'I've Just Been Trying to Find That Balance': DDG Talks #SocialGloves, 'Die 4 Respect,' and More

·19 min read

Image via Epic Records

If I’m keeping it a buck, my money is on DDG. I’m not just talking about the Social Gloves: Battle of the Platforms boxing event on June 12, where the YouTube star-turnt-rap artist will be facing TikToker Nate Wyatt in the middle of the ring on a card that will also feature Austin McBroom (The ACE Family) taking on Bryce Hall in the main event, with Deji, FaZe Jarvis, Tanner Fox, and others on the card. (Although because the 23-year-old, Pontiac, Michigan-born DDG has been boxing since he was a jit, and he already showed how he gets down two years ago, the smart money is on him.) I’m talking about in any situation he’s in; DDG has proven that he’ll shine regardless.

You see, DDG has just been leveling up since he hit YouTube six-plus years ago. We’re talking millions of subscribers turning into hundreds of millions of streams of hits like “Moonwalking in Calabasas,” a single so big Blueface hopped on it—marking the beginning of their friendship, which may have gotten Blueface in some trouble at home, but sounds like it will birth a dope mixtape collaboration. DDG is familiar with that; his project with Miami’s OG Parker, Die 4 Respect, has sparked some serious heat with cuts like the YoungBoy Never Broke Again-featured opener “Hood Melody” and “Impatient,” the Coi Leray-assisted summertime gem in the making. DDG’s music is also hitting Hollywood, with a new collaboration, “No Favors,” being featured on the Godfather of Harlem soundtrack. He’s also leveraging his success to help open doors for others; after starting Zooted Ent., he’s been working with YouTubers and a stable of artists—which include his cousin Paidway T.O alongside Baby Rich and Autumn Corin—sharing his knowledge of both industries while expanding his own platforms.

With tickets for Social Gloves (which takes place live at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens) on sale right now, it made sense to hop on the Zoom with DDG to dive into where his life is at right now. From Blueface calling him “DD” and if he’s thinking about the follow-up to Valedictorian to whether he’s considering another boxing match and still aspires to act, here’s a look at how DDG’s balancing all of the work he’s putting into the game.

DDG vs. Nate Wyatt at #SocialGloves, June 12 2021
Image via #SocialGloves

#SocialGloves next month. I saw you were basically like, “I’m not even worried about this guy that I’m boxing,” and not caring to go back and forth with Nate. Why did you choose not to even worry about that?
I DM him a few times, just scared him a little bit. I’m not really worried about boxing him. He just can’t fight, so it’s really nothing for me to even worry about it. My whole mindset is—not even to come off too cocky or whatever—but I just want to look good.

I was wondering if we were gonna see something like that Logan Paul, Floyd Mayweather situation.
Yeah, but I haven’t seen him yet. I haven’t seen him in person for me to even do no shit like that. So once I see him, for sure, man.

In watching your videos and knowing your story, knowing that little DDG, little Daryl was in the ring a while ago. What made #SocialGloves be the reason where you’re like, “Yo, let me actually get in the ring and do this for real.”
Really, the opportunity was presented to me, and then as a kid I always wanted to box in front of a lot of people. This is [me] living out one of my little dreams or whatever. So I’m like, “You know what? Let me go ahead and do it.”A lot of rappers wouldn’t do it because if you lose, you’re putting your career at a big risk. People are going to hold that over your head forever, so it’s one of those things, I feel like I’m going to gain a lot of respect for it, too. I just got to take the chance.

Do you think after this one, you might want to try and do it again?
Nah, I think I’m going to be done. I really just want to focus on music, but money always talks. But, for the most part, in my brain, I’m just one and done. I’m going to just go ahead, embarrass him, and then be done.

I don’t know what your workout schedule is right now, but I saw you running up mountains and shit. Has it felt good to have boxing equipment in your house, being able to get out and just work on your body? Because I know that you about to be touring in a bit. So has it helped you get ready for that?
Yeah. I ain’t going to lie, it’s not a gamble, but it’s a hard balance, because I’m traveling all the time. I’m moving around. I got to do this and that. I’m at the studio, nothing but weed. I got to be really, really disciplined, being an artist, and condition my body, so I don’t run into any problems on June 12th. I’ve just been trying to find that balance, but I’m not worried at all.

