Pontiac, Mich. rapper, YouTube personality, and label owner DDG, born Darryl Granberry Jr., loves his hometown but was still focused on getting out into the wide world.
“I did all the stuff I needed to do to not be involved in [anything] bad in Pontiac, he tells Hip-Hop Wired. “I stayed in school, got my grades right. I was actually valedictorian in high school, that’s why I call the project Valedictorian.”
The project DDG mentions would be his just-released debut album, Valedictiorian. It’s available on Epic Records and his own DDG Entertainment imprint—a partnership, which means the 22-year-old also owns his masters.
Although DDG only made it to his sophomore year at Central Michigan University, don’t shed any tears thinking he needed this music thing to pop off because his college career didn’t work out. Thanks to a pair of YouTube channels, created while he was a still a student, DDG was banking in a month what some people get for a year’s work. A move to Los Angles and some power moves later, the title of certified rapper and singer are now firmly etched in his CV.
“I was doing little diss tracks on YouTube, but they was hitting millions and millions of views,” explains DDG (a jab at Lil Yachty did big numbers—like, 12M views to this day). “People really liked my sound, they liked the music I can make. So I decided I wanted to make real music. I came to realize it’s one of the hardest transitions to come from YouTube and do music because people automatically be like, ‘You’re just a creator, you’re not supposed to be making music.’ People try to typecast you. But you can’t deny good music.”
DDG has been delivering quality tunes which have also steadily been amassing ridiculous YouTube views for their accompanying visuals. To effectively pinpoint the switch from YouTube personality to becoming a proper artist, it was DDG linking with Famous Dex for “Lettuce” a couple of years ago.
“That was my first song after the diss track wave,” says DDG. “I was like I need to make some real music because I know that if I just drop a song, people are not going to take it serious. ‘Ahh, another dude off the Internet trying to make music.’ I got the feature, it hit, and it got like 400,000 views in an hour.”
DDG posted “Lettuce” on his own page, but Worldstar came calling and boosted its signal. More songs and videos, including “Givenchy,” followed but an R&B-flavored joint called “Arguments” is what secured the bag as far as labels looking to partner up.
He says, “I was glad because I completed my whole plan, which was to show that I’m versatile—I can sing and rap. And my first R&B song went super viral. That’s when the deal came and when everything got set off.”
Now Valedictorian is available everywhere, and DDG is still maintaining revenue streams most rappers can only imagine.
“I don’t promote my YouTube channel, I promote my music. Cause people can listen to me and then they find out I do YouTube, all of a sudden they get attached,” says DDG “That’s how you fall in love with me as a person.”
He continues, “These days it’s all about the people liking you. Your music gotta be fire. A lot of people in this world can make fire music, but if you ain’t got no personality, people don’t really attach to you, relate to you, then it’s really not going to stick.”
Expect DDG to hang around for a long while. Peep his latest video for “Push” below.
Photo: Bernard “Beanz” Smalls