Young Devyn was only eight years old when she became a sensation in Soca music. Now 19 years old and creating buzz in the rap community, Devyn reveals how her debut EP ‘Baby Goat’ combines the genres.
“Rapping was like the last thing on my mind,” Young Devyn admitted to HollywoodLife while looking back at her earlier teen years, which may come as a surprise from the youngest person to ever freestyle at the BET Hip Hop Awards Cypher. For the 19-year-old music artist, who has been given the seal of approval by rap legend Nicki Minaj herself, rapping started as a “hobby” that branched from her first passion: Soca music. The genre — birthed in Trinidad and Tobago — served as Devyn’s launchpad into the music industry after she performed a Soca song in tribute to her Trinidadian background for her school’s Heritage Day talent show more than a decade ago. “The performance, it just went crazy. Everybody’s going crazy. And then a week later, I ended up on the radio, and people were just like, ‘Who’s this little girl?’ And I exploded from there,” Devyn exclusively told HollywoodLife ahead of the release of her eight-track debut EP, Baby Goat, coming out on June 18.
This “explosion” entailed Devyn becoming an established name in the Soca scene, regularly performing at her own shows and touring with the likes of Soca icons like Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin. By 2016, then a young teen, a new curiosity formed: Devyn was drawn to the “metaphors and punchlines” of rap, and began to study the art form by watching documentaries. So, Devyn — who was raised in East New York, Brooklyn — decided to “try it” out for herself. “I was just doing a fun hobby for a couple months…and exercising my pen and actually started gaining the confidence to post like little ‘Freestyle Friday’ videos on my Instagram. So it was like a switch for everybody,” Devyn said, recalling how these weekly social media posts began her segue into hip hop.
“Everyone at the time knew me for doing Soca. So it was a cute little thing to do every Friday, like people were looking forward to it,” Devyn continued. The MC went on to have a moment of enlightenment in her career after doing a freestyle rap show that “went viral”: this could be her way of reaching new listeners, since she “always wanted to make Soca a little more mainstream.” With that revelation, Devyn knew what to do next: “And that’s when I decided to take it serious and realize that could be my way to reach the masses.”
This epiphany is what set the stepping stones that led to Devyn’s debut EP, appropriately named Baby Goat, that combines both her Soca sound and hip hop lyricism into one project. Devyn teased that the EP’s upcoming singles like “Secret” and “Entangle,” despite falling into the camp of what Devyn considered “mainstream pop,” still have that Caribbean influence that kick-started her career. “If you’re not from the Caribbean, you’re still going to understand it and enjoy it. So it transcends everywhere, and I think people are gonna love it. And that’s kind of like, a teaspoon of what, you know, my culture is really about,” Devyn said of the tracks that are fun and flirty, perfect for putting on blast while driving with the top (or window) down this summer.
And then you have Devyn’s solid rap tracks; one of them, “Straight To It,” was already released to fans in March. Devyn swapped sweet melodies for hard-hitting verses that demand her to be taken seriously as a rapper; not that she needs to make the request, given clever lines like, “Got a different hoodie for the spinnage / I could cook a rapper, turn ’em like a spinach / Everybody know my body different, hottest in the world and I ain’t talkin’ Guinness / Ain’t a problem started I ain’t finish / Know some flossy ooters like a dentist, yeah.”
The forthcoming EP was not just shaped by different genres, but by Devyn’s exposure to “different cultures,” too, as an artist who has been traveling and performing since she was eight years old. From enjoying “boat rides” in Sint Maarten to swimming in Tobago, Devyn said such experiences “expand your brain.” This translates into her music when it comes time to apply that brainpower to songwriting. “I just started writing music on a worldwide basis,” Devyn said. Instead of wondering what her city would love, she was thinking big picture: “What can I do to captivate the world?” These goals all tie back to Devyn’s goal to always be transcending one label.
What also makes Devyn’s work unique is that you won’t find explicit lyrics in it, something she was already getting attention for long before this debut EP came about. This hesitancy towards swear words and violent themes wasn’t because of her young age. Rather, Devyn saw omitting them altogether as more of a writer’s challenge, which rings more true today as she’s “getting older,” the singer-rapper said. “When you get older, you can say more things. And I still just choose not to. And it really does test your limits,” Devyn explained, adding, “It’s just all a part of the testing it and pushing your pen, really just finding out vocabularies and just different things that makes people react. Once you like, pay attention to all those things and put in a boiling pot…that’s kind of how I just be figuring it out.”
While it’s one of the many things that makes Devyn unique in her music — in addition to a level of success few her age have achieved, after also attracting the attention of stars like Taraji P. Henson — above all, Devyn just wants to be relatable.
“I definitely just want people to know that it’s okay to need normal. Like, I feel like that was kind of what was missing,” Devyn observed, noting how music doesn’t always need to be about being “always glammed up” or “being too sexual” (“nothing” is wrong with that, though, Devyn made sure to clarify). Rather, Devyn believes that her debut ep Baby Goat brings “regular emotions, regular things that we go through just everyday life…all ages, all genders, no matter where you are, could just relate to.” And if you won’t relate to it? “You’re going to respect [the EP] because it’s my story and I’m not over exaggerating anything or putting on a facade or show, like this is my real life,” Devyn said.