Black Sheep’s hit “The Choice Is Yours” popularized the phrase “you can get with this or you can get with that” when it was released in the early ’90’s and now a spotlight is being shone on both the legacy of that colossal song as well as one of the performers behind it.
This Tuesday, November 21st Paramount+ premieres the new feature-length documentary THE CHOICE IS YOURS in the U.S. and Canada, and on Wednesday, November 22 the film becomes available in the U.K., Australia, Latin America, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
Directed and edited by Clark Slater (DMX: Don’t Try And Understand), THE CHOICE IS YOURS reunites viewers with former Black Sheep rapper and artist Dres, born Andres Vargas-Titus as he balances his music career with fatherhood and the everyday challenges of life. The film gives us an unflinching look at what it means to be a middle-aged rapper with hopes and dreams of continuing to create and follow his passion. The project dives head first into the success of Black Sheep and the hit song that Dres continues to perform all across the globe — but it also offers a look at Dres’ current project, created from unreleased beats that Dilla’s mom, Maureen Yancey, aka Ma Dukes, has given him the blessing to use. Determined to honor this gift to the fullest, Dres goes on a quest to learn more about Dilla, only to find himself in the midst of a controversy that threatens to prevent him from fulfilling what he believes is the next step in his legacy.
BOSSIP’s Sr. Content Director Janeé Bolden chatted with Dres ahead of the release of THE CHOICE IS YOURS, check out the trailer for the documentary and their conversation below:
BOSSIP: This documentary is really raw and shows your vulnerability to some degree, how difficult was it to decide to allow the cameras in?
DRES: That very much was something that had to be thought about and I guess to a degree, embrace but… there were definite parameters within it — you don’t find out everything about me but you do find out more than you knew and that had to be something that I had to be cool with and even give some thought to.
One of the things that happens as being an artist is that you wind up having to share things of yourself regardless and sometimes not even things that you anticipated, so to a certain degree it was there already… There were things that I probably wouldn’t have been necessarily comfortable bringing in, so it didn’t dive that deeply into the underbelly of me as a person, but as an artist I was able to kind of be freely who I am, which was cool because I’d like to think that as an artist who you see on the street is exactly who I am.
BOSSIP: We loved being able to watch you interact with your son onscreen, how did he feel about being such a big part of the doc?
Dres: One of my most important relationships in my life, definitely. My youngest son Sidney, he’s actually done a lot of commercial work throughout his entire life, so just the notion of being on film or camera he doesn’t give much thought to it, to the degree that I don’t think he even cares. He’s grown up with cameras around him to the degree that he doesn’t look at as an oddity. Even when Chi [Ali] was filming his documentary, me and my son would kick it with the film crew while they were filming Chi, so he even knew some of the fellas before we were doing our project. He had met them already, so to that accord it was very easy and easy to be just natural. He’s had so many experiences through my eyes, we have this relationship where I can just talk to him. He’s a senior in high school right now, which is insane to me, but he’s literally someone that I can share my experiences with him and I can see in his eyes whether or not he gets it. We’re that close. So for him to come up and see this going on, it wasn’t something that was farfetched for him. We had a good time with it.
BOSSIP: What was your initial interaction with Ma Dukes and how did it lead to the project you were working on?
Very cool. My initial meeting with Ma was believe I was in Chicago. Let me preface it by saying I didn’t have the relationship with Dilla that all of the Native Tongue crew had. I met Dilla once in passing. I didn’t know him like that. Was I a fan of his? Definitely. Did I see his talent? Truly. Definitely and I was even a little jealous of the songs that my peers have with him, you know. But I didn’t know him like that, so when I was given the opportunity, I was asked would I like to meet Dilla’s mom. I had a show I believe in Chicago. I’m in the dressing room and they’re like, ‘Would you like to meet Dilla’s mom?’ And I’m like, ‘Hell yeah!’ Just on GP. Just out of love. So they her bring her back with her husband Tony, so I meet both of them. So we share a couple of quick words, it wasn’t anything big or anything like that, just a very genuine, ‘Nice to meet you, I think the world of your son’s abilities. It’s a pleasure.’ Just respect.
