If I am not for myself who will be?

ONLē Talks with DeonRaps (@Deonisthatyou) by Jas Wilson

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DeonRaps is an up-and-coming rapper from Queens, New York. He represents the ever-evolving style of New York artists outside of the traditional boxes and norms of rap music that have initially been set in place. Growing up as a singer from a young age, Deon isn't afraid to incorporate creative melodies and tunes into his rap style. He takes inspiration from a mixture of old school hip hop with a more new age soulful sound to produce a catalog of vocals that can speak to anyone on the diverse spectrum of music lovers. His performance of Gold Flow 2 had the audience immersed in his cadence, hanging onto every word of the rapper’s perspective. He makes use of jazzy instrumentals paired with detailed lyricism to convey his different life experiences. From dealing with heartbreak to expressing the details of his origins in Queens, Deon pours it all out into his artistry. With his music, Deon hopes to put out a message of being free and encouraging people to pursue whatever passion they may have with intention. This has been the single motivating force for him on his journey in the music industry, being able to reach his fullest potential in this realm before he passes on. 

What's your stage name?

I’m Deon, aka Deon Raps, aka Deonisthatyou. I’m from Queens, New York

How does the city that you’re from influence your music?

Honestly, New York is the home of Hip Hop, how could it not influence my music? It's like every day that I get up and wake up, there's always something to write about you know? The whole city is like a grand theft auto lobby sometimes, you feel me? [He laughs]. So, I always draw inspiration from it. Shit that I’ve gone through, Shit that I’ve witnessed on the street. Or the general vibe that I catch in New York. 

What's the story behind how you began music?

It's actually a funny story. It was 5th grade and I had to do a social studies project for black history month -shout out black history month- [He laughs]. And they tried to tell me that I had to write a paper for it but I decided, you know what, I’m just going to watch the Ray movie with Jamie Foxx and write a little bio and I’m going to sing a song from it! And I actually sang Georgia which landed me a spot in the school play and in graduation. So I was like, damn I could actually do this and it kind of progressed from there.

Over the years I didn't take it seriously, obviously. I did my thing here and there but over the last 5 years, I’ve really been influenced to keep doing it.

So how would you describe your music?

Honestly, I feel like a lot of the things that I do are just influenced by my general mood. You know I’m a Pisces with that Gemini moon, you feel me, so you know we are wishy-washy with it. If you only want to catch a vibe, I got that. If you want to stomp a nigga out, I got that. If you just want to feel good about yourself, I got that. So I don't put myself in a box with it. I just make music that I’m feeling.

And what message are you hoping to put out into the world with your music?

I know it sounds cliche and mad corny, but life is dumb fickle. And if quarantine showed us anything, it's that life is dumb short. If you have a dream that you want to pursue and you’re just going with that day-to-day and not doing anything about it, I feel like you’re wasting your time. We’ve seen how short life is! You could be here today and gone tomorrow. You have nothing to lose pursuing your dream, you feel me?

We’re in a matrix! We’re in an illusion right now, you feel me? So it's like all of this shit that we’ve been confined to, chained to, slaved to… break free from it and spread your wings. 

What would you say is the main motivation keeping you on this journey?

That I’m going to die [he laughs and shrugs]. Deadass! At least I didn't go out like no bum ass nigga! I did what I wanted to do on my own time!

Who are some of your biggest creative inspirations?

I go through a lot of modes and shifts so I would definitely put Marvin Gaye and Al Green at the top of them. Biggie Smalls, Smino, Anderson .Paak, 50 Cent. When it comes to influence and inspiration, I refer to a lot of the old school when it comes to lyricism and flow. When I do my melodies, I definitely go to Anderson .Paak and Smino. They are some of the artists who made me not afraid to experiment with my sound and how I express myself. I used to be a singer before I did rapping so it's really cool to see other singers play with their style in rap. 

What do you draw inspiration from when you write your songs?

So my first few projects actually came from true breakups [he laughs.] I’m a different type of writer when my heart is broken. My first one was called The garden, I had broken off a 7-year relationship during quarantine. I brought all my friends together in the studio and I just drew inspiration from what we’ve been through the last 3-4 years. And for Sunday, I was a side nigga for a little bit [he laughs.] And I broke the cardinal rule and that got another album out of me. Now, this third one I'm dropping, Deon, that's my origin story. The Garden and Sunday are very much a lighter tone but for this one, it's really the shit that I went through.

And where can we go to support these projects?

You can follow me on Instagram @Deonisthatyou. I'm on all platforms DeonRaps. I'm on Spotify, Tidal, Amazon, Google. You can find me everywhere!

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