He may wear slippers and a robe to his shows, but this Cincinnati artist is hardly staying comfortable. In fact, he’s busier than ever. Producer and rapper Devin Burgess adopted the laid-back ensemble after doing over 70 shows in 2016 and, deserving a break, jokingly declared he’d be retiring. Although he’s kept up his comfy wardrobe, Devin didn’t rest for long. 2018 brought the release of his album Trash, the launch of his new podcast, shooting the music video for “Bounce Back,” and preparing for new music, videos and shows in 2019. Right now, Devin is in the planning stages of new videos for Trash songs “Glimpse” and “Prosper,” will soon be jetting off on tour in California and is about to undertake an ambitious producing project. He found a spare moment to chat with Audiofemme for Playing Cincy; read on below.
AF: What are you most excited to work on in 2019?
DB: I’m literally sitting on like two bodies of work right now—I just have to finish them. I produce as well, so I’m gonna start producing for people [more]. I have this idea of—you know how Wendy’s has a Four For Four? That’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna take four artists, and make four EPs, that have four songs on them. It’s just a way for me to be hands-on with peoples’ music. A way for my fanbase and the artists’ fanbase to kind of mesh together.
AF: How long have you been producing?
DB: That’s how I got into making music. I started making beats in 2010. I wanted to be like a DJ. That’s my first love, production, but all of that equipment can be relatively expensive and in 2010 I was like 16. I didn’t really have a job, so I couldn’t really afford a lot of it and one of my homies was like, ‘You should rap,’ so I rapped. I spit a verse for him, and he was like, ‘That was dope.’ I’ve been rapping ever since.
AF: So do you think 2019 will be heavier on the rapping or producing?
DB: We’ll see! I’ve been telling people that I’m not into rapping right now. All of my creative energy has been going into production. I’m an engineer as well, so I mix and master for other people. I don’t really have the time or the mental capacity to rap right now. I just put out an album out with 15 tracks. After I put out Trash I felt, like, empty. So I’m trying to find another way to get inspired, another angle to approach with rapping.
AF: Could you see yourself releasing another solo project in 2019?
DB: Only time will tell. With all of this producing for other people, I still want to keep my momentum going. 2018 [was] one of the biggest years I’ve had and I’m very aware of people’s short attention spans. You drop something and it’s cool for two months, but after that, they’ll forget about it. So I’ve got to still find a way to put my name in people’s mouths, whether it’s through production or engineering. I’m finding other ways to be creative.
AF: Tell me about Trash.
DB: After this year, I had this whole ‘I’m Retired’ campaign going on, which is why I’m in a robe right now—I’m in my pajamas, I’m comfortable everywhere I go. With that was going to come a body of work called I’m Retired. I wasn’t going to really retire, it was just that in 2016 I did like 75+ shows and I dropped like five to seven bodies of work, so I was like, I’m burnt the f*ck out. So it was a joke, but then it turned into a body of work.
Then the year progressed, I was doing so many things and I still didn’t have this body of work done. I was making all of these other songs in between me doing I’m Retired that weren’t necessarily tied to any body of work. I’d call [them] my throwaway songs, hence where the name Trash came from. I didn’t necessarily seek out to have a message because as I was making these tracks, they weren’t supposed to be one body of work. When I was making them, they were either part of other projects I wanted to do and I scrapped them and essentially I took my best 15 songs and put them together as a cohesive project.
AF: All together, it sounds like a cohesive record. But you’re saying, conceptually, it started out scattered.
DB: Yeah, for sure, it was all over the place. That was one of the things I was afraid of, it sounding like I threw it all together. I definitely tried my best to make sure it didn’t sound that way. Transitioning and making sure the songs flow is very important to me. I am a body-of-work-type of artist. I’m not really huge on singles, I drop bodies of work.
AF: So what were some of the connecting themes that brought these songs together?
DB: I talk about love a lot, the different parts of love. Being in love, trying to get over a love. I wrote “Drive” when I was in a relationship and I tried to write it from the perspective of my girlfriend. I tried to take myself out of myself—I think that’s what the theme is, self-refection. “Glimpse” is definitely a favorite of mine, and “Bounce Back” for sure.
AF: And you mentioned you have lots of shows coming up this year?
DB: Yes, the plan is to travel as much as possible. I’ve done a show in every venue in Cincinnati. I’ve been going out to Columbus a lot, but I’m trying to go out to Chicago, New York, eventually. I’m going to LA with Patterns of Chaos in January. My idea is to go to a different city every other weekend. Travel is definitely in my future and a lot more shows.
AF: Who are some of your biggest inspirations?
DB: Jay-Z is my favorite rapper of all time. I’m very influenced by Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse is like my afterlife wife. Directors inspire me, like Quentin Tarantino.
AF: What do you think makes the Cincy hip hop scene unique?
DB: The Midwest is a melting pot of sounds and genres, so I don’t run into people sounding the same. I really appreciate the diversity that exists. And the love in the city.