DMV rapper Dayon Greene is set to take flight, dropping a debut album Me, full of trials, tribulations, and lessons. As a rapper and producer, his fingerprints are all over this project. But his signature comes out most in his lyrics, which tell the story of a young man finding himself after being lost, wallowing in harmful relationships.
I had the great opportunity to speak with Dayon on the phone and get a better idea of how meaningful this album is for him. Quotes are edited slightly for clarity.
“In the midst of COVID and everything that’s going on … it’s a blessing to still be able to get [the album] out, for it to be heard. The love is at an all time high, so I’m just appreciative.”
Having the strength to be so vulnerable is something that has come at the result of a lot of work, he says.
“It’s just about perspective, how you look at it,” he said “You grow into who you are, and it’s rough to go through the journey of life.
“I just wanna let people know, you’re not alone,” Greene said. “We all go through days where we might be depressed … we all have been in love before, we’ve fallen out of love, had our heart broken… it’s so important to talk about that stuff.”
“I’ve lost myself a couple times, and I feel like on the other side of that bridge it’s you finding yourself and becoming comfortable with yourself again, and I feel like through God I was able to do that, and that’s why it was so important to have ‘Father’ and ‘Order My Steps’ at the beginning.”
The sequentiality of the album is clearly important to him. He positions the first several tracks as the more difficult emotional work, and shows the results later in the album, with confident, high-tempo tracks like “Ikits,” “Big Steppa,” and “Commas.”
He said John Wall was the Washington star athlete that corresponds most to the album, with his late-game “I’m not going without a fight” mentality being especially admirable.
Greene spoke on his athletic mentality when making music, saying his history playing soccer and other sports helps his competitive drive in other areas.
“I really try my best not to look at what anyone else is doing and compare myself to them,” he said. “I just really try to focus in and lock in on myself and say, you gotta beat yourself.”
While he doesn’t want to compare himself to others, he still looks up to certain legends, citing Andre 3000, Frank Ocean, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar as some of his biggest influences. Additionally, he said he’s been watching Bob Marley interviews for inspiration: “After seeing that, it just inspired me more to be okay with being comfortable and okay with myself. In my own spiritual journey, I feel like it’s so important to embrace who I am and embrace my thoughts.”
As far as collaborators on the album, Greene was complimentary, specifically shouting out his good friend and sound engineer Jay Que for his contributions. The Greene Team seems to be growing with every album session. He said Cramer, Eddie Vanz, and O-Slice (features on “Ikits” and “Commas”) were each instrumental to creating those tracks.
Fans should also look forward to hearing production credits from cpsl0ck (“Life Bid” and “Free”) and The Kount (“We Can Make It”). Greene has high praise for each producer, telling me that each of them were easy to work with and incredibly talented.
Greene’s love for his collaborators is inspiring, and feels similar to his care for the entire DMV. While acknowledging the region is a bit behind when compared to titanic hip-hop cities Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta, he feels as though the DMV is up next, and he’s excited to share the city’s legacy with the world.
“It’s so eclectic,” he said. “You really can get different types of music from so many different people. I feel like we’re bubbling. We’re starting to get a really good buzz, and a lot of artists are signing these major label deals, and it’s starting to evolve… I don’t even wanna compare us to anyone else. We’re the first of us.”
He cites the city’s go-go influence as something that’ll take the region’s music nationwide.
“When I came up, go-go was the only thing we had,” he said. “We weren’t even really listening to rap music like that. When I was in high school, my phone was all go-go, Lil Wayne and Gucci Mane, that’s it… Nobody was thinking about being rappers for real and then [Phil] Ade and Logic and Wale started making a buzz, and more people started pushing towards rapping. We’re just new to the party, but at the same time we’re producing this quality, especially locally that is way better than a lot of other places.”
“Everything I do is always going to come out very DMV. That’s who I am and where I’m from.”
With that loyalty and love for his home, he’s always going to have a fan base that’ll ride for him, and it’s exciting to think where Dayon could be in just a few years. But for now, he said he’s just trying to continue to work on his craft.
“I want to be able to make music that can continue to impact people,” he said. “I want to continue to grow to a place where I can do music full time in the studio all day.”
There are plenty of lessons to take from Greene’s music and experiences, but if you ask him for the most important, he’ll harken back to his mental health priorities.
“I just want people to … know it’s okay to be yourself,” he said. “It’s ok to go through your ups and downs. Just know there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.”
Many thanks to Dayon Greene and the rest of The Greene Team for taking the time for this interview! Check him out and stream Me on all streaming platforms.