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Q&A: D-WIN

Darius Winfield, better known as D-Win, is always winning - at music, at creative vision, at style, and at Kubrick. The Indianapolis bred emcee came to Chicago with a dream and a mission and hasn’t stopped for anyone or anything. Formerly one half of the hip hop duo The Rocketeers, D-Win is no stranger to the limelight, but it seems he has found his light in himself, particularly through his latest release the Kubrick EP, inspired by the theatric work of Stanley Kubrick, is a big and bold look into his history, society, and artistry.

Instead of rapping about the freshest kicks, which no doubt he does have because the man is a fashion guru, D-Win delved a bit deeper and talked about being a black man living in a society that is constantly kicking you down. Despite the darker themes of the project, there are glimmers of hope that seep through the orchestral sounds and productions of Tek-X and stories about a young man following his dreams. The passion is raw and charged. So is D-Win and it’s definitely hard to miss.  

Walking On Water Feat. Sciren

AMFM: You moved to Chicago when you were 18 from Indiana, why was Chicago a place that you wanted to go and cultivate your music career? You also said it was the hardest thing you've ever done, why?

D-WIN: This was around the time when Common dropped Be, and Kanye had out College Dropout, so I thought Chicago was a cool place because I was fans of both of them, and Chicago wasn't far from Indianapolis. It was the hardest thing I ever did because I moved alone and didn't have any help. My mother wasn't fond of me moving so, she didn't help me. I literally packed up my car and moved all by myself.

AMFM: Has music always been a constant force in your life? What were some of your early music memories, and what were you like as a kid?

D-WIN: I've always been around music my whole life.  It's always been a constant force in my life. My early musical influences were my family. My grandmother played the piano, my grandfather played the guitar, my uncle, Michael played the drums, and my stepfather, Howard, played just about every instrument. Howard taught me how to play the drums, and guitar when I was younger. Some of my music mentors where Michael Jackson, Tupac , Dr.Dre, Babyface, Jay-Z, Whitney Houston, Master P, and Black Street to new a few. I was a really bad kid, me and my brother tore people’s houses up. We use to draw Ninja Turtles in my grandmother's Bible and on the outside of our house. We didn't travel a lot so my mother bought us pretty much all the Air Jordan sneakers and Starter gear. I was super into fashion, cartoons, and action figures.

AMFM: You're also a fashion visionary of sorts. You are quite the stylish dude. There's a documentary called "Freshly Dressed" which describes how pivotal of a role fashion plays in hip hop and hip hop culture. To you, how does fashion and music go hand in hand? Should they? How does that play out in your life and artistry and how did you get into fashion?

D-WIN: All of my friends always tell me I remind them of "Freshly Dressed," which I watched and it's a dope doc. Fashion and music go hand and hand because they’re both a universal language. Both have the ability to strike a conversation and impact a life. I mean look at Rihanna, when she dropped Umbrella, yeah the song was dope, but what really captivated her was the image. Fashion is a expression and music artists like Michael Jackson used fashion to change the culture. I got into fashion because of my mother. She had good taste and knew what was poppin. She kept up with hip hop and trends and bought me and my brother all the dopest stuff.


AMFM: You said when making Kubrick you didn't set out with a name or theme, and you were just making music. Why did you want to make it a concept album, or how did it evolve to that? What is it specifically about Stanley Kubrick that inspires you and this body of work? It is also about being young and black and growing up in today's society, why did you focus on that?

D-WIN: I watched Eyes Wide Shut about ten times, and that's when I thought about making it a concept album. I felt like I should release a body of music that actually can impact someone and force them to look up what I'm saying in the music. Stanley inspired me because he went above and beyond to put messages in all his movies, and died doing that. Why make bullshit music when you can actually say something to impact someone's life. I'm not making music to be a one hit wonder. Being a black male in America or in general is tough because I can be killed for wearing a hoodie and walking home. I've experienced racism and didn't get certain jobs because I was black. I talk about racism all over the project.

AMFM: You said that you have begun to see yourself as more of an artist, and focused on the craft of your music, rather than just rapping, when did you begin to see this shift, and what helped you get to that realization or evolve as a musician?  

D-WIN: I mean I wear every single hat. I design, direct my videos, style, and I have a hand in all the production with the music, so that's more than just being a rapper. It wasn't a thing where I saw a shift, but because I didn't have the budget for management I had the resources to do things myself. Having people manage me and how hard I was going by myself made me realize I didn't need certain people to do thing I could do myself.

AMFM: Was there ever a time when you were not winning? What is the significance of DAlwaysWins?

D-WIN: There was a ton of times when I wasn't winning. When things slowed down with "The Rocketeers," which was a hip hop duo that I was apart of things slowed down. That was the roughest part because I want from being on MTV to not getting any love. DalwaysWINs is a play on my name Darius Always Wins and my last name is Windfield. It means I can win in life and win at anything I put my heart into.

FOR MORE FROM D-WIN:
WEBSITE / INSTAGRAM

PHOTO CREDITS: CIERA MCKISSICK