Sylvia Rhone Finds The Future of R & B in Harlem with Deon Young
When you listen to Deon Young’s music, age is truly a non factor. His voice packs enough punch to keep the listener focused and captivated, and it’s blatantly obvious that big things are surely on the way. However, when you meet Deon Young, the Harlem native is a true representation of a member of the unrecognized borough, with complete swagger and a fashion sense to match. That’s when the realization that he is nineteen years old becomes even more impressive. Coming from the Big City where talent is in abundance, but also growing up in a small hood where the truly successful are few, Deon Young is aware of just how rare this opportunity he has been presented with is. Being handpicked by Sylvia Rhone to be one of the lead artists for her new label with L.A. Reid is a special accolade. For Deon, being part of the Vested In Culture team is only the first step in a much larger goal. With his Forever Young campaign he plans to be another great business decision in Sylvia Rhone’s long career, while outing pressure on all R & B artists, new and all, to elevate their pen and vocal game.
We caught up with Deon Young recently at the EPIC/VIC offices for a complete introduction on the young crooner. He talked about his music, his hood, being Forever Young and of course his path to hooking up with Sylvia Rhone. Read it all here…
Parlé Magazine: Let’s start with the very beginning, how did your love for music begin? What steered you in this direction?
Deon Young: My start in music began in the crib basically. My moms and pops used to bring music in the crib every day and as a little kid you hear music and you go crazy. The different sounds, the different voices people make, how they get animated and the way different people get into character with their music. I just took it to school, started playing with it and over time I began to love it. That’s how I got started, started in the house.
Parlé: Growing up in Harlem with such a deep arts culture were there any specific artists you were attracted to or captivated by?
Deon: Not necessarily. I had an open mind to who I was listening to. There comes a time when you go through different eras. Harlem went through the Dipset era, so those guys sent a message to me as a young guy listening to music that it could happen. We from Harlem, you can get here, you can live your dream and become as big a star as you want. Nobody in particular I gravitated towards though.
Parlé: You started off exclusively as a writer in the beginning. How did having that background help when you decided to make the move in more of an R & B direction?
Deon: My rapping helped me grow as a writer. That R & B side is just the emotional side to me. I started to deal with a lot of girls as I was growing up, so you know you go through your different situations and you just want to clear your mind and get your thoughts out. So the rapping kind of gave me a different sound that I feel a lot of R & B artists don’t have. So it helped out a lot.
Parlé: Your music is a bit edgier and not necessarily just smooth and sexy for the ladies. As a new artist is there an audience you are gearing your music towards?
Deon: I wanna reach whoever enjoys good music. It’s not really a set age group or a set gender, whoever enjoys good music and once that song comes on can get into that 2-Step or that good head nod. I feel like everybody knows how to identify what they like and what they don’t like. I’m just putting out the music and hoping to fall into the category of what they do like.
Parlé: Let’s talk about your latest mixtape project, Forever Young. What’s the concept behind that?
Deon: Forever Young that’s kinda like the movement for everyone that’s been supporting me from before I got signed to those supporting me now. I feel like I didn’t get here alone, I got here with a lot of support, a lot of people put the time in. It takes a lot to win people over now-a-days, even when you tell people ‘hey, I’m a new artist, listen to my song or listen to my mixtape’ it’s hard to win people over. Forever Young is like my appreciation mixtape. I took 2 songs off my mixtape that got the buzz going, For The Love, I put them on here. I got a few covers I took a stab at this year. I like to do covers cause I got some joints I like to listen to when I’m going out or doing shows, so I put those on there. And I got a couple of new songs on there, my first single is on there as well, “Party Life,” which features French Montana. It’s like that thank you mixtape. Thank you for supporting me this much to get to where I am now.
Parlé: One of those covers that’s really buzzing right now is the track “Drank In My Cup,” Kirko Bangz joint. How’d that song come about?
Deon: It’s kinda like truth behind some of the things I say. Some people sit with their homies and they just talk about different things and it’s the same thing I do with my friends. I was having a conversation about a girl and like 2 hours later I went home and thought about it and just started writing about it. The swag just came out on that beat.
Parlé: You’ve been in the industry a short while, but it’s still been a grind just to get to where you are now. I know some fans might not see the journey, but what’s one of the biggest things you had to do or adjust to in order to get to this point?
