ADÉ is here to put on for the DMV area. Growing up in the church and surrounded by music at an early age would soon lend him a killer pen game, writing for everyone from Raheem DeVaughn and Chris Brown to Eric Bellinger and Mýa. That doesn’t begin to cover his to-date collaborations, which include the likes of Logic, Mac Miller, Raekwon, and Bootsy Collins.
Now, the Epic Records signee is focused on his own solo artistry, releasing his own bangers for his growing fanbase. On his new single “Replacements,” he states on the intro: “the bad times lead to the best times, believe that!” ADÉ’s sound and style creates a soundscape for you to get lost in, unleashing a vibe that sets the tone for long-lasting memories.
It was last year when Phil Ade would drop the ‘Phil’ from his artist name, going on to drop his first EP with the label titled ALWAYS SOMETHING. With each project, he peels back more layers of who he is as a person, somehow finding his own lane in this very saturated rap game.
Now, he releases a brand new EP titled wyd after?, with features from Trevor Jackson and fellow DMV native Wale (who he calls his mentor). Plus, it doesn’t hurt he has a standout co-sign from Pusha T. Flaunt caught up with ADÉ via FaceTime who was located in Rockville, Maryland, to discuss the new project, friendship with Wale, his Pusha T cosign, and more!
How have you been holding up in quarantine?
I’ve been cool. It’s been a challenge trying to figure out ways to continue to market myself, trying to roll out this project wyd after? I had a bunch of plans, little commercials I was going to shoot. I was going to do some more videos, but all that changed once the lockdown happened. I’m the type of person who likes to plan out what I’m going to do. When you make your plans and something like this happens, everything changes.
Why’d you drop the Phil from Phil Ade?
It’s a new era of my life. I started in 2009/2010, I put out a few mixtapes. My sound was very classic hip-hop at the time, then I stepped away. I stopped putting out projects for about 6 years, but I was still recording.
Why is that?
I was at a place where things were getting stagnant, I wasn’t progressing. One thing I’ve learned is if one way isn’t working, attack at another angle. I started doing more behind-the-scenes work. I got with Wale, started helping him with his stuff. That opened the door for more opportunities to work with different people and grow my sound. From that, I was able to get a situation with Epic. Being 6 years removed from my last project, the sound’s grown so much in that time and people haven’t heard it, so I wanted to refresh the brand. People called me Adé regardless when I was Phil Adé, so it wasn’t that big of a change for me.
What did you do in your time off?
Studio stuff, still being in the studio. While I was in LA, I was living with Wale at the time in 2014/2015. He had a house in the hills, we’re in there working on his album Shine. He had a mixtape Summer On Sunset that we did. In that time, I was able to write for Chris Brown. I was to write for Anthony Hamilton. I worked with Myá. I was able to get in the industry a little deeper, so that was good for me. It opened the door for me to do my own thing on a higher level.
Can you talk about you and Wale’s relationship? Bring us back to the beginning.
When I started, I was with this group called 368 Music Group. It was made up of an R&B singer from D.C. Raheem DeVaughn and my manager now, Andre Hopson. My first 3 to 4 years making music professionally, I was doing it with them. When I got to that place things were stagnant, my manager Andre who had a prior relationship with Wale early on his career, they relinked. I guess they had a falling out at some point.
In the conversation, they’re like “we always wanted to do something together, so let’s do something.” I was the something. [laughs] Long story short, I ended up going to LA and doing that. Me and Wale come from similar backgrounds. My father’s Nigerian, both his parents are Nigerian. He was raised in Maryland, I was raised in Maryland. There’s a strong connection, we clicked immediately. We’ve been going strong ever since.
How was seeing his career skyrocket like it did?
It was inspiration for me, for a lot of the youngins out here. When I was coming up in that 2009 era, go-go music in D.C. was the sound. Back then, being a solo rapper wasn’t the cool thing to do. If you’re trying to be on the scene, be in the mix and do music, you wanted to be part of a go-go band. If you rapped, you were a rapper in a go-go band. Wale was the first person to break that mold in music out here. A lot of that was because he combined the sound of hip-hop and go-go, made it his sound early on. That’s what clicked for people out here and allowed him to get big, then he was able to branch out from there.
Seeing that he’s able to have success and do that, let everybody know that you don’t have to be in a go-go band. I can do my own thing, get on my hip-hop shit and make it from out of here. Because if Wale can do it, we can do it. He put on pants just like me. He normalized it. It was a snowball effect. Wale, then it was me, it was Fat Trel, it was Shy Glizzy. Kept going and going and going. Now, you have a whole scene of rappers out here.
What was it like growing up in the church and having that musical background?
There’s a lot of singers in my family. My uncles have put out smaller independent albums here and there. My mother was always singing in the house, always had us singing gospel songs in the house. We’re listening to a lot of Fred Hammond and Kirk Franklin growing up. That’s where I got my foundation in singing. I always said I’m not the greatest singer. I’m not Brian McKnight or nothing [laughs], but I can hold a great note. It’s been beneficial to me. Being able to make up and use melodies, it makes your music bigger.
How’s it been pushing your own solo artistry?
I record myself now. I have a little setup in my room, which allows me to experiment. I’ve gotten really weird with stuff, tried to make crazy house-sounding stuff. Some of it’s good and some of it’s terrible, but the general public doesn’t see that. [chuckles] Having that stuff has allowed me to really experiment. Being able to record myself gives me a different level of comfort, because you don’t have to worry about weird looks in the studio or people’s opinions. That’s really helped grow my sound.
