Out of unapologetic streets and stained ideologies, D. Yelv transcended his Baltimore streets to begin creating representations of what he deems to be honesty and culture, manifesting themselves in hip-hop songs. While tracks like “So Good” capture melancholy and hope in the same structure, lyrics in other track encapsulate the devastation and hardships that come along with growing up around a decrepit lower income environment that, in light of everything, thrives with culture and ingenuity.
Having obtained a degree in English from the University of Maryland, Yelv’s beats and lyrics resonate with empathy, delivery, and intense narrative structure as he meanders through his mind. During his sit down with RESPECT., he discusses this empathy, alongside his views on politics, Baltimore, and his upcoming EP titled Cal Ripken.
RESPECT.: What are you afraid of?
I most fear regretting not taking a chance at doing something I love because I let what other people think influence me.
RESPECT.: What’s a quote from a book that’s stuck with you?
Book quotes never stuck with me, but rap lyrics always did. “F*ck the whole world. I’ma make myself proud of my damn self,” from Styles P.
RESPECT.: It’s been argued that the English major makes people more empathetic; have you seen this ring true with yourself? What other facets of your identity have changed while taking in certain novels?
I’d probably say this to be true. As an English major, you tend to be good with words and bring things to life through your choice of words. So, it’s natural to be able to get people to feel certain emotions a little deeper when you’re able to present the idea a bit better.
RESPECT.: Baltimore is colored in a distinct light, with police brutality, gang violence, and poverty being large, hard to digest issues. What other outlet would you have used/have used other than music to cope?
Most likely some form of artwork. I used to draw as an outlet and stopped drawing after I started writing. If I stopped writing, I’d probably go back to drawing what I see/think instead of writing it down.
RESPECT.: “So Good” is a mellow track with a positive message (“I swear it feels so good/what a day, what a day” amongst other lines). Why did you juxtapose the somber instrumental with this message?
The concept of the song really came from the sample. I heard it and started thinking of what I can be appreciative of currently as an artist. It’s easy to complain about not being where you’d like to be, but I was just in a vibe thinking about where I am now versus where I used to be and recognizing the growth within myself.
RESPECT.: What would you be doing if it weren’t rapping?
It would probably be something music related. Either producing or becoming an engineer and mixing/mastering music. Music is really my passion.
RESPECT.: Who’s on your playlist right now, and what have you been listening to the most recently?
Right now I’ve been listening to Dave East a lot. I mostly listen to up-and-comers because I love hearing the hunger and rawness in new artists. Once the music has lost that, I lose interest.
RESPECT.: It’s difficult to be a part of our political climate and not see parts of it on the day to day basis. Has anything changed with you since the election came to an end?
Nothing has changed for me. If anything, the country has just shown its true colors.
RESPECT.: What’s next for you?
My EP Cal Ripken on January 27th that I am really excited about. It really displays my growth as an artist. And as always, new music and content will be coming out after that!
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