Deon: I had to learn how to listen. I think listening is very important in the process of where you’re trying to go, to get your deal and to be successful even after you get your deal. A lot of people think when you get your deal that you made it or its time to relax, but it’s a lot of work that has to go behind it. But you just have be patient with yourself and understand who you are and understand that you’re not perfect and that there is plenty of room to grow. So every piece of advice that someone gives you, you have to take it into consideration. I’m not necessarily saying that that advice is good for you but just take it into consideration because it’s a team effort to get here and you have to get here with a great team behind you. Stay focused and stack up on your good karma.
Parlé: Let’s talk about how you linked up with Sylvia Rhone. I understand a bit of luck was involved…
Deon: Amanda Berkowitz [Director of A & R] actually, she was playing my mixtape in the office and Sylvia was listening to it. Slyvia was like who is that kid? Amanda was like, ‘this is Deon, he from Harlem, he’s an up and coming singer.’ Sylvia was like, ‘this a new sound, it’s too edgy for him to be a singer.’ But she listened to a few more songs and she got it. She realized I was just different. She understood where I wanted to go with my music, so she called me in, I had a little showcase with her and L.A. [Reid] and the deal was done.
Parlé: You’ve been making your rounds around the city, doing showcases and industry events. Do you still get nervous performing in front of these audiences?
Deon: It’s not really like a nervousness, but you get anxious. Every show has a new audience, along with some of your core fans that really travel from different shows. So you just get anxious to see what type of response you’re gonna get from the people who are not sure of exactly what you do. It’s just fun when you go out there and it’s like a connection. It’s my chance to show people how much work I put into what I write. That’s really what it’s about. I just want to connect with people and have fun.
Parlé: You mentioned those people who aren’t sure exactly what they are going to get from you. What do you say to someone who isn’t quite familiar with Deon Young yet, why should they download that Forever Young mixtape?
Deon: I tell them to expect a project that has a true story behind it, a real message behind it. I write about stuff that people can relate to. I’m one of those people that’s on twitter and on fb, but I do a lot more reading than I do tweeting. I like to see what people are feeling and what situations people are going through. It’s kind of like the Will Smith movie Hitch, I try to give advice for those situations. I might not go through it, but if I do go through it, then I want you to know what I went through so you could let me know if you understand what we was going through together. It’s that connection. I feel like everybody that listens to the tape, there’s one song that’s going to connect with everybody in the world. Its raw, its truth behind it. It’s not just something where I was like, ‘this is a dope hook, let’s make a song that people can dance to.’ Forever Young, this is that new R & B, that’s how I’d put it. It’s like Rap & Blues.
Parlé: Talk to me about the first single. You mentioned it earlier, “Party Life.”
Deon: “Party Life” is the first single. I actually went to a party and had an experience. I caught myself tripping in the party (laughs). But I was real confident with mine. So that song explains that.
Parlé: What are you doing when you’re not making music or doing these showcases?
Deon: Playing ball, watching ESPN, probably working out. I just be doing weird stuff. I fly little airplanes. Me and my sons, we just chill, we be having cyphers. I just like to have fun.
Parlé: What do you think separates you from other dudes in Harlem trying to get in this biz, or other dudes in general?
Deon: It’s a path that’s set out for each of us and it’s up to us to figure out how to get from the start to down the road. I don’t want it to ever end. You just gotta know how you gonna survive.
Parlé: And what advice do you have for those other guys?
Deon: The advice that I have for cats that’s trying to come up from a place where I’m from, a place like Harlem, is, you see a lot of BS when you outside, I just say stay focused. Nothing is promised. Nothing is given to you, you just have to stay focused. I knew I wanted to do music but I still finished school, I still finished high school. I never said I’ma be a famous singer—I said it to myself but you know I never depended on that. I never wanted to get too comfortable. You just gotta make the right decisions. Know if you put in the right work, it can happen.
Be on the look out for more music and visuals from Deon Young, including his “Blackin’ Out” cover of “Cashin’ Out” and his version of “Nobody’s Perfect.” He was also recently added to the Closer To My Dreams Tour with Tyga, Kirko Bangz and Ca$h Out among others.
There’s a lot more to come from Deon, so you might as well get him now and be a supporter from the ground floor.
Images by Reggie Wilson for Parlé Magazine
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