Waltham-Bred Artist De-Bo w/ Strong African Roots Drops "De-Bo Season". Tap in for an Exclusive Q&A
"Watch City" Bred Artist De-Bo has been applying a lot of pressure. Beginning at age 12, De-Bo has been making hip-hop music for over a decade. With a mix of lyricism and melodic rhythms to represent his Ghanaian-American roots,, De-Bo is a versatile artist to watch out for. "De-Bo Season" available to stream now! We were fortunate enough to catch up with him to learn about who shaped him to have a creative mentality, who he aspires to and keeps him motivated, Boston Hip Hop/Culture and much more!
Boston Culture: Where are you from/grow up? How was that like?
De-Bo: I was raised and grew up in Waltham, MA (Watch City) with roots from Ghana, West Africa. Waltham allowed me to build my foundation. I discovered my love for music, met my best friends to this day, and learned life in my hometown, so I'm appreciative forever. Also, being from Ghana is what I feel gives me my flavor. My African roots make me different, and always allows me to see and learn life through a unique lens. Being raised in a Ghanaian household taught me my discipline, and showed me how to work hard for everything.
Boston Culture: How did you get your name?
De-Bo: My full name is Derrick Bonnah. Take the "De" from my first name, and the "Bo" from my last name, and you get "De-Bo". Got my name in the third grade from one of my teachers, thought it was super dope, and it stuck ever since. Boston Culture: Talk to us about "De-Bo Season" and "No Justice, No Peace"
De-Bo: "De-Bo Season" is my latest studio album that I just released on my 27th birthday (January 14). 2020 had been one of the most unbelievable years of life, so I considered this new album to be the coming of a new time, essentially a new season for me and for the world. With everything going on between the pandemic, personal battles, social issues going on in our culture, and so much more, it forced me to grow more as a man and as an artist. Never been more tapped in to myself, God, and the music! So to drop this right at the start of 2021, I feel refreshed and ready to show the world what I got! I'm proud to say this is my best work up to date. This also being the first studio album I got to fully record, mix, and master at Surefire Creative Studios made it a special project. Getting to work with the legends Shawn Caliber and Brendan Brady, in addition to my brother Munashe Mututu (Muna) and my blood brother Michael Bonnah (B.I.G. Mike Productions), made this one an instant classic.
"No Justice, No Peace" is truly the breakthrough record for me. It was the first single off of "De-Bo Season" and it was released on Juneteenth right after the tragic murder of George Floyd. As a black man in this country you have to suppress so much trauma while navigating through life. I can honestly say the George Floyd situation was my breaking point. This song allowed me to do my best to channel the pain and frustration of every African-American in the world as we continue to fight for equality and change. I truly just wanted to do my part. We then shot my favorite and my best music video in my home city of Waltham, MA. Blessings to the legends, HBZ Media (Zach Johnson), Media By Marvin (Marvin Sandoval), & Joe MacLean for believing in the vision. Special thank you to the city of Waltham as we utilized scenes from the unprecedented W.A.R (Waltham Against Racism) marches and rallies we had in our city. Best experience of my life. We made history! You either stand for something or you will fall for anything.
Boston Culture : What was the best advice you got early in your career?
De-Bo: Best advice I got early in my career was from my cousin Nana, and he told me to never quit. You'll never reach your destination if you give up and you will live in regret if you do. And that drives me to this day. Boston Culture: What do you dislike about the art world/music industry?
De-Bo: I dislike how the music industry is now strictly about numbers, money, and gimmicks. It's about who can sell and not necessarily who is the best or most talented. Hip-Hop has definitely gotten more watered down over time. I use this analogy a lot. The music industry reminds me of the food we eat, like nutritional value. It feels like mostly candy and junk food are the main things getting the backing because it sells quicker and it's cheaper, but it doesn't mean it's good for you. I'm trying to be like water. Like fruits and vegetables. My style speaks real truth and just like water and fruits/veggies you need that foundation to survive. The ones who transcend that, tend to last longer. Kinda like the people who try to eat well and invest in themselves. You feel me?
De-Bo: My biggest influences are God, my family, my friends, and all the people around me. I'm just a reflection of all the energy I've ever received. Special blessings to my girlfriend Nicole, who has stuck by me and has always been there. Artist-wise, major influences for me include artists like Drake, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Bob Marley, Barry White, Shatta Wale, Burna Boy, Muna & Blackway to name a few. I also vibe with R&B and Pop, so I appreciate artists like Michael Jackson, Usher, Chris Brown, Beyonce, Tinashe, Kehlani, Ashanti. etc. I'm influenced by such a blend of so many genres given my background, so I feel like I can never be boxed into one lane.
Boston Culture: Talks to us about your younger mentality.
De-Bo: My brother Muna and I started rapping and making music at the age of 13. We've been out here working for a long time now. Us starting early allowed us to see the game and learn so much about ourselves and others. We've lost former friends and family to this business, but in turn we've experienced things that other artists can only dream about. We got to perform at my alma mater of UMass Amherst, opening up for Logic, Tinashe, & Fetty Wap in front of thousands of people. I've been able to freestyle in front of Hopsin at his own show in Boston, and the crowd went crazy! All facts. To think he was jumping around in excitement and dapped me up afterwards and told me I was dope. Absolutely wild. Experiences like that have shaped us and allowed us to taste the fruits of our labor. Showed us anything is possible. So we keep the faith and keep focused. Got so much more to do.
