Written by: Kemdah Stroud (@chiefsaveahoe)
We chatted with Diverse Marley this week to debut his latest track, "Money Time." This is his first feature on the blog, but he has a good amount of recognition; hailing from the South Side of Chicago. He went through a lot these past few years, but he felt it was necessary to open up, and really explain what's behind this piece. He's releasing his next mixtape, "Prolly Drunk EP", March 30; and will be performing at Sub T March 28. Get to know Diverse Marley in the interview below, and check out the premiere of his latest song, "Money Time".
First off, this is your first feature on our blog? Can you introduce yourself and give us a bit about your background?
Yeah, I'm Diverse Marley, from the South Side [of Chicago]. I've been doing music since like 2008. I started out with this collective of mixtapes called ABK, and I dropped like 5 in that series. I also worked with V Dub and DJ Hustlenomics, so I guess that's where I get a lot of my fans. Right now I'm working on my next EP, but yeah that's basically my background.
Where does the name Diverse Marley come from? It's quite interesting.
I was originally Young Hunnids, but that was pretty lame. So when I got to high school, one of my friends went to the dictionary to find a name. So I looked and thought Diverse just fit. Marley was kind of always a part of it. Diverse Marley comes up on Google easily too.
What first got you interested in rapping?
Music has always been a release. I didn't look at TV and say "oh I want that." My aspiration wasn't for glam, just writing. I started off writing [poetry], just to express myself. I've always liked music too, so it just became a way to express.
You also dwell in the fashion industry as well, can you speak a bit on that?
Yeah from working with the ABK tapes I started a line, Lame Apparel. it was actually just supposed to be artwork for my mixtape, but I sold 100 crew necks in the first two weeks. I'm actually about to release another clothing line Spring 2016. I was super into fashion and stuff, but now I'm more about the look and less about the labels.
Really, I was just trying to put out something that people were new to. That's how you do it, so I'm still just making stuff people are new to.
What is your main inspiration to write in general? What motivates you to stay in this cut throat industry?
The fact that it's an escape. If I never make it rapping, I'll still make music because I use it to make songs for people to party and stuff too; but most of the songs come from pain, and my relationships with people, and things around me. That's what makes it stick because it's easy for me to release, it could just be something I agree with.
I heard that you took some time off from rapping, what was going on that influenced that decision?
I was having a mental breakdown, panic attacks, drinking binge. My mind wasn't in it at all, a lot of stuff was going on and I needed to fall back. Some stuff I don't want to be brought out in my music, because it always ends up coming out. I've had time to analyze it but going through it, I just wanted to fall back from the people and situations.
How has that challenge influenced your day to day battle with overcoming situations, overcoming yourself internally?
I'm just trying to understand it. I don't know. It's like music shit touches a lot of people. Music is what can I say, basketball for a hooper. Take the good with the bad. Some artist put on this facade just to impress, or be relatable. I don't care about impressing anybody. Me handling the situation through music instead of doing something stupid, like ending up dead or in jail, that impresses me. I don't change my music anymore. Like before, someone didn't originally like my first verse on a song, and made me not like it either. Now, I'm just putting ME out there.
For all of those who face hardships similar, and different, from your struggles; what do you have to say to them?
I guess keep faith. That's all I really can say because that's all you have is that, and hope. Just keep the faith, I've been through enough to understand to overcome it. Everything will get better, take the good with the bad, balance. You're gonna have hardships, it'll get better.
A couple of years ago, two and a half actually, I was actually homeless for 2 years; living in a garage with 2 other dudes. That was the hardest part because I didn't have anybody to reach out to. Blessings come out of nowhere, this situation really made me believe in God. We were selling mixtapes to eat. Sometimes we sold enough to get a hotel room for the night. Then, I got one job application and filled it out. I checked my email at 3am, and I had an interview. Me being in that situation, and only filling out one made me really believe in God. Keeping faith, and just knowing the Most High got my back. He doesn't put you through anything you can't handle.
Wow, that's honestly incredible, especially since you're back releasing more. Can we have a synopsis on the story you're telling in "Money Time"?
The song is basically a spaz. (laughter) In the first verse, I'm kind of all over the place. I let the story fall behind that. The whole song is about getting money, it doesn't matter how; as long as you're getting money. Like the hook, I might be drunk I might be high, but it's money time.
What did you learn in your break from rapping that made you want to make this track? Why do you feel like it requires an introspective interview with the debut?
When I went on my break, like I explained, it knocked me off completely. It's not like it was a six year break or anything though. But like keeping my head above water, was a struggle. Then I realized a lot of other people connected to me, and that's what the situation told me, basically keeping my mind on money. I wanted people to know exactly why I took a break, I know what comes with it. I used to be closed minded, not anymore, so I wanted people to know why I'm coming back. Lots of frustration.
What's the biggest challenge you face as an artist, or even just as a human?
Biggest challenge as an artist is exposure, and getting people to rock with you off of pure talent. It happens for some people where a person will rock with them on genuine talent, but that's the hardest thing. I get it, but it doesn't really happen anymore. I used to send my EP to all the blogs on my email list. I got posted on some, but not really the ones I wanted. Since I've been working with Jmoe (of Millennial Management Group) I've been getting on more blogs, like the ones I really wanted.
Everyday it's something, but as a person specifically maintaining. If you gotta get it out the mud, it's gonna be harder. Unless you come from a rich family or some shit, then you gucci.
What's something you want everybody to know that encounters your music besides your struggle?
I don't live up to the hype, I deliver the unexpected. A lot of people have a hype about them, so they start to slack. You gotta over deliver. You can never be denied if you over deliver. You can go crazy and have plug out of this world, but take a month off and you're nobody again.
The future is big. Any shows or appearances in the works this year? I know we have the EP.
Yeah the EP will be out March 30. I have a show March 28th. I'm working with Jungle Events who work a lot with Sub T., so that's the location [2011 W. North Ave.]. I just got a few releases before the EP drops.
SXSW this year?
Maybe I will, hopefully I'll be able to go to SXSW; I have kids and stuff so I have to make sure everything is straight here first.
Any closing words or comments?
That's really all, I just want people to grab onto the release of this track, and my music. Shout out to Lame Gang, that's the fam. Shout out to Jmoe too.