My First Introduction to Dezzy Yates was a few years ago, through some mutual friends. Even back them I was impressed. Fast forward years later, his style is more refined and the focus is that much clearly.
When I reached out to him for an interview. Here’s what he had to say.
1) Introduce yourself? And what’s the story behind your name?
Dezzy: Well, my name is Dezzy Yates, I’m currently 25 (soon to be 26 in September), born and raised in Columbus, GA. I consider myself a hip-hop artist; by that I mean I express myself through the arts in the sphere of hip-hop through music, dance, fashion, etc. I am married to my beautiful wife and partner in crime, Brianna, and have been kicking it and going strong 5 years together and 3 years married!
The story behind my name is actually kind of hilarious if you ask me. My government name is Dezmund Yates, and when I first got serious about rapping and becoming an artist, I hated it. I started coming up with all of these different rap names like Bboy D, Ghost Kid, Ichiban D, Dezy Ketchem, etc. The list goes on. After so many name changes, I was like “I’ll just run with Dezzy. It’s short, catchy, and easy to remember.
2) When did you first realize that being a performer was your gift to the world?
Dezzy: I would have to say around 3rd grade had to be the time where the idea of becoming a professional singer was conceived. It was around the time Lil Bow Wow, Lil Romeo, and Sammy was around. There also something so captivating about the music videos during that time period that drew me in. I love watching Usher and Omarion dance around and I occasionally would practice in my bedroom. I distinctly remember coming to my mom one day, telling her that I wanted to sing, and then next thing I know I was writing little love songs in class about crushes. My mom taught me how to do the wave in the car while Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa was playing, and after that moment I became sold on the dancing aspect. I actually tried to start a singing and rap group with a couple of friends at the time, however, it didn’t get that far. It wasn’t until about high school that I started taking the idea of becoming a performer a lot more serious. I’d say between the Jabawockeez, Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, and all of the b-boy videos that I watched, I was sold on being a performer.
3) For readers who are unfamiliar with you, how would you describe your sound in three words?
Dezzy: Authentic, Unique, and Creative
4) You’re a man of God, where else do you find inspiration?
Dezzy: My faith in Christ definitely takes a huge part of my music and my approach to what I do, so I really do appreciate you taking the time to acknowledge that! Outside of that, I would say my own personal journey that I have taken so far is the biggest inspiration. Giving people something authentic and real opposed to something synthetic is something that I strive to do with the art that I create. What better way to do that than to be transparent and allow others to see what goes on in my life? Without being too long-winded about the rest, my other inspirations include plenty of anime themes, manga, video game themes, graffiti and urban art pieces, my personal selection of hip hop albums, indie bands, video games, and photography.
5) Dancing is also something you’re passionate about, how do you bridge this with your music? And how does that help you stand out from your peers?
Dezzy: To me, dancing and music go hand in hand, especially in the hip hop culture. While the emcee spits his verse, the b-boys were in the back doing backspins and windmills. Over time, dancers became tools and assets while the rapper moved to the forefront and became this megastar of its own. Incorporating dancing into what I do is natural, however getting others to see that can be irksome at times. Usually, people just see me as either a dancer or just a rapper, not an artist. I appreciate artists like Chris Brown and Jay Park because they show that both talents can be combined and marketed in a way that the consumer can digest. Instead of just being artists with trendy dance songs and catchy music, they create solid content with solid dance skills that solidifies them as great artists.
As far as helping me stand out, striving to be more than just a “rapper” or “dancer” goes back to a conversation my mother and others had to me about longevity. It’s been proving that just rapping or dancing alone isn’t going to keep you in this industry. That and I realized that rapping and dancing is what I do, it’s not who I am. This helps me realize that this isn’t really much about competition, but rather than being the best “me” that I can possibly be.
6) I imagine you’ve experienced a lot of ups and downs during your career, what was a moment(s) that made it all worth it?
Dezzy: The first moment had to have been back in 2013. I had just given my life to Christ and was starting to learn towards doing Christian Hip Hop. I had a manager, things were moving, but on the inside, I was totally empty. I had just opened up for Curren$y for the BMI Urban Showcase, and after I got home I just had this meltdown. Nothing went right, I had no idea what was going on, and my manager just didn’t seem to care about my newfound beliefs and spiritual wellbeing. We parted ways and I told God, “I give up music altogether. I am done with rap and dancing. I’ll just work a 9 to 5 and call it day.” I had a Lecrae CD that I was bumping since the beginning of that year, and after time in prayer and meditation, I ended up realizing that God didn’t want to quit, but rather use my talents to uplift Him. I gave a complete surrender, and soon after I landed an extra roll one of Lecrae’s music videos. It was a serious moment of confirmation for me.
