By: Shirley Ju (@shirleyju)
The grind never stops, especially for Derek King who has been in the game for over 7 years and counting. After a stint with 300, the Bay Area rapper turned singer celebrates his new home at EMPIRE — determined to not let this moment pass him by.
With “Tetris” gaining an insane amount of streams, radio airplay, and buzz on the streets, real name Derek King keeps the momentum afloat preparing for the release of his forthcoming EP, More Vibes.
AllHipHop caught up with Derek in Los Angeles to discuss who really is the king of R&B and major cosigns from Russ and Billie Eilish.
AllHipHop: Where do you fit in the realm of hip-hop and R&B?
Derek King: I can’t really describe it because I don’t try to mimic nobody. I just try to do my own thing. It’s more you’ll get a little bit of the
rapping-singing melody type s##t. I got some R&B s##t that’s on my project dropping April 26th, More Vibes. Going on tour too.
AllHipHop: Your own?
Derek King: My own first headlining tour! It’s gonna be good, very excited for that.
AllHipHop: What was the inspiration behind keeping your real name?
Derek King: ‘Cause I couldn’t figure out nothin’ else. [laughs] At first, I was rapping as Lil D, then I got with a major label. I had to switch it up. 300 was like “we can’t rock with that, we gotta change it up.” They’re like “what’s your name?” I was like “Derek.” “What’s your last name?” “King.” “Alright, let’s just run with that!” I was like “s##t aite, cool.”
AllHipHop: Who is the real king of R&B?
Derek King: I feel like R. Kelly is for sure, but he got that thing going on. I mean s##t, you can’t take away a man’s talent.
AllHipHop: That’s who you grew up to?
Derek King: The R. Kelly’s, Chris Brown’s, around that era.
AllHipHop: What are your thoughts on Jacquees calling himself the king of R&B?
Derek King: Jacquees for sure has a wave going. He’s probably the youngest R&B artist that’s popping right now. You get that high horse when you’re doing a lot. You feel a certain way about yourself. That’s probably how he’s feeling, can’t argue with it.
AllHipHop: “Tetris” is at over 1.4M in less than 2 months. Bring us back to that studio session.
Derek King: My studio’s in my room, so it’s not really a real studio. But the vibe, my producer sent the beat. We always said we was gonna remix the “Thong Song,” so he finally ended up doing it. I wrote to it, sent it back, went back and forth on ideas. After that, we just carried with it. It was a great turn out.
AllHipHop: Talk about the cosign from Billie Eilish.
Derek King: The Billie Eilish thing was crazy! I was just doing a Challenge, trying to get hecka people involved in it. I was paying influencers to do the challenge. I paid this dude named Super Saiyan
<https://www.instagram.com/supersaiyansosho/>, he’s dope. I didn’t know Billie Eilish followed him. When he did the Challenge, Billie Eilish seen the Challenge, found the song and commented “bro this is hilarious, what song is this? Took the song, posted it on her Insta story.
After that, she does the challenge. People were blowing up my feed! “Billie Eilish is doing your challenge!” I’m running around my house screaming, this is crazy! My Spotify started jumping, Instagram, all that. I jumped at least 15K followers easy in the last month or 2. It’s been heavy!
AllHipHop: Have you met her?
Derek King: Not yet. I’m supposed to be going to her show in SF.
AllHipHop: What about the Russ co-sign?
Derek King: That co-sign was mainey. Because again, I guess he was on Live playing “Tetris” and singing the words. Someone was like “yo bro, Russ is playing your record.” I’m like “wow.” I posted on my Insta story, “got word that Russ was playing Tetris on his Live! Crazy, thank you for the love.”
Then I DMed him “I heard you were playing the record, appreciate the love, xyz.” He follows me back. Hits me back like “bro this record is crazy. Fire, this is one of my favorite records right now.”
AllHipHop: What are some goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
Derek King: A plaque. Get on a lot of summer shows, festivals, things like that. I want to tour every year. Year-round, all year. I like touring. I like moving, meeting different fans, seeing different cities. I like being on-the-go.