With the rise of mainstream’s top headlining acts Bakersfield resident Danny Wayne appears to be hidden in the storm of POP-ularity with the likes of Weezy, Rozay, Breezy, and others. But there’s much we do not know about the award winning Rap Artist who was the first to be chosen to lend his pen and gain noticeable acclaim for Tyler Perry film productions “Madea’s Big Happy Family” and “For Colored Girls”. Come with us as GB’s correspondent Serenada’sPen steps into this California native’s world and unearths his beginnings, successes, and unexpected drop out of sight during what seemed to be the most exciting and promising time of his career.
GB: Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us Danny. It’s not every day we meet one of the music aficionados on the soundtracks of Tyler Perry’s films. Quite Exciting! We’ll discuss more on the topic in a bit. First can you share what it was like growing up in your neighborhood?
DW: My paps moved us from Compton to Bakersfield when I was 8 with hopes to escape LA’s climaxing gang culture which took the lives of his nephews. But after we moved we quickly found out this gang problem was a California problem not an LA problem. I was raised on N St. the west side of Bakersfield and like any other ghetto there were drugs, murder, banging, and all the above. My pops sheltered as long as he could even though he was selling drugs and scamming. He was on that “do what I say and not what I do” type of thing, but the popular culture of my city was a heavy influence so it wasn’t long before I was selling drugs, carrying guns, and keeping it from my parents. I was a follower trying to prove myself until I fell in love with music. This cat from my city with the biggest dope run in the town was starting a group called PAC gangstas and he took interest in me. It’s crazy because he was like my paps too. He sold dope but he didn’t want me to. He would be cooking dope in his kitchen and at the same time telling me not to and that my rapping will take us all out of this. He was a G in my city, respected by all gangs, and I was his boy so all sides showed me love. The downside to all gangs liking you is if you give an event they all want to come and that wouldn’t work. On July 27, 2002 I married my high school girlfriend and we were soon to find this out the hard way. Cats from different sides showed up. There was a shooting there and a bridesmaid who was like a sister to me was killed at my wedding. It was a hard pill to swallow and left me reevaluating my life style and direction of my music.
GB: This is surely your tell-all to the world without a doubt. It’s nearly impossible to continue any further since you gave such a detailed and informative backdrop to where it all started… Much respect for sharing as much as did. But you gave a cliff-hanger for Readers to want to know what happened to make your life turn around after witnessing this life-changing event that ended the life of your loved-one. That’s where we will continue… How did music play a significant role in your upbringing?
DW: My paps passed this music thang down. He’s been playing and singing ever since I could remember. He still gets down. He got a Blue’s band called “Blue Mirror”. I played the drums in Junior high and a little bit of my freshman year in high school, but that and my thugging ambitions wasn’t mixing! My first performance was in the fifth grade. Me and my homie did Digital Underground’s ” Humpty Dance” hit in the school talent show. We killed it. We wore big noses and all.
GB: Are you a “one-man band” or part of a group?
DW: I’m doing my solo thing now but my foundation is a group called PAC NASHUN! I was signed to a minor label called Artist Finders which helped spread my wings and build a little but that’s a rap now, on good terms though.
GB: How is all your music business being handled now?
DW: I’m handling it myself for now under the consultation of a few heavy hitters I’m connected to. Well with the help of social media it’s a lot easier to get out there with the right moves. It’s like I’m going back to school to get my Masters. I’m studying the new way things are being done. I sold 50,000 CDs out the trunk of my car getting money, which was cool but I missed out on a lot of this computer world. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. My tangible people skills are way up thanks to a real ground game, and the way you can be reshaped, and represented as an artist so fast thru the smoke and mirrors of social media. My minor pitfalls will not stop me unless I let it!
GB: I definitely sense an entrepreneurial aspect to your hustle as well as technical. 50,000 is Ah-maze-ing for someone doing it on his own! By the way are you handling all this on your own?
DW: My street team is deep and still growing. Front and center just to name a few you got Kendolks, Arjune Dee, and a lot more because we sell our music out the trunk and when people can get paid they wit it, so we straight.
