Damez is a “Black, gay, and proud as fuck” rapper, singer, dancer, songwriter, filmmaker, and documentary producer. We caught up with the busy creative to learn more about his GO HARD collaboration with LGBTQ+ network Revry, the tricked-out private jet on his “Up Down” video, and the music scene in his hometown.
Out put you on the cover and named you the next big thing in Atlanta. What was that like?
It’s crazy because that honor inspired me so much that it led to the conceptualization and creation of my latest [album], COVERBOY! I feel the love my city has for me every time I do a show…and I love my city so much. There’s a lot of big things that come out of ATL, so I was incredibly flattered by the nod. To be acknowledged for my art and for being my authentic self — especially in such an eclectic city, is something I take great pride in.
How would you describe Atlanta’s music scene?
The most diverse, turnt up, top-tier shit, ever! There’s so much talent and creativity that just floats in the air here. You have the vets like Gucci and Future who’ve sort of passed the baton now to Lil Baby, Thug, and Gunna — who are all crazy talented and really putting on for the city. There’s Latto, Yung Baby Tate, and Kali putting on for the ladies and then you also have Lil Nas X and I representing different sections of our community, too. It’s an ever-evolving artistic melting pot.
Why is Atlanta a great place to make music?
The culture, the history, the diversity; there’s truly something for everybody here, no matter what you’re into. Folks come here from all over and the stories they both bring and leave with are endless. I have such a deep love and connection with rap music from growing up here, but it’s also sharpened my musicality in other genres. [In Atlanta] we know how to all vibe together under one roof — as long as there’s some good music going…and hookah.
Where are you when you aren’t making music?
These days, I’m probably in the crib! Or in the gym getting this body together. When I do hang out though, Midtown is always a lot of fun. I’m also at The Battery where the Braves play, or I’m out trying to find new record stores around the city. My favorite hobby has become adding to my vinyl collection.
What’s your favorite place to listen to other musicians?
RIP to Department Store, man. If you know, you know.
Damez on a luxury jet in a still from Up Down
Tell us about the tricked-out plane in the “Up Down” video.
I wanted to have a Yoncé “Upgrade U” Black luxury moment, and also pay some homage to The Art of Extravagance album from 2017, so I brought the fur back!
For those not in the know, what is the #UpDownChallenge?
The #UpDownChallege is my way of getting everybody moving! Whether you want to shake some ass, or need some motivation in the gym to achieve your fitness goals. To see it organically evolve into a fitness challenge has been so dope because there’s nothing like seeing your art inspire others. I love that my music can serve as a soundtrack to encouraging healthy lifestyle choices.
Tell us about GO HARD.
I started capturing my musical journey while still a college student back in 2014 with Journey to Midnight, a documentary on the creation of my debut EP. Since then, I haven’t stopped documenting my experiences. GO HARD is a docuseries I began in late 2020 under my company Southland Entertainment as a way to purpose all of this great content. Being able to watch my growth is also rewarding. You get to see me in the studio, recording, at rehearsals, [and] behind the scenes. It’s also edited completely by myself, which takes a ton of work, but I’m very proud of that. Revry and I partnered together to relaunch and distribute the GO HARD docuseries on their VOD and TV platforms, which is super exciting because we [can] reach an even larger audience and hopefully impact and inspire more people, which is the ultimate goal.
Have you had a chance to perform live since the pandemic began?
I was blessed with the opportunity to do a few shows over this dreadful and challenging time, both live in person and virtually. Being able to interact and engage with the fans while on stage is always the most exciting part of performing, so it’s been an adjustment, but as always in life — you gotta adapt or fold. It’s important we all keep each other safe.
Damez in a still from Up Down video
This piece initially ran in the Summer 2022 edition of Out Traveler print magazine. Out Traveler is available on newsstands.