WILLEMSTAD – Another rapper from Curaçao that is also dominating the Dutch and Antillean urban scene is the talented lyrist Devi Dev. The Velvet Rope sat down with the rapper to discover how he celebrates his heritage through his music. At the root of his love for Curaçao is the importance of family, a reoccurring theme in his music. We also spoke with the legendary rapper MC Oye, a pioneer in the Dutch and Antillean urban music, and the talented DJ and video clip director, Selwyn de Wind, who shared their views about the recent developments in the genre.
Born in Curaçao as Jurick Job, the 26-year old rapper moved to the Netherlands with his family as a an infant. He grew up in a busy and loving single parent household that consisted of his mother and aunt, two siblings and several cousins, yet had to overcome a difficult childhood. “I was a very naughty kid and gave my mother a lot of headaches”, he shared. In fact, the moniker Devi Dev comes from people calling him ‘little devil’, a label he truly disliked growing up, so it was shortened to Dev. He attributes his behavioral issues to the absence of a father figure in his life, which culminated with a two-year stint at a boarding school at age 8, because his mom couldn’t handle him. “Karma is an interesting thing, now that I have a newborn baby girl”, he chuckled. Despite the rough start, Devi Dev never lost track of what truly matters, which is family. The doting father of three showed his softer side when he patiently tended to his kids who were vying for his attention during our interview. He’s committed to be present in his children’s life to make sure they grow up differently. He credits these experiences to the development of the truth talking and street smart persona of Devi Dev and wouldn’t change a thing about it.
Rap as an escape
Devi Dev grew up with a crew of friends in Capelle aan de Ijssel, a city in the outskirts of Rotterdam with a large Antillean community. “We’d rap on the streets and play in a brass band”, he shared. Dev wasn’t very interested in school and soon dropped out of the VMBO. His no nonsense mother Sharella, was at times very strict and didn’t allow the teenager to hang around the house doing nothing, so he moved out on his own at the age of 18. Devi Dev always knew he could rap, however he never had the courage to record. “I had a few friends that were serious about rap and I would go home and secretly practice”, he explained. “Some of them laughed at me, but that pushed me to become better. I first recorded a diss track at the age of 16”, he shared. To this day Dev is part of the Talk Riders crew, and in addition to the label, they also launched an urban clothing line called ‘The Riders Family’.
The impact of the ‘Panda remix’ and ‘Na Bida Mi Ta’ did take Devi Dev a bit by surprise. “I released Panda in April of this year after I came into the studio one evening and laid that track in one take”, the rapper explained. Producer and video clip director 2MG came to Capelle to record the clip and in two days they released the song. He noticed that the songs were a hit when his phone began to ring off the hook for bookings in the Netherlands. According to Selwyn de Wind, this shows the power of the internet how the technology has advanced. “Through the internet, Curacao became more popular in the Netherlands. Now more people know about the islands and the Curacao artist has become more proud to identify as such”, the video clip producer explained. Many see Dev as a ‘street intellectual’, and is, by his own admission, a perfectionist. “Devi Dev is lyrically very proficient and the way he plays with words is amazing” de Wind added. “Everything I rap about, are based on my personal experiences or things I’ve observed”, Dev shared. “I’m just a dude from Rotterdam and here everybody knows and supports me. My fan base has grown a lot in Curaçao and the experience is different and I like that allot” he explained.
Devi Dev clip ‘Na Bida Mi Ta’ – Picture from his Facebook Page
Re- discovering Curaçao
Although Devi Dev grew up in a home that always spoke positively about Curaçao and where they spoke Papiamentu freely, Dev would return to Curaçao at the age of 8. “I remember everything. I got off the plane and I could hear my family scream my name”, he remembered with a smile. It would be another seventeen years before Devi Dev returns to his birth island for a slew of performances. “I took way too long to return, since I feel so relaxed and stress free in Curaçao. The first thing I do when I arrive on the island is to visit my aunt Nana that always spoils me”, Dev shared. Dev does have a message for his people with his music. “I don’t do it for the fame, but I do have something meaningful to communicate. If I rap them in Dutch that might get me in trouble with some people”, he continued. MC Oye sure agrees with the messages of the up-and-coming artist. The MC encourages the crop of new rappers to always remain faithful to who they are. “In the end, everybody decides what they want to sing, however I’m urging all to remain as positive as possible. Be aware what kind of influence you have on the youth, even when you are rapping about real life experiences, you can do that in a positive manner” he finalized.
For the upcoming months, Devi Dev is working on various exciting projects, like a few singles, and he also has a few performances booked in Spain, Aruba and dushi Curaçao.