Originally published April 20, 2021.
Don’t Stop Grinding
Dejuan Robinson and Bryan Ruffin are in the forefront of a movement that has touched down on Old Dominion University’s campus. The collective known as D$G has reached reputable accolades including over 200,000 views on youtube and other platforms. The unique sound and approach to rap made it impossible for the movement to unacknowledged. So, I sat down with D$G Dae (Dae Robinson) and Bryan Ruffin the push and management behind the movement on their position of being former ODU students and how D$G became the collective that it is today.
Bryan and Dejuan started their bond for music in middle school through basketball. It started with miscellaneous freestyles that weren’t taken seriously. From those moments of adolescence the peers that surrounded Dejuan noticed that his freestyles were better than most for them just being kids. Fast forward to college, D$G Dae is now taking his rap career very seriously and is ready for what the hip hop industry has in store for him.
J Cole is a very well known artist that Dae gets motivation from, but when it comes to his upbringing Lil Bow and Tupac was it. “My father was the biggest fan of Tupac and that’s what I would hear around the house. And I loved as a kid for his popularity and swagger. His flow in general was really good too”.
One thing that I asked the pair about how social media and networking in general became a source for success and D$G Dae stated that the formula that they have has worked very well.” I am the introverted one; I would make the music and this guy (Bryan Ruffin) would go and tell everyone that he knows about the upcoming singles and projects”. Bryan Ruffin is the manager and public relations strategist who is behind D$G. The pair also talked about how some of the music videos like Hit Up Wop became viral and how they used those moments at their advantage for networking purposes.
Bryan Ruffin and Dae Robinson are both graduates from the communications and public relations programs at ODU. I asked Bryan what material from his course load at ODU prepared him for the position he has now with D$G. “There are two key things, staying consistent everything has to make sense and everything needs a plan. Also take every opportunity that presents itself. If it can help you take it; it can take a long time to see progress but at least you can say that there was some progression within the process”.
D$G Dae also had the opportunity to participate in a Virginia cypher with Bars i95, a show where some of the most talented rappers go to show off their lyrical skills. Bryan states that “ I had to give it up for Ahmad Davis; he invited us to a podcast at a studio. He wasn’t supposed to be on the line up, but we were at the right spot at the right time”.
A powerful and more recent single that D$G Dae has released is titled 10 Bands Washed Away which has a deeper meaning to it than what many people know. “ I recorded that song last summer; this kid that I grew up with she committed suicide around that same time. She felt like she was dealing with a lot and she thought that was the best way to handle that. Other people close in my life also passed away from COVID around that time too. Those were one of those songs that were like therapy and I didn’t care about how many views I got on it”. Even though COVID 19 was a troubling time for the artist, his creative process blossomed as his lyrics were more personal than ever. There are over 50 unreleased songs in his catalog that no one has heard.
Live performances were definitely a part of D$G Dae’s experience being an ODU student and rap artist in the Hampton Roads area. Dae also emphasizes how supportive the locals are in the Norfolk area with his music.“Norfolk will be a second home for forever” some of his favorite shows include his headline show at Prim studios as a performer and the ODU homecoming concert at Chart way area opening for Wale and O.T. Genesis his junior year.
This is only the beginning of the journey for D$G Dae and the collective. It is not only the music that holds this movement together, but the trust with creativity is what speaks volumes to what D$G stands for. Don’t Stop Grinding is something that definitely holds weight.
For more information and music you can follow D$G Dae on instagram @d.s.g_dae and Bryan @Dsgmogul.