Pontiac, Michigan-born rapper DDG partially credits his hometown for his success, but in a different way than most. He used the city as a motivator.
"I never wanted to be like a local artist, I always wanted to be like more mainstream than underground," DDG said. "Growing up there really made me want to be different, it made me want to get out of the city."
The young artist got his start in entertainment through being a daily vlogger on YouTube. He accumulated millions of subscribers across different channels and, by the time his freshman year of college was over, had realized that he was confidently making good money from YouTube. He posted occasional diss tracks and freestyles to his channels. These videos always did well, and he was eventually able to utilize his YouTube fan base to kickstart his music career. DDG said that this wasn't always the plan.
"It wasn't really in the plan honestly. I was making so much money on YouTube that it was really all I was focused on, but I would always create little freestyles and I would do like diss tracks on YouTube and they'd be hitting like millions and millions of views, so it was clear that people gravitated towards my lyrics and my flow and the way I make music," he said over the phone.
He mentioned he always had a love for music and the transition was natural.
"I always had a passion for it. I did music years before but I never took it seriously so I didn't start taking it serious [until] October 2017. But I knew it would be like hard to transition because a lot of people don't take you serious, so I was making like songs called 'Take Me Serious,' I went on a tour called Take Me Serious, I dropped an EP called Take Me Serious. It was never planned from the jump to be like 'oh I'm going to do this YouTube stuff then I'm going to turn it into music,' I just loved creating videos and being my own boss, so when I was making so much money with that it made me want to transition out and create other streams of entertainment and income."
Since October 2017, he has released a couple projects and a series of singles to streaming services. Most recently, the rising rapper let go of a four-track EP called Sorry 4 The Hold Up. The project sees songs filled with sincere melodies and others with harder, aggressive raps. It's versatile and doesn't make a quick description of DDG's sound an easy task. He said this multifaceted display of sonics was intentional.
"I definitely want to showcase my versatility. I don't really want to put myself in a box to only being able to make one sound of music. Especially like the singing stuff. I really want to emphasize that I can make melodic music and also rap at the same time," he explained. "Whenever I decide I want to drop an album it's definitely going to be a mixture of all of that."
One of the highlights is "Hold Up" with fellow Michigan native Queen Naija who, like DDG, utilizes her platform as a YouTube personality. She floats on the chorus of "Hold Up" as DDG compliments her singing by showcasing his melodic side. "She's coming off of YouTube, I'm transitioning to music and I'm doing the same thing. It just made a lot of sense," DDG said of the collaboration.
His recent Breaking The Internet tour saw a plethora of his committed fans show up and support the young talent. When asked about the experience, DDG expressed the unity he felt in venues around the country.
"When I get on stage, it's like a whole different vibe. It's like more of a family vibe. I don't know, it's like a bonding moment. So when I get up there it's like 100% energy throughout the entire show," he revealed.
This unity is present in physical shows, but has been built up through years of accumulating a large group of fans online. DDG can often be seen on social media engaging with his followers and in other interviews he can be seen calling his fans "supporters." He credits some of his success to this genuine approach to building a fan base.
"I feel like it makes people gravitate towards me more. They don't feel like they're idolizing me. A lot of people call me their idols, but I look at it as more like I don't ever want to come off as like I'm better than anybody [because] that's not the truth. Everybody is a person. Everybody is the same," the rapper said. "We [are] all humans you know? I never want to paint that picture of me being better than somebody. I feel like people can really catch that from my music or how I carry myself on social media."
Check out DDG's 2019 EP Sorry 4 The Hold Up above and connect with him on his socials below.