At the top of 2019, DJBooth’s Matt Wilhite covered the renaissance taking place in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, writing, “The eclecticism of DFW’s talent, much like the cities the artists stem from, has always been the most fascinating part of its current rise in hip-hop.” One of the artists spotlighted in this 2019 round-up, albeit, in brief, was the sterling lyricist Devy Stonez.
Devy, 24, his pen mighty and his rap voice pristine, is an “independent underdog” with the chops to be a household name. His upcoming album, Forever Chillen, boasts nine mountain-moving tracks, each showcasing Devy’s incredible songwriting and charisma.
“I’m still trying to build this thing that’s in my head and get it out there for the world,” Devy tells me of his budding career. “The mission’s not accomplished yet. That’s driving me. I still gotta take care of my family, of the people around me. That’s one of the main missions: To make sure everyone around is okay. That’s the main motivation.”
Opener “Beep” has just a dash of bounce and swagger to underscore Devy Stonez’ focused flow. His gruff vocal translates well across Forever Chillen. The switch-up of “Beep” is a welcome treat; the measure of “Iffy” thumps and grips the ear. “Moving Mountains,” the mellow closer, features Devy in a particularly mindful bag. “I got my mind on my business,” he raps.
Forever Chillen is the first independent release under the brand Devy Stonez co-founded in 2019: Courtesy of Good Company LLC. Meaning, the album is not only a mark of Devy’s prolific tendencies and rap ability, but it is also a note on the importance of ownership and being your own boss in a wrought music industry. “Ownership is a big thing now,” Devy says. “The way the industry and music is shifting, ownership is now playing a bigger part in the music. We need to own what we doing.”
“I try to change my perspective on life, take everything as it comes in and live and learn from it,” Devy concludes. “Grow from it. Life don’t get easier; you just get better at dealing with it. That’s one of my favorite sayings. With that being said: All the stuff that’s happening is not gon’ stop happening. You just gon’ learn how to adjust to it, or you just gon’ keep doing the same things. I don’t like having to repeat the same lessons over and over again, so I realized changing my perspective can help me maneuver.”
To close Forever Chillen, Devy admits he’s “betting on myself.” We’re betting, too—on Devy Stonez. Our conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
DJBooth: Talk to me about your first experience with rap music.
Devy Stonez: It’s hard to pinpoint when hip-hop came into my consciousness, but around the time 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ came out. That was one of the big turning points as far as me going and searching for music, and tapping in and understanding it on a deeper level. But music has always been around in my life—whether that’s my older siblings or my mom jamming out to it. It’s always been in my daily lifestyle.
What pushed you to start making music?
Just listening, really listening, and hearing [rappers] put their story out there—me wanting that same freedom, and telling my story. Talking about my hood and my people, and the stuff that’s going on in my life—hearing records and wanting to replicate the feeling and pride of telling your story.
How has Dallas defined your sound?
Dallas inspired my sound as far as the lingo. I like to look at Dallas as the Bay; it’s so diverse. It influenced the way I speak, my dialect, more than anything.
What’s been the biggest hurdle you’ve faced as an upcoming rapper?
Learning the business and gaining a sense of stability as an artist, where you can work more efficiently. It’s hard to do all of this when you’re independent, and you gotta handle life stuff, too. That’s getting to you at the end of the day, but you still gotta push and work towards your career. That’s the main hurdle: Trying to figure out my way and gather my footing so we can make the moves efficiently.
What’s the most important lesson you learned opening for Jay Rock on his Redemption album tour?
Just learning how to work the crowd. I opened for bigger artists before, but each time… [I] make sure my performance is on-point. I get to see behind-the-scenes. I get to see the road manager set everything up. I get to see the DJ connect with the sound guy. Those backstage experiences mean a lot because you get to see the inner workings of everything. That gives you more insight into the industry. I like those types of shows when I’m opening for bigger artists. It allows you to learn.
Let’s talk about your new album, Forever Chillen. It’s your fourth record, which makes you pretty prolific. Where does your hunger come from?
It comes from the fact that I haven’t figured it out yet. I’m still trying to build this thing that’s in my head and get it out there for the world. The mission’s not accomplished yet. That’s driving me. I still gotta take care of my family, of the people around me. That’s one of the main missions: To make sure everyone around is okay. That’s the main motivation. We haven’t figured it out yet. Even when we do figure it out, it’s a matter of improving on it. This whole thing is bigger than me—I’m not just in it for myself. It’s coming through me, I’m the vessel, but it’s for everybody that believes in me.
So you’re always a student? Always there for other people?
For sure. Life is like that: We all in this together. It’s a collaborative effort. Being in service of others and helping others out helps the collective. We all have to live this life.
As a premier lyricist, which song on Forever Chillen was most important for you to write?
Ha, “premier.” I like to go off the energy. The most important song on there, right now, would be “Moving Mountains,” just because the content is more introspective and more personal. You get to see exactly how I’m feeling at that moment.
On “Moving Mountains,” you say, “I’m betting on myself.” Where does that confidence come from?
It comes from knowing nobody else can do it for you. You gotta be the one to put in the work. This is your thing; this is your meaning. Once you come to that realization, then you are responsible for making it happen. It’s just finally coming to that realization: We need to buckle down and [do] whatever we need to do.
What’s your daily mantra, or the thing you do every day to be a better person?
I try to change my perspective on life, take everything as it comes, and live and learn from it. Grow from it. Life don’t get easier; you just get better at dealing with it. That’s one of my favorite sayings. With that being said: All the stuff that’s happening is not gon’ stop happening. You just gon’ learn how to adjust to it, or you just gon’ keep doing the same things. I don’t like having to repeat the same lessons over and over again, so I realized changing my perspective can help me maneuver.