Douglas! can be defined as a dynamic artist originally from Richmond, Virginia. The Old Dominion University alum has made music for several years now with a series of mixtapes, singles, and EPs as Doug Finesse that gained notoriety from local Virginia platforms such as theMSQshop, Lovelace Magazine, VirginiaGotNow, and FeelGood RVA.
In 2021, Douglas! moved to Los Angeles, California to fully pursue music. He broke his year-and-a-half hiatus the same year with his single Me Vs Me and followed that single with Signed To Myself featuring Lil B The Based God. In an Instagram post, he said the hiatus was needed to find himself and his sound. On September 29th, he released his debut album Trouble In Paradise. His newest body of work contains personal testimonies such as Away From Home to party anthems like Flexxxin in signature Douglas! fashion.
Jay: The cover art for Trouble In Paradise was an interesting choice. It's a picture of yourself hitting the stage for the first time as a young child. What inspired that to be the final cover art?
Douglas: The cover art for my tape came from photos of me at a talent show in Ft. Dix, New Jersey. It was 1999, I was four years old, and this was my first time ever performing for an audience. I was performing So Anxious by Ginuwine, believe it or not. As I was finishing the project, I often found myself pondering ideas for the cover that would match how much the music meant to me; I wanted it to be personal. As I was looking through the camera roll in my phone one night, I came across these old photos and the idea hit me. The first time I saw these photos were actually in March when I went home to VA and was spending time with my mother. I remember how shocked I was when I saw them, and I wanted my supporters to feel that same energy when I revealed the cover. My bro Dawit made so many covers for me when I was “Doug Finesse”, so it all came full circle when he sauced up the old pics and came up with the art direction.
Jay: If Trouble In Paradise were a dish, I would say that it has plenty of recipes to it. The producing credits are plentiful with Virginia and California producers. The sounds reflect a mesh of Virginia electronic melodies and that vintage West Coast pop. Did you see any commonalities between the Virginia and California sounds before making this album or was that something you had to figure out during the album-making process?
Douglas: I never noticed a correlation between the two states' sounds before. I’m hip to the legendary sounds the greats such as Lex Luger, Pharrell, and Missy Elliot created, but I have no clue what Virginia “sounds like”. I believe the tape sounds the way it does because I have been working on it for over two years and recorded parts in both states. Will You was recorded in my boy Jon’s apartment in the heart of Norfolk, and I’ve Been Workin was recorded in Echo Park, so consequently, you get the flavors from both areas on the tape.
Everything came organic. I’m big on representing the area in the 804 that I’m from, the Tri-Cities, so throughout the project you hear me drop shoutouts and say things such as “I’m from Virginia, I like going hunting” or “and she knows I’m from VA, cause I say y’all and mane”. I’m always going to add a piece of The George to my tunes. The Cali music that inspired me growing up was Tupac, Eazy E, Ahmad Lewis, Mac Dre, Nate Dogg, Snoop, Nipsey, G-Funk, Chicano Rap, and things such as the Tony Hawk Pro Skater soundtracks. I wanted to pay homage! So that’s exactly what I did; even in my daily wardrobe while creating the tape.
Jay: Speaking of VA/CA hybrids, you had the album's listening party at Good Peeples LA. Good Peeples Studios is originally a Richmond, VA-based recording studio company that opened its West Coast building several years ago. Describe the energy of that listening party.
Douglas: The listening party was a movie. I felt real love and support. A lot of the homies pulled up and gave me honest feedback on the tape. We smoked, popped champagne, and turned up all night. It was everything I could ask for. My shorty even made me a cake and wrote Trouble in Paradise on it. Good Peeples is family and it was amazing. I recorded a good chunk of my project there! Thanks to Everett and Lasik, I truly found my sound. Shoutout to the Richmond branch as well.
Jay: In your Voyage LA Magazine interview, you discussed how your brand represents individuality, fun, culture, hip-hop, and doing whatever you want. Those characteristics are reflected within your music with your upbeat rapping style, especially in the song Flexxxin where you rap about living the rockstar lifestyle. Explain how you developed your upbeat style over the years.
