By Raven Jordan
Two members from the eccentric and high energy group Greyspot Syndicate have come to be known as Designer Artillery.
Evan Pierce, who goes by the stage name Udon, and Judson Meshack, who goes by J4 Mane, branched off to chart a path of their own in the rap game incorporating their music with some of their favorite video games.
For them, it wasn’t intentional,it was something that happened organically.
“Naturally, organically became a part of that, an aspect of our lives,” Udon says. “As kids, we were hanging out playing video games. To this day, we still play video games.”
That same gamer culture can be heard in the lyrics of their songs, from pairings of designer brands and weaponry (“Jimmy Choo Chainsaw” and “Burberry Bow Staff,” for example) to references other gamers (but not the average listener) would catch. The duo also weaves in storytelling across their tracks, which currently span three albums, through skits and freestyles.
The third installment was released last year, but they say they have at least 10 projects planned as Designer Artillery.
“We like to do projects in between those projects,” Udon says. “So, in between Designer Artillery 4, we’re gonna do a 3.5 with features on it. And we’re working on a Ghetto Grunge Kartell; it’s a sequel to one of our projects in between Designer Artillery 1 and 2 — Hood Punk Yakuza.”
On the topic of lyrical and rap influences on their craft, the duo finds it hard to narrow the list down. Those influences aren’t limited to hip hop, either, and include punk, rock and RnB and other genres.
A few of the main artists and lyricists they nod to are Dallas-based DSR, Lil Wayne, MF DOOM, Killer Mike, Kid Cudi and Lil B. The latter two have the biggest influence because they set their own paths in their rap.
“They just trailblazed regardless of how different they were because there was a stigma where you had to be something to be something,“ Udon says. “It’s a sentiment we’d never really agree with, I could say. That was my inspiration. That’s what made me take the leap forward, as far as stylistically.”
The two also differ in their creative processes, with J4 choosing to psych himself out of hyperfocusing inward and come to the music when it’s fresh. Udon thinks of the music making process “like a flowing river.”
“I’m like the opposite. I actually do the hyper focus inward. I think of a flowing river. Just flowing peacefully, like an absent-minded type of aspect, like I’m clearing my mind so the ideas and everything just come down.”
Udon and J4 Mane’s bond stretches back to childhood. They met each other growing up in DeSoto as kids with J4’s brother, Jaughn, riding bikes around the neighborhood. Just 2000s kids stuff, Udon says.
These days, they keep busy on both joint and individual projects. They can be found performing Sundays in Deep Ellum, selling tickets outside of their own shows, or, sometime soon, at different open mic events.