DDG and OG Parker
Image via John Canon

We spoke before you went to ComplexCon a couple of years ago, right before Valedictorian came out. Lately, you’ve been talking about not being satisfied with how that project came out. Talk a little bit about how you see Valedictorian a few years removed.
I just really didn’t like the project. I feel like it was really rushed. It was too many songs on there. I just wanted to put as many songs out as possible, but I didn’t really think about really creating a body of work. So the project that I recently dropped, Die 4 Respect, I feel like it captured that goal of creating an actual body of work, having some flow all the way through smoothly.

I will say, I’m older and coming from an era where classic albums can be like eight songs, 10 songs, depending on who it is. I think it’s dope that Die 4 Respect is just 10 tracks and a remix to your biggest record so far. Were there more songs that you and OG Parker worked on before you finalized what became Die 4 Respect?
Yeah, we had a lot of songs. Probably had, realistically, probably 50, 60 songs or something like that, maybe more. But we made a lot of songs, so I had to narrow it down to… I got features, and there’s money involved in features. So I got feature stuff that I didn’t use. I was really just being extremely careful with what I put on there.

I’m glad you mentioned, because I remember the buildup to D4R, before it was even called D4R, you were saying you’d be having features on every song. What was the change? Was it just that the songs didn’t fit the project?
Yeah, the songs didn’t fit the project, and I feel like, the way a song blows up with a feature is if the artist also is putting they all into it. I didn’t want to just put a feature on there just because it’s a bigger artist on there, and then maybe the verse wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, or I didn’t like it as much. Plus, I knew it was going to be a bigger deal than my last project, even though it was a joint project with a producer. I just wanted to showcase my own talents versus doing all features.

Hopefully you could eat off the Youngboy track. I remember when Akademiks first played it on the stream. I’m like, “He got one right there,” but we got to chill on that for a second.
Yeah, I’m letting it marinate. “If you heard it, you heard it” type of thing. And then, I feel like when I finally drop the music video, that’s when it’s going to take off.

Speaking of videos, what’s up with the “Impatient” video? That record feels like one of those ones. I’m not going to hold you, but when that record starts, that feels like it’s ready for the club this summer. You feel what I’m saying?
Yeah. No, it’s dropping this week for sure.

When you first heard the track, did you know it was going to be what it was?
Actually, when I first started recording that song, I didn’t like the beat. I was finna skip that beat and go to another one. And then my homie, which is also my artist, he was like, “Nah, that’s the one, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” So, I’m like, “Alright, let me try it.” So I went in on it, and that’s what it became.

And actually, I sent the song to two different artists before I sent it to Coi. I never met Coi at the time. I finally met her, got accustomed to all her music and everything, and I was like, “Man, she dope. She’d probably sound hard on this,” so I just sent it to her because the other two artists didn’t put they verse on it. I’m like, “This is just a open verse. Let me go ahead and see if I find somebody for it.” She sent it back next day or something like that.

It was the perfect energy, especially now seeing because that is a TikTok trend. It just has “summertime” written all over, and with everyone taking their vaccines, people are ready for that shit.
Yeah, I think it’s going to be fire. I think the video going really turn that song all the way up, so I’m excited.

That was an ATL vibe in that video?
Yeah, it’s a little ATL / Cascade type of vibe to it, so it’s got some type of nostalgia to it. So when you watch it, you’re going to feel like you want to watch it again.

Now, I don’t want to ask you what your favorite is, because I know a lot of artists be like, “Yo, every song is my baby,” but I’m wondering, because I hear you. You just rap. Ever since you came back to YouTube, you’ve just been rapping, every video. You’ve got freestyling three, four minutes at the end of the video. Is there a particular line or a particular bar on D4R where you’re like, “Yo, I wrote that shit?”
My favorite song on the project is called “Treat Me Right.” It’s the second song. The reason being is because, first of all, I freestyled the entire song. It was one of those songs where I was just in my zone. I was just punching in, punching in, didn’t take out my phone or write notes, didn’t go to rhymezone.com to find a rhyme. I didn’t do any of that. It was just straight off the dome, and I finished the entire song. And it was really real. And it was current times, situations that I was going through in a relationship, so that was definitely my favorite.

