Cincinnati’s own Devin Burgess isn’t your average emcee, live shows dressed in robes, he even called his latest project “Trash”. The packed LP though is anything but and as was calculated by Burgess himself, these are only tracks that didn’t make it onto an upcoming project. I had a chance to sit down with the Cincinnati standout to talk about “Trash”, the power of Ohio Hip-Hop (because I’m tired of ya’ll sleeping) and what a live Devin Burgess show is like.
Dead End Hip Hop: For those who don’t know who is Devin Burgess?
Devin Burgess: I am a 24 year old emcee/producer/audio engineer from Cincinnati, Ohio. I’m a rapping ass, self loathing, goofy ass sadboi that really cares about my art and craft.
DEHH: Now tell me a bit about growing up in Ohio and the Ohio Hip-Hop scene. I try to explain to people but cats really do be sleeping on what we’ve done over the years.
DB: I mean sh*t. Cincinnati has had a crazy and interesting ass run over the last 20 years. From like the scribble jam era to “BadAzz Battle” era, which was more of the harder, more aggressive Cincinnati sound, to now. Uptown is DEFINITELY running sh*t. I really didn’t become apart of the Cincinnati scene til like 2015 for real. That’s when I started to do shows on a more consistent basis. But yeah, Cincinnati is literally a melting pot of styles musically. I guess that’s perks of living in the midwest. Majority of the uptown artists here have their own niche, their own sound/style and I think it’s beautiful. Cincinnati was kind of going through a period where a lot of artists were trying to sound like someone else. It was apparent in the music. Granted, you’re going to come across that a lot, but now a days, I feel as if the artists here have their own sense of individuality. That is, when we’re not being so clique-y and politic-y. Lol I run into that a lot as well. That’s the beauty of being a solo artist here with no ties or affiliation to anyone. I’m neutral, and cool with just about everyone. I feel like that has something to do with my visibility here.
DEHH: Why “Trash”?
DB: Lmao well, aside from me calling these songs my “throw away” tracks, I thought it’d be funny to call my project Trash because its reflective of the climate. We live in this era where digesting music and giving an opinion on it happens SO RAPIDLY. When you talk to people about music it’s either one of two things. It’s fire and they love it, maybe even a classic, or it’s just trash. No context as to why, it’s just trash. So being the goofy individual I am, I said fu*k it.. Imma just call this Trash. I also thought from like a consumer standpoint. The things we dislike tend to get talked about more than the things we actually like. I see more people talking about how trash something is opposed to how much they love something. In my mind I thought, if I’m scrolling down to hear or see someone talk about how trash something is, I’m probably going to stop to see what they’re talking about lol. Like maybe folks would be like, “why is he calling his OWN album trash?” It was my attempt to spark interest if you’d never heard of Devin Burgess before. Granted, saying I’m trash may not be the best first impression lmao but hey, whatever works right?
DEHH: This is a compilation of joints left off other albums or projects, how were you able to mesh everything together and to still be able to present this as an album?
DB: Man I don’t even know lmfao. I’m actually proud of how I was able to do that honestly. I’ve been putting out bodies of work since 2012. My first ever project was called The Elegant Project and that bitch was like 19 tracks or something lmfao. So I’ve always put my focus into a body of work instead of a single. Like whenever I do projects, I don’t have a single in mind. I’ll just put out whatever feels right. That’s another part of it too. Feeling. As I was getting closer to the release date, I was conscious of fall approaching. So I tried to capture autumn sonically. Trash definitely feels like Fall to me. Anyways, since I was always the type of artist that cared about the body of work I was releasing, transitioning became important to me. I feel as if I understand what it means for a project to be cohesive. Being my own engineer helps with that for sure. So with trash, I just took my best songs (which honestly, i have more i could’ve put on it. it was originally gonna be like 18 tracks lmfao) and sequenced them perfectly. I’ve NEVER created like this before, and it’s probably my best, most organic, cohesive body of work to date.
DEHH: You collaborated with a ton of people on this project, how do you choose who you wanna work with and helping that chemistry shine on the mic?
