deM atlaS is not a newcomer, but he just made a debut. On October 19th, the Rhymesayers rapper (also known as Josh Turner) released his first full-length album, Bad Actress. Currently, the Minnesotan artist is on tour with Atmosphere, an experience that he describes as a “roll of the dice” — every night is different. The tour has given him exposure to new audiences, allowing him to make connections and impressions before and after his album release.
Back home in the Twin Cities, deM atlaS already has quite the following. He has lived in the area since he was young and went to high school in Eagan. Since 2010, the rapper has released several EPs and singles, including some while working with local label Rhymesayers. “It feels like all of the EPs were leading up to this moment,” deM said of the upcoming Bad Actress release. “The album feels monumentous for that reason.”
Hometown love is only one of many reasons that this album could be huge. Another is the way everything naturally came to pass. deM atlaS started to work closely with Ant from Atmosphere, and what started out as a few-song collaboration grew into an entire album. deM describes the album as a “journey from where I started and getting to where I am now.” After a tough few years, due to some of the relationships and partying habits in his life, deM has now gotten out of a self-described “hell.” “Not like Hell the place,” he explains. “But the hell that’s inside of you.”
A few songs off Bad Actress — the quintet “Tomorrow Party,” “Bad Loves Company,” “Music Man,” “Gratitude,” and “Can It Fall” — were are all featured on a nearly 27-minute long visual album that deM released late last month. deM says he wanted to go visual because “the album was taking on a cinematic feel.” He originally thought they could do a string of individual music videos that related to one another, but much like the making of the album, a longer video seemed to come together naturally. He had a story to tell.
One scene in particular that resonates with deM is the one during “Tomorrow Party.” It features flashing lights and a seemingly never-ending party, and it feels darker than the rest of the video. It is because of this scene that the visual album reads so well as a story — the songs transition into one another, building up to something new. The setting pulls from deM’s past and demonstrates what he works to get away from during the rest of the visual album. He recognizes this, saying that the songs do a good job of illustrating that “I was losing myself for a little bit, but I’m back to what I am meant to do.”
However, Bad Actress doesn’t have to tell a linear story. While each of the songs work together as a unit, deM feels that they can also stand alone. “Can It Fall” is about forgiveness: “Can you forgive those that have wronged you?” deM challenges. Other songs like “Let Down” touch on his relationship with his father, and “Gotta Get Over” is about “getting over all of this bullsh*t.” “Gratitude” alludes to our current political climate, and all of the scenes for the visual album were shot in the South, where deM says he reflected on being racially profiled, adding to the themes that can be found within the music.
When people listen to Bad Actress, deM hopes they “understand [him] more as an artist.” With this being his first proper full-length, it may simply serve as an introduction for some listeners. “I hope they see themselves in the visual album,” he went on to say, “and I hope they find peace.” deM’s experiences as a poet, painter and rock band frontman may make him just the right jack-of-all-trades to bring peace to many people.
While the “deep well” of deM’s past informs Bad Actress, who knows what the future may hold? deM touched on the possibility of exploring new genres in days to come, and maybe starting a band. “I think it’ll help me find my voice…another voice,” he says. “I’m never comfortable with where I’m at.”