First-year rapper Dienasty drops fresh beats on York

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Author: Rachel Stober

 

The late afternoon sun sifts through the blinds, falling onto the white shag rug of a dorm
room in Newcomb as freshman Jordan Whaley gets to work. He stands dressed in an extra-
large Sixer’s jersey, basketball shorts and Raider’s flat bill hat, bobbing back and forth in front
of the microphone, his tufts of curly black hair protesting the restraint of his headphones. He
looks almost like a conductor as he lifts his hands to start the verse, moving them delicately and
deliberately with the beat, pointing, flicking and swishing rhythmically as he raps. Freshman
Scott Williams, short, witty, with curly hair and an eclectic wardrobe, sits crouched over his
computer, carefully watching the sound levels.
“Honestly, I don’t think you’re struggling with it,” Williams says when the verse ends, in
response to an earlier concern from Whaley. “And I think you sound awesome with the beat.”
“You think so?” Whaley asks, sincerely.
As they discuss BPMs (beats per minute), the conversation drifts to intermural
basketball, and then the headphones go back on and it’s time for business once again. For
Whaley, rap is something to be taken very seriously. Although he is widely known on campus
as “Wiz” for his resemblance to and affection for Wiz Khalifa, as a rap artist he goes by Dienasty
(pronounced “dynasty.”)
“The meaning behind it is just do everything like it’s your last, you know, if you’re gonna
go out, do it nasty,” Whaley said.
Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about Whaley’s rapping career at Oxy is the
dedicated and constantly growing crew of involved supporters who contribute to it. Through
mutual friends, Facebook, and close living quarters, Whaley has found himself with something
resembling an entourage, rich with musical skill.
“It’s something that I definitely feel is underrated around here, there’s so much hidden
talent, it’s everywhere!” Whaley said.
Whaley’s neighbor and aspiring producer Williams records him and mixes his vocals
with the beat using a program called Logic Pro (he implies the mix is not up to the level of a
professional studio, to which Whaley interrupts, insisting that Williams shouldn’t downgrade
himself.) (Junior?) Kyle Scoble oftens promotes Whaley’s music on his blog, and is also helping
with a photoshoot and the album artwork for the next EP, and freshman David Baca lends his
vocals as hooks for some of the tracks. Freshman John Henry organizes their meetings, gathers
publicity, and works to increase Whaley’s audience, sounding almost like a manager when he
speaks about Whaley’s blossoming musical career.
“What we’re trying to do right now is get his music out there so if people hear about
him they can go and find him,” Henry said. “Honestly, the hardest gap is between starting
and getting to a point of being a commodity for some label … because you have to put all the
investment in yourself to seem like something someone else is willing to invest in.”
Apparently, Whaley passed that test for Henry.
“I think he can go a long way because he is personable and he is charismatic and he
does have talent,” Henry said. “But more than that he has a real drive; he really wants to do
work and he really wants to expand what he knows, so it’s good to work with him.”
In tune with his motivation and work ethic, Whaley is also a two sport athlete (basketball
and football) and works for the Office of Community Engagement, in addition to a full course
load as an econ major. One may wonder how he has time for all of this.
“I don’t, I really don’t,” Whaley laughs. “But you know, you make it work. I’m writing
music in class when I’m not listening, and I like doing all that stuff, so you find a way to make it
Writing in class is nothing new for him. In fact, his first memory of rapping is writing
rhymes in class at age six.
“I would just write little raps, you know, like ‘My Way on the Highway,’ like stuff like that I
thought that was always really awesome,” Whaley laughs. “That’s how it started and then it just
sort of picked up from there.”
But it wasn’t until later in high school with help and direction from his friend Aaron Childs
that Whaley started recording or seriously considering rap.
“That’s really how my whole pursuit of trying to make something out of music happened,”
Whaley said. “I mean we were both 16, 17 years old so we really had no idea, but he just kind
of showed me the ropes. That’s where I first started recording, and that was that and it just took
off.”
Whaley’s early tracks came from a single microphone in Child’s garage. A Pasadena
native, it was at about this time during his junior year that he began performing as well. You
can almost feel the butterflies begin to flutter again as he recalls his first, and most memorable,
performance at a local club.
“I was nervous as hell,” Whaley says, smiling as he shakes his head. “But I just went up
and did it, and that’s all it was, and I love doing it … When you’re up on stage and you just feel
that giant energy from the crowd, it’s always awesome.”
Performing with Childs, Whaley slowly started moving from nearby clubs and bars
towards Hollywood, even doing a show at the Trubador and a few on Sunset Boulevard.
“It was all Aarons connections, and his connections after seeing me became my
connections,” Whaley said. “It was all just knowing people and meeting people.”
When Childs, a year older, left for college, it was time for Whaley to utilize those
relationships, and find a new studio. That’s when he connected with Tim Moore, a producer and
engineer with a thick New Zealand accent and a charming smile, who owns Mas Music
Productions’ studio on York Boulevard.
“When I first met Jordan I was like okay, this kid is clearly talented, but what I first
latched on to was that this kid is gonna keep me on my toes,” Moore said. “He knows exactly
what he wants, he knows how he wants it and he’s got it all figured out before he comes in …
Basically half the time I’m just trying to keep up with him, ’cause he can rap it and think it and do
it faster than I can press record.”
With the different people and pursuits that Whaley is involved in, Moore believes he can
bring a unique and relatable perspective to his music, because ultimately, listeners “want to
hear your life in the music.”
“What I talk about, it’s the things that I’ve gone through or the things that I … want to see
happen or things that I want to change,” Whaley said. “Every rapp
er, every artist, has their own
story, so it’s another story to tell.”
One of the ways he hopes to bring this story to Occidental’s campus is at Greek events
and parties, bringing an arguably much needed spark to Oxy’s night life.
“In all honesty I’m tired of going to a social outing and it’s just ‘so… what’s up, how was
your day…'” Whaley says, holding an imaginary red cup as he rolls his eyes. “So I think it needs
to be more lively, a little but more of a party, and I think I can help with that.”
In addition to appearing at parties, Whaley is working on new material to fuel his
presence on campus and in the larger music scene. To add to the six-track “Look Up” mixtape
he’s released online, Whaley has a few projects currently in the works. He hopes to finish
another EP of about the same size called Timeline in the very near future, to “let people know
I’m out there.” This is a prelude, however, to the sponsored mixtape “Headphone Dreams,” or
the “big shebang” as he calls it, which should be released before the end of the school year if all
goes according to plan.
“Get ready, ’cause everything is going to come out at once,” Whaley said. “I’m tired of
just saving everything, I’m ready to just get it all out there.”

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