GB: Normally I ask straight up to detail any wild or crazy happenings behind the scenes during tours or mega-watt shows and then I meet you and your story is nonetheless fascinating and awe-inspiring. Can you share it with everyone?
DW: Well me and my Brother-In-Law prayed in the morning for a recording studio. In the morning and by nightfall we went selling CD’s in a parking lot and a lady walks up to us and says God told her she was going to meet someone that does music and she was told to bless them. She bought all the CD’s we had then gave us $2,700 to start our own studio up.
GB: Absolutely Jaw-dropping your story…So how does it feel being master of your own domain?
DW: It’s a beautiful thing doing an authentic Danny Wayne album. No worries! I’m free now, the only time I had other influences was on a label!
GB: For listeners who have never heard your music before how can you describe it to them?
DW: I like to talk about everything but when you hear Danny Wayne you’ll hear my faith, you’ll hear my hurt, my humility, storytelling from personal experience, a cocky battle rapper, encouragement thru melodies, and anger. As cliche as it sounds I got the GUMBO. The only difference in this ghetto story is that it’s my story and it will musically sound better than when I tell it. I want the chill bumps on my listener’s arms every time they listen to me!
GB: Your devotion to your faith has a strong foundation in your life. Do you think it has anything to do with your relevancy or irrelevancy in mainstream rap music?
DW: My faith in Jesus and my walk is everything to me. I get persecuted for it but I’m up for the challenge and will be relevant.
GB: In 2011 when your second LP Melody released, as an artist it’s just natural to bring as much awareness to a new release as possible to create a major buzz. Your promotions and social media interactions show exactly that, but it abruptly stopped which stirs the question, what happened?
DW: Well, put it like this. I was on a ride that was taking me places that I would not have been able to go without the drivers that took me. I didn’t agree with all the moves but it is what it is now. I’m on a “fresh start” before being on a label. I just wanted my music to sound better than everybody elses and I wanted to sell it, hand over fist! But now that I know the pluses of having a team I’m looking forward to working with another one under different conditions.
GB: How can you describe the differences in approach with both LP’s Thin Line and Melody?
DW: Melody is self-explanatory. I love melodies but if we’re talking about my Thin Line album, I’m basically saying there is a “thin line” between every thing, not just love and hate. The songs are so different. On one side of the line I’m rapping, big balling on another, I’m down in the dumps trying to come up, and that flip side effect with different subjects are all thru that album.
GB: Which song from Melody do you feel the most sentiment towards?
DW: The song “Melody” because it was me reminding this structured industry that it’s the unorthodox artist that sets the trends so don’t let the “snapping fingers” style that payed label bills for the last eleven months blind you from spotting the next Michael Jackson on month 12.
GB: Now if you can let me pique at your brain, in the world according to Danny Wayne, what name would you give your style of music and who would be great to rock out with on stage?
DW: Well I don’t categorize it, but I know they will call it Hip-Hop by my positive take on things! If I was to name it, it would be “truth” music. I would love to work with anybody that loves to make music but if I could pick one I would love to make a heartfelt one with E-40.
GB: Every artist dreams of their “break-out” performance, the concert of all concerts, the creme de la creme. Describe to us what your dream show would be like if you can have it your way.
DW: At Madison Square Garden. I could see myself dressed down not too much but the audience would be wondering where did I get “those shoes and the hat” while singing along to one of my catchy hooks! The only thing I really put much thought in are my kicks and hat, nothing too wild though, just fly.
GB: There are many Artists who struggle to make sure their music reaches the hands of anyone they can convince to buy it. It’s a much harder task than it looks since you’re selling your name and brand. How hard has it been for you and your street team to gain exposure and at least create a dint in your sales?
DW: I had a cell phone shop in the hood and we would get some of every type of problem and person that came thru those doors and those interactions shaped my people skills and sales. Selling CD’s was nothing and another thing that tuned my sales pitch up was my first hustle trip to New York where I encountered the most blunt people I’ve ever met in my life. You gotta be good if you want to sell them something, so we were forced to step it up. That was our only way to eat. The horse was bucking but we held on!
