Devin Hailey: “Never limit yourself to one genre or one idea”

Plain and simple be creative challenge yourself and color outside the lines. Never limit yourself to one genre or one idea. Your mind is an endless pit of creativity you just have to tap into it. Always recreate yourself. As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of […]

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Plain and simple be creative challenge yourself and color outside the lines. Never limit yourself to one genre or one idea. Your mind is an endless pit of creativity you just have to tap into it. Always recreate yourself.

As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Devin Hailey.

As the son of R&B icon K-Ci and nephew to the legendary JoJo Hailey, Devin holds the torch high in dynamic furtherance of the level of artistry that has come out of the JT Entertainment label this year. With JoJo Hailey kicking off a remarkable string of releases by the Hailey family in early 2020, Devin follows his uncle and his two cousins Sakoya Wynter and Kayla Tiffany with his late summertime hit “Kick it 2 U”. Devin describes the track as an organic arrangement that was born of a studio session he didn’t even think he’d be at. Alongside artists and trusted collaborators Mike Smoov and Blaq Rose, Devin felt the inspiration for “Kick it” after what was a very difficult day for his family. Having experienced a loved one’s passing earlier that day, Devin had no idea he’d be channeling his restless and emotional energy into a song about romance and love.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Well I was born in Nyack, NY and I lived there until I was 10 then me and my mom moved to Bethlehem, PA now I’ve been in Maryland for about 5 years. My upbringing was pretty standard. In NY I would hang with the kids on the block they were all older than me so i think that plays a significant role in my competitive spirit when it comes to rapping. When i got to PA it was a little different though I didn’t have many friends to start so i had alot of time to myself and thats really when I got serious about music. I was always a creative kid I loved action figures haha I pride myself on having a good imagination. I’d like to think that transcends through my music.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Oh man well it really stemmed from seeing my uncle and my dad on TV and hearing them on the radio. I had no idea of what i wanted to do or the talent i possess i just knew I wanted to do something in music. So when i was about 7 or 8 years old everybody on my block started rapping because that was just the cool thing to do as a kid in NY. Either that or sports and im no athlete haha. They never let me rap though and that bothered me. It actually pissed me off if I’m allowed to say that here. So from there i just focused on my craft. My mom bought me A boombox with a built in microphone and the rest is history. The first time I ever heard my voice recorded was at 8 years old. From there i knew exactly what i wanted to do.

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

As far as interesting personally for me it would be the first time I got to perform with my uncle and my dad in The Bronx NY. It was so crazy being on the Big stage and it just felt right. I wasn’t nervous or anything. It was perfect. As far as a spicy story i can remember traveling for hours to go do a show in a small town in PA and not getting paid. Every due ive paid thus far has somewhat of an interesting story attached to it. I embrace it all. It’s a journey.

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?

Well I don’t write my lyrics on paper I do it all in my head haha. Once some of my favorite artists revealed that that’s what they do i thought I had to do it to be great like them. Now it’s cool to watch and its a good exercise for your brain but if i could go back id tell myself to keep writing. Simply for convenience purposes. However I love the challenge of having to keep my mind right so I can remember all those words. I find genuine enjoyment in it. I wouldn’t advise any other artists to do it though its a lot of work.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Well all my focus is on “Kick It 2 U” and the JTEntertainment brand. This year we released so much material all independent using our own resources and our own network of people. This is a family and some things just can’t be solicited. All our artists are currently streaming on all platforms and this is just the beginning.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Well with different ethnicity comes different personalities and ideologies. I think it’s a great time in our culture right now for people from all walks of life to get a slice of the pie. We have black owned movie studios black owned record labels and more. We’ve seen a massive influx of women coming into their own and breaking down barriers and that’s all vital to keeping this thing we call art alive.

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

Oh man lets see.. I wish someone told me to work harder. I remember when I rap battled a guy on the college campus back in like 2009 haha. At that point I thought i was the best underground rapper and losing that battle showed me that no matter how hard you work and how good you are there’s always someone working harder and to never let your guard down. That was a very humbling moment in my life and as futile and insignificant as it may seem i learned a lot that day. I think that’s probably the most important thing I’ve learned thus far and it came from such an unexpected source haha crazy how life works.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Plain and simple be creative challenge yourself and color outside the lines. Never limit yourself to one genre or one idea. Your mind is an endless pit of creativity you just have to tap into it. Always recreate yourself.

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. 🙂

Can love be a movement ? And not just love on a human to human level i mean love of the arts love of culture love of knowledge. Lets bring passion and pride back into our everyday lives. It doesn’t matter what or who you are if you’re a janitor love the work you do and take pride in it. I think somewhere we lost that in the constant pursuit of personal success. Success is a subjective idea. Take pride in your small successes and always work toward the bigger ones.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Hands down Uncle JoJo and Tiny. They really put the battery in my back and pushed me. I was always working and sharpening my blade but they came in and gave me a brand new sword. I can’t verbalize how much help they’ve given me. Just being in the environment they’ve created has enhanced my talent and skill. You can’t put a price on that.

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

My late grandfather Clarence Harris said “Know your limitations and the limitations of those around you therefore you will never be surprised.” That quote taught me to watch everybody and move accordingly. He passed that down to my mom and she passed it down to me.

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’ll give you two haha first it would have to be Dave Chappelle simply because i identify with his level of integrity. That’s missing today in a lot of people. And I’ll take Zendaya out to breakfast any day. You know us Hailey’s are the romantic type haha.

How can our readers follow you online?

IG/TWITTER: @Dhaileydirect

Youtube: Devin Hailey Music

Facebook: Devin Hailey Music

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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