DeAngelo Belcher: “Being yourself is important”

Society needs to stop holding rappers to this gangster status, there’s more to it than that. Labels and curators need to start supporting rappers who have other niches, and people need to get off social media and live their own lives and stop motivating all this ignorance. As part of my series about leaders helping […]

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Society needs to stop holding rappers to this gangster status, there’s more to it than that. Labels and curators need to start supporting rappers who have other niches, and people need to get off social media and live their own lives and stop motivating all this ignorance.

As part of my series about leaders helping to make the entertainment industry more diverse and representative, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing DeAngelo Belcher, known as D’Mangelo, who grew up listening to music from all over the country; East Coast, West Coast, Down South, and Mid West. In his words, “If it’s good, it’s good.” These influences throughout his childhood into adult life have shaped DeAngelo into the artist he is today, with his music exploring multiple genres and styles. His sound is a unique blend of his inspirations, and the lyricism he presents is satirical yet unapologetic. D’Mangelo’s brand is hip hop with a gangster twist, providing his perspective as a black male in the U.S. and showcasing all of the challenges he and others face on a day-to-day basis.

As an artist with highly political messages, D’Mangelo gives his true view on current policies, side-stepping any bias to either political party. While his music has certain motivations and lectures, “Music is fun and it’s serious business, but at the end of the day it’s just my opinions backed by great productions.” Outside of music, DeAngelo enjoys to travel, be out on the water, and fine dining.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have always loved music. It’s like this internal passion, somewhat of a heartbeat one may say. For me, music is life. It may have started out as a way to escape poverty, and perhaps a way to pass the time, a pleasing distraction from a less appealing reality. However, in the end music has become my purpose. You do sometimes so long you just become good at it. I’m sure when LeBron James was playing in high school he dreamt of the NBA. Look at what he has become, he is the best basketball player of all time, not just because of the level at which he places the game, but because of the purpose he secures and represents.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

A long while back I showed up to an event to meet a woman at café iguana’s in Tampa, Florida. Upon arriving at the event I found out that Rick Ross would be performing that evening. This was during the time when Rick Ross was on his way up, and he was moving fast. My original plan was to sneak a bottle in the event, ask for ice and cranberry juice, and commence to getting drunk with the beautiful woman I met earlier that week.

I always kept a bottle of liquor in my trunk. I slip the bottle of Grey Goose in my jeans, and proceed to the entrance. “They are patting people down hard core at the door.” The security guard pats me down and grabs the bottle and says, “what the f**k do you think you’re doing?”

I panicked, I told the guard I was Rick Ross’s barber and needed to cut his beard before he would do the show.

Without missing a beat, the guard said, “you should have come in from the back entrance I think they’ve been waiting on you.” He gives me a pass to put on and walks me to the back of the open arena behind the stage. I heard the girl I was supposed to meet calling my name as I was being walked back, but kept facing forward and ghosted her, visually and telephonically.

At the time Rick Ross had this tall bodyguard. He let me up on stage and I got to stand on stage 10 feet from Rick Ross as he performed all his hits. With a clear plastic cup and a bottle of grey goose.

That same tall ass security guard would put me in a choke hold later that evening, but that’s another story.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

On a particular occasion I was asked to do a verse on a song with another up-and-coming rapper. That individual told me he would give me the production, and he would even do a verse on the song, and he will do all of this for free. For me, it seemed like a win-win situation. I would be getting a beat from a somewhat non-producer, and getting a verse from an artist with more traction in the game and I had.

The beat was this fun bouncy OXY trippy type of production. So, I did the verses, sent it back, and waited for the email to come with the finished product.

About a month goes by, finally, I get the email, the song has come back. The level of mess up is unbelievable. The other artist changed the production to an entirely different beat with a darker feel. The other artist producer turned my vocals down very low, and took several jabs at me in the song.

What I learned was to always keep control, to not be trusting of individuals in this music industry, and to show up for a fight in every feature.

Ok thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our discussion. Can you describe how you are helping to make popular culture more representative of the US population?

I feel like when it comes to rap, my system is a personal thing with old-school / new school. Of course, every generation is going to feel like they’re the best. While I identify and appreciate

earlier hip-hop artists, I feel that the newer artists also bring much to the table. Without analysis, some would think that new music is empty and lifeless, nothing more than over auto-tuned hypnotic spurts of vanity and self-destruction.

However, when I listen to newer music I can see the representation of emotion,

self-actualization, and polarization of the environment. The problem with music is everybody thinks that they’re right, and they are. If you can bring to life what you believe, does that not make it reality.

The issue here is an oversaturation of one type of rap, when in reality there are several types, having a diversified portfolio of music, will enhance a diversified mindset. My position is to make music that is a representation of my belief system, not necessarily industry standard.

Wow! Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by the work you are doing?

I believe that several individuals are impacted by the type of music that he makes. My goal is to enrich the musical process. While I have no problem being vulgar and cryptic, I feel my true essence is looking at life, politics, relationships etc. objectively. To make music without self gratification from a viewpoint that is utilitarian puts you in a mindset of reaching the top part of the listener. In the words of my favorite battle rapper ( Loaded Lux ) “You gone get this work.”

As an insider, this might be obvious to you, but I think it’s instructive to articulate this for the public who might not have the same inside knowledge. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why it’s really important to have diversity represented in Entertainment and its potential effects on our culture?

I feel that is an excellent question. Perception, inclusion, and illusion. Without having diversity and entertainment, the status quo becomes the perception of what is acceptable, does one have to be a gangster to be a rapper? Playing gangster can get you killed.

That perception causes inclusion. I feel that a lot of rappers try to assimilate to the industry standard. That forced assimilation restricts the creativity artist trying to look up the status quo. There are many great songs left on the table because a label or an artist fears it will not be accepted and it may hurt or end their career.

And all of that feeds the illusion of what hip hop is. Most of these artists have never shot a gun, sold drugs, or remotely done any of the things that they talk about. Of-course there is a small percentage that are true to what they speak, but new hip-hop is flawed and fantasy. Will always be good music among the rubbish, you just have to dig for it.

Can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do to help address the root of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?

Society needs to stop holding rappers to this gangster status, there’s more to it than that. Labels and curators need to start supporting rappers who have other niches, and people need to get off social media and live their own lives and stop motivating all this ignorance.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I believe leadership is understanding, went to lead and went to follow. A person needs to be able to set their ego to the side and make the best decision for the team. A great example would be Dwyane Wade taking a reduced salary to bring LeBron James to the Miami Heat.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Being yourself is important -Be yourself because people will hate you regardless. Don’t live beyond your means — Don’t spend all your money for the flex.

Keep your credit in check — Money will not always buy you everything. Don’t judge the book by its cover — Looks can be deceiving.

Enjoy the small things — Don’t lose sight of what’s important as you pursue destiny.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I feel people need to be comfortable with themselves. Take your headphones off and have a conversation, live beyond anxiety.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Muhammad Ali. “Float like a butterfly sting like a bee”. In life you were always faced with the choices. You don’t need to be aggressive every time. You can be cool, calm, collective, sting like a bee only when necessary.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to have lunch with Barack Obama, or LeBron James. I would just love to feel the radiation from their greatness. I would love to understand their fears and motivations.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@therealmangelo for all social media platforms and they are all listed on website,

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

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