Blurring the lines between hip hop and funk, Duckwrth effortlessly blends genres to a compelling creation of his own.
And a creator he is, in ways beyond music.
As a graduate of graphic design, Duckwrth is an artist in many ways. Born Jared Lee, Duckwrth’s early artistic inspirations came from his family and living in Los Angeles’ South Central neighbourhood.
“Being from South Central, my mom tried to expose me to different shit when I was younger,” Duckwrth said. “It just gave me the mindset to be open to other cultures, aesthetics, to seek and search it.”
His openness to music began young, as he started listening to gospel and classical music. He listened to Bach before getting into hip hop later in life. Duckwrth’s first exposure to hip hop came through his sister’s bedroom walls. “I was hearing it through my sister’s room. We had thin walls, so it would just be like ‘Boom Boom,’” he said, laughing, with his energy bursting throughout his green room.
We caught up with Duckwrth shortly after his Vancouver debut, opening up for Anderson .Paak. His funky set had him dancing, and by the time we met him, he was shirtless. “Tonight was amazing, I didn’t have much breath,” he said. “It’s mad chill people here, very hospitable. The crowd was amazing tonight, the crowd was fucking stellar.”
Duckwrth’s stage vibe resembled that of Andre 3000 of Outkast. A lot of jumping, dancing, singing, and getting the crowd pumped up on tracks. Joining him on stage was his friend, Compton’s Channel Tres. The duo rocked the “alternative hip hop” label often used to describe the young musician – mostly due to the lack of a term to actually describe his genre.
As his genre remains undefinable, his artwork and sense of style are also distinctly Duckwrth. Influenced by punk and funk, Duckwrth creates his distinct looks by designing what he wears. With patches sewn on shirts, and jean jackets with added personal touches, Duckwrth said he would like to get to a point where he is designing everything.
“When I get boxed in, I get very anxious,” he said. “I can express the same shit but in different means. It’s helping me breathe, it’s another outlet. I’m always in control of my aesthetic and keep it consistent. Like when you see my artwork as a cover for my song. Everything you see visually comes from me.”
With his art, music, and sense of style aligned, Duckwrth’s debut EP I’m Uugly is scheduled to come out in the next few weeks. As for what’s next for Duckwrth’s artistic creations, it may be more visual stories, and may be along the lines of Frank Ocean’s “Endless” or Beyonce’s “Lemonade.”
“Better than Lemonade,” Duckwrth said. “There’s so much cool technology out now too, as far as visual stories. I like that people are pushing their boundaries. The music has to be on point before I even think about visuals, and I want the visuals to be stronger than the music.”
And with the talent he’s displayed so far, this is not a far off idea.