You just released the visual for “Replacements,” bring us back to that weekend in LA.
I made that song right before I had to go out there. Being based here in the D.C. area, it’s not a lot of studios. Not a lot going on in the music directly. A lot of times, I have to go make some plays in LA. That’s what that song was. I believe I made that joint before BET weekend last year, something was going on in LA. That was the vibe. That beat came on, that’s how I was feeling because I was about to go out there. I always say the energy of that song is you’re about to start your night, y’all about to go to the club or hit the city. That’s why I started my project off with it because it has that energy. Yo, the night’s about to start.
What’s the significance in the EP title, wyd after?
The project is nightlife-themed. If you’ve ever been to D.C., nightlife is a big part of the urban community out here. I saw a chart that said last year, D.C. made $7.1 billion from night spots. That’s a lot of money for a small city. Growing up, it was always a thing for us to go to the club. I remember even when I couldn’t even get in the club, we’d go to The Let Out and chase girls. The nightlife thing has always been a part of my lifestyle, especially now since I’m a recording artist. Most of the events and everything going on is at night, so that’s a lot of my life. I called it wyd after? because every night, we’ll go somewhere. Go to the club or party, somebody always hits you with that question: what you doing after? Usually how you answer that question is how interesting the night will get or not get.
Are you a party animal?
More recently before everything shut down, I was already on my lockdown. I’m chillin’. It’s easy to get caught up going out every night, especially here. I have a lot of friends and a lot of people that I know. We probably have the most liveliest nightlife in America! Next to Vegas, more than New York and anywhere else. You have to come out here, it’s a lot of fun.
Do you live there or live in LA?
I’m here now, but it’s time for me to come back. I was in LA for 2 years: 2015 and 2016. 2017, I was in between. Now I’m home again, but I’m starting to feel like I need to come back.
How’s it feel having the Pusha T cosign?
Crazy. Pusha T now lives in the DMV area. Him and my manager are good friends. Me and him haven’t spoken much or had a moment for real, but I know Dre has played him stuff here and there. He was sent the freestyle I did over the Jay-Z “Where I’m From” joint, somebody said “yo I like this kid.” He looked at what they sent him, and it was me. He’s like “you know what, this kid’s been in the mix. A person removed from me, I like his style. I’ma post him and show him some love.” That was amazing for me.
Pusha T’s somebody I ran into a few times but growing up, he was it for me. Whether it was “Grindin’,” working with Pharrell, that’s big time for me. It was a surreal moment. But I’m the person who likes to celebrate, then let’s see how we can make this work for it to keep moving. I didn’t want to get too caught up in it like “yo I’m here now because Pusha T cosigned me.” It was an amazing help though, I’ll be forever grateful for that. Hopefully we can work together. I’d love to do that, him and Pharrell. That’s Pharrell’s best friend, they’re childhood friends.
Trevor Jackson’s my dawg, how was working with him?
That was through my DJ, DJ Money. Him and Trevor had a prior relationship. DJ Money has almost been an A&R for me: help me put records together, introducing me to people. He’s toured with Mac Miller, Rockie Fresh, a bunch of people. He’s Wale’s DJ also. On the road, he’s always been good with creating relationships with people. He knows Diplo, Tiesto. I remember on my 24th birthday, he hit up Tiesto. We went and partied with him in Vegas. It’s amazing the amount and caliber of people he knows. He told me he linked up with Trevor some years ago. I met Trevor, it was a song I wrote that Trevor sang. We did it in the studio that night. After I left, he did the hook for the “Don’t Cry” record. Money sent it to me, I laid the vocals back here in D.C. We’ve been cool ever since.
What does having Wale on your record mean for the DMV?
Wale’s one of the main people that inspired me to pursue music full-time. His success let me know that it could happen for someone from here. For me, working with him and being around is full circle. I’m so used to him now, he’s family to me. He’s like an older brother. Being that he’s Nigerian, he’s a part of my family and he’s a part of mine. Every once in a while, I sit back and think yo, this is somebody that I looked up to and was a big inspiration for me. He’s like my brother now, that’s amazing. Life is amazing. You’re in your room looking at something like “man, I wish I could do that at his level.” You look 2 to 3 years down the road, now you’re at Thanksgiving with him. [laughs] It’s very wild.
What are some goals for yourself?
My biggest goal this year was to tour in Europe, but it’s looking slim right now. Touring anywhere is looking slim. I’ve never done any shows in Europe as long as I’ve been doing music, that’s a big goal for me to get out there and tour. Now, I’m still in the process of readjusting my goals. One thing I want to do is buy into a business out here in D.C.
What kind of business are you looking at?
I’m thinking of getting into the restaurant business. There’s a very incredible chicken spot out here called Roaming Rooster, it’s so good. It’s the best chicken sandwich I’ve ever had in my life. It’s this joint called a Honey Butter Fried Chicken Sandwich. It’s better than Popeye’s. If it wasn’t that good. I wouldn’t say this. I have yet to taste another sandwich that’s better than that. I want to help them franchise their spot. I know the owner but I haven’t said anything yet. But if they’re opening a new location I want to help them do it. I want to get it in motion by the end of the year.
Anything else you want to let us know?
wyd after? out now. I’m not stopping. I’ve been doing freestyles, I’ll be dropping those throughout the summer. Some more videos from around the town. Since I can’t do our big production ones, I’ll be doing a lot more stuff around the city. I hope everybody is taking precautions and being safe. It’s a weird time we’re living in, I didn’t see this coming at all.