Saturday, May 26, 2018

They speak in rhymes, beats

Their friend's bedroom has been transformed into a recording studio, thanks to four guys setting up cables and mics.

In the studio, a parallel universe of musical terminology, editing, forgotten lyrics, technical difficulties and retakes, two St. Petersburg High seniors, Diego Lasso and Alexander Witherspoon, have also transformed into DLass and Qwest, friends and rappers pursuing the same passion.

Listening to other songs inspires DLass. "Whenever I hear a song with substance, good lyrics and a killer beat, I get the urge to pick up a pen and begin writing," he said. His raps cover a variety of topics to which many high school teenagers can relate. "I like to rap about life, about heartbreak, success, failure and fear," he said.

His love for making words rhyme, and for freestyling, or impromptu rapping, prompted DLass to try his luck at the art. As an example, he offered this freestyle: "So many thoughts are racing in my mind, many have strong starts, but no path to the finish line … And I'm tryin' a seek the truth, but there are many lies to find."

At the recording session, both students seem transported to a different world when they start rapping. The moment Qwest approaches the mic and puts the headphones on, he's totally at ease, clearly loving what he does. He closes his eyes, opens his mouth and a rich, lush sound emerges. Each rapper does his own quirky moves when he's in his zone, Qwest swaying to the music and jiggling the pockets of his pant leg, DLass using his hand almost like a metronome.

For the time being, neither is looking to establish a rap career; both mostly do it as a hobby. They have become well-known throughout the halls of St. Petersburg High through promotion on their Facebook pages, and DAPPRroductions, the videography business run by friend Declan Abernethy, whose bedroom has become the recording studio for both.

At the recent session in Abernethy's room, DLass and Qwest worked on their songs. They have been rapping for two years on their own and recently began collaborating on some pieces. Qwest recorded songs for his mixtape The Middle Years, scheduled to come out Sept. 27. The mixtape will be available for download at datpiff.com.

The rappers typically post links to their new work or statuses on their own Facebook pages when new songs will be released. Qwest released music videos on YouTube for Babylon and So Alone, which features DLass. The two have collaborated on one other song, Work, set to release in the near future. The rappers also use Soundcloud to distribute their music. Qwest posted several freestyle raps on his page, and both have previews of upcoming music.

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