Willamette Week Music Stories

“If you’re a basketball fan, you and millions of others have already seen the work of Portland-via-Miami transplant Champagne Duane. His shoe designs have been worn by the likes of Dwight Howard and Tim Duncan. Now, Duane is set to prove his worth on the mic. He recently dropped his debut album, A Toast, and, true to his modus operandi, is an improbable amalgam of true-school rap and whatever is hot at the moment. The pop songs crank, hard. But Duane has a bigger vision. He stays true to his roots while also incorporating those aesthetics into his more radio-friendly material—a difficult trick to pull off.

Of course, hardcore hip-hop heads might dismiss him off name alone. They shouldn’t.

“Honestly, the name just came about as a joke,” Duane says. “It just kind of stuck. It really just came to kind of represent a celebration—having a good time, and striving to want to achieve. That’s the whole meaning behind it. It’s not necessarily about the flashiness or anything like that. It’s about working hard to give yourself a reason to celebrate your accomplishments.”

Side hustle or no, Champagne Duane’s music reflects his influences. “I would say probably my biggest influences would be Jay Z, [Talib] Kweli and then, after that, you got Outkast, Black Thought, Common and Mos Def. But I appreciate people who still had a commercial element to them, like a Slick Rick or an LL Cool J. Even Diddy—he’s not lyricist of the year or anything, [but] I definitely had an appreciation for both mainstream artists and real MCs.”

You want joints for the club? Check. You want songs for the hardcore heads? Check. Do you just love good music in general? Check. Champagne Duane is that dude.”

TJ Love, Willamette Week

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