There have been clips of you in the studio working with the Blueface. Has he always called you DD?
Yeah, he always called me DD. I get it just because the G is kind of extra. To say DDG, the G kind of… DD sounds like it’s one word. DDG is obviously three syllables, so it’s a lazier way to say DDG.

When did you two decide to sit down and work on a tape?
Even before “Moonwalking,” me and Blueface got in the studio a few times. We’ve been in the studio, but we’ll always get in the studio and we’ll start a hook or something, and we would never finish it. Then I came out with “Moonwalking,” and he remixed it. We always talked about doing a joint tape or whatever, and then we finally locked in the studio. Any snippet that we were putting out [has] just been going viral, so I know it’s going to be really, really big when we finally drop it.

Is that a thing where you’d want to lock in with OG Parker on the beats again?
I think it’s a bunch of different producers. I like locking in with one producer, but it’s different when you’re working on a tape with a different artist.

I’ve heard you call it a tape, but I’ve seen other outlets call it your second album. Do you consider D4R a tape or is that an album?
Tape for sure. I feel like, first of all, with an album, it should be just me on it. In terms of marketing, it’d be my name, blah, blah, blah, as DDG’s album type of thing. But this is more so considered a mixtape. We locked in together, and we putting it out together type of thing.

So I have to then ask, whenever the Blueface and DDG tape drops, are you thinking toward a follow-up to Valedictorian? Is that even in your brain right now?
Definitely not. I’m just cooking up right now. I just got to find time to lock in. I got so much stuff going on, man. I got this boxing I got to train for. I got all this, that, that, that. I got a bunch of stuff coming up, so I’m just trying to find the time to really get in the studio and just work, and work, and work, so I can really find what type of way I want to go with the album and what type of sound I want to go for. I’ve been making songs here and there, but I haven’t really locked in yet, but I’m definitely dropping an album this year, for sure.

Right. I know you’re on the Rolling Loud lineup, congrats on that. I’m going to assume that there are plans for a tour later this year?
Oh yeah, for sure, 100 percent. I’m super excited to get back on tour. Honestly, I don’t know how big my song is. I really don’t know how big “Moonwalking” is. I was looking at the streams the other day. On Spotify, it’s 123 million. I’m like, “Damn, I wonder if people really know.” You don’t really if people really know your music until you go out and perform it and see who’s singing the hook on it. So I’m just excited to see people react to how I perform this music because I haven’t performed any music that I put out since 2019. I haven’t been on tour since 2019.

In prepping for this conversation, I went to look back at those old tour vlogs. Matter of fact, it’s funny. I guess I forgot that Baby Rich was around back then. In speaking about everything you have going on, what’s the current status with Zooted right now? Well first, what’s the status of the Zooted YouTube members?
I feel like, with the Zooted YouTube, it’s really just about them taking control and trying to grow themselves. I feel like when I phased off of YouTube, they phased off with me, which was not the intention. It stripped it down a little bit, but it’s still there. I still work with a few of them.

As for Zooted Music though, we’re growing for sure. We’re working on a lot of music. We’re going to drop a Zooted music tape, just to get everybody accustomed to all the artists, and I think that’s going to be a big turning point. I’m going to have my own music on the tape, so it’s going to be dope.

Seeing T.O with Tory Lanez in the club, and then the clip of “Kickback” playing over that. It was almost like his lines came to life. He’s been working on music for a minute though, right? Are there plans for a T.O project anytime soon?
Yeah, he working on an EP right now. We’re just trying to make sure we get everything in order, everything right. And once we happy with it, then we going to put it out. There’s really no rush for it, for real. You just need that one.

