What happens when you make a video and it goes viral? You run with it. That’s what Devante Fields did after releasing a music video for his song “Regrets” in 2011, which received hundreds of thousands of views.
He was in high school at the time, and more than five years passed before Fields learned what it meant to create music with meaning. Aside from his eloquence, one recurring topic in Fields' rapping is a message about less violence and more hard work. His lyrics speak of change, and overall good vibes in a world of unrest.
“I just feel like we don’t have a ton of guys that are able to be vulnerable about their feminism and just be honest,” Fields says. “It’s all so ‘tough’ in the South, but I’m not a punk-ass dude. I’m honest about certain things and people of all races can understand the same.”
This was a subject not widely understood in the neighborhood where Fields grew up in North Dallas, the same neighborhood as rapper Mo3, who was shot to death in Dallas this past November. Though they knew of each other, Fields says they never had the chance to connect before Mo3 was killed.
“I guess it was some street stuff, you know, that was going on," Fields says of Mo's death. "I try not to get too involved in the street crowd, even though I’m from there. I wanted to be more about the cleaner image coming up in Dallas. We want to get those sponsorships.”
Fields says he had every opportunity to fall into the game and realized this especially when he moved to California five years ago to live with a relative who was highly involved in gang culture. Rather than succumbing to the ways of the world he knew too well, Fields had a new mantra: No excuses.
He says he spent eight months homeless even while working two jobs, Monday to Friday. One was from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. He’d sleep from about 6 until 10 p.m. and go to his night job, where he managed a hotel until 7 a.m., he says.
After becoming homeless, Fields came up with an idea to help him stay on track. He wanted to save $25,000, so he made a plan to hold himself accountable.
“I decided to record myself every two weeks living out of my car,” Fields says. “I recorded myself living out of my older Prius. You see me with my covers, pillow, driving, taking naps between jobs, hair all fucked up at times. Then every two weeks you see me with $1,500, $5,000, $15,000. And really, that gave me no excuses.”
While working drastic hours and sleeping in his car undoubtedly took a toll, it eventually paid off — literally. Fields met his goal, coming up with the idea for his latest track, “No Excuses,” along the way.
“I didn’t want to sell drugs. I wanted to do it the legal way,” he says. “So I put that message out there. You have no excuses.”
Fields’ discipline and commitment are apparent in his music, as his themes can seem uncommon for many hip-hop and R&B artists today. Gang culture is now far from his radar, and Fields focuses on relatable subjects.
“I’m making music that makes you feel,” he says, “in regards to relationship struggles, family problems, ethnicity, sex. We all can relate to music and to each other through music.”
“No Excuses,” produced by the same label as Tory Lanez, is the first single of an upcoming EP, It’s Not the Same.
Yet, things are sort of the same. The artist has seemingly kept his old fan base; views for his newest video range in the hundred thousands on YouTube after just three weeks.
“That phrase can be incorporated through a lot of things,” says Fields of the album's title. “Everything. From the way we dress, types of people we date, the friendships we have and used to have, and how that’s changed. Even the thoughts we think.”
With this in mind, he found the courage to continue to embrace change and find room for growth. He returned to Dallas in early March to release the upcoming album from his hometown.
“I definitely think it’s gonna be a very different sound to be coming out of Dallas,” Fields says. “Me being from the South living in the West made me more fly — like Southwest Airlines.”
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