Boston Culture : What do you think of the music scene in the State?
De-Bo: I love the scene here in MA and feel blessed to be a part of it. There are so many talented artists, producers, DJ's, videographers/photographers and platforms out here! So many creatives. I listen to more music from here than I do mainstream nowadays. It's actually wild how much talent there is from out here. Muna, Millyz, Joyner Lucas, Cousin Stizz, Gio Dee, Dtheflyest, BIA, Maye Star, Rosewood Bape, Latrell James, Smoke Bulga, Morvabelly, Shawn Caliber, Prince Smooth, Cash Gotti, Michael Christmas, Jefe Replay, Treva Holmes, UgoBoy & The Flourish Forever Team, Cakeswagg, Chelley Marie, Dutch Rebelle, Oompa, SeeFour, the whole Van Buren team, Kingfrom98, there are just too many to name! Even in my home city of Waltham - Myself, Muna, Griz Gusto, BLVCK VNYL, Hillereye Banks, S-ko, Faith, and many more out here working. I could name so many more artists and forgive me if I didn't mention you, the talent is literally endless. Blessings to the DJ's out here too who are doing their best to create the lanes: DJ Papadon, DJ E Dubble, DJ Pup Dawg, DJ Real P, DJ Alcide, DJ 4EIGN, JTHEDJ, DJ Chubby Chub, Snax, Amero (BVD), just to name a few. Platforms like TheMuseum TV, Boston Culture, Its Lit Boston, eXpozedTV, Conversations & Cognac, Pep Talks & Fufu, BAMS Fest, Leedz Edutainment, etc. Videographers/Photographers like HBZ Media, Shot By Petey Pablo, Shot by Tanj (Ripe Tanjerines), Media By Marvin, LTD, Starrpower Entertainment, Creator E., etc. Again forgive me if I missed you or your platform. But do you catch the theme? The talent is WILD here. Notice the trend of how much fire there is? The culture here. We even got clothing lines from here. Shoutouts to Black Picasso, Lavish Living, and the entire Black Monarch team. Massachusetts up next if we are not here already. There is a stigmatism that Boston/MA artists and creatives can't and don't get along, but I feel the scene shifting. I'm starting to see the camaraderie and us beginning to build.
Boston Culture : Are there any other Boston producers or artists you'd potentially like to work with for the next project
De-Bo: For the next project, I definitely would love to potentially to tap in with more of the MA based producers like Humbeats, IAMTASH, and LDG Beats, to name a few! Essentially I want to keep diving deeper into the scene. Been in talks with Rosewood Bape to get down on some records soon and the ultimate goal is to work with the likes of Millyz & Cousin Stizz one day. Absolute legends. Boston Culture : Tell us about your goals for 2021.
De-Bo: My goals for 2021 are simply to build. To create more and continue to level up. It's been nothing but progression in my career. Been making music consistently since I was 14, and each year has provided more fans, more streams/listeners, more music video views, more content, more connections, more blessings. The plan is to keep building until we are at the same level as the greats. I know I made it the day Jay-Z or Drake knows who I am. The day I get to work with the likes of them. That's the dream. And I'm going to give all I can to get there. Be on the lookout for a joint project this year with my brother Muna. "We've Come a Long Way 2" is dropping hopefully sometime in 2021. Excited for you all to see the work!
Boston Culture: Did the pandemic affect any of your plans?
De-Bo: Who didn't it affect haha? It definitely impacted me for sure. Had to take time away from the music to breathe and rethink life. It taught me about myself and how to be a better man and a better artist. It also taught me how to hustle and to improvise. No Justice, No Peace (my best video) was made during this pandemic. The purest example of the growth and the progression I'm talking about. If you really love something, you'll find a way to always prioritize it and protect it. Boston Culture : What brands should sponsor you? De-Bo: I am the CO-CEO with my brother Munashe Mututu of our own record label Releaf Music Group, LLC. So I feel like a walking sponsorship haha. Learned about ownership from the family Jeff Similien, who taught us about investing in an LLC and the continuous importance of leveling up. But one day I'd love to get sponsored by major brands and items I enjoy a lot. Brands like Fiji Water, Hennessy, Chipotle, Nike, Apple, DraftKings, Amazon or music labels like Roc Nation or OVO to name a few. Wouldn't be mad if Facebook or Twitter sponsored the boy considering the weight social media has on our society. Locally, I'd love to get sponsored by some of the best food spots around here considering how fire the food is. Restaurants like ZaZ Restaurant, Rhythm & Wraps, Chicken & Rice Guys, Flames Restaurants, etc. I just want to be a bridge to all the dope around us. Love the Celtics and Patriots too so free tickets wouldn't be bad at all haha. It's all going to come full circle.
Boston Culture: Anything else we missed you want to tell your fans?
De-Bo: Thank you always for the love and support. I'm nothing without you all and I do this strictly for the love. Everything else that comes with this are extra blessings. I feel honored to be able to create art for the world and for the world to enjoy it. By God's grace we are just getting started. Believe that.