Cultivating an organic following is no small feat; unless your name is DDG. The YouTuber and now artist seems to have the midas touch accumulating a total number of 92,910,021 views on his music channel to date. The Michigan born rapper first stepped into the entertainment industry as a daily vlogger on YouTube in 2014, gaining over 1 million subscribers on his PontiacMadeDDG account. He began posting occasional diss tracks and freestyles to his other channel DDG, which led to the start of his music career. DDG then went on to release his most popular song ‘Givenchy’ in 2017, which now sits on just over 24 million views.
His latest venture is a four track EP entitled ‘Sorry 4 The Hold Up’ . The project noticeably features a diverse array of sounds, contrasting soulful R&B melodies with more hard-hitting rap verses, a testament no doubt to DDG’s versatility. The EP is also home to the singles ‘Run It Up’ ft YBN Nahmir, G Herbo and Blac Youngsta, and ‘Hold Up’ ft Queen Naija.
Here’s what happened when DDG caught up with the IndustryMe Team in London.
So for those who may not know, you started off as a YouTuber. What was the plan when you first started your channel?
I mean I just wanted to do something, you know? Just have a little bit of fun with my friends, make some videos and stuff. I had no real motive of blowing up and doing music. It wasn’t planned it just happened.
I know with your channel you were doing freestyles and that sort of thing. When did you first start taking music seriously?
Seeing the numbers from the diss tracks I was doing made me think, maybe I need to start taking music seriously. And uh… plus YouTube was starting to get a little shaky at the time. It had an ad crisis and stuff like that, and I was thinking ‘I can’t really depend on this like that’. So I started doing music and it just blew up.
Having started out as a youtuber, what was the biggest challenge for you transitioning into an artist?
Just people taking me seriously. A lot of people look at [me] like…you’re just supposed to do YouTube, you know what I mean? And I’m like…nah!
So I went on a tour called ‘Take Me Serious’ , I dropped a song called ‘Take Me Serious’, I dropped an EP called ‘Take Me Serious’. I made sure I got it into their heads, that I am really doing music for real.
And would you say people take you seriously now?
Yeah they do for sure.
Alright then, so let’s talk about your EP. Musically, you have quite a diverse mix of sounds on the project, was this intentional?
Yeah…it’s intentional. I tried to make sure that I can do [a bit of] everything. That way I don’t put myself in a box as ‘oh I can only make this type of music’ or else, when I super-duper blow up, people are gonna say ‘you’re not supposed be singing you’re supposed to be making hard music’ or ‘you’re not supposed to be rapping you’re supposed be singing’ you know?
So when I make music I want it to be like, ‘this is a hit, just like all the rest of his songs’
Which song from the EP was the most fun to make?
Hmm…the most fun song to make was probably…‘Run It Up’, just because it had so many features on it and the music video was fun. Everything about it was lit! And that was my first big music video too.
On the topic of music videos, when you come with concept for your visuals, what is the usual process behind that?
I mean now, for music videos if they’re big ones I usually get sent the treatment for it. Before, when I was independent, it was just straight off the dome. I like to create stories. I had a music video called ‘Arguments’ and its got like a crazy ending that I came up with. So yh its dope.
The EP hosts the song ‘Hold Up’ ft Queen Naija, how did that collaboration come about?
Queen and I are from Michigan and we both do YouTube. I do the same thing she does, I just rap and sing. She sings. It just made sense. I met her before she really was doing music like that so she’s like my homie.
Can we expect anymore collaborations from the two of you in the future?
Yeah! Whenever. We’ll make something happen for sure.
Lets talk about your deal with Epic, I am sure at the time you had interest from other labels so what made you go with them?
Epic just made the most sense, because I own my masters. So I got like a really really good deal, for my very first one. A lot of artists don’t own their masters, so that was a really big deal for me.
Let’s delve into that a little more, why was it important for you as an artist to own your masters?
‘Cos I don’t want nobody owning my music (laughs). I mean I make the music, that’s MY music. You know? I don’t get why artists do that honestly. If you go to the studio and you make a hit song, it’s not even yours, it’s the label’s song. A lot of artists, they blow up and get sad about it later on and I’m just like, if you believed in yourself from the jump you never would have signed that deal.
Do you think artists are even aware of what they’re doing when they sign these deals though?
Nah…I don’t. Nobody even pays attention to that. They see money and they just go. 1 million dollars can go in one purchase. Some people aren’t knowledgeable, but me? I was valedictorian in high school.
Oh, smart guy huh?
Oh yeah (laughs) genius.
As a YouTuber, I am sure by now you’re used to the trolls. But do you ever go through your YouTube comments?
I do read them. It’s funny to me at this point. I don’t really pay attention or take it [too] seriously.
What is the wildest YouTube comment you remember coming across?
Um…I get so many. I can’t pinpoint just one of them. I get a lot of really crazy comments. (laughs)
Who would you most like to collaborate with right now?
I mean…the goats. The people that are up UP. So like Drake, Cardi B, Ariana Grande. I like to be different…even Adele. That would be crazy!
Okay, if you had a track with Adele, what would you call it?
I don’t even know, I just know it would be on Billboard (laughs).
For sure. So what are you working on right now?
I have a project coming out this fall. As soon as I get back to LA I am shooting a music video, then I’ll drop the leading single…
…do you have any names?
The leading single is called ‘Push’ and it’s gonna be lit! It’s gonna be big, the older people will love it, the kids are gonna love it. It’s a good leading single for sure.
Going back to your song ‘Hold Up’ with Queen Naija. Most people would say it has an R&B type vibe. Did you expect an R&B track to be one of your biggest songs?
I honestly didn’t. Even with my song ‘Arguments’, which got like 36 million views on YouTube. Even when people re-upload it and write lyrics to it, it gets like 10 million views. So the song ‘Arguments’ was really big. For ‘Hold Up‘, I knew the song was gonna blow up. It’s just [a matter of] time.
Right now its on like 9.3 million views. I don’t know its kinda crazy. I’ve only made 2 R&B songs in my entire career. But I guess my career [to date] hasn’t been that long. It’s only just started, so I didn’t expect that.
Seeing as your music has a very varied sound, how would describe it in three words or less?
I would say variety, um…believable and hard.
And finally, do you have plans for European Tour anytime soon?
Oh yeah of course, I need to come back! When I come back, especially for a tour, I need to be here for a least 3 days before I start anything because right now…it feels like its 6 in the morning (laughs) and I’ve been up all day.
I am super duper jet lagged – but other than that I’ll definitely be back.