DEV3N's music is sonically rich and lyrically striking, often referencing his years growing up in Kansas City. He describes his first album, EPHNY, as a "rebirth of sorts" and it's establishing DEV3N as one of Kansas City's best rap storytellers. He will performing as part of this year's Middle of Map Fest this Saturday and we are lucky to share a rare interview with this emerging artist.
Please introduce yourself. Where do you live and work?
I am Devin, but through spirit known as DEV3N for now. I currently reside and work here in Kansas City, Missouri.
Talk about your recently released EPHNY album. What or who inspired these songs?
EPHNY was a rebirth of sorts for me. There's an album I was going to release in place of that one that failed for me. Everything in my life changed within a matter of months after that, which led to EPHNY.
How do you construct your songs? Where there any tracks in particular that challenged you unexpectedly as you were making the album?
When I first started writing it was more of a hands-on approach. EPHNY opened up the door for where im at now. Can't really explain it… I just listen.
Every track was a challenge. Im used to writing whenever I feel like it. Everything I wrote has always ran concurrent with my real life but I more so would be touching on something I had already dealt with. I went from years of doing that, to now releasing everything I feel in the middle of dealing with it.
A number of tracks on EPHNY incorporate audio recordings of your mother telling stories about you. Tell us more about these.
Yes that's my mother. I basically just asked her to reflect the best she could on times when I was younger. That was my first time hearing stories from her about me except for a few she didn't share so I experienced that while putting the record together.
What did you learn from recording EPHNY that you’ll take or build upon with future projects?
The one thing I learned is that Nobody Wants To Die. I'll be carrying that forward with me until I do.
What inspires you about KC’s hip-hop and rap community?
The current community is a good model for kids after them to be inspired. There's a couple of artists and producers that I genuinely have love and support for. The "scene" that existed before this one is the one that partially inspired me though. Kansas City is much more than most portray, which is unfortunate but it makes sense at the same time, I guess. Shout out to the few that keep a foot on the street in order to actually relate. They know like I know. I'm done pretending though.
Devin's recommendations from the Johnson County Library catalog:
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Thug Life by Sanyika Shakur
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Pieces of A Man by Gil Scott Heron