These days, Druzi Baby relishes a newfound sense of personal freedom.
The Ypsilanti hip-hop artist and producer embarks on a new quest for independence, ownership and fulfillment on his latest introspective single, “I J Q S D (I Just Quit Sellin’ Dope),” now available on all streaming platforms.
“I literally just quit sellin’ dope last summer and was dead broke. Bills paid and all, but not much extra – it was time. I had some weird ass vibes while I was on vacation in Florida and just had a hard gut feeling it was time to move on in life,” said Drew Denton, aka Druzi Baby.
“In reality, there are so many better ways to make money. Yeah, it’s harder work, but there isn’t a price you can put on a peace of mind. I hope people can take away that you really ain’t gotta take yourself so seriously. Most people are living beyond their means and portraying an unrealistic lifestyle, and that shit ain’t sustainable.”
Throughout “I J Q S D,” funky electric guitars, shimmering beats, thoughtful electronic drums and confident bass encourage listeners to think ahead and move forward.
Druzi Baby thoughtfully reflects, “I can’t spend no more time livin’ outside of my means/I’ve been lyin’ to myself/That’s not following my dreams/Put my life at risk because I’m lazy/Had some other options/Didn’t take ‘em/Can’t stand these little jobs/All these people fake/Gotta be my own boss/That’s the only way.”
“I just turned 30 this year. I’m not about to be out here living a pipe dream. I just wanna work, take care of myself and my family, and make some music while I’m at it at this point,” said Denton, who wrote the track and produced the beat.
Druzi Baby also celebrates taking charge in his new “I J Q S D” video, which features him proudly strolling along empty Ypsi railroad tracks and conducting recording sessions at The Workshop. He teamed up with director Christopher Kulick to record and edit the project.
“I met Chris through our intern, M33shka, and (Chris) is out here a bit from California and just getting started shooting videos. I wanted to work with him because he’s got a good eye and needed some experience. We recorded most of it at my studio, The Workshop, here in Ypsi, and it was shot all in about two hours,” Denton said.
“My business partner/mentor, Mello, makes an appearance in the video. That’s the OG, he runs The Workshop with me. Super talented dude who definitely doesn’t get the shine he deserves because that dude has been putting in the work behind the scenes these past five to six years.”
‘Bout It’ with Squirrel Boy and Bismyth
“I J Q S D” serves as Druzi Baby’s second spellbinding single this year. In April, he dropped the insightful “Bout It,” which chronicles one last day of shenanigans with Christian Shukait, aka Squirrel Boy, and features production by Bismyth.
On “Bout It, ” serene electronic drums, shadowy synth and easygoing bass allow Druzi Baby to bow out gracefully as he reveals, “I don’t wanna hurt nobody/I don’t wanna catch no bodies/Everybody wit me bout it/Turn the fuck up we rowdy.”
“If you’re stuck in that lifestyle it’s really hard to see yourself doing anything else. But for me, it was just time. It’s a really dead end, and it can be fun, but in the end, you end up destroying all your personal relationships and just get deeper and deeper into this underworld,” said Denton, who mixes old school boombap vibes with heavy bass on “Bout It.”
“Shit stops being cute after a couple of years. It’s all fun and games when you’re young, but as you grow older and start losing people either to prison, drama or death, it’s just not worth it anymore.”
Druzi Baby nicely documents his “Bout It” ode to restraint in a compelling video directed by Nathan Droke. Filmed through a fisheye lens, the video showcases Druzi Baby and Squirrel Boy on the road and at a hotel while living it up one last night.
“I met Nathan through Squirrel Boy, and we shot the video in the spring around Ypsi. I wanted something simple, kind of like an old skate video, and that’s why we went with the fisheye lens,” said Denton, who also collaborates with Squirrel Boy on “Legends Never Die.”
“The whole concept was just for me to transition as an artist away from focusing on trapping and partying to expand and make a wider variety of music. Even when I was hustling, I was never a trap star or anything, and I felt like I was trying to be someone I wasn’t wit a lot of that.”
The Origin of Druzi Baby
An Ypsi native, Druzi Baby discovered his artistry while freestyling on the playground in fourth and fifth grade. By middle school, he joined band and played clarinet and bass clarinet until eighth grade.
“I grew out of it and switched to guitar because I was discovering a lot of my mom’s old music – Jimi Hendrix, Zeppelin and grunge. I tried to start a band for a while when I was 13, but it was rough going getting everyone together,” said Denton, who’s inspired by Mindless Self Indulgence, Gym Class Heroes, MC Lars, MC Chris and Futuristic Sex Robotz.
“Eventually, I started producing beats for myself and rapping around 15. Fast forward 15 years to the present day, and here I am still rockin’ just developing my sound and tryna have fun with it.”
In 2012, Druzi Baby teamed up with Allen Wilde to start The Workshop recording studio in Wilde’s garage. They ran the studio together for four years until Wilde moved out of state for work. At the time, Druzi Baby found a new partner in Mello and moved The Workshop into an old dentist office.
“We’ve been here for about six years, and it’s been really nice to have a space to create freely. Lately, I’ve been more focused on creating my own music, but Mello has been in there daily working with tons of artists,” Denton said.
Two years ago, Druzi Baby released his 16-track debut album, GuttaTown, which features a stellar, hypnotic collaboration with Black Alfalfa. It boldly reflects the evolving origin of his artistry, sound and production as an emerging hip-hop solo artist.
“I change my name every couple years. That’s why it’s been hard to keep a consistent fan base over the years, but I keep growing and figuring myself out. That’s why there have been so many iterations,” Denton said.
“Druzi Baby came about probably four or five years ago. My OG Mello would call me ‘Druzi’ sometimes at the studio, and I was listening to a lot of old Lil Wayne (Weezy F. Baby), so I said fuck it and put ‘Baby’ on the end. It’s kind of like an alter ego for me.”
Along with a growing roster of releases, Druzi Baby continues to rack up more live shows. He’ll perform his first DJ set Saturday for a silent disco at Ypsi’s Frog Island Park and do a rap set Sept. 18 at The Tangent Gallery in Detroit for Sauced & Found Records’ Party Area 54.