Tatiana Kent (email@example.com)
Sophomore and rapper Derek Spangler ‘25, better known as D-BONE, is an Ursinus campus celebrity. Even if you’ve never met him, you’ve probably heard his song “Reimert” blasting through the speakers at a late night party. So who is the man behind the music? I sat down with him outside the Commons this week to talk about his process, life, and message.
Spangler started making music in high school. Back then, he released his music on SoundCloud “before I started to take things seriously. If you listen to my SoundCloud stuff, you can tell it’s at a lower quality, because I was just taking beats from RapChat.”
His first single released on Spotify, “Bounce,” was Spangler’s first endeavor at more professional rap production. Paul Pellegrini, an instructor at George’s Music, helped the young talent “enhance” a beat from the RapChat app for the track. “He taught me things about production software, but I’m not really interested in the production aspect. I’m kind of just interested in the lyrics.”
Next up was “Reimert,” a celebration of parties at Reimert Hall. For myself and many other students, this song was the first D-BONE track we’d ever heard. “Every weekend I try to go,” says Spangler. “It’s different from high school. In high school there are no parties going on on the weekends.” The lyrics were originally penned for the course Topics in Music. Instrumentally, he was inspired by Young Dolph’s track “Nothing to Me.” He says, “I was like, ‘I like the pace of this beat’, and so I wanted Reimert to emulate that.” D-BONE recently filmed a music video for the track at the residence hall, with many fellow students present.
D-BONE’s third single “Haters Beware” currently stands as his most popular song on Spotify at over 6,000 plays. Spangler (along with fellow artist 88gZ) strikes back at his naysayers, rapping that he doesn’t care about the hate he receives. I was curious about the inspiration for this song and told Spangler I perceived him as incredibly well liked around campus. He agreed, but pointed out “I feel like there’s always someone who doesn’t agree with what you’re doing. I’ve gotten some [disparaging] messages on Instagram from accounts that I don’t know. This was in the works prior to me even getting to Ursinus. I don’t think I had a catalyst. I just thought [‘haters beware’] was a fun phrase.”
D-BONE’s latest release was “I Like” in May. Described on Spotify as “a song that focuses on the good things in life,” “I Like” may be his most lighthearted song yet. Rather than focusing on standard rap topics such as partying or detractors, the verses list everything that D-BONE enjoys, from the beach to “being nice to everyone I meet by saying hello.”
In March, D-BONE excited fans by posting a list of ten tracks on his Instagram, captioning the post “Album mode lock in.” “The four songs that are out right now will be on it, and then I’ll have two more new ones, so those six will already be out, and then on the album there will be those six plus four new ones.” But the wait isn’t over just yet. “I don’t have a specific date, and it could even go into the next year depending on how busy I am. I’m trying not to rush things. It’s not my best work if I have a deadline.”
Spangler cites fellow rapper NF as one of his main artistic influences. “Just the idea of not cursing, trying to make the genre less vulgar and more open to younger kids, that’s why I respect him.” Actor Will Smith, who has won four grammy awards for his rap performances, is another inspiration. “I’d probably say I’m more along with his topics in that I’m not rapping about intense things like depression, I’m more just rapping about fun things like dancing and parties.” Spangler stressed that he likes to separate himself from his influences. “I like to say I’m similar to Will Smith minus his anger issues, similar to NF minus his depression and daddy issues.”
D-BONE’s Spotify bio states that he “wants to change the rap industry in a positive way.” Spangler clarified to me that he aims to do this through his words and actions. “I’m always gonna be respectful in interviews. I’m never gonna be pompous.” He recounts an incident in which rapper Toosii threatened an interviewer with a gun for mocking his music. “I’m the exact opposite of that. I don’t want to be intimidating to people. I want to be approachable.” Spangler’s faith is another important part of his life and worldview. “I wouldn’t view myself as a Christian rapper, in that not all of my content is Christian based. I like to refer to myself as a rapper who is a Christian. I just want to give the impression that I’m a Christian without throwing it in people’s faces and turning them off. You have to be modest about it.”
When he’s not making or listening to music, Spangler enjoys skateboarding, walking dogs, and playing on Ursinus’s intramural soccer team. Another passion is going to concerts. He recently attended rapper Kendrick Lamar’s Big Steppers tour. “That’s what inspires me the most. When you’re in the crowd, there’s so much energy. I think about what it would be like if I were in the artist’s shoes looking out at the people. That would be magical. That’s the goal.”