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PAUSE MEETS:

DDG

Talks his come up, mixing business with his personal relationship and fashion week chaos.

Photographer: Ollie Ali // @mrollieali
Stylist: Rhys Marcus Jay // @rhysmarcusjay
Producer: Johnson Gold // @johnson_gold
Interview: Jasmin Oakes // @jasminaliceo
Talent: DDG // @ddg

“I’m inspired by everybody bigger than me and knowing that I haven’t made it to the top yet.”

 

Darryl Dwayne Granberry Jr. – better known as DDG – refuses to become complacent. In his single “Going To The Top,” the 26-year-old rapper reflects on his unique path from YouTuber to multi-platinum music artist and his plans for the future: “I’m already lit, but this is just the beginning. I promised my mama I’m going be the biggest.” Amassing over one billion total streams and appearing on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 music list might be enough for some people, but this Michigan native has his sights set on superstardom.

DDG’s determination to succeed was apparent even back in 2014. Before graduating as high school valedictorian, the young artist already had an established fan base thanks to his prank videos and vlogs on YouTube. Today, his PontiacMadeDDG VLOGS channel continues to document his everyday life and his relationship with singer Halle Bailey, drawing in over three million subscribers.

After solidifying his status as an online sensation, the content creator started posting diss tracks and freestyles on a separate music channel. DDG caught the eye of Epic Records who signed him in 2018 and in 2020 he set up his own record label, Zooted Music. Viral hits like “Moonwalking in Calabasas” and “I’m Geekin” followed, propelling his rise to fame. Through his confessional lyrics, melodic flows and ambitious visuals, as seen in his 2022 video “Elon Musk”, DDG has proven himself to be one of the most exciting voices in hip-hop today. 

PAUSE caught up with the hitmaker following the release of his latest single “Going To The Top,” to discuss new parenthood, his unconventional career trajectory, as well as dream collaborations.

Check it out below.

Full Look – PDF Channel, Hat – PDF Channel, Shoes – Jielin Wen, Sunglasses – Gentle Monster

Firstly, I wanted to start by saying a huge congratulations on your new baby. I know your son, Halo, was only born a few months ago, but how has fatherhood changed you so far? 

It’s made me into a man and realise a bigger purpose in life. I don’t know, it’s just like an unconditional love I’ve never felt before. I kind of have a different purpose when I do things. I think a little more long-term and I think not just for myself, but for him too. Like when he turns 18, what do I have set up for him? 

It can’t be easy navigating between your public and private life, especially now with an infant. How do you think your online presence will be affected by your decision not to reveal your son’s face?

It’s just a privacy thing. I feel like the internet is really weird and people take things and try to make jokes. When you get too personal on the internet, some people hide behind accounts and say whatever and there’s nothing that you can do about it. As someone who’s very overprotective of my family, even before I had a kid, I can only imagine how I would act if somebody was disrespectful to my child. I just don’t even want to put myself in that position. So online presence-wise, I don’t think it affects it. If anything it’ll just make everything even more interesting, because people want to see what he looks like so much.

Was that something that you and Halle [Bailey] decided before or after he was born?

We already discussed it before and planned not to show his face. A lot of public figures do it for privacy reasons and just because people on the internet have no filter, sympathy or remorse.

Your debut EP “Take Me Serious” came out on March 17, 2018, just over six years ago. How do you think your sound and message have evolved since then?

My sound has evolved completely. I feel like I don’t even sound like that anymore… in a good way. As for my message, I’ve seen and experienced a lot in life since that time. Now there’s a completely different dynamic, having a child, a bigger family and bigger responsibilities. There’s just more for me to rap and sing about and create different stories to inspire people in many types of ways.

So in terms of sound, are you working with a different team entirely?

Yeah, I’m working with bigger producers and artists, a lot of different people who are really stamped in the music industry. The music sounds more evolved and mainstream in a way. It’s starting to become something that you can play on the radio and it doesn’t sound unorthodox – it fits right in. I’ve been working on a lot of music and have over 300 unreleased songs, so I’m just putting everything together and trying to put out the best music possible.

Wow, so there’s a lot more to look forward to then! In terms of message, do you think you’ll lean more into that family dynamic you mentioned? Or stick with braggadocious lyrics?

I would say 50-50. Not necessarily braggadocious, but I kind of feel like it’s a good way to inspire and motivate people who come from where I come from. Growing up in poor conditions and not being able to see the type of money that I’ve been able to see and showing people what’s possible. I feel like my biggest contribution to the youth is showing, especially minors, that it is possible to come from nothing and make it. 

I always want to include that aspect of just showing what I was able to create for myself. As a content creator and music artist, I’m on the internet every single day. In order to keep up with the climate, I have to show what’s going on in my life, without showing too much. Sometimes it’s a battle. I don’t want to overdo the family content, but it is my daily life and what I’m doing. Like, right now as we speak I’ve got my son in my hands.

He’s been so quiet. 

Yeah, he’s asleep.

So going back to the start of things, you’ve successfully made the transition from YouTube star to rapper. Do you ever feel like your career trajectory has had an impact on how you’re perceived in the industry?

