Despot (rapper)

Alec Reinstein[1] (born May 7, 1982[2]), better known by his stage name Despot, is an American hip hop artist from Queens, New York City. He was signed to rapper El-P's label Definitive Jux in 2004.[3] Despot has been a part of the New York underground rap scene for over a decade.[4] Despot is associated with the Smart Crew collective and a co-owner of Santos Party House.

Birth nameAlec Israel Reinstein
Born (1982-05-07) May 7, 1982 (age 39)
Queens, New York, United States
OriginBrooklyn, New York, United States
GenresHip hop
Years active2004–present
LabelsDefinitive Jux
Associated acts

Early life and educationEdit

Despot grew up in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens.[5] He became involved in hip-hop at an early age, claiming that its prevalence amongst kids in his neighborhood made him appreciate rap. Around the age of twelve, Despot began to hang out with a Brooklyn gang called the Lo-Lives,[6] most notable for wearing Polo Ralph Lauren clothing. Despot identifies himself as hopelessly addicted to sneakers and Polo clothing.[7]

Despot claims to have been more of a delinquent as a teenager because he constantly listened to Mobb Deep's The Infamous.[8] Upon buying 6 Feet Deep, supergroup Gravediggaz' first album, Despot wore baggy pants and carried a Panasonic boom box around with him.[5] He was given the nickname "Puff" because of his marijuana use.[7] During his years in junior high school, Despot and his friends rapped over an instrumental tape of "Worldwide" by Royal Flush. Despot's friends told him he was the most talented of the group, and he began to write rhymes.[5]

He attended high school in Manhattan, where he and friend Yak Ballz (who was also signed to Definitive Jux) would frequent Footwork, the East Village record store owned by radio personality Bobbito García.[9] It was through Garcia that Despot would eventually meet El-P. After graduating high school Despot attended SUNY Purchase, but later dropped out "after realizing it was boring."[10] Despot still went back to the school to organize its Culture Shock festival in 2004 and 2005, and he performed at the event in 2007.[citation needed]


In 2001, Despot recorded the song "Cynical Bastards" with Lo-Deck on Atoms Family member Cryptic One's album Euphony.[11] The track garnered attention from El-P, who asked Despot to record for Definitive Jux.[10] Despot released "Homesickness" as a single on Def Jux Presents 3 in 2004. Following "Homesickness", Despot had his plans in making his album stalled, primarily because of his not spending time working on the album. He also believed a neurotic perfectionism prevented him from releasing songs more quickly. Despite never releasing the album, he released a number of songs during his time at Definitive Jux, including "Crap Artists" and "Look Alive", which was produced by Ratatat.[12] Despot toured with Ratatat in 2007, and his forthcoming album will feature their production.[13]

Despot claimed to have finished his first full-length album, a collaborative effort with Ratatat featuring songs from Blockhead, as early as June 2008. The album was initially named Jerry (after his father) and then Hooray for Me before finally arriving at We're All Excited.[3] The first single was released July 13, 2015, titled "House of Bricks", despite being performed live regularly since 2012.[4] On July 22, 2015, Despot released a music video for "House of Bricks", directed by Ratatat's E*vax.[14]


Despot met Ashok Kondabolu and Himanshu Suri, members of Das Racist, in 2008[15] and was featured on their 2010 mixtape Sit Down, Man, on the song "Rooftop".[16] Despot featured on El-P's 2012 album Cancer 4 Cure[17] and Meyhem Lauren's Respect the Fly Shit, where he raps with Action Bronson on "Pan Seared Tilapia".[18]

In 2011, Despot appeared on the remix for Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire's "The Last Huzzah" alongside Das Racist, Danny Brown, and El-P,[19] which was called one of the best songs of 2011 by Rolling Stone.[20] He opened for Das Racist on their Relax Tour in 2011 as well as El-P and Killer Mike's 2012 Into the Wild Tour.[21][22][23][24] He was also featured on Das Racist's 2011 album Relax on the song "Power" alongside Danny Brown.[25] Despot appeared alongside Heems in Lakutis's 2013 video "Too Ill for the Law".[26]

On June 3, 2013, he was featured in Vampire Weekend's "Diane Young" music video.[27] In the same year, he was featured on Fat Tony's "Hood Party" off of the Smart Ass Black Boy album along with Kool A.D.[28] In November 2013, he appeared on Blood Orange's album Cupid Deluxe on the song "Clipped On".[29] On January 1, 2014, Vampire Weekend released "Step (Wintertime Remix)", which included guest verses from Despot, Danny Brown, and Heems.[30] On December 15, 2014, iLoveMakonnen released "Down 4 So Long (Remix)", which featured Despot and Ezra Koenig.[31]


Studio albumEdit

Title Album details
We're All Excited


As lead artistEdit

Title Year Album
"Homesickness" 2004 Def Jux Presents 3
"Life with Snarky Parker" non-album single
"House of Bricks" 2015 We're All Excited

