Ever since we came across D South during the Capital XTRA Music Potential programme, run in partnership with Barclaycard over a year ago, his music spoke louder than the voice coming from the humble, quiet mid-twenty year old lyricist from London. In fact, there was a particular verse I remember him colourfully coating the canvas of Drake’s “From Time” instrumental with, during a studio jam session in Birmingham. The room was lit with a dim red light, with 8 or 9 aspiring musicians and artists, his lyrics were one of the most prominent, an undeniable presence which left a huge impact on me.
A few weeks later, D South dropped his first EP, ‘Return To The Source’, a dark, deep soul-searching 8-track project, with raw lyricism, which although effective, was yet to be defined to truly reflect the artists’ profound ambitions and ability to climb to the top.
“I had songs I had written for Return to the Source from all the way back in 2011.” D South explains, sat high up on a stool with cameras, lights and eyes all pointing at him. “I was relocating quite regularly, so it was difficult for me to get into a routine or momentum of putting projects out, but I always continued to write for myself rather than potential listeners. This type of song writing continued, it was honest, natural and organic. It allowed me to collect my thoughts on myself and have the creative freedom to write anything, hence why I called it Return to the Source.”
Having listened to the various tracks that this poised artist has since released, his progress was blatant since the first EP, and so he also feels, having learned to handle his approach differently,
“I feel much more aware of a formulae needed to be successful in the industry.” He smirks, “I’ve been working really hard on finding a way to remain honest yet in a format that can be appreciated on a bigger scale.”
And said balance is of utmost difficulty, a conflict the man in question has been facing as of late. How could anyone on the come up possibly try to scale up something that seemingly only a handful of listeners actually appreciate enough to invest in? “Having a commercial sound is obviously an advantage however it all depends on the artist and his or her definition of successful.” is the rapper’s response. Ask anyone trying to crack the industry who has the slightest bit of depth in their bars, but what will complaining do? So recognised by what we would call the prince of conscious rap, D South intends to approach this issue with nothing other than improved technicality in his verses as he explains “Delivering with conviction and finding more interesting flows may help to attract the listeners who haven’t got the patience to take on board my content.”
Almost a year later, listening to his new track, Ria’s Arc, the single leading up to his upcoming EP set to be released this summer, his storytelling, reflective vibe remains, and yet, D South sounds stronger than ever, accompanied on the track by singer/songwriter Maria Drea, whom at just 19 years, has already performed at places like the Indigo 02, The Camden Roundhouse and the 2015 Brit Awards Red Carpet.
Sitting opposite D South, it was hard to believe the same guy who less than a year ago seemed uncomfortable to talk about his ambitions and ability, develop into a calm and cool, almost omniscient character, sitting back, confidently, taking everything in. “I couldn’t be separated from my Sony Walkman growing up, buying CDS and appreciating everything from the music to the artwork.” He calmly puts as he favourably reflects on the influence music had on him along side poetry. “If I felt a certain emotion or went through a difficult period or even an uplifting one, there was always a song or album attached to each experience. “
“I also had a big appreciation for earlier artists most notably Bob Marley, Earth Wind and Fire, Anita Baker. Even today, I listen to these artists more than most others.” Other than this, D South also remembered back to some of his earlier experiences of music “I remember being set a task in music class at school to come up with a song and perform it while it was video recorded. I wrote something real basic along the lines of ‘from the A to the B to the 1 2 3 shooting with full power, scoring celebrating for an hour.” He laughs, “Some real awful stuff. I remember watching it back thinking I’m about to blow!”
His journey into music continued afterwards, before forming a group with fellow MCs, naming themselves Dyno Kamp, and performing sets on pirate stations across London, when the grime movement was arguably at it’s strongest, although right now, artists like Stormzy seem to be carrying it in their pocket and taking it all over.
“It wasn’t until I started to become a more conscious and lyrical rapper and seeing how listeners could relate to me, that I believed it was something more than a hobby.”
His eyes lit up when asked about what’s coming next from his camp, “After this single, due to be released on iTunes on May 3rd featuring Maria Drea, I’m planning a video release in the summer and I’m currently in the process of writing a 5 track E.P to put out shortly after” he responds with a bounce in his voice, and such excitement is far from surprising, it’s almost expected and reflects that of his followers too. Amongst collabs with engineers, artists and producers (including TruOmega, the guy behind the instrumental of Devlin’s highly memorable F64), is soulful singer Tim Victor, renowned in his own right, following the Birmingham “Timtroduction” concert held at Velvet Rooms a month or so after D South’s first release, no doubt the two cooked up something magical.
“I would love to be in a position to show the versatility of British Rap and encourage others to do the same.” Was D South’s sharp response to the question regarding his ambitions and motivations.
“If I can contribute in shifting the mentality of young people in a positive way with important messages, then that would mean more to me than winning 10 grammy awards.”
Whatever you think of the man, his music talks, and trust me when I say, it will continue to do so. His drive and determination will undoubtedly pay off, and it’s incredible to see such a huge amount of progress being made in a short period of time. D South, he’s humble, talented, and follows his own advice…“Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through on your music because that’s what could ultimately make you original. Be persistent, remain honest and drink lots of water. It helps.”