The D4WN of a new musical age
by Isaac Adeoluwa Atayero, Contributor
For Nigerian born Regina-based rapper D4WN, “music started as a way of expressing myself.” Although D4WN has been making music for about three years, he just put out his first official body of work Just in Time.
Just in Time is a three song EP which features multiple features from fellow Regina acts like Zweii, Oboise and Ninijegz. The journey to this moment for D4WN has been years in the making.
“It all started with battle rap. Rap battles in secondary school was where I learned how to use words,” he said. “At that time I had a mediocre flow, but I had to win, so I kept writing and practising.”
D4WN’s passion for working hard on his burgeoning flow to win battle raps at Ronik Comprehensive School, Ejigbo, Lagos introduced him to the world of music in a way that he had not experienced before.
“I was not a huge music listener before that time but I knew there was a lot of good songs out there,” D4WN said. “When I would hear songs by J.Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Phora, M.I. Abaga, Lexii Alijai, TDE and Roy Woods, I would get jealous because I knew it was in me to do it better.”
These musicians lit a fire in D4WN that would propel him into music.
“I knew that I could do it, I just had to get it done.”
The beautiful thing about DAWN’s journey into becoming a hip-hop musician is that his influences are not limited to rappers.
“Even till day, I am inspired by Nigerian artistes like Alpha P, Rema, Wizkid, Davido, Leriq, and Wande Coal.”
Anyone who has listened to D4WN’s music can attest to the fact that he has truly been able to seamlessly merge all these influences into one cohesive sonic experience. D4WN has promised his fans that his debut album, 21, will be a new level of this sonic experience.
“With this project I wanted to challenge myself to do something that I have not done before. I believe that I have been able to cross the line with every single track on my album.”
What are some of these lines D4WN has crossed musically?
“Rhyming and imitating,” he said. “For a long time I felt like it was essential to rhyme to make a song good. I have learned, however, that this is far from the truth. It took a lot of experimenting but I was finally able to break free from that mindset. I also used to believe that I had to imitate some rapper’s style, cadence and flow because I had people in my ear telling me what to do. Thankfully I have been able to trust myself more and silence the voices of others.”
Apart from being his debut full length album, 21 is a special project to D4WN for a plethora of reasons. He even hopes to be able to make it the first of a series of projects.
“I plan on making an album called 23 in a couple of years. This is like the first movie and it is truly a collage of different pictures and points of view. All these pieces come together to make a single image: 21, and you can only see this image if you are in tune with the music.”
So what is 21 about?
“The album is made up of my stories and experiences which I have transformed into art that can be perceived by someone who is just like me. They may not have the same experiences but there will be so much for them to learn from. The story will tell itself.”
Finishing up his masterpiece during a global pandemic, however, seemed to be a tasking feat for the musician.
“At the beginning of the pandemic I was still going to school and working two jobs. I was able to get inspired by the situation I was going through and it was during that time that I made my favourite songs on the project.”
Having now completed the LP, D4WN is proud to have created another torch bearing hip hop project that will advance the genre during this decade.
“I believe hip hop can never die but there are some people who have done things to bring harm to its image. I feel like its job, and that of a chosen few, to make sure that hip hop spreads a positive message.”
Although D4WN is resolute in bringing a message of hope and positivity with his music, he feels a responsibility to do it as authentically as possible.
“While I feel an obligation to deliver a positive message, I know that delivering that type of message is an art of its own and I want to perfect the craft before I address any serious issues.”
For the songs he has made, D4WN is yet to announce a release date for the project. Why? He wants it to be perfect for the listener.
“I am excited about how the album will make the listener feel. This is why I am taking time to make sure there are no gaps in the experience. I am taking my time and letting the story grow with time and of course creating awareness because many people will not understand what I am trying to do.”
While his fans wait for his debut album, D4WN’s fans can revisit his old music available on all streaming platforms knowing that what is coming is indeed greater.