DB: Yeah! I have a big thing for voices. Like whenever I hear a beat or I have an idea for something I can automatically hear someones voice on it with mine. I tell people all the time, I don’t force collaborations. I’m a believer in everything happens for a reason and If we haven’t worked together, then dammit it just isn’t our time to yet. I also wanted to let my city shine as well! Damn near everyone, (except Miir on Sundaze. She’s from Columbus, OH) is from Cincinnati. This was also my attempt in showcasing our talent and how versatile we are. Everyone brought their own element to these records and they were placed perfectly. As long as everything feels right, everything sounds right, then we’re gucci. I love collabs.
DEHH: I felt like an important part of your marketing campaign was doing live shows, I felt like every time I turned around you were performing somewhere in-state. Can you talk about the importance of live shows and what a Devin Burgess show is like?
DB: MAN LISTEN. COME TO A DEVIN BURGESS SHOW AND IT’S GON BE A NIGGA IN A ROBE DOING A LOT OF MILLY ROCKING, A LOT OF YELLING INTO THE MIC, AND YALL CAN WATCH ME GET HECKLED. How a nigga get heckled at his own rap show when niggas come to see me ON PURPOSE? lmfao I wear a robe because I am retired. I’m the only actively retired rapper in Cincinnati (probably the world) and caint no one take that title away from me lmao. My whole thing is comfort. I’ll pull up in some pajama bottoms and some houseshoes on. The heckling comes from me saying I’m trash or I’m retired, and the audience STRONGLY disagreeing lol. Live show performances are essential because it doesn’t matter how many followers you have or what ya IG numbers say, my nigga if you caint put on a good to decent show AT LEAST in ya home town, you can’t really expect to be getting booked else where, let alone niggas coming out to your event. So I always try to have fun. I’m very ME on stage. I’m me where ever I go, hence the lack of a rap name.
DEHH: You’re pretty open on social media so I was wondering if you could give me a couple of your best hip-hop hot takes
DB: Lmao aight. Yeezus is my favorite Kanye album, it’s perfect to me. Nas was never nicer than Jay-Z. The “Views” album by Drake was actually NOT as bad of an album as niggas made it (especially when comparing it to things he dropped afterwards). Streaming is the best and worst thing that’s ever happened to music. I still wanna hear this YAHNDI album. Producers should be more famous than some of these nut ass rappers. Engineers don’t get enough credit, like AT ALL.
DEHH: I’m actually really interested to hear your answer to this one but when people are done listening to “Trash” what do you want them to walk away with?
DB: I’d like for people to walk away confused. lmao confusion is like my whole marketing stragegy. It keeps people on their toes and it makes what I do seem somewhat interesting. lol No, but idk, I’d like for people to finally recognize my city’s potential. I’d like for people to recognize that I’m not here to play around. The fact that I can put a solid body of work without really trying says something. I feel like I’m one of the elite here, and I’d like for people to know that leaving trash.
DEHH: If “Trash” is a compilation of tracks left off of other perspective projects can you give us a hint into what’s coming next. I birdie told me you might drop something in December
DB: Of course! So yes, in December, hopefully no later than February I plan on putting together an album ENTIRELY produced and engineered by me. It’s going to have all the Cincinnati creatives on it. It’s my attempt to once again showcase the talent here. I put 2 instrumental albums out over the last 2 years, so this would be me killing 2 birds with one stone. After that, I have a project called DreamState I’m going to release and that’s my more melodic, and love side. I call that sh*t cuddle/cuffing music for sure lmao. Following that will be a project called I’m Retired. I was promoting that before Trash. It will be entirely produced by Denver, CO producer no_fvce (pronounced no face). And that’ll be my next BIG campaign. As far as trash goes, visuals are coming. I’m getting my merch together, and I got some shows lined up out of town. I’m trying to travel more. I’ve literally done a show in about every venue you could possibly name here in Cincinnati, including Bogart’s. So it’s time for me to take my talents to long beach, and other places lmao