From Fooling Around to Full-Time Hustle: Artist Dudley Music Reflects On His Come-Up

By: Miya Jones
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From Fooling Around to Full-Time Hustle: Artist Dudley Music Reflects On His Come-Up

Dudley Music
has gone from joking in his friend’s makeshift studio with diss tracks he’d rather forget, to performing live in several shows including the Brooklyn Bowl where he opened up for and performed with Talib Kweli, Funkmaster Flex and Keith Murray.

Despite the poor quality of his friend’s studio, the exposure to it made him want to take it further.
“I was like, ‘Oh wow, I can record myself and hear it back. I wish I could do this more often.'”
Dudley has always been surrounded by music. After getting some studio time, he delved into writing and creating music from scratch. He also moved from Brentwood to Farmingdale around 2010 and coincidentally grew up in the apartment above Long Island’s oldest music store, Farmingdale Music Store. The shop was owned by his step-dad, giving him direct access to instruments.

Classes helped him sharpen his craft and now he plays seven different instruments. He also became comfortable with being in front of an audience after joining his school’s jazz band. He credits the affirmation and support he received from his parents and teachers who gave him the final push needed to fully pursue music.

“I think everyone needs that [support],” said Dudley. “We need our elders to say, ‘What you’re doing is good.'”

From Fooling Around to Full-Time Hustle: Artist Dudley Music Reflects On His Come-Up
Great South Bay Music Festival 2018 ?: @lostcontrast

The quality and content of his music has matured from basic online beats and diss tracks to crisp production and thought-provoking lyrics.

“It’s grounded in hip-hop, but I try to bring newer and different elements to the music,” said Dudley. “It has jazz, funk, reggae, R&B and soul influences.”

His goal is to develop hip-hop through instrumentation, which is something that his professors at Nyack College questioned.

“There would be times I would go to my professor and say I’m a hip-hop artist, and they would be like that’s not really music,” recalled Dudley. “They’d say, ‘You can’t be a hip-hop musician.’ What I try to do is change that and open people’s minds.”

One song that really encapsulates his mixture of different genres is “I Like It,” which was featured on MTV U (now Cheddar U).

“I look at my songs like my children, so that’s the one that’s made me pretty proud, not that I don’t love the other ones,” joked Dudley. “I want to give it [my music] the same sense and feeling as the songs I used to listen to.”

Some of his favorite artists include Kanye West, old Kanye especially because that might as well be a separate genre, Lupe Fiasco, Slick Rick, Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Mos Def and Common.

Another inspiration of his includes the rapper and activist he was able to share a stage with, Talib Kweli, who featured Dudley’s last project “On My Way” on his website.

“Whenever he played in the city, I made it a point to go and show face,” said Dudley. “When he came to Brooklyn again, I reached out to try and get in one of his shows, and he was down.”
The 27-year-old musician and rapper performed with the “Get By” rapper and other artists for three days straight at Brooklyn Bowl and loved every minute of it.

“To be on stage in front of a bunch of Talib’s fans telling them stories of Long Island and Brentwood was very humbling,” recalled Dudley. “There were a lot of new faces coming up to me.”
One of the songs he performed that really sums up his hometown is “B-Wood,” which has over 16,000 views on YouTube.

The song touches on the stereotypes attached to Brentwood where he grew up. The town is home to mainly people of color.

“Too often the news tells our story, so I wanted to tell our story in our own way,” said Dudley. “I started to realize as I performed it more in different places that it relates to a lot of people, because they come from these small towns with bad stigmas.”

Between growing up in an often stereotyped Brentwood and being biracial, Dudley often dealt with assumptions and preconceived notions. His mother is of Canadian-Irish descent and his father is Jamaican.

“We always feel like we have to accommodate these stereotypes, so being in the middle I was like, ‘I don’t know what to do.'” said Dudley. “I’m this light skin, afro-wearing guy. I stand out in that sense. But, if you focus on those things too much, you’ll hinder your ability to connect with others.”

He is determined to not let some people’s assumptions of him get in the way of making connections and growing musically or personally.

“A lot of times we’re walking in life, we look down and are like, ‘Oh snap I’m on a treadmill; I’m not going anywhere.'” said Dudley. “Then you jump off the treadmill, look down again and realize it’s just a bigger treadmill. You have a lot of moments where you have to jump off the treadmill and realize what’s keeping you from growing.”

From Fooling Around to Full-Time Hustle: Artist Dudley Music Reflects On His Come-Up

The growth is evident as Dudley’s name continues to spread throughout surrounding areas after doing shows up and down the East coast. In a few years, he aims to travel further west and south and produce for and with big names like his idol Alicia Keys, Jill Scott and other musicians.

In the very near future, we can look forward to a new project centered around the relationships in his life. He also has several performances lined up including one at the Great South Bay Music Festival, the largest arts and culture festival on Long Island. He said we can expect, “his whole band, merchandise and maybe some super soakers.”

“It’s really just a party, and I have a crazy collection of super soakers, so don’t get too close to the stage cause you might get soaked,” warned Dudley. “It happened last year, so it may happen again this year.”

You can check out his music on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, Tidal and YouTube.

Miya Jones

Miya Jones

Miya Jones is a Long Island native and the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Shades of Long Island. She's been a journalist since the age of 17 and is a diversity advocate. Follow Miya on Instagram and Twitter: @miyajones1996 and on Facebook as Miya Jones.

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