Aspiring SoundCloud rapper takes steps to bigger stage

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By Aishi Debroy and Trey Phillips, Staff Reporters

It’s a familiar scene. High school sweethearts anxiously line the walls at junior prom. But there’s something new this year, something unheard of. Added to the list of songs is the hottest song of the decade, ‘Bounce’ by Conestoga’s own rapping sensation DBone. 

Junior Derek Spangler, known by his rapper persona DBone, has been releasing songs onto the music sharing platform SoundCloud since the summer. With six singles, a growing fanbase and a dance track on the way to becoming his biggest release, Spangler has his sights set on junior prom. 

“My goal is to have a song on Spotify and Apple Music by prom so the DJ can play the song during prom. It’s going to be called ‘Bounce.’ It’s a dance track,” Spangler said. “My hope is that (it’ll be finished by) the beginning of April, because I want it to be ready for junior prom.” 

Spangler’s interest in music production stems from his passion for music, with some of his favorite artists including Lil Pump, Drake and Future. However, he does not aspire to replicate these artists, instead hoping to have a more family-friendly image, expanding the accessibility of his music to a wider audience. 

“I’ve been listening to music and really appreciating it since eighth grade,” Spangler said, “(but) I’m trying to be different. I don’t want to curse like most of the other rappers.” 

Writing songs can be a difficult task, but to Spangler, it is a skill he works hard to master. With the help of his music instructor Paul Pellegrini, a George’s Music employee; Conestoga music teacher Cassandra Hesse; and classmates from his songwriting class, his writing process continues to evolve and become more refined.

“I start (by) writing lyrics about an idea. I don’t even match them to a beat at first, I just write down the lyrics. Then I find a beat and match it to the lyrics, and then I put them together and record,” Spangler said. “(But) now I’m learning how to make my own beats. So now instead of making the lyrics and then the beats, I make the beats before I make the lyrics, so I can have an idea of how the rap is going to sound before I start writing it.”  

Open to constructive criticism and ways to improve, Spangler often asks for advice when he needs guidance. Senior Elizabeth Holton, a member of Spangler’s songwriting class, is one of the many musicians that assist in his production process by helping play the saxophone to his initial drafts during their weekly Friday jam sessions.   

“He hashed out (his new song) with us during a jam session and only had a few lyrics and a basic chord progression. We all thought it sounded awesome,” Holton said. “He asks us for advice, and he wants us to know how we feel about it. We don’t help him lyrically because he’s got that down. Instrumentation, that’s what we really help him on. We are helping with upping his musical process.” 

Holton and other members of his songwriting class appreciate Spangler’s positive approach to the hip-hop genre and encourage his goals as a rapper in the music industry.  

“I am a fan of all that he wants to do and all that he stands for: a love of music and a love of hip-hop. He’s just having a good time, and he loves what he’s doing,” Holton said. “We are encouraging Derek to finalize his songs and really nitpick it so that he can perform it at the coffeehouse. (It would be) his first performance by himself. I think that is a step to perform for larger groups of people.” 

Hesse, Spangler’s songwriting teacher, sees the community which has formed around his class and his music. She appreciates all that Spangler has been doing to get toward his goals and has her own advice to give on how he can get there. 

“My advice for Derek would be to diversify some of his songs,” Hesse said. “Maybe diversify some of his tempos, experiment with some different beats, different sounds, maybe some different styles within that genre, and I think it’d be really fun for him to explore.” 

Spangler has big aspirations and continues to polish his work, taking small steps to reach a bigger stage. Starting with creating his own beats and constructing his personal studio with advanced production equipment, Spangler increasingly hones in on his craft.  

“I’d like to, eventually, past college, do tours and concerts in America and maybe the world, maybe have a record deal, make professional albums and not just singles, (and) hopefully have people feature on them,” Spangler said. “That’s my short term goal, and my long term goal is to get famous, obviously.”

Mixing music: Junior Derek Spangler makes beats on his laptop. Spangler has released six singles on the music sharing platform SoundCloud and hopes to release a dance track on Spotify and Apple Music titled ‘Bounce.’

Aishi Debroy can be reached at [email protected].

Trey Phillips can be reached at [email protected].