It’s only a few years old and hasn’t always been a serious one, but the rap career of Pittsburgh emcee/producer Devin Miles is starting to take full stride and is, itself, the epitome of the Steel City Hip Hop scene in the last five years.
Near the release of his second project This is How I Live, Miles says he believes that Pittsburgh Hip Hop is way more than just a two artist circus.
“I think honestly that we are a powerhouse in the country as far as Hip Hop (is concerned),” Miles said. “I think that we’re a heavy contender in Pittsburgh and I’m actually really proud of the movement and the fact that everybody from the city is making moves and trying to succeed and while they’re doing that, they’re putting on for our city.”
“I plan on separating myself solely on the fact that you’ll be able to draw no comparison because we’re really creating a sound,” Miles said.
PaulMeara.com recently caught up with the Pittsburgh up-and-comer as we discussed new his new project, how he got to where he is, Pittsburgh Hip Hop and more.
What made you want to do Hip Hop and what is the whole story behind Devin Miles as an artist?
Devin Miles: What made me get into Hip Hop was actually my brother because back when I was younger, maybe about 10 or 11, he was freestylin’ and he really took it seriously but whenever I got to see him do it, I was like, “that’s pretty tight.” I could see those who were like 12 or 13 recording little personal rhymes from those little bootleg PC mics and stuff and I would just record it, play it back and then I got into beat-making because I’ve always loved to produce and I started to produce probably when I was around 14 and I made beats until I was like 17. I got to engineer. I got to work with Big Germ and E. Dan down at ID Labs and I did some time down there working as an engineer and I was still rapping at the time but I wasn’t really taking it seriously. I just kept making some music and then Zeke, my manager, he was like, “I think it’s time to take it to the world,” and I was like, “let’s go.” I dropped my first project last year, which was Finding My Own and after that, I’ve just been on it.
A lot of these young artists want to be producers as well and it’s interesting that you bring that up. How serious are you on the producing tip?
Devin Miles: I’m actually very serious on it. I took a break for a while cause I wanted to focus on rapping and using other producers but recently I started to get back on it heavy because on my future project, I’m gonna have a lot of dope production on it and I take a lot of inspiration from Big K.R.I.T. cause he’s dope at producing everything and he’s one of my favorite artists.
When was that moment that you knew that you wanted to do Hip Hop and make it your future?
Devin Miles: It was probably my freshman year in high school, I was like 15 and I met up with a fellow member in the RLES Society Jo Christo and he was one of my good friends in high school and him and I were just making music when we were freshman and we were at my house one day making beats and stuff like that and we just thought this was the greatest thing we could ever do and it’s the only thing we ever wanted to do. All our friends would go out and be reckless and stuff like that and we would just be there with a total satisfaction in making records like he would make them, I would make them and really then I was like, “this is what I wanna do.” I’ve always played music, I played piano and guitar since I was like five so I’ve always loved it and I always knew I was going to do something in it cause nothing else really interested me. Hip Hop, I just few to love it over time ever since I was young because of my brother and I owe him a lot, not just from when I was younger but definitely in high school and I didn’t even take it seriously but I knew the time would come and that’s what it felt like. I’ve loved it way back and it helped me want to produce.
There are a lot of rappers out there because technology has been able to give basically anyone an outlet. How are you trying to compete with the next guy when there are so many to choose from?
Devin Miles: First and foremost I plan on doing this strictly off the music I’m gonna make. I’ve got some crazy things going on. As you know, I’m one third of The University, they’ve produced for J. Cole and me and them have a project coming out next that’s solely produced by them and myself and it’s on some music you’ve never heard before. I plan on separating myself solely on the fact that you’ll be able to draw no comparison because we’re really creating a sound. And of course, I’m trying to stay more visual and get more interactive with my fan base so they can get more and see me more and that’s where I feel I’ve been lacking. That’s important because they can see what’s going on and they can be a part of my growth because I wouldn’t grow without them.
Pittsburgh is becoming more and more involved with the national Hip Hop scene (Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa, etc.) and you’re trying to be a part of that. What are your thoughts about the Hip Hop scene in the Steel City?
Devin Miles: I think honestly that we are a powerhouse in the country as far as Hip Hop (is concerned). We have some of the dopest spitters. We obviously have Mac, we Obviously have Wiz but we have a lot of great underground talent. We’ve got a lot of dope producers here, a lot of kids that I know who are younger who have a lot of raw talent and they’ll be able to grow and continue on and of course there’s the Come Up Boys, shout out to them, Vinnie and Franchise. They make great music. Shout out to Beedie and the Varsity Squad, Jon Quest, we’re all making huge strives and I think that we’re a heavy contender in Pittsburgh and I’m actually really proud of the movement and the fact that everybody from the city is making moves and trying to succeed and while they’re doing that, they’re putting on for our city, which is great, ya know?
This is How I Live just dropped. Tell me about the project and what you’re expecting as far as reaction is concerned?
Devin Miles: I feel good about this actually. This is definitely some of my favorite music I’ve made and my fans who’ve heard Finding My Own are definitely going to realize my growth in my music and they’re gonna feel more in one with me because my sole purpose is, if I could touch one soul out there, I feel like my goal is accomplished and I could see that off of Finding My Own because that was a deeper project and people said that they felt me and I hope that they can continue to grow with me so that those people can realize my growth and what’s going on right now and the newer fans that have hopped on, they’re definitely gonna like the music because it covers a whole wide variety of everything, every level possible. We’ve actually got some videos coming out, we’ve got some good promo coming out. I really think it’s gonna do real well.
- Paul Meara