Douglas: It was a whole vibe when I created FLEXXXIN. My bro Xay, who produced the beat, was in town from New York. He pulled the beat up and I freestyle the record right on the spot. I love making what I call “turnup music”. Before I rebranded, that was the style of the majority of the music I made and a favorite of my supporters. I like making turnup music cause when I perform it, I can jump all over the stage and watch the crowd move. My upbeat style and the lyrics even are a reflection of my personality; I say what I want and do what I want.
To be honest, I’ve lived a rockstar life since I was a kid, so I like to take that energy and put it on a beat. One of the most popular records on the tape is iPop. Straight high energy and reckless lyrics. It was fun mixing my classic turnup sound with the west coast, dreamy, dark, and traditional beats on the tape.
Jay: Let's talk about the Lil B feature you had on your single last year Signed To Myself. When we talked about the single last year, you were amazed that you have a song with one of your idols. How did Lil B influence you over the years?
Douglas: Whoop! Bitch Mob! The story of how B hopped on the remix of Signed To Myself is crazy, but I’ll save that for another day. Watching his makeshift videos influenced me to do the same when I was like fifteen. I’ve always looked up to him as an entrepreneur, especially since I', following in his footsteps as an independent artist. He told me I was next up and that was all I needed to hear! Jay: Like you, I've moved from Virginia to Southern California recently. I do have days where I miss Richmond, Virginia. Everything from the arts to the food to the lack of traffic compared to Southern Cali when you take the 10 freeway to and from LA to the Inland Empire region. Do you have days where you think, "maybe I should have stayed in Virginia?" or "Maybe I should have thought this move out more"? If so, what did you do to combat those negative thoughts as you're in this new stage of life? Douglas: Not to sound cliche, but I live life with no regrets. The only thing I miss back home is my family and friends. Years of grinding and living throughout different parts of the east coast prepared me for the leap out west. When I was a kid, I never thought the life I live now was feasible. I was pretty depressed in VA prior to my move here because there isn’t anything out there for me creative-wise. But don’t get it confused, I love where I’m from and am thankful I grew up there.
Anytime I'm homesick or down bad, I remember my mission and I put that energy into creating. I mixed my journey growing up in Virginia with my new chapter here in Cali and that's pretty much how my tape came about. I wanted people to hear my story through the music.
Jay: Who are some indie artists that you would like to shout out?
Douglas: Sheesh. I’ve met so many talented artists from all over the States during my journey. So many that I look up to and that support me as well; the list would be so lengthy. Firstly, I’d have to name the person I’ve studied the most and who gave me my first big cosign, Lil B the BasedGod.
I gotta shoutout Xay, the VG’z, Bluntboi, Vito Da Don, 1pump, Antny Rome, Chuck Savage, $ir Raymo, ChrisTheBrooo, Aca, Bejxy, Siiah, Supa, Drew Famous, Keguala, WhyNotDuce, WhyNotHauch, Black Liq, Rob V, Ogxo, Supachifu and my producer brothers Taewop, 48, Coldboy Jon, Everett Moon, LVNDR, Lasik Beats, Sunband, EPT, OJ Finessey, Neo.Itm, Key Z, Nay G and so many more! I can’t forget all the other creatives who inspire me such as Dawit N.M, Demel Bolden, Jordan Lo, Saucinh, Crazi Selection, Echo Folder, Kemp, Cosmic Eternal, Hometeam, Bradford Wainwright, JamesFrom17th, Tyler Acosta, Jamel Lewis, Kam a.k.a Aura, Trent Jackson, Joshua Johnson and Alex Tucker. I can't forget Lamar West. Shout out to King Hooplah, King Brruhman, and Prince Godbody of the Simple Math Matrix Podcast. Also have to give love to D$gdae.
Visit his website itsdouglas.com and follow him on all social media @ItsDouglassss
Written by: Jay Guevara. @justinhispirme on all social media.
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