GB: I guess the saying is true “if you can’t make it in New York you can’t make it anywhere” just by your account. We see from your experiences that just “selling” is a challenge but what about on the home front. Are you widely received or experience animosity from your contemporaries in the game?
DW: A little bit of both. I know I’m a threat because I do positive music that the goons and the crooks can relate to. My competitors probably would prefer me to have this geeky crowd following me, but I was never the geek. I just honestly admit every thing I was taught to look up to was a lie and I don’t point fingers at anyone but me. That show can fit a lot of people that listen to my music!
GB: Just to give everyone the 411, “geeky” in this context means someone who doesn’t keep up with what’s happening in the music world. Not on top of their game. Learned a new term with you Danny! So if “geeky” means someone who is out of the loop of what’s going on around them spare us from being geeks. What is it about the music industry many of us are misinformed or not 100% clear about?
DW: How much really goes into being an artist. I mean you gotta live this thing! I’ve made so many sacrifices to where it’s too late to turn around now. I got friends that said the hell with this music and went back to school, got good jobs, and all that. My mind doubts sometimes. I think to myself should I have done the same? I’m human but thru prayer and hard work my eyes remain on the prize!
GB: Okay let’s talk about more exciting news now since you’ve made headway with work you’ve done. I learned that you’ve worked with 5x Grammy nominee contemporary R&B singer, song-writer, and producer Miguel. Tell us every last detail of your meeting and the magic ya’ll created together with your hit single Send Me A Picture!
DW: My former label hooked us up! My first time meeting him was recording at Paramount Studios. It was an honor to be in the room with him, we vibed super cool. He thought of the whole concept [of the song] and later I added the rap. Originally I wasn’t on it. That song was supposed to be on a Tyler Perry movie [" Madea's Big Happy Family"] and ended up not being in it. My manager had me drop a verse on it and they ran with it.
GB: Your accomplishments are nothing too short of exemplary and extraordinary considering the statement in your local community’s publication Bakotopia:
“Wayne has the proud distinction of being the only rapper to ever be chosen to participate on a Tyler Perry film soundtrack.” -Matt Munoz.
With your chosen work ["Thru The Roof"] you’ve literally made history with a ground-breaking African American film maker with an expanding rising empire! Then you were chosen a 2nd time to feature [Alone In My Room] on another Tyler Perry film soundtrack, For Colored Girls! There was mad respect for you to have your work requested again., which still leads us to this one underlining point. Miguel is taking off with his career, Kendrick Lamar who also appears to have worked with you is doing the same, then there’s you with your last claim to fame, Melody. It didn’t take off with the same strength and intensity as their albums. Do you feel discouraged for not receiving the same shine as these guys when you’ve worked so hard?
DW: Naw I don’t feel discouraged because those guys earned their success. And my label was just trying to piggy back me on their success. I will see Miguel again and it will be gravy. He knows I was a small fry in all those dealings that went on. And when me and Kendrick finally meet it’s gonna be magic if somebody aint already salted me off by saying it’s named ‘ DannyWayne’ out there, falsely claiming to working with you.
GB: Awesome. So what inspires you about R&B and Hip Hop and what artists do you enjoy listening to?
DW: The soul in it, the slave blood that still runs through Hip-Hop and R&B veins! I listen to 90′s [music] and mainly New Edition and Bobby Womack.
GB: This has been amazing getting to know the makings of your mind scape. Thank you for your time and if you can help wrap this up with me, what is your biggest goal to achieve this year 2013 and how can everyone keep up with the Latest and Greatest?
DW: My Biggest Goal to achieve this year will be my new album. Facebook and Twitter: DannyWayne1000
For MORE on this “Artist on the Rise” check out Serenada’sPen Bloggerview with Danny Wayne at The Real Profiles Of Rising Artistic Icons as well as other rising stars she’s covered! http://FamousByNature.blogspot.com