DLNQNT, born Dean Johnson, grew up in a small town in Northeast Pennsylvania, a place he endearingly refers to as, "THE STICKS!" He credits his interest in music to being raised in a musically gifted household. Both his father and grandfather were in bands, and his mother was always the star in the church choir. At the age of 8, DLNQNT received his first guitar from his grandmother. "I thought I was going to be the first black rockstar," he told us, adding, "No one told me about Jimi Hendrix."
For much of his early life, he was exposed primarily to the music his parents played. His mother was always listening to slow jams and gospel music, and his father is Jamaican, bringing Caribbean influence into his life. As he got older, he began branching away from his parents' musical preferences, listening to plenty of punk rock. "I didn't even listen to rap besides Will Smith until my sister showed me the 'Walk It Out' remix when I was a little kid, so my introduction to hip-hop wasn't from a very 'hip-hop head' point of view," he explained. After that point, his knowledge of rap was entirely self-taught.
Throughout high school, his focus lied mostly in sports. He spent the majority of his time playing soccer, leaving him little room to consider his music as a serious endeavor. Around the same time, SoundCloud had begun gaining popularity, making it easier than ever for musicians to reach listeners. On the way to track meets and soccer games, DLNQNT would rap on the bus. Since many of his friends started dropping singles on the platform, he decided he would do the same: "I recorded my first song and put it on SoundCloud when I was 16. It was a remix to a Drake song 'Going in for Life.'"
While in college, he quit playing soccer after only half a season. He had lost his identity as an athlete and needed a way to fill the void. DLNQNT mentions, "I had a good friend who showed me what mixing was and how I could get a better sound, and I eventually took all those hours spent on sports into my music." He then read Malcolm Gladwell's infamous Outliers: The Story of Success, which states that one needs 10,000 hours of practice in a field to become a professional. DLNQNT broke it down like this: 8-10 hours a day for the next four years. He was determined to stick to this regimen for the remainder of his time in college in order to attain "mastery" of his music.
Now, at 25, his practice is evident in his work. When asked to describe his music he had this to say, "Honestly, I just like to make anything that sounds good. That's what's above everything to me. A lot of artists get caught up with being impressive or something; right now, I just like to look at people enjoying themselves to my music", continuing, "It doesn't really matter to me if they catch every nuance, but I put them in there so you can keep listening and getting something new from it each time."
DLNQNT also shared a little bit of his inspiration with us, "Anybody who's very good at what they do despite being unconventional inspires me." He notes being a huge fan of Basquiat, D'Angelo, and David Lynch, expressing his admiration for their abilities as well, "They can take something that can be considered mainstream and take it to a place where nobody was even considering before." He also shared his favorite artist in the game currently, Koffee, "a young Jamaican girl killing it right now." He revealed that he plays her song "Toast" almost every day.
Ending our interview, DLNQNT left us with the news that he will be dropping a mixtape soon, titled DZJNTD Vol 1: DNT PLY.
Lastly, DLNQNT would like to apologize to NBA star, and 2018 Rookie of the Year, Ben Simmons for his verse on "Clockwork":
I'm Ben Simmons 'cause I'm 25 and rich And you're Ben Simmons too 'cause you ain't shootin' shit
Stating, "I haven't been able to sleep since I recorded it."
Listen to his latest work here:
Also check out the official music video featured in No Jumper:
Let us know what your thoughts are in the comments below!