MANITOWOC’S GOT TALENT
Making a Murderer’s Christian Rap Anthem
Brendan Dassey’s half-brother, Brad, has penned a ‘victory’ song for his jailed relative. It’s called ‘They Didn’t Do It.’
“Making a Murderer” finally has its own rap anthem—a contagious “victory” jam produced by Brendan Dassey’s half-brother, Brad.
Brad Dassey released “They Didn’t Do It” this week, and it’s got the 1980s fever of MC Hammer, gripping listeners with this opening line: “Yeah, injustice slammed in the face of two innocent people!”
The self-styled “indie Christian Rap artist” is an Oshkosh-area computer technician by day and Midwestern emcee by night, and shared the story behind the song Tuesday in an interview with The Daily Beast.
Dassey, 32, says he wrote the rhyme, first revealed by the Milwaukee Record, for his brother Brendan, who at age 16 was charged with the murder of Teresa Halbach. At age 17, Brendan was convicted to life in prison.
Brendan’s uncle, Steven Avery, was also convicted in the gruesome Manitowoc killing in 2007, and their cases are central to the Netflix docu-series Making a Murderer.
“As far as whoever hears it, it’s geared toward the supporters, but the haters are obviously going to land on it too,” Dassey told The Daily Beast. “There’s no way of stopping them.”
“I just want people who support our family to listen to it,” the lyricist added. “It’s more of a victory song to the better days ahead, because I just had a dream the other day that [Brendan and Steven] were out, and there was going to be a massive party and people all over the globe were going to come down and celebrate.”
“I don’t want to sound prideful, but I think it could be an anthem… for the awesome times ahead,” said Dassey, who shares a father with Brendan.
Dassey wrote the kick drum-heavy ditty after members of his family’s Facebook group encouraged him to rap about allegations featured in the documentary: Brendan’s seemingly coerced confession and accusations of a frameup by Manitowoc police.
“I mainly wrote it and gave it the passion it deserves from a half-brother,” Dassey said. “When I was visiting my brother in prison [in 2011], he knew I was into rap and making music. He wanted me to rap some lyrics right there in front of him.”
Dassey said he was so inspired he produced the track in 10 hours, without even stopping to eat that day.
He told The Daily Beast he took inspiration from a Massachusetts woman’s poem about the crime and included some of her lines. (The beat-slinger said he promises to give her credit should the tune take off, though he’s not charging for it. The song is free for download on Soundcloud, to spread awareness of his family’s legal plight.)
“They didn’t do it. They didn’t do it,” Dassey raps. “Come to your senses. Everything is just foolish.”
“Things clearly showed that it was just a joke. Cops were only there just to prod and poke. Not a fair trial. Not a fair game. Whole thing’s whacked. Just a lying shame,” he continues with the authoritative fury of the Wisconsin version of Eminem.
“Making a Murderer” has spawned a Late Night with Seth Meyers parody, an indie groove from the frontman of the Black Keys, and a series of memes—including one by this Daily Beast reporter about the Internet’s obsession with Avery’s attorneys.
But nothing hits home quite as much as Dassey’s hip-hop tribute, recorded in his tiny home studio.
“He’s suspicious. She’s suspicious. Everybody think these two just did it. Killed a girl. Such a whirlwind. Got the whole world talking—talking trash!”
“Just stick to the facts, leave alone Mr. Kratz,” he adds.
Dassey said he’s getting props from people across the globe.
But he’s also receiving hate mail from other Facebook users—some of whom may be mistaking him for Bobby Dassey, Brendan’s older brother and an alternate suspect in Halbach’s slaying, according to a court filing by Avery.
The Dr. Phil Show also called Brad, he says, offering thousands to come on the program. But a show rep called him at 10 p.m. and Dassey was turned off.
“If they don’t have enough respect to call me at a decent time, then I just don’t want to [go on],” Dassey told The Daily Beast, adding, “I’m not sure what their intentions are.”
Indeed, Dassey believes he’s been a target since his half-sibling’s confession sparked a dramatic televised press conference by prosecutors in 2006.
Dassey said he lost his job as a Manitowoc radio jockey—using the moniker DJ Dassey—because news reports turned his boss against him.
“It’s been a rough journey for all of us,” Dassey told The Daily Beast. “Just having the last name [Dassey or Avery] … was horrible back then. Because, I don’t know, people judge you.”
This isn’t Dassey’s first dance under the Internet’s magnifying glass.
In 2011, he tried getting on America’s Got Talent to pursue his dream of becoming a TV voiceover actor and uploaded his reel to YouTube.
He was also in Reddit’s crosshairs that year over his auto-tuned R&B ballad, “I’m Comin’ Home.” The song’s YouTube music video features snowy scenes of Manitowoc, including his grandmother’s gravesite, and a little girl chirping, “I love you, Jesus.”
The emcee penned the ode to his granny while waiting for his 1996 Chevy Cavalier to get fixed at a Little Chute auto shop. “That song just came to me,” Dassey told The Daily Beast, later conceding, “but I have received a lot of negative feedback on it.”
Then again, other locals told him that the words—about joining relatives in Heaven—sent “chills down their spine, in a good way.”
Dassey, whose influences include Coldplay, TobyMac, and Eminem, said he took a break from his music and open-mic nights in Green Bay for a while, but “something kept tugging at my heart. You gotta keep doing music, man. Don’t give up.”
Dassey’s other YouTube hits include “Dropped My Phone In The Toilet” and “Illuminating Sunshine,” an Enya-esque air where he plays a djembe as his pet birds tweet in the background.
After years of spinning rhymes, as well as what he calls “relaxation and meditation music,” the rap about his brother might be the most meaningful.
“I really put my heart and soul into it,” Dassey said. “It’s more or less really about my brother Brendan. I don’t really know Steven.”
“I was influenced to write it because everybody’s talking about Steven this, Steven that. Nobody talks about Brendan. The poor guy just got railroaded by investigators and got the raw end of the deal, and somebody needs to support him.”