Young Hip-Hop Soul From Queens

Siyu Liu December 11, 2015 0
Young Hip-Hop Soul From Queens

His earliest memory was when he would carry around a black marble notebook writing down sample raps or singing and moonwalking to Michael Jackson’s classics. That was when he was just five years old. Growing up in Queens, New York, Jullian Deveras, or by his stage name, JaeDizzy, was heavily influenced by the hip-hop and jazz greatest. His music is his lifelong diary, and at 21, this diary expanded to three Eps and 37 tracks as a young hip-hop artist.

Growing up in Rego Park, Queens, Deveras gathered extensive knowledge on the hip-hop artists and culture that based from the urban borough. “Queens is the foundation of some of the biggest names in the genre,” he said. One of his major inspirations, Nas, who was born in Brooklyn and relocated to Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City, developed initial interest in hip-hop from his Queens neighbor playing him old records. Going down the list with Rakim, who was one of the first to use a unique rapping technique of multisyllabic rhymes, which Deveras tries to do in his music. 50 Cent, born and raised in South Jamaica, Queens, also plays a big role. “Queens is a big part of what I portray in my music. I grew up here, and it’s like a sort of bravado you carry on with your competition, and Queens is my competition,” he said.

Deveras dedicated a whole wall of his home basement to display his favorite vintage vinyl records that inspired his music. He introduced his appreciations for each record with his eyes glistening. Jimi Hendrix is his personal favorite guitarist- loves the distorted sound and innovation for the rock era. Thelonious Monk- one of his jazz pianist and composer influences. Dave Brubeck’s Take Five is one of his favorite songs and he describes it as “so smooth”. Of course, he hangs “Diana Ross presents The Jackson 5”, the debut album of the soul family band on the Motown label. Last but not least, Deveras introduced the origin of his stage name- JaeDizzy, from the jazz trumpeter and bandleader Dizzy Gillespie, as he pointed to a vinyl of Gillespie’s.

When asked to describe his genre and style of music, Deveras shared that he is not a “hardcore” type of hip-hop artist. “I am heavily influenced by jazz music, so my style is jazz infusion hip-hop”. Deveras’ lyrics and bridges of his songs also involve singing. He met his producer, Adam “Richmond” Acosta in junior year at Forest Hills High School and they began to produce songs together. “I finally met someone as passionate about it as me, and when we finalized our first song together, I was like, wow, this is really good.” The duo recalled sitting in the back row of their high school cartooning class as their first encounter. Acosta would then produce beats and send to Deveras via email. “Jullian is a natural. He is very easy to work with and just takes over whenever we are working on something new,” said Acosta.

Deveras recalled a trip to the Philippines at the age of seven. He visited his family’s house that had a clear view of the surrounding. “That’s when I started to write down everything I saw happened on the streets,” he said with a smile.

His favorite part about the music making process isn’t simply writing a verse, making notes or singing a hook. “It is that spark you get when you are inspired. Once you get inspired, it’s a feeling you can’t describe.” Making music is extremely important to Deveras, as he touches up on childhood friendship disconnections. “This is my diary, something to get off my chest. Every time I feel a new emotion or old emotion that comes back, something that I can’t express or talk about with friends, I put it in my music.”

Deveras spends his subway commutes to school listening to beats that trigger his creativity. He is a senior at New York Institute of Technology majoring in electrical engineering. He explains that he is good at math, therefore pursuing a profession in which he could excel and still have time to make music on the side. “I felt that it was more realistic opposed to studying music. I believe you can be innovative in whatever you do, just like making a circuit. I try to be creative in both aspects.”

The struggle for aspiring musicians to put their music out there is no exception for Deveras. “We live in a world where users have access to all types of medium. I could put something on Soundcloud, and someone else can do the same.” He believes individuality is key and it’s crucial for an artist to keep on innovating and sounding different. “It’s a rough patch we have to go through to become someone, or just be heard. There is a lot of talented people out there.”

Deveras spends most of his free time with his brothers, family and three high school best friends. Henry Machado, one of the three, admires how Deveras ignites his musical talent mainly for expressing himself, and not for the fame. “He has the talent to go big, but he stays humble and makes music for his own purpose,” said Machado. Jephthah Acheampong, who has known Deveras for 7 years and considers him “family”, praises deep appreciation. “Jullian is a young man of caliber. He is an innovative thinker who continuously strives to inject positive emotions for those who feel helpless. As he boldly stated in his lyrics, “The Earth is my purpose and my cursive- my youth”, this young man has visions of conquering empires.” The two friends both agree that through the years of knowing Deveras, they can openly confide to him and not feel the slightest bit of judgement. They are also genuine supporters and fans of his music. “Jullian’s music motivates me to write and inspires me to implement powerful analogies into my pieces. One main thing I love about his music is the fact that I do not try to rap along when it is playing. Instead, the creation he injects into his music encourages one to actually listen and further decipher the number of points he conveys on a microscopic level,” said Acheampong.

Prior to the interview, Deveras took a brief hiatus from his music to innovate his style and release different sounds. As of late, he is working with beats from one of his favorite producers, J Dilla, who passed away in the mid-2000s and named “one of the music industry’s most influential hip-hop artists” by and “Mozart of hip-hop” by The Guardian. “It’s going to be a short project, but hopefully I can measure up to his level,” said Deveras. When asked about his future goals or if he is looking to sign with a label, Deveras admits that he would like to stay as an independent artist. “I would stay independent just to have full control of what I do. I want to put my soul out so people can understand who I am and where I came from, so I can have real fans from those who can really connect.”

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