I wanted to take some time to share just a little bit about myself. After all, Context is King. I am 22 years old and hail from Virginia Beach, VA (shout out to the 757). I went to Ocean Lakes High School, graduated in 2006, and after turning down a gig at the Naval Academy, decided to accept an offer at Harvard where I would declare a double-major in Physics and Music.
I spent the next three years searching for my musical identity. Coming from a church worship background, I found myself doing a lot of faith-inspired acoustic/rock music (as dwb, the "Devon Williams Band"). I started to experiment with what started off as satirical hip hop songs (such as the "My Dick" remix "My House") for spirited campus events such as housing day. Even though these songs were more in jest than anything else, I started to realize my aptitude for hip hop production, and saw it as an avenue through which I could reach people by speaking truth into their lives. I saw, and still see, hip hop as one of the greatest mechanisms for social change. At this point, however, music was still just a nice hobby I had going, one that I didn't have time to work harder on.
As the years went on, classes got harder and I felt more and more pressure to start looking for a "real" job. Junior year I redeclared my major as Computer Science and in a whirlwind found myself working at Microsoft in the summer of 2009, just 9 months after starting the computer science gig. After losing my highschool sweetheart to another guy in... let's just say a series of very, very "unpleasant" events, I returned to campus feeling even more jaded about God and life and confused about my identity and what I was gonna do with my life. Am I only allowed, and in fact expected, to work a 9-5 job at a giant tech firm? I dropped out with one semester left to go find out.
This was the best move I ever made.
Six months of working at tech startups and one of my best friends, Samir Paul, told me something I won't forget. I was lamenting over how I wasn't feeling fulfilled in the work I was doing, and that the only thing that made me feel alive was music. He said this in response: "It's high time you suck it up and do an album, and be ready to send it out when you go back to school. No more time to sit hoping. If it's gonna happen, you gotta go now." I knew he was right, and leave it to Samir to "tell it like it is."
Just like that, "Devon Ray" was breathed into being, and he spent the last six months working on what was to become "High Time," my hip hop debut. THIS was my identity. I, "Devon Ray," am now back at Harvard for my last semester, ready to launch the album on (quite appropriately) Valentine's Day. You have no idea what I'm about to release; nobody does, even with the singles I'm releasing early. Can one tell how a chef's masterpiece tastes by only trying a side dish? There's so much more left in store. I built a website, facebooked, uploaded to youtube, twitted/tweeteridid/twat, postered, wrote, composed, recorded, mixed, and mastered all 12 tracks on the album, and NOW will distribute it online too. I'm not going to leave a doubt in your mind, because there's none in mine, that I'm coming out hard, and it's high time I did.
I make music strictly because I love doing it. It's a good things too, because nowadays it's easier to download an album than it is to buy one. It used to be that only certain people had the means to make quality, easily distributable music. Those were the days when if you were good, it didn't matter which genre you came from; everyone would know your name. Today you can buy a used mac with GarageBand and digitize your sound in a matter of minutes with only a couple hundred bucks. Ten minutes later people from every corner of the globe can hear your voice on their computers. Logistical concerns no longer hinder aspiring artists as they once did. This means that the pool of readily available high-quality music is orders of magnetite greater than ever before. This also means that some of the most talented and successful artists of our generation go unnoticed by people who aren't actively looking for them.
In a world like this, charging for music is going by the wayside. If you're really about maximizing exposure, you have to put the wallet aside and forego the pennies you'll earn off album sales as an emerging artist. I care most about your hearing my music. I hope it inspires, intrigues, or maybe even infuriates. I want it to mean something, elicit a response, stir your soul in one way or another, as my influences have done for me. That's why you can find all of my music for free download here on my website. All of that said, I work very hard for a very long time making very little money go a long way as far as equipment is concerned. So if you would like to help support me financially, please use the secure Paypal link in the right pane.
Devon Ray Williams '10 - '11, who just released his first hip-hop album "High Time" last Monday while balancing school and ultimate frisbee practice, is not your average college senior. Though just a few semesters ago he was a computer science concentrator considering a full-time job at Microsoft after graduation, Williams now devotes the majority of his free time to his true passion: making music. In one word, he calls his new album "relevant," and proves that the road less traveled is sometimes the road with the most potential. [read more]DevonRayMusic Portrait of an Artist: Devon Ray Williams '10-'11 | Arts | The Harvard Crimson