Guest appearancesEdit

List of non-single guest appearances, with other performing artists, showing year released and album name
Title Year Artist(s) Album
"Freestyle" 2007 Ratatat Ratatat Remixes Vol. 2
"Rooftop" 2010 Das Racist Sit Down, Man
"Power" 2011 Das Racist, Danny Brown Relax
"The Last Huzzah!" Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire, Das Racist, Danny Brown, El-P Lost in Translation
"Kate Boosh" 2012 Heems Nehru Jackets
"Tougher Colder Killer" El-P, Killer Mike Cancer 4 Cure
"Pan Seared Tilapia" Meyhem Lauren, AG Da Coroner, Action Bronson Respect the Fly Shit
"Clipped On" 2013 Blood Orange Cupid Deluxe
"Hood Party" Fat Tony, Kool A.D. Smart Ass Black Boy
"Step" (Wintertime Remix) Vampire Weekend, Danny Brown, Heems N/A
"Blockbuster Night, Pt. 2" 2014 Run the Jewels, Wiki Run the Jewels 2
"Down 4 So Long" (Remix) iLoveMakonnen, Ezra Koenig N/A
"Steep Tech" 2015 Ratking, Destiny Frasqueri 700-Fill
"Satellite" 2016 Secret Circle (Wiki, Antwon, and Lil Ugly Mane) N/A


  1. ^ Rodgers, Jason (March 9, 2015). "Heems, Queens, and Turkey Sandwiches". Interview Magazine. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  2. ^ "I'm 34 today". @despotroast. Twitter. May 7, 2016. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Peter Madsen (September 15, 2009). "Interview With Despot From Def Jux". Street Carnage. Retrieved September 24, 2012
  4. ^ a b "After years of waiting, Despot released the first single off his upcoming album". 13 July 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Luke Cage (October 23, 2007). "The King of Queens". Cool'eh Magazine. Retrieved September 23, 2012.
  6. ^ Scott Wood (November 2007). "Introducing Despot, Napoleon of the Rap Game". Earshot Online. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  7. ^ a b Urban Smarts Staff (December 9, 2004). "Despot". Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  8. ^ Dusted Staff (January 7, 2005). "Listed: Despot + Plastic Crimewave". Dusted Magazine. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  9. ^ Max Kramer (July 7, 2012). "Meet Your Maker: Despot". Young and Fictitious. 2:24. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
  10. ^ a b Danny De Maio (April 17, 2012). "Despot- New York" Archived 2012-06-02 at the Wayback Machine. Bangstyle. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  11. ^ Euphony: Various Artists Archived 2013-05-09 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved September 23, 2012.
  12. ^ Despot: Myspace. Retrieved September 21, 2012
  13. ^ Hardwood Blacktop Staff (September 6, 2012). "Hardwood Blacktop Presents... Despot-Little Guy, High Horse" Archived 2014-05-02 at the Wayback Machine. Hardwood Blacktop. Retrieved September 22, 2012.
  14. ^ Golden, Zara (July 22, 2015). "Despot Premieres "House Of Bricks" Video, His First Music". The FADER. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  15. ^ Frank Rodriguez (February 5, 2012). "Nehru Jackets Producer Mike Finito (Interview)" Archived 2013-01-30 at Retrieved September 23, 2012.
  16. ^ David Morris (October 12, 2010). "Das Racist - Sit Down, Man". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  17. ^ Jeff Weiss (May 21, 2012). "El-P: Cancer for Cure". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  18. ^ Duncan Cooper (June 28, 2012). "Download Meyhem Lauren's Album Respect The Fly Shit". The Fader. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
  19. ^ Mishka Staff (September 21, 2011). "The Last Huzzah: You Know We Had To Do A Remix Video Right?". Mishka Bloglin. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  20. ^ "46 - Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire feat. Despot, Das Racist, Danny Brown and El-P, 'The Last Huzzah'". Rolling Stone. December 7, 2011.
  21. ^ "Das Racist: Relax Tour with special guests Danny Brown, Despot at Middle East - Downstairs on Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 8:00 PM EDT".
  22. ^ "DAS RACIST: RELAX TOUR - Tickets - 9:30 Club - Washington, DC - October 1st, 2011".
  23. ^ "El-P And Killer Mike Plan For "Into The Wild" Tour". 18 May 2012.
  24. ^ Okayplayer. "Into the Wild: El-P, Killer Mike, Mr. MFN eXquire & Despot Live At Irving Plaza [Show Review + Pics] - Okayplayer Okayplayer".
  25. ^ Carrie Battan (September 15, 2011). "Das Racist: "Power" (ft. Danny Brown and Despot)". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  26. ^ Claire Lobenfeld (April 23, 2013). "Lakutis – "Too Ill For The Law" Video". Stereogum. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  27. ^ Naomi Zeichner (June 3, 2013). "Video: Vampire Weekend, "Diane Young"". The Fader. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  28. ^ Evan Minskeron (June 11, 2013). "Video: Fat Tony Featuring Kool A.D. and Despot: "Hood Party"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  29. ^ Cam Lindsay (November 8, 2013). "Blood Orange - Cupid Deluxe". Exclaim!. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
  30. ^ Evan Minsker (January 1, 2014). "Listen: Vampire Weekend Share "Step" Remix Featuring Danny Brown, Heems, Despot". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  31. ^ Evan Minsker (December 20, 2014). "iLoveMakonnen Shares "Down 4 So Long" Remix With Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig and Despot". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved December 24, 2014.

External linksEdit