A button-up shirt, a cardigan and a bow tie. Gregory Michael Davis’ look feels more math club than hip-hop, and he’s okay with that. It’s part of the artist’s newly branded image—a rebirth.
“I started rapping at a really young age,” 27-year-old Davis explains. In fact, he remembers the exact date he got turned on to hip-hop: September 22, 1997, when he heard “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New),” by Coolio, at age 8. He soon began writing lyrics and recording them on his toy karaoke machine, and by 12 he’d chosen his rapper name, Devastate, which carried him through high school battles and on a tour at the age of 18. But something wasn’t right. He was starting to feel like an outsider in what he’d long considered his scene.
“Hip-hop is the only music culture I’ve seen where people talk more about what they dislike than what they actually do like,” he says. “I became very bored and disenchanted with it.” Davis went on hiatus, and eventually made a career-changing decision. “I wanted to be more musical,” Davis says. “I didn’t want to be a hip-hop artist and get onstage and just rap. I wanted to get onstage and sing. I wanted to get onstage with instruments. I wanted to be more.”
It’s been almost three years since Davis performed, so he decided to put an end to his old alter ego through a unique social media campaign. On November 1, images of Davis’ friends and fans laying in pools of blood with the words “Devastate is dead” on their shirts made their way around the Internet. “People were intrigued by it,” Davis says. “Ambiguity became a big promotional tool, because no one knew anything. People were very supportive.”
Now billed by his real name, Davis is at work on an EP, One Damned Song, due this spring. Like his social media campaign, the album is a Vegas-wide effort, featuring collaborations with Jesse Pino, Cameron Calloway, Almost Normal, Shayna Rain, Josh Rabenold (Avalon Landing)—and it will feature a remake of The Skooners song, “The Mayor,” and more. “I’ve been really lucky that a lot of the musicians in Vegas that I’ve looked up to have been kind enough to consider working with me,” Davis says. “I feel like finally being who I am allowed this project to happen.”
Gregory Michael Davis with Ekoh, Almost Normal, Avalon Landing: December 16, 7 p.m., all-ages, $5-$10, Vinyl.
John Fallon, vocalist and guitarist for ’80s psychedelic-revival band The Steppes, has teamed up with local musician/engineer Joe Lawless and Italian artist Gioele Valenti (who goes by Herself), for a five-song EP titled Gleaming. The project was released digitally on November 10 under the name Herself & The Laissez Fairs—the latter the newest mod/psychedelic collaboration between Fallon and Lawless. “It’s good to have other people who have creative input,” Fallon says of his latest work. “You can’t get lazy.” The Laissez Fairs are already working the next batch of songs, which are being recorded at Lawless’ home studio, Lawless Noise and Visions. The upcoming tracks will also feature Chris Glaser (drums), Brian Gathy (bass) and The Steppes’ Tim Gilman (guitar). See the group live when it performs at the Holiday Tribute to The Rolling Stones December 26 at the Bunkhouse.
Also … local indie rockers Special-K will release a debut 20-track album, I Can’t Hear You: Early Tracks and Remnants, on November 20 at the Womb Room. The band’s EPs are available at specialkvegas.bandcamp.com.
Melodic hardcore outfit Alaska will throw a release party for its latest album, Shrine, November 24 at 11th Street Records. The group will play the new LP in its entirety.
Rapper Trade Voorhees released his new 16-song full-length, November, on November 14. The album can be purchased at sat14.tv.