Deetranada serves as one of the most spirited voices in Baltimore’s rap scene. Her ability to emotionally connect with an audience and capture the ear allows the 18-year-old artist to stand out amongst other emerging talents. As a youth, she dedicated herself to writing down raps and constructing her lyrical cadences at talent shows and performances. Deetranada spent time perfecting her craft by uploading freestyle videos to her social media accounts before catching the attention of Jermaine Dupri at the early age of fifteen.
Within due time, Deetranada procured her spot on Dupri’s Lifetime reality show, The Rap Game, competing against other teenage artists during Season 3. Although she didn’t take home a record deal or SoSo Def chain, Dee didn’t allow it to wither her growth and kept pursuing music ardently. Since then, Deetranada toured and released several projects: adolescence swim, A Bunch Of Nada, and most recently, 2019’s DEEvsEVERYBODY!.
Months back, the Maryland-native shot into popularity following her appearance on Bars On I-95, paying visual homage to fellow female artistry Leikeli47. Since its release, the freestyle gained over 700K YouTube views and nearly a million impressions via Twitter. The video, which catches Deetranada rapping over Offset’s “Clout,” even caught the attention of Cardi B and Trippie Redd. Check out our interview below.
What inspires you and influences your creative direction?
My mind influences me. I would be lying if I said a certain person besides myself influenced me because everything I do is in my head. I’ve been battling with depression and anxiety for years and I don’t talk about it unless it’s through music. As sad as that sounds it fuels my creative process.
How about your fans, what role do they play in creating and putting out music?
Honestly, I truly love my support/fanbase. As far as them influencing me, in the past year, I just have been feeling the pressures from them. As fans, I understand when you love somebody/look up to someone, you just want and want and want because you love what they can come up with. With that, I had a major problem with listening to my fans a little TOO much and it blocked my head for a while, and truly it still is. Up until my latest album, DEEvsEVERYBODY!, everything I put out: I wasn’t in love with it. It was the fact I felt like my fans didn’t like me anymore and they were getting bored with me, so I would just write a quick song or work on a quick EP and just put it out to satisfy them. I feel like almost every artist has gone through that. I love when my fans message me and tell me how much my music inspired them or got them through a hard time, but most of what I put out was watered down emotions so it could be “relatable” up until my debut album.
What are the throughlines between the different artists coming out of Maryland?
I feel like in Maryland, everybody sort of has this “DMV connection”. Me on the other hand, I’m from Baltimore, and the city considers itself as its own area which gave us all this lone wolf mentality. You see the PG/Largo/other parts of Maryland people hang out and work with each other a lot, Baltimore, on the other hand, I believe we’re just now getting in the groove of working together.
Did any of those artists influence you?
Mainly underground artists influenced my drive to go harder. People like Baby Kahlo, Miss Kam, and JPEGMafia. You might not even know who they are but the way that they’re always linked and making sure each other gets to eat is amazing to watch. That inspires me to perform as hard as I do. It’s dope ass artists that I feel like needs their flowers, so I feel like it’s kind of my job to use my platform to put Baltimore on to the best of my ability.
I believe you’ve been exposed to the world since quite a young age from going viral on YouTube to television. What moment do you feel like made you a breakout artist?
Shortly after me being on TV could count as a breakout moment for me because shortly after that, I went on tour, dropped a mixtape, went on my own personal tour and went viral on multiple occasions that year. To be completely honest though, I don’t feel like I broke out. I’m like the little sister in the industry that everyone knows about but for some reason, I didn’t get that major push that would establish a breakout.
I feel like a lot has changed since then, how do you’ve developed as an artist and public figure?
My development as an artist is just me starting to truly find myself. I just turned 18 and have been in the public eye since I was fifteen, so the time between then and now was me starting to listen to myself and to not just feed people with what they want, because that isn’t genuine. As a public figure, on the other hand, I will never get it. The way I see the industry, especially for young black people that are vocal on feelings like myself, I feel like they want us to act like robots or something. Most of this shit is exhausting and it definitely isn’t for people battling with depression and anxiety. Give the people what they want, keep them happy, and don’t forget to smile and say “thank you”. That cycle gets dreadful after a while. You have to learn that as you develop in the business.
How did you develop your flows and ability to rap?
I grew up on Lauryn Hill, Wu-tang, OutKast, and a whole bunch of earthly, thought-provoking music, and being in school and going through what I was going through growing up, it got me into poetry. Once I found out I could flow it on a beat, it was up from there.
More women are emerging throughout hip-hop than ever and you’re on the forefront of it, what do you want people to take away from your music?
The main thing I want people to take from my music is, it’s okay to be yourself. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind about how you feel, what you see, and what you dream about. That’s what I love about rap right now. Everybody is finally completely shifting their attention towards female rap because it’s so many of us. We’re hard to ignore. That’s the aura all of us give off and I just hope everyone absorbs that and manifests it for themselves.
As far as style, how do you feel clothing empowers you as an artist?
Clothing plays a big role in my personality off of the simple fact I dress how I feel. I’m a firm believer in if you look good, you feel good. If I look in the mirror and think I’m killing everybody, that’s the energy I’m carrying with me for the rest of the day.
What advice would you give to younger women trying to pursue a career in music?
Please stay true to yourself. Practice your craft. Write every day if you can, and surround yourself with people that have nothing but true intentions for you and want to see you win and get that bag because I promise you this industry and the people in it will try to break you down. If you ever feel like you need to take a step back for the sake of your mental health, please do that. Do what you love and don’t let anybody tell you who YOU are. Please don’t lose your mind for the sake of money.
Most recently, you unveiled ‘Dee vs Everybody,’ how do you feel that the project highlights your personality?
DEEvsEVERYBODY! is such an important project to me because everything I did, said, and represented is because I wanted to and not anybody else. I finally opened up about my mental struggles and what goes on around me and in my head. I’m a cool person (at least I think so) but at the same time, I can cry, I can get political, I can fall in love, I can get personal and I can definitely get active. I made sure I clearly represented every personality I have, every demon I have, my struggles, and just the severity of my true self. I can go on and on about this project because that’s how much I’m in love with it.
Written by: Malcolm Trapp