Following the August 21 release of his album SuperGood, rapper and multimedia artist Duckwrth joined Universal Music’s °1824 team to talk creative process, musical inspiration, growing up in LA, and more.
Duckwrth has been a refreshing, unique voice in the rap scene since the 2015 release of his project Nowhere. Recent tours alongside Billie Eilish, Louis The Child, and EarthGang have put Duckwrth on the map—equipped with a tenacity and artistic toolbox rare of upcoming artists, it’s clear that he’s only going up from here. Duckwrth’s musical versatility is vast, enabling a diverse but still cohesive sound with gritty, heartfelt, story-driven lyricism atop a mixture of bass-heavy hip-hop beats and 70s inspired dance grooves.
SuperGood is comprised mostly of the latter, full of dreamy, buoyant melodies and funky drum riffs. The 16-track span is an upbeat, playful, and honest exploration of experiencing new love—the insecurities, the eagerness to show off a little, and the excitement of the unknown.
“It’s a rhythm project. So I want people to dance, to groove, to bop, to move,” Duckwrth said. The album was written in January, when Covid-19 was barely a blip on the radar. At the time he was excited for a new year, but as the world went on lockdown the album’s sound and story greeted a new reality—one that arguably needed it even more.
“It’s already its own affirmation, like when you press play it’s supposed to make you feel super good,” he said. “I feel like it came right on time, where people need to feel the best that they can at this moment.”
Duckwrth explained that the project is like “the yin and yang” to THE FALLING MAN, his 2019 EP, which delves into the character of a king who “falls to his demise because he doesn’t know love.” SuperGood, on the other hand, is all about love and what it feels like to meet someone special.
“A lot of it has to do with me taking this girl out on a date. Going to different venues, and like also different fantasies and ideas that I have of her before we actually go on the date… it’s like a story, as if you were watching a Netflix show,” he said. “It’s a story to take you away from your current situation.”
Beyond the love story, Duckwrth explained that SuperGood draws inspiration from the music and aesthetics of the 70s.
“Such eclectic style… the music was so colorful and the album covers were so beautiful, you know, so I kind of wanted to tap into that,” Duckwrth said.
“I really feel like the 70s, especially for black people, was a time of celebration. We just came out of civil rights, and black people started to gain certain freedoms… you know, it was a celebration. So within that, when black people start going back to who they are, and their original essence, a bit of magic happens.”
For Duckwrth, growing up in Los Angeles during the 90s and 2000s was beautiful, but difficult.
“It’s always sunny, the beach is always crackin’… it’s kind of like its own little weird utopia, but on the same flip side, it was a lot of trauma,” he said.
“Diamonds come from, you know, the roughest type of situation. So I think by being raised specifically in south-central Los Angeles it gave me a backbone—so when I deal with corporate America, I don’t take no bullshit, you know, because I learned to survive duckin’ bullets… it just taught me all the methods I needed to get the things I need to get as an artist, as a man, as a businessman.”
Growing up, he always knew creativity to be part of his DNA—and central to his future, too. When he was young, a stranger approached him at church and told him he had a calling; the message has stuck with him since.
Duckwrth’s knack for blending musical styles comes from his eclectic taste. In the studio, he said, he’s most inspired by the feelings and chord progressions of soul, gospel, and jazz. On stage, however, it’s a different story.
“When I perform, it’s strictly punk. Like thrasher, hardcore. That’s my shit… they just perform with such a conviction, you know, and it riles people up and get’s the fire started.”
As Duckwrth sets his sights on the future, and starts working on the next album, he said authenticity and self-love have become a priority—especially during the pandemic.
“It’s been a it’s been a really crazy year. So it’s like, I don’t think my artistry needed as much love as my human did.”
“I feel like there’s a way to portray a healthy artist, and that’s through just being true to yourself, you know, and I think that’s how you make the best music,” Duckwrth said. “And that’s the music that lasts… that’s the music that becomes people’s favorite albums.”