The second moment happened during my stint with So You Think You Can Dance in 2015. I had auditioned for this show two times already, and with this third audition, I was determined to make it. My wife, along with my friend and Antonio and I traveled to Memphis, TN to audition. We barely had any money, our car was having trouble, and the hotel we stayed in wasn’t the best. Regardless of all of that, I ended up actually making it to the Las Vegas rounds out of 9,000 people that auditioned that year. I was overwhelmed, I trained hard, and I studied up for the Vegas rounds. I ended up getting cut in the very first round of the first day and was completely heartbroken. I was angry and upset wondering why God would have me go all the way out there only to be cut the first day. I later realized that getting sent home first was the best thing that could happen to me. What God had for me back at home was a lot more important than the TV show. Jason Derulo actually gave me encouraging words and told me that he hoped my wife and I’s ministry did very well!
The third moment was actually really recent. Not too long ago, I had this breakdown in the car with my wife. Since 2007, I’ve been dancing, rapping, writing, recording, and going after this thing they call “success”. It always seemed like I was behind on every trend, and no matter how hard I tried to be relevant I got left behind to the wayside. I was about to spent. Here I am, 25 years old, hanging on to this dream of mine that I have had since high school and I literally told God, “Is this something that you want me to do? I don’t have the money to continue, I don’t make the music that people want to hear, and compared to everyone else I am washed up. But regardless of this, not my will but Yours.” The next morning after an audition I had, I get a message from a pastor in North Dakota who came across a video of mine on the internet, and next thing I know he’s flying my wife and I out to a Native American reservation to rap and dance for the youth. Everything was paid for, and we even got invited back again. From there, doors that I could never possibly think of started to open up. Now, I just tell people it’s a matter of time before Kanye West show’s up at my door wanting to sign me to GOOD Music.
7) Taking your catalog into consideration, what do you feel is your best song to date? And why?
Dezzy: I would have to say One Day ft PM Lowe on my Tales from the Checkered Backpack album is my best song to date. It sums up my journey so far as an artist, the pain of dream chasing, and the hope of one day reaching that point where “we ain’t gotta worry bout the bills no more.” The hook and verses are executed very nicely, and the production differs from a lot of the trap sound that is out today giving the listener a breath of fresh air. The story is an honest, transparent, and encouraging for those who might be in a similar situation.
8) If you weren’t doing music as a career, what would you be doing?
Dezzy: Oh that is easy! Writing and illustrating comics! Definitely! If anything that’s what I’m working on now as one of my side projects.
9) What would you want to be remembered for, and what was the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Dezzy: As an artist, I want to be remembered as someone who wasn’t afraid to be unapologetically himself. I want to inspire the younger, as well as younger generation, with that same sense of wonder I got when I saw Turbo dance with the broom in the Breakin’ movie, and when I heard Kanye West’s Graduation album for the first time. It’s easy to get lost in the fog of people pleasing, fame chasing, and emptiness that this world has to offer. Most importantly, being a light that directs people the Light is something that I also aim to do.
10) Which anime falls into your Top 5? (No Particular Order)
Dezzy: Dragonball Z, Bleach, Yu Yu Hakusho, Slam Dunk, and Naruto
11) If you could have any Super Power, what would it be?
Dezzy: Since we are talking anime and manga in question 10, I would totally want all of Rock Lee’s taijutsu.
12) What’s Next For Dezzy?
Dezzy: TONS OF STUFF!!!! I am writing and working on two mixtapes right now that don’t have a set release date; one of them will be entitled “twenty-three” and the other be named “This Is You.” I have a couple of ideas for features and I have linked up some pretty cool producers on there. These two projects will almost be like a reintroduction to who I am for those who know me, and for those who don’t, it will be something new to experience. I will be featuring on a mixtape project with LoveMuziqOperaiton, a mixtape project with Rapid Music Promo, and doing some dancing out in Dallas, TX and Augusta, GA throughout the summer.
We just launched the Team Phresh brand and we have merch available! Expect some more merchandise on the way soon as we begin to build up the Team Phresh fam-base.
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