Big beats and bars are pushing an emcee from the background to the limelight; SwellzTheGod, a wordsmith from Newport News is making waves online with his tape Channeling Swellz.
The project sits at 12 diverse tracks that give a deeper understanding of Devaughn Gaskins a.k.a SwellzTheGod as a writer and solo artist.
“Channeling Swellz is getting the feel for who I am, you can’t really see but can feel me. You’re like channeling who I am by listening to each song,” said Gaskins in an interview with RVAMag. Channeling Swellz was released February 3rd via SoundCloud and in this short time has amassed hundreds of play-through listens.
From “Basics” [Prod. by Prince Mathis] to the track “Peep Game” (feat. HANZ) [Prod. by Flow], the project shares some diversity in sound ranging from old-school samples to bass-heavy party joints. The project also features a diverse array of talent from the 757 Hip Hop community like Rob V, Yung IV, Flow, Ellis Quinn and Boris The Lucid (the audio engineer and producer that mixed and mastered the tape).
Channeling Swellz makes use of an authentic concept of ‘sharing-self’ while cohesively bring together sounds and artists from all over the Hip Hop spectrum.
“I definitely started with my friends in this- it was all a joke at first. We started getting a little bit of attention and started to take it serious,” said Gaskins. “That’s how [it all] started.”
SwellzTheGod represents ShoelaceGang (aka SLG) proudly- he attributes his showmanship and growing skills as an independent artist to his coming-up with this collective.
“Before we formed SLG our name was SLGTDRSGTFULML we used to make beats and videos,” explained the emcee. “We would be in the cold acting like we were hard… we were young. Remember OFWGKTA? It was something like that.”
Gaskins, like many other independent artists in VA, has made the most of a support system that has come together organically. Especially for a region as prolific as the 757 in Hip Hop, it makes sense to link and create waves of influence: “[The music scene has] been going up like crazy… It’s a whole wave. There is more of a trap vibe but there are several different vibes… Music has taken me so far; it has definitely taken me out of my shell. I was a lot more nervous before I dropped my first song. I want to keep working on my bars and perfecting my craft.”
Artists like D.R.A.M, Pharrell, Missy Elliot and Pusha T all hail from Virginia, specifically the southern VA regions. What does this mean for up and coming artists?
“It means a lot, like think of Chris Brown. It’s great, it’s crazy to put on for the 75. Everyone does what they love,” he said. The energy emanating from this region is important to watch as many of these artists are stockpiling street recognition as well as internet notoriety.
Overall, Channeling Swellz is a strong start to a hopefully long career from SwellzTheGod.
“If we didn’t have music I don’t know what we would have. What would life be without music?” he said. “If I could sit in the studio and listen to dope beats all day I would. The point of my tape is ‘I’m out now’. I’m here making music.”
Words by Tico Noise