De’Wayne releases urgent and emotional album ‘Stains’
On June 18, specifically scheduled for Juneteenth, De’Wayne released his new album Stains. The album is beautifully genderless, jumping between different styles of music and creating a sound unique to De’Wayne’s work. The Los Angeles-based rapper’s new album is one that sends a message about equality, musicality, and culture, making it one you’ll want to listen to on repeat, so you can soak up every word.
The American songwriter sat down with De’Wayne to discuss the new album, the story behind the songs, and what he wants his fans to take away from the album.
American songwriter: You said your album is an urgent and moving story that needs to be told. Let’s talk about it.
De’Wayne: I mean, the emergency for me is from last year when I was coming back from Europe, the pandemic was in full effect at that time, and I get a recording deal. For me, this is a dream come true. But that alone made me feel excited and like I really needed to stand on my voice and my word. And you know, make this music have meaning behind it and have an urgency behind it. It was a bit essential and it was moving, because I told my story.
AS: Why is the album called Stains?
DW: I think there is this simple way of putting it. I just want to be a spot on the crop. And I really want to be here for the right reasons. As far as what I think it is… it’s just putting my best foot forward with my music. And I want these things to be remembered. I just want to be a good musician and remember that like my idols are.
AS: Who are your idols?
DW: Iggy Pop is like my god. No shade from God – sorry, mom. The Ramones. Shots. Lou Reed. Patty Smith. I was obsessed with J. Cole. As a child, I was obsessed with Kendrick. Really any old music my dad would show me growing up, like the Houston rappers handing out their tapes in malls. These guys had a lot of work ethic and I think I took a bit of it. So a big thumbs up to them too.
AS: Your inspirations definitely cover many genres. Tell me more about why you didn’t want to conform to just one genre on this album.
DW: I grew up with soul music, hip hop and gospel. And for the last six years, I’ve been there and found rock music. I immersed myself in it and observed and studied all I could. And that’s pretty natural to me. It’s like 19 years of some genres and then six years of that, and I kind of found a way to put them together. I always wanted the songs to be really good and really pop, but also to have meaning behind them. So I think I did a good job with it. But I think it wouldn’t have been a De’Wayne album if it hadn’t been mixed like this.
AS: There is a lot of commentary on the State of America, which is also a vital part of your work. There have been a lot of significant social issues that have happened recently. Do you want to talk about it a bit?
DW: It’s not like I wake up in the morning and say to myself, ‘I’m going to talk about these things.’ I just think I’m from Texas and observe, if you open your eyes like most of us, you will see that it doesn’t equal. You will find that not everyone has a fair chance. You’ll see there’s a lot of bullshit going on, and we haven’t figured it out. So it was a little natural for me to do this. This is what I saw, and it hasn’t changed, and we should probably say something or do something about it. And a lot of my backyard are actually white fans. I think it’s great that they can still come and see me and listen to my music and accept who I am. And also trying to be a better person is just trying to listen more and not just accept what is going on. It seemed natural to me to say these things.
AS: There is a lot of vulnerability in some of your songs. In “Money”, you were really vulnerable. Were there any songs that were difficult to write and record?
DW: I really appreciate you saying that. It wasn’t difficult because it just wouldn’t have been a De’Wayne album if I hadn’t said these things. And I am a very emotional and vulnerable person. I’m just like, ‘This is how I feel.’ And I am not ashamed of it. So talking about money… not being obsessed with money… just saying, ‘Yo, we need this to survive.’ I can have three jobs in LA and it’s still not enough. I have to talk about it. It’s fucking weird. I’m just talking about what’s in my heart and in my soul. It felt good to take it out. Really, really good.
AS: With that in mind, which song would you tell your fans to go first? And which song really touched you in a special way?
DW: I have to go with “Me against you.” It’s just me saying to myself: “I want to be here”. And I want to make great art and make great rock music. I think this song is a really good imprint for who I am and what I’m trying to say and where my music is going.
AS: Finally, what do you want to leave for your fans? What do you want them to know and really take with them?
DW: You don’t have to be ashamed of being who you are and go for it. And jump off the cliff. Even though you will get bruises when you land. And then, look how far you’ve gone. And look how far you are about to go. That’s really all, stay optimistic. It’s crazy because you have to be crazy to believe in yourself. It’s so easy to let go of that and think, “Oh, I’m gonna do what I know.” And, you know, I think we all kind of want to live a little bit more, and I hope they can figure that out and go for it after hearing the record.