Words By: Marisa Richard
Two years ago, a reporting and writing professor had his class listen and critique a couple of tracks from a CD he popped in the computer. He didn’t mention whom it was by he just played it, while the class sat in the dark. Some were scrolling on their phones, others surfing the Internet on the apple screens that sat in front of them. About 30 seconds in, majority of the class’ heads had risen and their ears were open.
The song was cool and a bit mellow. It had the type of beat that made you nod your head and tap your foot simultaneously. He played about two more tracks. There was one in particular that the class seemed to really be feelin’, “Cinderella.” The initial sample beat of Drake’s “Fancy” caught their attention, the verses and the hook kept it.
After the three-track listening session, the professor revealed to his students the identity of the artist. He wasn’t some up and coming rapper, but a peer, a student at Florida A&M University that just happens to have a pretty nice flow. He goes by D.Webb, the “D” is for DeVante and according to the professor, this rap thing isn’t just a hobby. Not so coincidently he came in the class afterwards, introduced himself, and was eager to hear the class’ opinion. Humbly accepting the mixed reviews.
Since then, the still humble and under-recognized student artist has grown, developed and is still releasing tracks. D.Webb held a session at the studio, where he was working on songs to complete his latest project “Never Too Late.” As often as people may have seen him around campus and through passing between classes, most have never seen the artist working at his craft, in his element.
When walking into a studio session for the first time, one may not know what to expect. He was sitting on the couch, while the engineer was fiddling with cords, so they could get back to work. His smile was welcoming. “Hey, come on in and get comfortable,” D.Webb said. Silence filled the room for about five minutes as the mixer continued to try and fix the problem while continuously saying “my fault, bro.” D.Webb was frustrated but calm. Tapping his fingers on his knee as he waited anxiously.
While he waited, he squatted with his eyes closed, quietly whispering his lyrics, almost prayer like. He was focused and the only thing that mattered at that moment was finishing those tracks. It was time to continue, he sprung up from the squat position he had been holding. In the booth, once he put those headphones on he was a different person. Not literally, but mentally. He gave off a, this is my day job aura. He was comfortable. He was natural. He was home. He was D.Webb.
It’s different when you hear a record on the radio or on a tape; opposed to actually hearing it being made and recorded live. To be in that moment, to hear an artist record those talking ad-libs, genuinely made up on the spot. Or the artist asking their right hand how does it sound, or should they do a verse in the chorus over. It’s the details that make the song and the consistency that makes the artist.
“I WANT NEVER TOO LATE TO PLAY EVERYWHERE, I WANT TO PERFORM EVERYWHERE AND I WANT PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND THE MESSAGE.”
It’s been about a year and a half since D. Webb debuted his first tape. And while it took some time to get his recent project, Never Too Late, finished, the tracks are far from new.
“To everybody else it may seem like something brand new, but they’re actually old to me. I’m ready to move on to the next thing. That’s why I can bust out three or four songs in one session. I’ve been going over them for months,” Webb explained.
Some may consider D.Webb a rookie. He’s been serious about his rap career for about three years now and the kid has big dreams for himself. He may have a resonance of a young J.Cole. Light skin lyricist with a nice flow and soon-to-be college degree, trying to get a message across.
“I’m going to move back to New York and really put everything in motion, I can’t really work on music as much as I want to because of school. So I got to go back there, network and make it happen, “D. Webb said. “You know most times while I’m here, I stay up late working on my music more than my school work.”
Never Too Late was released on Dec. 23, 2015 after releasing a music video to one of the tracks a couple months prior. D. Webb said it is different from his first project Dreams Come True.
“Never Too Late is really personal but fun, the overall message that it’s never too late for a lot of things. Throughout the tape there’s a series of things that will come together to tell a story,” D.Webb said. “Dreams Come True on the other hand was more of like a celebration, it was like iight I see people gravitating towards my music. After DCT, people started believing, making positive comments and started to realize the change.” Webb’s sound has developed, he does not just rhyme about girls anymore, and he’s turning the target on himself.
“I haven’t forgot about the ladies, but this one, this one here is more about me. It’s more personal. This one hits home. There are a few tracks on the record about women, but nothing too predictable,” D.Webb said
You can feel the truth in the records and the layout of the tape will paint the picture D. Webb is telling, vividly.
“I want to come across as an honest artist. One that doesn’t sell their self short and keeps it real. Rather than get a million plays on the radio for something catchy and redundant,” D.Webb said
The hardworking artist doesn’t have a large group of people around him but the ones he does have he keeps close. “We live in a society with so much hate, you have to keep the ones you know are down to ride and support close. When I want to run things by someone, I mostly depend on my guy Jason.”
Sometimes it pays to keep your circle tight. Webb’s right hand, Jason Maxwell has known him for years.
“I’ve known him for about 7 years, we met in middle school but we really started conversing in high school. As a person he’s one of the funniest people I know,” Maxwell said. “He actually likes to joke a lot and he’s very outgoing. As an artist, he’s really serious it’ll be a lot of times while he’s recording a song you wont see him crack a smile because he’s focused.”
While in the booth, D.Webb may call out at random, “J, how did that sound?” Or, “you think I should run that verse back?” He values his opinion.
“I feel like I could never steer him wrong. Even though he values my opinion it’s still what he wants to do. Even sometimes when he asks my opinion, I won’t tell him I’ll let him do his thing,” Maxwell said. “I’ll try and give my input wherever I can. I don’t ever want to pressure him to do something he doesn’t want to do. We may have a little argument about it but at the end of the day we do what’s best for him. That’s the type of relationship we have.”
A close-knit group of friends is important, but D.Webb has made it known from the start that his mother is one of his biggest inspirations and motivators. D.Webb often refers to himself as Kimberley’s Son.
“I really just want to tell her thank you. She never questioned my dream, even when It came to me putting money into it, she always supported. She follows my social media and reads the comments people post, so she understands how serious this is for me now,” D.Webb said
His mother’s dreams and aspirations are parallel to his. “I told him to go for it, as long as it something positive, and he’s confident in it I’m behind him 100 percent. He can do so much with his craft. I would like to see him have his own company and produce other artist. He’s really talented and I would like to see him use some of it to help others,” said Ms. Webb.
As the session came to a close, he had one more track to record, “Letters,” A track dedicated to a plethora of people close to him, including himself. Not even five seconds into the song, you can recognize the seamlessness between the beat and the lyrics, and subconsciously, there it was again; that head nod and foot tap.
D.Webb already has two more tapes lined up to debut after the release of Never Too Late. In addition to the tapes, he’s graduating in April. His plans for himself are nothing shy of big.
“I want never too late to play everywhere, I want to perform everywhere and I want people to understand the message. Probably a month later I’m putting out Just for you with a good friend of mine named Floyd Miles. Really, I just want to keep working.”
Download D.Webb’s Latest Project Never Too Late here