Rapper Dee-1 explains how he paid “Sallie Mae Back” and created viral hit

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New Orleans rapper David “Dee-1” Augustine decided to celebrate paying off his student loans in a big way— shooting a rap music video.

The new song “Sallie Mae Back” shows Dee-1 turning up while talking about the hustle to pay down his debt.  The video has garnered 1 million views on Facebook and is getting a lot of love from people who can relate.

Dee-1 spoke with theGrio about what inspired the video, which was filmed in part at his alma mater, Louisiana State University.

“I wanted to address something serious but in a lighthearted and fun way,” he says.

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After graduating from LSU with a degree in business marketing, Dee-1 hustled to land a job as a public school teacher.

“I never envisioned myself as a full-time hip hop artist,’ says Dee-1. “My journey entailed getting a 9 to 5.  It wasn’t even an option for me.”

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The rapper says he was the first male in his family to graduate college and he wanted to nurture the next generation.  But after two years in the classroom he noticed something.

“I realized my students looked up to rappers the most,” he says.  “I saw hip hop shaping the way they chose to live their lives.”

Dee-1 decided to give music his full attention and only create uplifting rhymes.  All the while he was making minimum payments on his student loans.  Then he landed a record deal– with a cash advance.

“People typically go and buy new cars, jewelry, a small range of things,” he says. “I asked, ‘How can I put this money to good use?’”

Dee-1 says he used a chunk of his advance to pay off the student loan debt, then began carefully planning his music video.

Sallie Mae’s official Facebook account took notice this week and gave him props:

“We’re all in the office singing along with you.  Love, love, love the hook.  Congratulations on your success! #SallieMaeBack #Dee1Nation”

Sallie Mae congratulated the rapper

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Approximately 40 million Americans have a combined total of $1.2 trillion dollars in outstanding student loan debt.   Even though it cost Dee-1 a lot to attend, he says school was worth it.  But the real value of his degree came from learning to work for what he wanted.

“Don’t ever regret going to school,” he says. “ Education is a hustle.  It affords you an opportunity to get a better job- but you still have to hustle.”