If you’ve ever reached out to GRAV® customer service with a product question or for help with an order, you may have been connected to one Rudi Dizer. He’s the delightful presence on the other side of the email, helping to guide you through the wide world of glass. (His own personal favorite GRAV® piece is the Small Wide Base Water Pipe, FYI.)
And when he’s not improving your customer experience, he’s making music. Sometimes on his own. Sometimes with hip hop duo 5-D—and supported by a set of truly excellent puppets.
The Origins of 5-D
In the music world, artists are rarely focused on just one project. This is certainly the case for Rudi, who has worked with around a half dozen groups in the 10+ years that he’s lived in Austin. One of those groups, the SubKulture Patriots, served as a vehicle for Rudi to develop his working relationship with Halston Brown, aka HBZ.
Within a few years, the duo (along with producer Chris McDowell) had started a new project where they could “lean into the weirdness and awkwardness,” as Rudi says, bringing a lighter approach to the sometimes heavy world of hip hop. A major influence is the late great hip hop artist MF Doom, who brought elements of absurdity and nerd culture to his own complex wordplay.
When it came time to choose a group name, Rudi and Halston reached back to an old-school internet cartoon favorite for inspiration—Homestar Runner. (IYKYK) One of the most popular characters in this bit of early-aughts nostalgia is Strong Bad, a gravely-voiced man who types emails (while wearing boxing gloves). In a few different shorts, Strong Bad refers to the “double deuce,” aka flipping the bird with both hands. Rudi and Halston liked the sound of it, and added a few more d’s to round it out. Thus, the Double Deuce Duo Duplicate Deluxe—or 5-D—was born.
The group has been making music for several years now, focused on relationships, social justice issues, and our favorite, cannabis. High-energy and lyrically intricate, their songs seem to fit more syllables into a line than mathematically possible.
Their catalog’s growth has outstripped their song release, a discrepancy that the group is actively working on. They’ve recently released a video for their song On It, an ode to the green:
I have so many advantages when it comes to Cannabis
In love with different strains you can say that I'm polyamorous
My cabbage is hazardous to those who can't stand the hits
If you have to quit, come back when you think you can manage it.
In the years since they began, some things have changed. Halston married Rudi’s step-sister in 2021, officially becoming part of the family. (Rudi officiated.)
And the crew has also grown, with a few new members in the lineup…
As the trio worked on plans to get their music out into the world, Rudi had a flash of inspiration. Humans are good. But puppets are better. Why not use puppet versions of themselves to perform in their shows and videos?
Brilliant! Unfortunately, the plan took time to come to fruition. It’s surprisingly difficult to commission custom puppets. When they heard that San Marcos hip hop artist Chief and TheDoomsdayDevice had a puppet, they reached out to find out where it came from. Fortunately, the artist was Austin-based puppet and craft maker Tanya Olalde. She took on the job, and made puppets to resemble Rudi, Halston, and Chris.
The felt-faced friends star in their music videos, and make appearances in some live performances, requiring their human counterparts to both rap and control the puppets all at once.
Right now, 5-D is focused on sharing the music they’ve been making over the past several years, with their self-titled EP due to release on May 5th.
They’re toying with the idea of more social content, more videos, maybe a podcast. But for now, they’re having fun with what they’ve created.
When I asked Rudi if he has any concerns about the reception their music will get, he shrugged. “With this project, because I’ve been able to listen to these songs and enjoy them for a long time, I don’t have as many worries about how they’ll be received. I want people to love them and share them and get a big response, but I don’t feel apprehensive about them because I still love them. I just want them out there.”
With a full-time job and a few musical projects to work on, Rudi clearly needed more to do in his free time. (Note the sarcasm.)
So he co-founded _Of COLOR, a community group that builds visibility for creatives of color through live events. They host showcases like Black Art WKND and Latino Art WKND, highlighting the art of creators and makers in the Austin community.
Their next event is Rituals: An AAPI Art Showcase & Dance Party featuring Asian American and Pacific Islander artists on May 14th, 2022. Get tickets here!
To keep up with Rudi and 5-D, and find all their new music (plus puppets), you can follow them on these platforms: