Houston-born and now L.A.-based artist De'Wayne Jackson has been making music for a while now, grinding dead-end jobs to give himself the opportunity to create, and even moving from Texas to L.A. to pursue his passion. His new EP, Don't Be Afraid, reflects the experiences he's had, and it's a well-rounded and mature project—his best work to date.
De'Wayne is a talented rapper, but on the EP he incorporates influences from rock, R&B, and soul. The first track from the project was "Truth Is," a smooth love song with rich and funky production, but second single "Watching" is a little different. It's much more intense, with distorted guitars and vocals, and the Erik Rojas-directed video, premiering below, reflects that energy.
On his vision for the video, De'Wayne explains, "Instead of having people watch us, through our phones or computers I wanted to give an experience of watching yourself. There’s a battle between good and evil. The red entity represents the devil in disguise, while the white represents everything positive and good trying to get through. For me personally there's a constant struggle between both of these."
With Don't Be Afraid out May 26, get to know De'Wayne a little better with our interview below and follow him on SoundCloud here.
Can you introduce yourself for people who might not be familiar?
My name is De’Wayne Jackson I’m from a suburb outside of Houston called Spring, TX and now I’m living in Los Angeles, CA. I’ve been making music for about 7 years now.
When did you first start making music and what were your early inspirations?
I was 14 years old. Music just connected with me like nothing I ever felt before. It came at a perfect time for me, high school was just starting and it was all I had, it gave me a true meaning for trying to do something with my life. I was really into Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator and Outkast. All the tapes Lil Wayne was putting out at the time. Gospel music played 24/7 at the house, that influenced my music as well.
Tell me about moving to L.A. and how that's impacted your life and music.
I left Spring right after high school. I came to L.A. with 200 dollars in my pocket and a head full of dreams. I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into. Being away from my seven brothers and sisters working two jobs was really tough for me. I worked at Sherwin Williams driving paint around the big city in the morning then I would do a graveyard shift at Taco Bell.
While staying in the heart of Hollywood, it almost drove me crazy but it also gave me all the feels to make this EP. I remember being in my studio apartment crying on my blow up mattress because I was so scared but I couldn’t go back home. Dealing with the move it really shifted over to my music and began to tell even more personal stories. More stories that I was nervous about my mother hearing but I had to get them off my chest.
There are a lot of different styles on your new EP. Were you consciously trying to have lots of variety on this project?
Thanks for noticing. Yeah I really hate boxes. I love all types of music, my personal favorite is rock music. I wasn’t on all the way on purpose but I like how the project is so diverse—I just wanted to give people what I was feeling at that moment of creation, different emotions come to me in waves.
What else have you got planned for 2017?
Working on new music. Looking forward to hitting the road and spreading this EP as far as I can. Hopefully I can stop flipping pizzas this year, that’d be really cool.