Before taking the stage at The New Parish on Sept. 9, rapper-songwriter Duckwrth sat backstage in an interview with The Daily Californian, reflecting on bringing his SuperGood tour to a place close to his heart.
“It’s always surreal,” Duckwrth shared backstage at the Oakland venue, reminiscing about returning to the Bay Area. “I learned so much and went through so many versions of myself.”
Before finding mainstream success, Duckwrth spent eight years in the Bay Area developing his craft of alternative, multigenre rap. The pink-haired artist mused on his city days: “I’m like, ‘Damn, I remember that relationship! Damn, I remember taking shrooms here and having a crazy trip, and I remember skating that!’ Just so many feelings.”
As the artist reflected on his career’s past and present, a packed crowd of young Bay Areans loudly anticipated his sold out show, cheering him on from outside of his backstage refuge. Although his latest album SG8* had dropped less than two weeks ago, this crowd had somehow already learned all the words to the star’s record.
SG8* is a thematic continuation of his 2020 album SuperGood, the artist’s fifth and one of his most popular projects to date. Some tracks such as “No Chill” and “Mask Off (Feelings),” Duckwrth noted, had already become fan favorites.
“They’re just really fun to write,” Duckwrth elaborated. “‘Mask Off (Feelings)’ was the apex of my feelings right now and a lot of people’s feelings, like post-Covid.”
Even though some of Duckwrth’s biggest hits are up-tempo tracks such as “MICHUUL” or “Crush,” the rapper is keeping it more laid back in his new musical era, hoping to fine tune his penning of in-your-feelings jams for his next project.
“It’s supposed to be electronic minimalism,” Duckwrth said, discussing the basis for SG8* as well as his new writing route for an upcoming project. “I’m still rolling in that sound.”
Despite his fans’ heartfelt appreciation for a few of his slower, minimalist songs, the key to Duckwrth’s success seems to stem from his insatiable drive to perfect his music.
“The closest song I have to that is ‘Kiss U Right Now,’ but that’s still not diving deep enough into it,” Duckwrth commented on one of his most listened-to songs. “That song is … getting closer to that minimalism, so that’s something that I wanna dive deeper into, but I just couldn’t find it.”
Besides pushing himself genre-wise, Duckwrth expressed his drive to always switch up his lyrical content.
“I kept writing about sex so much,” he laughed, going onto explain how his inspiration for SG8* shifted due to world turmoil. “Because there’s so much happening, I couldn’t just stay on a shallow level, so I dived deeper into myself.”
Aside from his album dealing lyrically and his tour dealing literally with the effects of the coronavirus, Duckwrth’s album was also released at a time when other popular projects dominated the conversation around rap — namely, Kanye West’s DONDA and Drake’s Certified Lover Boy. Drake’s record, in particular, happened to drop the same day as Duckwrth’s SG8*.
“I was nervous as s— at first!” Duckwrth said. “As I was talking to my manager, I was like, ‘Can we move this motherf—er? I don’t want to drop on the same day as Drake!’ But then … it’s just like, ‘Alright, that’s not bad for the algorithm’s sake, that association.’”
Though SG8* may coincidentally ride the coattails of Certified Lover Boy, Duckwrth’s album doesn’t strive to attach any commercial name to its content. In fact, the only three features on his album are all up-and-coming artists, such as rapper Jordan Ward, who opened for Duckwrth at the Thursday show.
“I have my friends on most of my s—,” Duckwrth explained. “I did this ‘Insecure’ writing camp and met a bunch of cool creatives… It was something about that week of writing and meeting all these people and being like, you know what, maybe it’s time to make an album.”
Besides benefitting from the camaraderie of industry peers in his workshops of SG8*, Duckwrth also brought friends into his first music video for the album. The video for his hard-hitting single “4K” dreamily captures pink sandy escapism, vacation romance and cutaway scenes of comedic banter between director Barney Bones and Duckwrth.
“One of my favorite creators is Michael Jackson. He would never make videos, he would make short films,” Duckwrth explained. “I’ve wanted to do that for a minute.”
Jackson’s influence on Duckwrth’s artistry is evident: Above all, Duckwrth prioritizes entertainment, whether that be through constantly dancing throughout his groovy live performances or vibrantly donning colorful fits in storytelling music videos.
“I hate disposable videos,” Duckwrth added. “(They’re) kind of like a waste of bandwidth. There’s so much information that we have to take in, and if people are going to take in information, make it worthwhile.”
Nurcan Sumbul covers music. Contact her at [email protected].