Young and Hungry: DTG’s philosophy on life and what this year will hold.
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After performing the night before at Hatch, DTG attended an early shoot with us at PWR. He spoke candidly about his inspirations, journey in the industry and plans for this new year.
Despite disliking performing on stage, DTG’s experience on stage the night before was amazing. ‘It’s always a shutdown still’, says DTG humbly whilst he chuckles. Even after going platinum in several countries as an independent artist, DTG still expresses modesty when discussing his successes. His comments on performing shed an insight into what being an artist can be like. ‘I don’t like performing. When I perform, it’s usually ‘Rover’, as it’s a top 40. So, people know it and vibe with it. But sometimes, like at Leeds, performing ‘Leader’, not everyone knows your song and it kind of ruins your vibe. I like to just focus on those vibing with the song or have energy really.’
Following the release of his platinum single ‘Rover’, life did not ‘change as much as people think it would’. DTG spoke of his process as a songwriter and rapper, defining his sound as an artist and his inspirations. With us, he expresses that as an artist his process of song writing differs from others. ‘Before I even hear a beat’, ‘I’m putting words down’. Contemplating on his past releases and some of his produced work, he shares the story behind his hit single, ‘Leader’. This story is inspiring and showcases the kind of heart DTG has for his work and his desire to support the younger generation.
He shares with us the origin of the beat used in the song ‘Leader’. It was produced by a 14-year-old boy from South Wales, who he had met on discord during a video conference. Whilst he has also worked with other younger artists, like Chappo CSB and Screama, after building a working relationship over the first lockdown, DTG is constantly mentoring and supporting them to make it in the industry also. He has since made music together with both Chappo CSB and Screama and hopes to do so again in the future.
When asked why he is so driven to help younger people, DTG replied with, ’when I see potential in young people, I do the most, I invest a lot of time. Sometimes, it can be to my own detriment. Growing up I was fortunate to go to private schools up until year 7. Then went to public school and kind of became a bad kid. I got sent back to Nigeria for 3 years. It’s actually where my music career started. I know at a young age you can be easily influenced, and I want to motivate kids to stay on the right path. I know sometimes teachers are not good at communicating with kids because of the age barrier. While I’m still fairly young, it seems like the best time to work with younger people.’
His art is not just for himself, but for others. Although he has had many years of experience within the creative field, DTG has always aspired to be more than a content creator or a creative. He notes that, ‘I have musical accolades, but people miss that a lot and focus on my YouTube days.’ Separating himself from his time on YouTube, DTG has engaged with other forms of social media, knowing the power it has. ‘Your relevance can be kept on the internet, like Instagram and TikTok.’
He adds, ‘I used to keep up with TikTok, and even made a viral video. I woke up to 100k views overnight and in a week, it was at 1 million views. I tried to keep up with the trends, but I don’t really like to be seen as a content creator.’ His reason for distinguishing himself from a content creator, also influenced him to quit YouTube ‘because I didn’t want to be seen as a YouTube artist. It’s an insulting title because I know I have done more than that.’ Speaking on his relationship with the creative world, he is animated and expressive, revealing his desire to be identified and established as an artist.
Our Croydon bred independent rapper has ‘done everything,’ either through learning or mastering it. ‘I started off as a graphic designer, editor, did YouTube, I grew up as a footballer, then singer, rapper, I know how to produce a bit but can’t engineer.’ His list is endless, showing his hand at versatility and his hunger to be the best in his craft.
‘I believe that the world is your oyster, and you can do anything.’
The beauty of what he said to me embodies who DTG is at heart. He has grasped and continues to reach for new experiences and opportunities to learn. He is an artist who knows who he is and what he can achieve.
‘I have a sound; I don’t think I have a style. I have my own flow when it comes to rapping but with singing it varies. I am very versatile.’ Like his awareness of himself as a versatile artist, he is similarly inspired by other versatile rappers. ‘I grew up listening to a lot of Lil Wayne, Drake and John Legend. Lil Wayne is super versatile, he is a big influence, and Drake also. Even Chip was versatile growing up and inspired me. Chip is a robot, his work rate is crazy, he is so cheeky. In his 2nd fire in the booth, he said exactly what he would do that year and then he went out and did it. No one can deny how cold he is.’
Staying true to his inspirations and influences, DTG’s lifestyle has also adapted to mirror them, sharing that ‘over the last 6 months I’ve been so productive, ever since I stopped smoking.’ He continued with an outline of his daily schedule, ‘waking up at 3:45am in the morning. Straight to the gym then writing music and going to the studio. Then on the weekend I coach under 12s football and mentor two young artists.’ Noticing how his daily schedule would seem intense to an average person, he quickly added, ‘I am always busy, but right now I am in a position where I’ve spent the last two months not being as busy in the studio. We have a big song we are sitting on, with Tobi from Sideman, so I don’t necessarily need to be recording as much as I used to. I’ve made many unreleased rap and singing songs too. I’ve got an international feature, an American artist and Australian artist as well. I’m trying to work with a couple more people from Europe to branch out really.’
Though he rises early and always seems to be on the move, DTG prioritises what drives him and helps others. He remains selfless daily, even through difficult times. ‘I went through a dark path, and had to come off social media, essentially ‘fell off’. My social presence is not super high right now, but I took the time out for me and to perfect my craft.’
Curious about what his next plans are in this new year, I probed DTG a little, ‘what can we expect from you this year?’
‘I want to show people different styles of DTG, the rapping side and the singing side and so much more. I’m a storyteller or I create a story. I like to make motivational music too. Yeah, I was good at English at school, I got an A*,’ he chuckled. ‘God willing, this is meant to be my year. We’ve also got a big single called ‘Just Do It’ coming up with Tobi from Sideman. We have the EP we want to release with a few features. Hopefully a tour, festivals, headline shows, we will see. Last year, I did Wireless, Reading and Leeds and those were the first times I’ve ever been to festivals.
Without realising it, we had maximised our allotted interview slot, so I bring the questioning to a close. I thank DTG for his time, considering how busy his schedule is, as I have come to learn, then offered him the opportunity to ask me any questions he had. Though the tables have turned, DTG is still forthcoming in sharing his life experiences of going to boarding school as a black boy. We spend a few extra minutes chatting about how similar, though different, our upbringings have been, and we both agree on one thing. This year will be different.
Words by: Anu Kehinde
Interview by: Nisha Landa
Get a print copy of DTG's Cover Here
to read more stories and interviews