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D-Nice on the Preakness, #ClubQuarantine and more, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Friday, May 14, 2021

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Despite some dark and trying times, it's been a, well, nice year for D-Nice.

Early during the pandemic, the rapper/DJ launched #ClubQuarantine on Instagram, luring tens of thousands for virtual dance parties and getting plenty of celebrity shout-outs -- as well as recognition from the NAACP, BET and others. It was an effective way of passing the time and, most importantly, buoying spirits in the uncertain new world order.

#ClubQuarantine continues but is being scaled back a bit as D-Nice (real name Derrick Jones) is working on other endeavors -- including live performances. He returns to the Preakness Stakes horse race this weekend hosting a Preakness LIVE event that will also feature rapper 2 Chainz (parts will be shown during coverage on NBC).

The New York native and now Los Angeles resident hopes the show is a harbinger of more live things to come, but he's justifiably proud of what he accomplished online during the past 14 months...

• Last year, D-Nice, 50 -- who’s credited with helping to discover Kid Rock during the late 80s -- performed for the Preakness from Miami, where he spun music for first responders in their cars. "That was my first time doing anything like that. It was different," he says by phone. "It was great to be able to celebrate with 200 first responders, to provide some entertainment for their families. But I'm so used to hearing people scream or whatever, and I couldn't tell if people were enjoying themselves. In the middle of my set I had to tell 'em, 'If you're having a good time, blow your horns,' and the horns went crazy. To have some sort of interaction gave me energy again."

• This year's Preakness will be different yet again, with D-Nice in person at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and a live audience attending, seated in pods. "I'm excited to see what that's going to look like, and I'm excited it's kind of like a hybrid of live and virtual, so you'll still be able to have my #ClubQuarantine experience and join in, but still feel the energy from me being in front of people. It's definitely going to be a different experience."

• Reflecting on #ClubQuarantine -- which he expects to continue as a monthly program -- D-Nice notes that "there's nothing like being there live, feeling the energy from people hearing live music and watching people dance and smile and celebrate. But last year was such a dark time, where we all felt disconnected and then found each other again, virtually. Being able to connect with people all over the world like that has been magical. I really enjoyed being able to have people from all over have that kind of experience and connectivity. I'm most proud of helping keep people sane, and safe."

• D-Nice notes that #ClubQuarantine and other endeavors -- including the Emmy Awards, Super Bowl LV, Verzuz online "battles" -- also allowed him to re-brand himself. "For years I wanted to get back into recording and producing, but it was difficult for some people to see me that way, as a DJ-producer-artist, and not as the rapper from my days doing that. This last year gave people the ability to rediscover me and not limit me as an old school rap artist. It's just me as an artist in general, which is really exciting for me."

• On the recording front, D-Nice is continuing to work with Ne-Yo, Kent Jones and Snoop Dogg. The troupe released a single, "No Plans For Love," last month. And he promises there's more to come. "We're still trying to decide if we're gonna do a full-length album or just release a 6- or -7-song EP first to get people excited and then continue working on an album. These are some of my favorite artists ever, and they stepped up to thep late, man. They came with some incredible songs. I'm really excited for people to hear this other stuff we're working on."

D-Nice and 2 Chainz perform as part of Preakness LIVE from the Preakness Stakes Horse race on Saturday, May 15, in Baltimore. Portions of the show will be aired starting at 5 p.m. on NBC (WDIV, Channel 4), while the entire performance can be found at D-Nice's #ClubQuarantine on Instagram.

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