Photographers: Anthony Demarco & Corrinne Theodoru
Interview: Devyn Jones
Powell’s City of Books in downtown Portland claims to be one of the world’s largest independent bookstores today. Ironically enough, the best story I got from Powell’s during my trip came from a young rapper right around the corner of releasing his debut album to the world. Daren Todd, recent Portland resident, looked calm. Coffee in hand, Daren sat with me in a crowded coffee shop eager to share his story and talk about his debut project “RE:NA”. Our conversation eventually went from talking about his music to just talking about life’s lessons and the current landscape of hip hop music and how to navigate the oversaturated waters of the genre. Throughout the brief but rich dialogue, four things rang true about the rapper. These four themes were present throughout Daren’s work and set solid expectations for his upcoming album.
1: He has strong musical origins
When you hear Daren’s music, you can hear quite a few things being done well simultaneously. One of the reasons was due to the artist’s upbringing in church when he was younger. “My exposure to music was super crafted and shaped by gospel and church music.” Said the Lompoc, California- bred rapper. Daren’s 12 year involvement in the church were the breeding grounds of his musical education. The proof of his gospel upbringing can be heard in songs like “Coast” and “Celebrations.” The smooth syncopation of Daren’s vocals over jazzy, in house production shows the attention to detail he has in the quality of what he’s putting out to the listener. The keys being played in both songs were dead giveaways to the trained ear of a gospel influence. A great deal of that influence is heard throughout his catalogue.