Merriam Webster defines honesty as “the quality of being fair and truthful; fairness and straight forwardness of conduct.” In a recent interview held with Dundra Burl aka Danny B., the young artist chose honesty as the word he wants to live by and relates to most. By promoting honesty, he stays true to himself and encourages his fans to do the same. After answering a few questions, here’s what he had to say for himself and his truth as an artist.
So I’ve listened to your song Hol’ Up that’s featured here on the site and I think it’s great. The beat is nice and the lyrics are pretty dope as well. What was your inspiration for it?
Hol’ Up was really a commission song. A really close friend of mine reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in writing a song promoting the Anti-Bullying movement. I thought that it was a great idea and could really be something positive for the youth. I mean, a rap song … promoting the opposite of what this generation has become accustomed to, used as a catalyst to get the youth to believe in themselves and ignore self-doubt … It was a great idea and I had to be a part of it.
Was it difficult for you to come up with a song without cursing and how long did it take?
I have been doing music for a long time now. Whether for myself and close friends, or music that I release over social media. But, recently I have started to let my parents be a part of my passion for music. With that, came a lot of pressure to do something different. Be a different voice and tell a different story than other artists out now. So, my mother has been pushing me for the last year to stop cursing in any of my music and I’ve been able to really change how I approach my writing and mean every word that I say in a song. So, to specifically answer your question … No, it wasn’t hard to not curse especially when the basis of the song was for the youth and to be a motivating factor in empowerment. Words are power and we should all strive to have a vocabulary where we can substitute other words for expletives and still get a direct point across.
You seem to be very confident although you say in your song you weren’t the “cool dude in school”, how did you stick to being yourself even with the pressure of popularity that high school kids can often place on each other?
I’d have to also give that credit to my parents. Growing up they instilled in us (my sister and I) that the greatest person that you can be is yourself. I moved a lot as a child and with each school that I attended I learned a little more about social norms. In each of my earlier moves I would attempt to fit in to those norms and in doing so became a different person. When I finally moved back to Pine Bluff, Arkansas (where I was born and raised) I vowed that I wouldn’t change who I am to fit in. With that vow came life-long friends with the same ideals, I was able to find my passion in music, and confidence in knowing who I am. I feel like that’s why I “seem to be very confident” because I know myself and my worth and no matter who or what I am around, that doesn’t change. No matter what their opinion of me.
Do you write and produce all of your songs?
Yes, I write all of my music. Production on the other hand is handled by others. Hol’ Up was actually produced by “TrapTeam DJ’s” also out of Arkansas. I have also worked with Justin Robinson (J-Rob) and Quantrell Music out of San Diego, CA. Most of the music that I release over social media are covers or freestyles over other artists’ tracks. I am holding my original music for the time when GOD tells me it’s time.
Are you going to release Hol’ Up anytime soon, if so how?
I don’t think so. As I stated earlier, the song was for another entity and I made it specifically for them. If they decide that they would like to release it, I will run with that release. But, I won’t release it individually.
What are your future plans for your music endeavors? You’re a great artist so I know you have big plans for your talent.
Thank you! As of right now, it’s just do what I love when I have time to. I work as an Industrial Engineer during the day and that takes up about 80% of my time. But, the other 20% is dedicated to following my passion. No big plans or moves anywhere in the near future that I know of, but, GOD willing I will continue to be able to write and release music to my friends that want to hear it. I have a weekly series going on right now called #GoodGameThursdays in which I release a cover to popular artist’s songs every Thursday on YouTube and Soundcloud. If you ever want to check them out you can go to www.youtube.com/dundraburl or https://soundcloud.com/dundraburl
How does your social life play a role in your music? Do you ever feel pressured to have the same type of sound like some of the new younger artists circulating on the radio now? (For example, Fetty Wap, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar or Yung Thug)
All of my music is about my life. My goal is to only write 100% true stories in everything that I record. No matter if it’s about heartbreak in losing the one I love, or not feeling like I was cool in High School, it is all Danny Burl II. No one else. The pressure to sound like others is always there because at this point in time, that’s what the “audience” wants to hear. But, the way I look at my music is the way I look at any event in life. The people that support you are the people that support you. Just because the masses don’t, doesn’t mean that you don’t put on an amazing event for the ones that are there. Back to being confident, I feel like I always have to know and prove that I am worth a listen with anything that I write and release. My goal in dropping a song is to prove that I’m better than anybody else that you are listening to. And if you don’t agree, come see me next week and I’ll try again.
Who are some of your favorite artists that you listen to daily?
I’m a very random music listener. I have my favorites of all time (I.E. Kanye, J Cole, Biggie, Drake and my all-time favorite Murphy Lee) but I also really like to listen to younger artists as they come on the scene. I am listening to a lot of BJ the Chicago Kid lately. A guy named Kyle from California as well as a young man named Goldlink out of Cali. I really, REALLY like Chance the Rapper and Childish Gambino and I think they will be pillars in changing Hip-Hop back to what it was. But, basically I love to watch the come up. The ones that have made it seem to get comfortable. I like to hear hunger in my music. I’m also the biggest fan of Tank and Musiq Soulchild and my future wife Kehlani. lol
I know that you do have your degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Would you give up the life you have built by furthering your education for your musical career? Or do you think it’s possible for the two to coexist?
In a heartbeat. It’s nothing like doing something you love. I have my bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology from UAPB and my masters in Operations Management from the UofA. These two degrees have allowed me to begin a career that I enjoy with financial benefits that I enjoy even more. But, if someone told me that I could make half the money I make now and do something that I truly love and that I am truly passionate about, I would put in my two week notice immediately. Like I stated earlier, I don’t need to reach the masses. Intimate performances with people who really care about the music and the message would be enough to sustain me in creating and sharing my art.
As an artist, what would like to promote with your music?
I promote honesty with my music. People will talk about you when you’re here, and they will talk about you when you’re gone. But, “I put my life in the lines of this college ruled paper. – E-Lee” for everyone to see. It’s my way of venting. I’m not afraid to be myself and I want people to realize that everything you do doesn’t have to be cool to everyone. If you enjoy it and it’s REAL … Do it for you! Stop trying to impress everyone by suppressing your truths. Trust me, it makes you look a lot better when you are comfortable with yourself.
Anything else you would like to share with us?
Nothing more than to really, truly thank Deep Nerd Magazine for taking the time out to interview me. This is actually my first interview, so, it is very special and it means a lot to me. So, thank you for reaching out and the rest of the staff for having me!
For those who haven’t heard Hol’ Up yet, you can check out the song below. Hit play and enjoy! You’ll be glad you tuned in.
Interviewed By: Alyssia Thompson