Adé—FKA Phil Adé—has made celebratory music for over a decade. The DMV native first broke out in 2009 with his debut mixtape, JV, and has been soundtracking the glorious highs of life—with a pack of serious cuts—ever since.
Across his career, Adé has been known as a voice bringing attention to D.C. and as a methodical artist who knows how to take his time. In 2013, Adé chose to stand for something greater than himself with his R.O.S.E. mixtape. Six years later, in 2019, gracing the Audiomack Hometown Heroes stage, presented by High Hemp, Adé stands for more than he could have ever imagined. He is one of the definitive voices of his region.
Hometown accolades aside, Adé is quick to showcase humility. His love for Maryland culture and music supersedes his desire for the spotlight.
“I’m just proud that I could be part of the movement,” Adé tells me over the phone. “There’s a lot of artists from Maryland, man. YBN Cordae, Rico Nasty, Q Da Fool. It’s a whole scene! I’m just proud that I’m part of it, and I was one of the first.”
His kindness and respect for hip-hop have kept his music sounding fresh, and his name relevant, for the past decade. In 2019, Adé sounds flush with life and grateful for his hometown.
“It’s a melting pot—the whole D.C. area,” he continues enthusiastically. “A million different cultures together in one. Everyone has built an appreciation for a wide range of stuff. So have I! In Maryland, you’re seeing the street side with Q Da Fool. Rico Nasty is doing more of a grunge, punk vibe. Cordae is coming with classic hip-hop. It’s just the fact there are so many cultures and types of people that have made [the music] so diverse.”
We hear diversity all over Adé’s 2019 Epic-released ALWAYS SOMETHING EP. From the bounce of the first notes, we get a refreshed and swaggering Adé. Intro “PLAY SOMETHING” is a cheeky, at times breakneck and at times, melodic, reintroduction to one of Maryland’s finest. The sinuous groove of “SOMETHING’S UP” features Adé in his sultry pocket. With feature spots from Wale and GoldLink, ALWAYS SOMETHING feels like a proper hometown hero outing.
“It just shows that your love for it is not going unnoticed,” Adé says of having fans stand by him for across his career. “You don’t get into the music business and do it for ten years—especially with all the ups and downs—and not love it. It’s encouraging to see people are still rocking with me and fucking with my music after all these years. It lets me know to keep going.”
Though Adé concedes he is a hometown hero, his humility jumps out once again. He tells me he doesn’t refer to himself as a hero but does view himself as one of the first artists to rep Maryland in earnest: “That’s not something I call myself, but that’s something people look at me as. I came up at a time where, for Maryland specifically, it wasn’t a cool thing to be a rapper. I was one of, if not the first, to come out straight up repping Maryland and the D.C. area.”
He continues: “There are a lot of artists who are big, and their hometown doesn’t rock with them. It’s more of a personal thing. These are the people you grew up around. A lot of artists, when they start, wanna be big in their area. That’s how I started! It’s important to me. [Maryland] is a place I love; it’s the place I grew up.”
Adé believes the key component of being a hometown hero is coming back home. “You can’t be a hero of a hometown if you’re never there to help with everything,” he says through a laugh. “[A hometown hero is] somebody who built the operation from the ground up where they’re from. Made a name for themselves outside of [their town] and then came back to build up the community. That’s a hometown hero.”
Performing earlier this month at the Audiomack Hometown Heroes show, Adé got to see his impact first hand as day-one fans rushed to the front of the stage. “Their eyes light up like ‘Yo, he’s from here. This is for me.’ It’s a different connection.” The performance was a powerful moment for an artist who has seen his fair share of industry hurdles—and has overcome them.
“Don’t wait on anyone, and don’t second guess yourself,” he concludes, citing the best advice he’s received over the past ten years. “When you’re on a company and have labels involved, a lot of people will put you on their time. You wait. As an artist, you gotta jump out there and do what you feel you need to do. The right time is now.”
Ten years on, it’s still Adé’s time.