Rocking a throwback Selena and Tupac T-shirt, Devour arrives for an interview with L.A. Weekly poised, reserved and in good spirits. Armed with a loyal, solid fan base (check out his 115,000 followers on Instagram alone), the Los Angeles rapper reveals this is going to be only his second interview ever.
While this is hard to believe at first, we soon realized this revealed a lot about his character. While most independent artists treat press as a necessity, Devour is focused on perfecting his craft. With an unspoken tunnel vision directed at leaving his mark on the rap game, the 24-year-old spits effortlessly about real-life experiences from growing up on the streets to the hardships staying off them.
Following the success of “’Bout Me” and “You A Flip,” which together have amassed approximately 13.5 million views on YouTube, Devour unleashes Different, a 14-track project highlighting the city in a way the people can relate to. We spoke about all of this and more.
L.A. WEEKLY: For those who don’t know, who is Devour?
DEVOUR: Just a young hustler trying to make shit happen.
How would you describe your own sound?
My sound is just different. It’s a hard thing to describe. I would want people to hear it so they can figure it out.
You’re from L.A. — how much does that play into your life and career?
It plays a big role because it’s where I’m from. It’s where I went through a lot of crazy shit. Trials and tribulations. I grew up in the city, so it pretty much defines my life. It plays a real big role.
What’s the inspiration behind your name?
I just did the little question thing on Instagram — that shit was crazy! It was my first time trying it. Somebody asked me that. I don’t know. Ever since I came across that word, I always liked it. I feel like it always has a strong impact every time somebody says it. “Devour!” Aye. It has that direct impact. I was like, “Shit, I like that word. I’m going to run with it.” It’s catchy.
How important is it to come to L.A. for an up-and-coming artist?
It’s a beautiful city, but just don’t make that wrong turn. Straight up. But I love the city. Hell yeah. Come to L.A. Come and experiment out here.
“’Bout Me” is at over 13.2 million views on YouTube. Did you foresee it blowing up like this?
Honestly, I would say yes and no at the same time. Yes because I’ve been at it — grinding, grinding, grinding — but I didn’t know it was going to take off that fast. [snaps fingers]. That shit’s crazy.
At what point did you realize a career in music was for real?
One of my goals was always to hit a million views. But now that I think about that question, I feel like I started taking it serious once I started getting recognized. I felt like I started impacting people’s lives and that shit is crazy. I’ll be at the mall getting recognized and be like, “Damn yo, this shit is really taking off.”
“Chalk ’Em Out” is a slap. Talk about filming the video.
My family’s originally from East L.A. and my mom moved from the projects to the Valley to get out the ghetto — just to move into another ghetto. I’m the youngest brother out of all my siblings and me, my other brother, and my two younger sisters are pretty much the ones that grew up in the Valley. I just felt like I had to go back home real quick and put on for the home team. I rep East L.A. just as much as I rep the Valley because without East L.A., there would be no Valley for me. I just had to take it back home and shine light on the struggle we have on that side, too.
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
That’s a tough question because I haven’t really spoken on my story. I’m barely picking at it, but I feel like everybody is going to relate because at the end of the day, I’m just a genuine person.
So if you’re not really speaking on your story, then what is your music?
In my music, I do talk about stuff I really go through because I rap about shit that I’ve done or shit that’s happened to me, but I feel like I haven’t been so direct. Because if you have an interview with somebody as opposed to making a song, I feel like it’s a different approach. I feel like that’s what the difference is.
What’s your end goal?
I’m trying to make it. I’m trying to go global. I’m trying to really do this. Me being Hispanic, I feel like no one has really done it like that. I’m trying to prove a point.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
I’d be in the streets. Straight up. When I was 16, I fought 10 years in six months. I was always the type of person, if I’m going to do something, I’m going to go hard for it. I found music, saved a little money doing stupid shit, and built my own little studio in the closet — kept it pushing ever since. It just took me away from the streets, so I was like, “Fuck it. I’m going to go hard for it.”
How important is social media for your career?
At this point, in the days we’re in now, it’s real important. Back then like how selling CDs out of the trunk was real important, I feel like that’s social media now. That’s how I see it.
What's your dream collaboration?
There’s too many. For sure, I need Kendrick [Lamar]. He’s from the home team, too, he’s from the West Coast. And he’s Top Dawg. I got to get Kendrick. I’ma pick sections. On the East Coast, I pick … fuck it, give me A$AP Rocky. Who else is doing it? Atlanta, give me the Migos. Fuck it. But I want Meek Mill too though! You know why I like Meek Mill so much? Because I used to bump him when I was a youngun and I seen him when he was really doing it.
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Like in his battle rap days?
Yeah. No offense to Meek Mill, but when he had those dusty braids. I watched his growth. I feel like when you see it first-hand, you latch onto it even more. Meek Mill, for sure.
Devour plays at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1, at the Roxy.