Hip-hop is a crowded hood these days. You've got to really stand out to be heard. Most importantly, you have to be able to pick up a mic and go harder than the competition. That brings us to D-PRYDE—aka Russell Llantino—who truly flips the script on multiple levels. Born in Canada and based in New York, the bespectacled 19-year-old Filipino transformed from a YouTube sensation into an intricate, infectious, and irresistible rap presence right in front of an audience of millions. To be exact, he has over 285,000 subscribers and 65 million-plus cumulative views, but who's counting when you're this fresh? Meanwhile, MTV dubbed him "An Artist to Watch", while XXL nominated him for its esteemed 2013 Freshmen Class List. Now, he's ready for the next chapter with his 2013 debut six-track EP, Canal & Richvale.
D-PRYDE didn't land on his personal intersection of pop and hip-hop overnight. At 15-years-old, he saw Eminem's (in)famous music video for "Without Me" and furiously studied it. Soon after, he could spit along flawlessly, adding his own cadence, panache, and even a little singing. Turning to YouTube, the budding wordsmith uploaded a cover of Drake's "Still Fly" a year later, and the views started racking up. Mars Music Group stumbled upon it and offered him a deal on the spot, stunned by his singular style.
"I grew up wanting a higher class of everything," he exclaims. "I was never going to settle when it came to music. I've got a lot of pride in who I am and where I come from. I got that from my mom always urging me to be proud. I'm from a culture that's not dominant in rap, but I'm working towards that with what I'm doing. It's a mixture of everything I love and grew up on."
That mixture transfixed fans worldwide as the artist religiously updated his YouTube channel every Friday, carving out a fervent following in the process. In the meantime, he issued the acclaimed mixtapes MARS in 2011 and its follow-up Flagship, illuminating his growth behind the mic. However