HOMETOWN: Pasadena, Calif.
INFLUENCES: N.W.A., Tupac Shakur, Outkast
ALBUM: Awake, 2016
No stranger to the stage, rapper-producer DeLon has been a fixture on the underground hip-hop scene—and now he hopes to move into the mainstream with his latest release Awake. The 28-year-old cut his teeth in the clubs of L.A., but what sets him apart are his Sri Lankan roots and straightedge ways.
“It’s hard to get away from drugs and alcohol in this industry,” he says. “So I created my own oasis—my studio. I’ve had YG, Ty Dolla Sign and other rappers in there, and they all know there are no drugs or drinking allowed.” He has also been outspoken about high-profile issues affecting his family’s homeland, including the 2004 tsunami, civil war and terrorism. “Being in the industry for 10 years now, I’m comfortable doing my own thing. People love you for who you are, not you trying to be someone else. If people like my music, they like it—if they don’t, they can press fast-forward.”