Hip hop is a connector. It’s a way of life. If you’re part of the party, it’s a part of you. It’s a way to communicate without speaking, to share head nods and feelings between people across countries and continents. And while I’m inundated with new music on a daily basis, there are gems to be found. I have to tip my hat to Instagram for the assist on Devin Burgess, an MC whose art quickly resonated with me. Take a few minutes and get familiar with Devin and his tremendous new project Progress. It delivers on all levels.
SGH: Tell me about Devin Burgess. Where’s home? Why rap? What are you saying that hasn’t been said?
Devin Burgess: Devin Burgess is a 22-year-old emcee from Cincinnati, Ohio. I use rap as an outlet. Writing is cathartic for me. I’m pretty to myself in real life, but I find my balance in writing rhymes. I don’t think that I’m saying anything that hasn’t be said, but my way of saying it hasn’t been said. I try to write my music from a perspective that most people can relate to, not just ones close to me in age.
SGH: I came across your music via Instagram. How important is social media in today’s music culture?
DB: Social media is very important in today’s music culture unfortunately (laughs). It’s definitely a gift and a curse. I hate the continuous feeling that I have to be connected in order to maintain some sort of relevancy. On the flip side, social media has allowed me to connect with a lot of dope people from around the world, and I think that’s beautiful. I try to think about social media with that mentality.
SGH: Talk about Progress. It’s a really poised project. It sounds like you had laser beam focus putting it together.
DB: Yes, thank you. Progress turned out super dope. I was actually quite proud of myself (laughs). I put out a project in 2014 called SoulMusic. After that hype died down, I started to created a conscious view of how I wanted it to sound. I was depressed, very pessimistic and unsure about my music. Sometime around June of 2015, I was like “fuck this, I’m tired of feeling this way”. So I began to channel that energy and way of thinking, and just put it all into this album. That’s really what it’s about. Identifying certain issues within the world, within yourself, and getting through it. I’m trying to uplift the listener as well as myself. It’s definitely an internal album.
SGH: What’s your favorite verse/song on Progress?
DB: My favorite verse would be the from the first track, “Power”. I love it so much because I feel like I could travel as a motivational speaker and just recite that verse to people (laughs). But no, it’s special to me. It’s uplifting and it has that syllable flow that’s so popular in hip hop. It’s me talking to myself in a way, as well as the listener. But as far as my favorite song? It’d have to be “TimeZone”. I can’t really pinpoint why, but I find myself listening to that song the most. It sounds very nostalgic to me.
SGH: What’s a typical writing/studio session like?
DB: A writing session for me these days differs everyday. I beat-search all day. I’m always looking for producers to work with. So sometimes I have to sit with the beat for a while and then go write and record. I hate going to the studio and writing on the spot. I like have my songs written and memorized so when I go to the booth, it shouldn’t take that long to complete (laughs).
SGH: You have one bottle of liquor and three cups. Which two rappers/artists (living or dead) do you pour a drink for, and what do you talk about?
DB: I like this question. Although I don’t drink (laughs), I think I’d share a drink with Dilla and Common. I’m inspired by them so much. I feel like we’d just talk about music and production heavy. Samples, emcees etcetera. Maybe even discuss the times, the differences and similarities of our generations.
SGH: Plans this summer? What’s next?
DB: My plan for this summer is just perform as much as possible and travel as much as possible. I feel like I’ve gotten the most out of my city so I’m ready to go elsewhere with my music…places where I know I’ll be appreciated.
I’m also working on two EP’s. One is a solo project and the second is a collaboration tape with the homie LunarThought. I’m producing a three or 4 track EP for Ronin, another homie of mine. I’m trying to get into directing and filming, so I’m planning to invest in a camera. Just trying to keep working, man.
SGH: Last but not least…what’s your drink of choice?
DB: My favorite drink is water. Drink more water!
—–Big thanks for Devin for taking some time to chat, and be sure to follow him on Twitter @BIGD_MUSIC, and on Instagram @devinburgessmusic. You can check out his music, including his excellent Progress project here.