Derek King brings his Bay Area swag and flavor into the R&B game, any chance he gets. After years in hip-hop and receiving the short end of the stick with his major label deal, the rapper turned to singing — a lane that has proven him more success than he could imagine. Read more…
Derek isn’t here to mimic anybody else, he’s creating his own lane and sound. Growing up to the likes of R. Kelly and Chris Brown, the 22-year-old combines soulful old-school R&B with new age melody and harmonies. “Tetris” arrives in perfect timing, with a fire sample from Sisqo’s “Thong Song.”
PS, if Billie Eilish and Russ both like your song, you’re doing something right.
How does being from Antioch play into your career?
It’s right by Pittsburgh in the Bay. Antioch playing a big part. It’s so looked down upon as not being from the Bay, but it’s totally the Bay. Antioch’s for sure the Bay! Come on now. A lot of Bay tendencies, we had a lot of stuff coming up over there. The swag, etc..
What does the Hyphy movement mean to you?
I grew up on it for sure. The Hyphy movement is not just music, it’s a form of life. The Hyphy movement is a movement. The fashion, the partying, it’s the music as well. A lot, it’s a real culture.
How long were you with 300 Entertainment?
Probably 3 or 4 years. I was the first R&B artist they signed. We put out a record called “Jump.” It didn’t do as well as what they thought, so they kind of put me on the shelf. It was kinda mainey. Luckily, I got out the deal and went over to EMPIRE.
How’s EMPIRE been?
Great! That’s the family. I feel way more welcome, way more at home there. Ghazi kept it real for me from the jump. He told me I’ma have to work for my slot, I gotta push for myself. As far as 300, they had promised so much to me that when everything wasn’t working, they took it away. I was out there with my hands under my ass. I wasn’t really doing shit.
Ghazi told me straight up before I signed, “I’m here to help, but we’re not gonna hand you anything. You gotta get your shit going on your own.” I took that heed, and they was always there. Release dates, things like that. They’re always good at organizing. Shout out Ari. Soon as the record (“Tetris”) got poppin’, we started forming a whole alliance. I like it a lot.
“Tetris” is at over 1.4M in less than 2 months. Did you foresee it blowing up like this?
I had an idea, but I didn’t know it was gonna go this fast. Shit, I was just hoping for 100K honestly, just on the streaming side from SoundCloud. I didn’t even think — ‘cause that’s my first million on SoundCloud, on YouTube, everywhere basically. I thought it was gonna do numbers, but not that fast and not that many. It’s dope.
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
Just the grind! ‘Cause this shit didn’t come easy. A lot of people think it’s overnight, or “oh this ni**a popped out of nowhere,” but I’ve been doing music heavily for 7 years. Heavily. My first tour, I went on with Kalin & Myles. They gave me my big break with fans and everything. My second tour I went with Sage the Gemini, so I’ve been touring a lot. I’ve been in the scene for a minute, I was doing Vine before this. My Vine ways and how we promoted my stuff there, I took to the Instagram side for my music. It worked out in my favor with the Challenge, shout out Billie Eilish!
How important is social media for your career?
A lot of people wouldn’t even have careers if it wasn’t for social media. Except for 6ix9ine, his career wouldn’t be that big if he wasn’t trolling. It’s important, you gotta use it as a tool. Social media is a great tool IF you know how to use it. If you’re on there waiting for a handout or on there trying to copy someone else’s style, you gon’ get lost in the sauce.
What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
These last 2 weeks, I’ve been waking up early going to do these high school shows. From there, going to do interviews and just work. Music, music, music all day, every day. Trying to get this project done has been a headache.
Hell yeah, just because I didn’t know the record was gonna pop this fast. My plan was to drop a project after summer, so we’re kinda pushing like “we need a project now, we need more music now.” It’s like alright, let me gather everything together and make a plan for it. Let’s do this, let’s do that.
Who’s pressuring you to do that?
It’s not pressure, ‘cause it’s myself as well. I’m not finna ride this wave of “Tetris.” It’s a great record, but I need to solidify myself as an artist. The only thing solidified right now is the song, not me. I could still walk around and people don’t know who I am. I don’t want the record to be bigger than me. I need to have more music, more content, more videos out, so you can see face.
What can we expect from your new project More Vibes?
Vibes. More vibes. We got some slow, got some club, all that!
My brother’s featured on it. I put him on there. Actual blood brother, ‘cause I made a song for my mom called “Future King.” It’s pretty dope. The outro of the song is featuring my brother and myself.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
Probably engineering or producing. [chuckles] It’d be the same thing, I really didn’t see myself doing nothing else besides this. Even being a promoter or being around the scene, because I don’t like working for nobody.
Do you produce or engineer your own shit?
I engineer all my shit. I work with one producer, he produced my whole project. He produced my last project. I only work with one producer honestly, which is cool. We got a little sound we wanna keep until everything gets more established.