Definitely. If you look at the track record of artists that come from YouTube, you’re going to find me and maybe one other person. Justin Bieber came from YouTube, but he never vlogged. Coming from my platform is extremely difficult. You’ve got to show people, “I’m not just making music to joke around. I’m making music seriously.” So, it’s still a battle having to sell myself and my artistry and say, “hey y’all I’m doing this for real.” People are always going to have their own perception of me being a YouTuber, which is cool. Nowadays, content is king. Artists are forced to post things and unless you’re the biggest artist in the world, content is literally the only way that you’re going to get your music out there. I feel like I have an advantage in that sense. I took a very non-traditional path, so I consider myself a pioneer when it comes to crossing over and doing music at a high level.

“Going To The Top” reflects your aspirations and drive to succeed in the industry. What music artists drove you to be the person you are today? 

I’m inspired by everybody bigger than me and knowing that I haven’t made it to the top yet. When I see people who are excelling, streaming way better and selling out arenas, it just keeps me going. When I was younger, I was a big 50 Cent fan and still am. My first introduction to hip-hop began with his G-Unit days and the Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2005) album. I had all the merch, clothes, video games, everything.

Vest – Dion Lee, Trousers- Natasha Zinko, Shoes – Jielin Wen, Sunglasses – BONNIE CLYDE

Sleeveless Shirt – John Lawrence Sullivan, Long Sleeve Shirt – ARK/8, Trousers – Dion Lee, Boots – Balenciaga, Hat – Le Merj, Glasses – BONNIE CLYDE

Maybe I’ve been living under a rock but I didn’t even know that 50 Cent had video games.

[Laughs] Yeah, they were dope! When I started going to high school and got into girls, you know all that stuff, I started listening a lot of Drake, Lil Wayne and that whole era of music artists who are still killing it today. When I look at those artists, especially Drake, I think of longevity and what I want for my career.

Could a collaboration with any of them be on the cards?

Yeah, I mean if later down the line I could get connected with somebody like Drake, as a long-time supporter and fan of him, that’d be like a dream collab for sure. But my end goal is really just to create my own space and following. People can kind of hurt their careers by going too big too soon, so I want to build a very strong foundation and then shoot for the stars.

Speaking of collabs, when are you and Halle going to put out a song together?

Maybe in the future. Mixing business with my personal relationship kind of gets a little complicated. Even though we’re together, you still have to clear the song and it’s like a whole business. It’s not just me and her, there are labels involved. We’ve made music in the past, we’ve just not put it out yet, so we’ll keep it private and then when we’re ready, for sure we’ll make a fire single.

Moving on to fashion, you’ve cited designers such as Balenciaga and Givenchy in your songs, what is it about those labels that excite you? 

My thing with fashion is silhouettes. Logos are cool, but I feel like great clothing starts with a silhouette. I love the way that those brands fit me. I love how Balenciaga takes a leap and a chance to do different things, like oversized shoes, super baggy pants or turning a bag of chips into a bag. It’s more like art than clothing.

How would you describe your personal style?

I would describe my personal style as well-fitted. When I step out of the house and I go somewhere, you can obviously tell that I’m somebody and that I take a little bit of time to put a nice outfit together. I kind of mix and match. I might wear a five-dollar shirt with some 2000-dollar pants. I used to be really into Jordans and I’d stand in line for shoes and everything, but I feel like my style has changed in a good way. I’ve got more money, so I’m able to buy super nice things. 

I would also describe the way I dress as different. I have pants in my closet that are four pants connected in one. I have shirts that are all ripped up. I take a chance a lot and I like people to remember what I wore – even if it might look crazy.

You recently attended Paris Fashion Week. Were there any particular shows that stood out to you?

AMIRI was spectacular, I really enjoyed it. The clothing was great and the overall presentation was incredible. It was a very nice venue and I liked the way everything played out. Most of the shows were dope, but Amiri definitely stood out to me. I’ve been to Paris, Milan and New York, and I try to go to fashion week as often as I can. I like the craziness of it all. You’ve got to go to a dinner, then you get dressed again and go to a fashion show, then change and go to another. Overall, it’s just a very fun time. Whenever I go, I meet great people that I become longtime friends with and we end up working together and creating something. To me, it’s like a big networking space and I just love to go out there and connect with people.

Do you style yourself?

I style myself for the most part. But if I’m doing a photoshoot, like the one I just did for PAUSE or a music video, then I go with a stylist. For everyday fits or more run-and-gun music videos, I’ll style myself.

You’ve shared a lot of your life online and that’s opened you up to criticism as well as praise, which I guess is inevitable when people think they know you. What is one thing you’d like PAUSE readers to understand about you?

I’m very misunderstood. I feel like a lot of people see me as arrogant. I think the narrative is changing a little bit as I allow myself to be more open on the internet, but it’s a big misconception. In reality, I’m a great person and I love being around my family. People spin what I say to create a narrative and I’ve dealt with that for a long time. Everything’s online and people can research and see where I come from, how I got my come up, and what I’ve done for my family. Once they do that, I think it’ll make them look at me in a different light.

So all in all, people just need to touch grass?

Yeah, they need to touch grass and understand that even though I’m a public figure, I’m also a human. No one is perfect, but I’m definitely doing well for myself and that’s the reason why I’m in this position.

Follow

DDG on Instagram

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