I mentioned earlier that you’d been back to picking up the camera. Have you been feeling good about the vlogs you’ve been dropping lately? Because when we talked a couple of years ago, you were like, “I’m trying to focus on my rapping.” What’s it been like now?
I’m not going to lie, I’ve been having fun with posting vlogs here and there. I’ll just be out and about, and I’ll be like, “Why not?” I feel like at this point in my career, people get it. They know I’m a artist. They know I rap. They know I make music. They know I sing. They know I do other stuff. And they also know I come from YouTube. For me to try to shape that image is almost impossible unless I delete all my channels and go ghost. But why would I do that when I changed so many lives and made so many people happy with this platform? I changed my own life with this platform. I’ve been on it for six-plus years, and when I upload, I still get plenty of views. I’m just doing everything on my phone. I vlog off my phone, so to have 500,000 people or 600,000 or 1,000,000 people click on me six-plus years later, that’s kind of a big deal.

It also ties back to my music, because after they get done watching a vlog and I just entertained them so much, they want to go ahead and see what I’m doing current-day on my Instagram. They might catch a little screenshot of my music. “Let me check out his music.” I feel like I’m still converting fans from YouTube to music. I feel like [there are] a lot of people that still only watch me just to watch me and haven’t given my music a chance yet. I feel like I still got some unfinished business to crossover some people.

Image via John Canon

Not too long ago, you shared clips of that movie you were in however long ago on Instagram. You used to vlog a lot about watching movies and shit on Netflix, but I don’t hear you really talk about that anymore. Do you want to pursue a real acting career at some point?
Yeah, 100 percent. I always wanted to be in a horror movie. I want to die in a horror movie or something. I want to do something really like, dope.

Acting was honestly my first… when I was growing up, I wanted to be an actor. I went to school, I took acting as a minor. I’m paying money for that. So acting has always been something that I always wanted to do. I feel like I just had a bad experience with that little independent movie, and it shied me away from it, but I also feel like it’s a blessing because it made me shy away from that dream and focus more on another dream, which is music. But acting was definitely my first wanting to do it type of thing, but I always also been around music my whole life. So I’m definitely going, once I get all this settled, get this right, get this music stuff right, I’m definitely going to try acting.

That’s what’s up. Any favorite horror movies?
I don’t have a favorite horror movie. I feel like all horror movies are the same at the end of the day. You start off this way, blah, blah, blah, a couple people die, blah, blah, blah. At the end, the main character kills the villain. I feel like most horror movies the same, so I don’t really have a favorite, but my favorite movie of all time is the very first Hunger Games.

Is there anything you watched recently that you’re into, or you’ve been too busy?
No, I watched a movie. I forgot what the hell it was called, though. But it’s on Netflix. It’s about a girl. She finessed old people into a nursing home.

Oh, shit.
You got to watch it. It’s a really good movie. She basically tricks an old person into going to a nursing home and then she wipes their account, sells their house, all types of stuff, get paid for it. Then [Ed note: DDG spoke a bit about the film, which we think you should check out, so we removed the light potential spoiler hit us with]. It’s a really, really, really good movie with a crazy twist.

I think I just found it… I Care a Lot?
Yeah, yeah, yep, yep. That’s exactly what it is, I Care a Lot.

People have been telling me about that one. I have to check that out. Is there anything else you got popping off? The homies are dropping merch. Are you planning on dropping any clothes anytime soon, or is it strictly music, your artists, and vlogs?
Yeah, really just been focused on the music, man. I could only do so much, mentally. So I just be trying to focus. I know it’s a lot of bags out there, though. There’s plenty of dollars that I’m not touching that I could be touching, but it’s not even about the money for me. It’s more so about just staying sane and mentally stable and happy.

Maybe at some point, bring back NeckFace or whatever the next NeckFace will be?
I’m trying to be some Cactus Jack type shit at some point. I’m trying to be really, really big when I start doing my merch and shit. So when the time is right, it’s going to come.

'Social Gloves: Battle of the Platforms’ goes down on June 12 live and on pay-per-view via LiveXLive. Tickets are on sale now!

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