time around. “I’m definitely trying to take better care of my body and my health per se, because this tour is a little bit longer compared to like last year. Last time, I really felt the repercussions of it.”

Taking his time to recover, Kenji made sure fans turnt up in Mike’s name. Bottom Lounge in Chicago’s Fulton Market district packed in hundreds of concert-goers, with some embracing Halloweekend festivities clad in costumes. A pair of bananas and a construction worker led the energy within the pits, with Kenji even acknowledging how lively fans were on-stage. Sirens blare as Dro directs the crowd, shouting “the banana is in the pit” readying for the mosh that’s to ensue.

While Kenji admits his favorite track to perform is “ANNIHILATION,” it didn’t make the night’s setlist. Deep cuts like “TUG OF WAR,” “BOTTLE 4 BOTTLE,” “SAVE ME” and “MARS” brought the Day 1 fan in me to pure joy. An a cappella of “PRESIDENTIAL” showcased Kenji’s refined, hypnotizing vocals; and although without Mike Dimes, “STEP BACK,” “PAMPER PAMPER,” “KISS N’ TELL” and the tour’s de facto anthem “DND” brought Bottom Lounge to a boil. Despite Dimes’ missed presence, the DND tour’s touch down in Chicago was a smash — all thanks to Dro N Dimes’ unbreakable bond.

“It’s so beautiful: The fact that Mike and I can go on tour together and see both of our fanbases genuinely love our music means everything,” said Kenji. “Thank you, we have nothing else to say other than that,” Mike echoed. “We genuinely appreciate each and every one of y’all. You make this possible for us. Definitely, let’s keep turning the f–k up.”

Purchase tickets to the DND tour here.

Photos courtesy of John Cotter (@johncottermedia)