Dom Deshawn brings his new TV series to your stereo

Andy Downing

You could be forgiven if you thought that AfterhOurz existed as some massive corporation in rapper Dom Deshawn’s world, with tentacles stretching into myriad divergent industries. On different projects throughout the years, AfterhOurz has served as a diner, a night club and now, with the forthcoming Longest Night Saga EP, a television production studio.

Deshawn has rarely taken a straightforward approach to releases, drawn toward outsized concepts that both shape the music and offer a means of separating the rapper from the pack.

“In this day and age, you’re surrounded by so much music on the daily that there has to be something that helps you stand out,” said Deshawn, who will host a Longest Nights Saga premiere at Two Dollar Radio tonight, Sept. 12. “I can’t just do regular shit anymore, to be honest with you.”

For Longest Nights, this inspiration took the form of a television series, complete with segments shot by artist and filmmaker Cameron Granger. In the teasers, which are loosely based on the rapper’s life, Deshawn and friends can be seen gearing up for a night on the town, which unfolds on the companion recording. “I wanted to present it to people so they were almost on the fence, like, ‘Is this a TV show or a new music project?’” he said.

As with any TV series, the EP begins with an opening theme (“Title Theme”) and closes with the credit music (“End Theme”). In between, Deshawn hits the club, pals around with friends and argues with an ex before beating a retreat for home.

Though events unfolds over a single night, the songs themselves span nearly three years, which meant Deshawn had to go back in and adjust some tracks in order to maintain continuity, as with any Hollywood project. If a track falling on the back half of the album referenced the rapper receiving a text message from a woman, for example, he’d insert a line about exchanging numbers with her into one of the earlier songs. “When you get the entire scope of the project, you’ll see that things I mention in song one have an effect on songs four and five,” Deshawn said.

Extending the concept even further, Deshawn talked about the possibility of releasing songs free on streaming sites one per week, much like any TV series, but also offering a paid Bandcamp download for fans who wanted to "binge" the entire project. (He plans to play the entire album start-to-finish at Two Dollar Radio tonight, with a more official release campaign rolling out later this month.)

Though music remains the rapper’s primary outlet, Deshawn is no stranger to television, having written a spec script for a series he described as in the vein of “Atlanta” or “Insecure,” where the tone could walk the line between drama and comedy. “The pilot was about my life, really,” he said. “I used to say my love life was so funny it could be an HBO series, and then I sat down like, ‘Oh, I really could turn this into a TV show.’”

Or failing that, into an album masquerading as a TV series, at least.

Two Dollar Radio

8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12

1124 Parsons Ave., South Side

'Longest Nights Saga' Season 1 premiere