Who is Dusty Leigh?
Dusty Leigh is far from your average rapper. He’s white. He hails from Louisville, KY and he combines the hardcore element of Hip-Hop with the wittiness of Pop. The 24 year-old entertainer prefers to set trends instead of follow them, yet another reason he stands out in his state’s largest city. Dusty’s brand of witty wordplay has attracted a sizeable amount of supporters, the “Dust Gang,” that range from die-hard rap heads to party-minded frat kids. His music transcends color lines and embraces creativity with an adventurous mix of funk, soul and rock grooves. Dusty Leigh is the voice of the new generation.
Dusty, who was inspired by TI and Eminem, began his career by penning comical rhymes in the 3rd grade. Over time the young MC perfected his intrinsic skills including his lyrical content, which matured as a result of putting in overtime in his home studio. While Dusty always felt a part of the hip hop culture that changed when he transferred from a large diverse high school in the city to a more segregated one in the country. “I was the only white kid wearing oversized tees and jerseys weighing 150 pounds and wanting to rap,” recalls Dusty. “So I was like an outsider. Everyone else was into John Deere and stuff like that. There were even teachers that joked about me wanting to be a rapper.” Dusty didn’t let his location or the cynicism of his educators deter him from his rap dreams. At 15, his older brother pitched him to battle rap against guys twice his age. Learning first hand that neither age nor race doesn’t define what one is capable of, Dusty found himself spitting in front of an audience of over 100, the biggest platform of his life and made a fan out of every person in attendance.
Because he grew up around street culture, his inextricable association led him to create that kind of music. “I would just try to make the music they were making, just gangster stuff. I kind of did that for about a year and then they all started going to jail and I kind of fell off from doing it.” Instead of quitting, Dusty readied for his comeback. After gaining custody of his young daughter, he decided to make music that reflected his life, which included heartbreak, as well as happiness. After taking several networking trips to Atlanta, the ambitious hustler recorded a single that Grey Goose sponsored. The hit not only jump-started his career, but it also changed his life. The Midwestern rhymer’s profile was instantly raised making him an overnight celebrity. “I’ve never had people call me Dusty Leigh in my life. Now I’ve got people running up to me yelling my name and buying me drinks. And at the time, I didn’t even drink.” Regularly dubbed “the party animal,” Dusty has worked overtime to earn the reputation and the rewards. “Most of my music is geared towards love and emotions or just having a good time and living life. It’s not trappy at all. It’s real life and about how I live.”
Dusty Leigh announced himself to the world on his debut album, No Day Job. A radical Hip-Pop release, it contained a hopeful message and statement of purpose. “When you have a dream, people say things like ‘don’t quit your day job,’ basically telling you that you’re not good enough and there’s no hope for you. I bucked that theory and started a movement.” Fans caught on. Although Dusty doesn’t have any tattoos and doesn’t promote people to irresponsibly walk away from their jobs, he’s been greeted by thousands of followers who have inked “quitting my day job” on their faces and bodies.
The Stage Presence
While the leader of the “Dust Gang” has been typecast as a party animal, he denotes any notion of one-dimensionality when he performs with a live band. From electrifying bursts of drums, rock guitars, keys and saxophones, Dusty has created a brilliant concept of genuine, honest art. Dusty is his own distinct character. His next project will have no rap features; yet include emerging singers and in-house producers. “I feel like if people have a lot of features it kind of takes away from your talent. Everybody who’s on this album it’s his or her first time recording professionally. I want to bring fresh voices and talent to the forefront.” Dusty, who has toured with MGK and Bone Thugz N Harmony, is fully aware of his influence. He has built his brand on transparency and an experience of positivity. “I’m the guy that gets there before sound check. I make sure I take pictures with people and I give them CDs, t-shirts, any kind of merchandise to make a fan out of them. I’m really hands-on with my supporters. That’s why I think I’ve gained so many in a short time without any major platform.”
While Hip-Hop and Pop music are equally cool, Dusty Leigh’s unconventional approach to the unique hybrid of genres allow them to coexist favorably. From underground to mainstream, from kissing babies to shaking hands, Dusty Leigh is on track to becoming a Hip-Pop culture phenomenon. His energy is undeniable.