Visually inclined and astute to his surroundings, Delly has always been involved in the creative arts. As early as 6 years old, the Harlem native found himself immersed amongst music and art – all from vastly different channels of influence. As an individual capable of playing upwards of 10 instruments, it isn’t a shock to those around him to see his success. The bewildering portion of this story is the methods Delly took to obtain a solidified career in music.
Through the speakers of a Facetime call, Delly explained the inception of his career with a sense of introspective thought that only one with years of deep-thinking could harbor. “I had a very bounce-around childhood. I was enrolled in a school for the arts as a child, and that’s where I was formally introduced to all these different instruments. Before that, I learned how to play djembe from my extensive time spent with my grandmother at her African dance class. It was there that I learned to play bongo, djembe and lots of other types of African instruments,” he explains.
While his cultural influences might be vastly different than most, it wasn’t strange for an adolescent version of Delly to immerse himself in the music realm. This portion of his life was introduced at such a young age, it’s truly all he’s ever known. From his experiences playing alongside 30-somethings, to absorbing the importance of his heritage, the love and passion for the craft is coursing through his veins.
“My grandfather was Muslim. He played a significant role in my knowledge of Black Empowerment and my heritage. My grandmother was largely influential as well. As a baby, I’d be in a stroller next to these incredible instruments. My mindset was centered around knowing that as soon as I could, I’d be playing them,” explained Delly.
As someone who clearly invested large portions of his early life in realm of music and culture, Delly’s influences are as unique as his come-up. “I grew up on everything from the All American Rejects to Slipknot,” Delly reminds me. “I wasn’t even interested in Hip-Hop until I was around 13 years old. Even then, I felt like I couldn’t relate to the content.”
The lifestyle of Hip-Hop might have not resonated with Delly, but the music his mother played around the house most definitely did. Explaining his earliest memories of Hip-Hop, Delly explained his understanding in great detail. “She had Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ from 50 playing all the time. I can remember listening to that and others like Ludacris’ Chicken-n-Beer. Other than that, I wasn’t keen on the game. I was more so listening to acts like Marshmello and Skrillex as I got older.”
Currently, Hip-Hop and EDM are intertwined regularly with talented acts like A$AP Rocky collaborating with Skrillex. It didn’t always start this way. “I really enjoyed the energy brought from the production of EDM. It reminded me of that same high-octane energy brought from guys like Slipknot,” explained Delly.
As Delly grew, so did his influences. While he might have not immersed himself in Hip-Hop at an early age, he was privy to the impact the music had on his friends and family. Reminiscing on the past, Delly explained why he didn’t necessarily have to love a song to respect it.
“I appreciate passion more than the quality of the lyrics alone. There’s a lot of times where I may not even like something, but I can appreciate it because I know it came from a place of actual hard work.”
Humbled by those around him, Delly’s thirst for knowledge resonated through the speakers of my iPhone. It’s also the reason his love for culture and arts are exponentially greater than that of his cohorts. Today, Delly remains constant in his approach. The same child singing in the Harlem Boys choir, and dancing professionally is now taking on the enigma that is the Hip-Hop industry. His background and influences will be the reason he succeeds.
As a visually inclined learner, the artistic inspirations of Delly were always contributing to his outlook on life. Whether it comes in the form of cinema, gallery art or fashion, the message of well crafted art is what inspires him the most. The love for fashion is due in part from his father’s brand, Ferg 54. Alongside this, studying music theory at various art schools helped mold Delly’s comprehension of music both technically and spiritually speaking. Delly refused to let his passion slip away from him, even if that meant turning down a successful career as an A&R at VFiles.
“That portion of my life was really tough, man. While VFiles was where I worked and even got my first distribution deal, I knew I didn’t have time for both professionally,” he explained. The two tracks released with VFiles were ‘First Love’ and ‘Cross My Mind.’
At a crossroads professionally and musically, the foundation of his music was starting to mold beneath the soles of his feet. It was time to take a risk. Understanding time is incredibly precious, Delly painfully made the decision abandon his Bioengineering Degree at Binghamton University, and an internship at VFiles, to pursue his true passion – music. This was right around the time he was releasing his second song – ‘Cross My Mind.’
While the switch in careers would bring on new stress, it also brought a sense of confidence in his abilities that he was unsure of originally. “Man, I was at a crossroads of deciding what music I even wanted to pursue. I ended up making a record, ’99 Camaro,’ that made me understand I didn’t need to choose between the style of music I wanted to make. Whether that be the traditional singer/songwriter path or my voice in rapping, labels weren’t needed,” Delly reiterated.
With newfound confidence, it was time for his feet to clamp down on the gas. As he explained in great detail, most of his inspiration was coming from sources of music and visual art. From Pharrell Williams to Quentin Tarantino, the varied loved of art is consistently churning in his mind.
“Quentin Tarantino is an animal. The way he portrays messaging and art direction within his films is gripping. My favorite one has to be Natural Born Killers. I just watched that shit for the first time the other day, and it was beautiful. Inglorious Bastards is another one I have to mention,” Delly explains with a few laughs.
As the conversation drifted towards his future aspirations, he reminded me that at the end of the day, all he wants is to impact the industry in a positive manner. The same kid who was blasting the All-American Rejects is now focused on a broader goal of helping give back to those who raised him. Whether this be in the shape of his artistic endeavors or just plain teaching, knowledge is the source of all things to Delly.
“Knowledge knows no age and knows no bounds. I have this 6 year old on the block, and whenever the new iPhone drops – he’s the one I’m running to. Ray Ray always has the knowledge on the new tech. (Laughs) I have a thirst and quest for knowledge that knows no bounds,” Delly reiterates.
As this trait might be dying in the industry, the coherent reminder that pride always comes before the fall is quite refreshing. Focused on making an impact, it all comes back towards the method of approach for Delly. As someone who is 21 years old, the wisdom and mindset Delly is not only a rarity, but something our current generation seems to overlook.
“Aside from music, I just want to use my platform to benefit those around me. It should be cool to know where your City Council is located, or how to be involved in local politics. It just isn’t advertised to the youth in that manner. If we strive towards these things as opposed to fame, the retention rate of the music will only grow,” he reminds me.
In a sea filled with industry plants and fabricated origins, Delly stands out amongst the pack. As many in the game refuse to focus on underlying issues of society, Delly confidently walks a different direction. In that way, there is no better comparison than that of Quentin Tarantino.
Unapologetically himself, and focused on building a career through visual messages, Delly seems destined for greatness. Stream his latest release, ‘Silk City’ below! Follow him on Instagram and Spotify for news on his latest drops.