“A month later I had a show in Puerto Rico for a charity event. I’m on stage rocking and I just happen to turn to the right and who do I see by the side of the stage but Dilla’s mom and her husband. After I rock, I literally go straight to them and we just start chopping it up. They’re like, ‘What are you about to get into after this?’ I’m like, ‘There’s an after party.’ They’re like ‘If you don’t wanna go to that, mom’s gonna cook at the house, come on over. We got some DJ’s coming through, we’re gonna play some music in the yard.’ ‘Bet, that’s what I want to do.’ So I dip on the afterparty, I go hang out with them, some DJ’s came through. We’re all talking, she’s cooking. I’m getting these stories — it was just the coolest experience. Hours go by and the sun’s about to come up. We had this amazing experience. They’re like, ‘You know we’ve just got back some of the some of the rights under the umbrella of the estate, we’re looking at various things to do with the music, would you be interested in putting something together?’ I’m literally picking my jaw up. In my mind I’m like, I would be glad with a track and permission, but for you to offer me the opportunity to put together a project, my mind just started racing. I’m like, ‘Well first of all, thank you and hell yes I would love to!’
But now I feel like I owe this situation due diligence. I don’t know him like that, so I go online, I start looking at every interview. I asked my friends, everyone from Large Pro to Q-Tip, ‘What’s your favorite Dilla record?’ I start quizzing everybody I know about anything they know about Dilla. Once the opportunity for us to film this comes into play, I feel like it’s important that we gotta go to Detroit. I need to see about the stories I’m hearing from people. I need to go meet these people and I need to know who this kid is. This is my word, by the end of this project I feel like this is one of my closest friends. I literally, I’ve been able to you know turn to Frank and be like, ‘Yo, you know when he did this that he probably was being funny wasn’t he? And he’d be like, ‘Yeah he was trying to be funny.’ I’d be like,’I knew it!’ because I’ve just immersed myself so much in the world of who this man was.”
You have to watch THE CHOICE IS YOURS to find out what happens with Dres’ Dilla project. While the film spends a good amount of time on Dres’ experience in Detroit and the resistance he meets while creating using the unreleased Dilla beats, the doc also delves into how Dres and fellow Black Sheep member William “Mista Lawnge” McLean parted ways. Again, we don’t want to give too much away but we did have to ask Dres about the onscreen time he shared with his former partner in rhyme.
BOSSIP: How important was that Mister Lawnge be included in the documentary?
Dres: I was open to the notion… but I didn’t think that there was going to be an actual us in the same room. It happened very organically.
Your family is always gonna be your family. You’re not always going to get along with your family. But your family always has a seat at the table, it’s just whether or not they choose to sit down. We had got to a space where two grown men sat down at the table. A lot of times that’s all it takes. Just be grown in how you proceed. Sometimes there is no winner or loser. Sometimes it just is what it is. Don’t get it twisted, I’m not saying that someone gets an automatic excuse to be something wrong but when family is right, family is right, and you just give family the opportunity to coexist with you. It’s not hard to to coexist with someone that you consider family. It just has to be something that’s mutually respected.
We’re excited for other hip-hop heads to see this project. Lastly we asked Dres what the milestone 50th anniversary of hip-hop has meant for him.
Dres: I think it’s important that we acknowledge at 50 years how far we’ve come. I would even say the things around hip-hop have become even more profitable than hip-hop has. I remember when we only got hip-hop on the weekends at night and we put our cassette tapes by the radio, we’d press record and go outside and come back inside 45 minutes later and turn it over and press record. That was our hip-hop for the week. So to see where we are today is mind-boggling. But this is my word, I know for a fact when I was young I knew this was life-altering music. I knew we weren’t going anywhere. I knew it wasn’t a fad. I just knew we loved it. I hope we can take this 50 year thing and how we’ve shown that we can take this thing. I hope the bar doesn’t get lowered again. There was a bar and it did matter at one point but we’ve allowed money to put that bar on the floor. There are voices this year, mine being one of them, that are reflective of balance and I hope that’s allowed to continue and flourish.
THE CHOICE IS YOURS is streaming now on Paramount +