Daylyt Explains His Face Tattoo & Its Much Deeper Than You Think (Video)
In recent years, the interest driving the sport of Battle Rap rivals that of mainstream Hip-Hop. While there are no album sales to track, and less resources to hype a career (the daily stream of songs and videos), Hip-Hop superstars (Eminem, Drake) are showing that they personally are excited by the battle circuit. Meanwhile, acts from Joe Budden to Canibus, to ONYX’s Fredro Starr are stepping back into the proverbial ring, willing to risk their legacies for chances at victory.
If Battle Rap has a superstar, it’s Daylyt. The Watts, California (by way of Cairo, Egypt) MC born Davone Campbell is the ultimate competitor, as well as its most outrageous entertainer. He has faced top tier peers like Math Hoffa, Serius Jones, and Calicoe. In doing so, the face-tattooed spitter regularly uses props, elaborate stage antics, and no shame in obliterating his opponents. From staging defecation, opening umbrellas in the competition’s face, and stripping, Daylyt knows no boundaries. However, it is how he exposed himself—in a comprehensive interview on Sway In The Morning last Friday (September 2) that may make Battle Rap skeptics open up to the MC responsible for bringing the sport to a boil. This deep conversation looks at a fierce challenger, who warns that he plans to participate in every major battle-beef in Hip-Hop from here on out.
The interview begins with Daylyt speaking openly about growing up in Watts. With 15 siblings, Davone came from the same gang-controlled city that has Hip-Hop ties to Kam, Glasses Malone, O.F.T.B., and Bad Lucc. Discussing his relationship with Rap music, Day’ admits that he was just as much a fan of an artist like Nelly as he was of lyricists like Nas. However, before he honed in on rapping, one of Daylyt’s first loves was skateboarding. He reveals, “Skating in Watts is like illegal. I don’t mean from the police standpoint, I mean from the hood’s standpoint. ‘Nigga, you can’t skateboard, cuzz; that ain’t what we do.’…I had to skateboard on the low.” The MC says his skating abilities neared sponsorship levels.
However, for an MC who rarely gets to tell his own story in his verses, he shows how deeply real Watts is, even today. “My [graduating] class was probably 300-350 Black males; there’s only like three of us alive [today]. Like out of 350 something, the fourth [living graduate] just got killed. You can Google the news story. His name was Mafia Ray. He just got killed.” While Compton, Inglewood and Long Beach have gained national recognition for their culture and crime, Daylyt puts down for his city. “Watts is different from the rest of the world. Jay Rock, anybody will tell you that.”
One of Watts’ symbols are its towers. Shown in films like Training Day, as well as in various music videos, Daylyt points out that the landmark says something about the city. “Our towers are made of trash; Watts Towers is made of recycled cans, bubblegum, and like molded trash [turned] into towers—broken bottles [and glass]. Do we feel happy like, ‘Yo, we have something to look up to’? No, we just turned trash into something good.” Telling Sway Calloway and Tracy G about his gang ties, Daylyt reveals, “I grew up on the Crip side [of Watts]—the Grape Street side; Watts is segregated into four different sections…So I wasn’t really courted into a gang, I just grew up in it. My friends is from Grape, my family members are from Grape. But mind you, although [I have all of those ties to a Crip gang], Jay Rock was my best friend growing up—the whole time. [Jay Rock] is my day-one best friend. Even though he was from the other side [as a member of the Bounty Hunter Bloods], we were best friends.”
Daylyt recalls sharing a love of video games with the TDE breakout star. As the two men got older, they felt the pressure of their neighborhoods in hanging out. The battle MC says they still speak regularly today. Asked if he would be a fit on the Top Dawg Entertainment label that includes Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul, he says, “I’m still not sure if TDE itself knows me and Jay Rock’s relationship.” While admitting that he’d “love to be down,” Daylyt pulls no punches about the grim realities facing two successful Hip-Hop entities, even if from just miles apart. “I just know from a street perspective, it wouldn’t work. The side that TDE is from, I couldn’t bring none of my family members to [potential label functions].” Even in 2016, he says, “It’s history behind it…Like, one of my friends that just got killed, [his allies] gotta kill five of the other side [to retaliate]. My boy that got killed got a son. That boy gonna grow up like, ‘Y’all killed my daddy.’ It’s never gonna end. It’s an everlasting beef that’s never gonna end.” Like Snoop Dogg’s “Vato,” the Westside Connection lineup, and others, the MC says he hopes to make a public demonstration of gang and neighborhood unity. “The bigger I get, hopefully me and Jay Rock can put something together and [show peace].”
To illustrate his point, Daylyt says in August, he was filming segments for the Battle Rap film Body. In Los Angeles, California, the MC reveals that he invited members of the Grape Street Crips and Bounty Hunter Bloods to his shoot, to show unity, and prominent figures from around Watts. “Before we could film the movie, [both parties] had to leave,” says the MC with disappointment. “Sometimes I look up to God like, ‘Bruh. Bruh. I was trying to do something [meaningful]. It could have been two days earlier, two days later. Why, right now?'” He continues, “So I’m on the movie set. My boy Chop just started crying. I’m like, ‘Yo, what the fuck’s wrong?’ He was like, ‘Yo, let me talk to you right quick.’ He pulled me to the side. ‘Yo, the Bounty Hunters just killed Mafia Ray.'” With leaders from both gangs in the same venue, Daylyt recalls watching the peaceful moment grow tense before his eyes. “So then Gutta gets a call…Now, Gutta and Chop is kinda lookin’ at each other, like, ‘Do we stay?’ You gotta think…from the gangster perspective, they probably wanted to stay, but they didn’t know what the other person was thinkin’. So Gutta was probably like, ‘Chop probably gonna try something and get this shit over with.’ So they both bounced [from the movie set].” He summarizes, “The universe won’t even allow me to make a difference.” Throughout the interview, Daylyt mentions the “falls” he’s had to take his whole life. He alludes to the significance of the act of balance (and not falling) in skating that aligns with his goal in life. “People be like, ‘Why do Daylyt do some of the wild shit?’ I do it ’cause I can do all this wild shit that y’all see online, or I could be another statistic in the hood, with the rest of the homies.” The MC admits that he can be a troll or an overblown personality. “At least I’m not violent.” He says that the Crips in his neighborhood supported his talents, urging him to chase his dream, above street warfare. “I’ve always helped my neighborhood in a different way than just [being in a gang].”
(16:00) Daylyt speaks about some of his more memorable battle moments. “I never really shitted on stage,” he confirms, dispelling a widely circulated rumor about his late 2014 battle against Real Deal. Daylyt says he used a Snickers candybar as a well-timed prop, while even Sway—who was present at the event—asserts that the act appeared real. The MC also explains why he chose to expose himself during another battle, facing female MC.
(19:00) Besides bodily emissions and nudity, Daylyt is widely recognized for his face tattoo. Sway asks about the history behind the broad lines that cover his face. As he tells it, the marks are more than just ink or fashion. “[I got my tattoo] right after my son was born. [At that time], I came to a decision in my life where I was like, ‘Yo, it’s two ways I can go about being a father. I can be a typical American father; I can go get a regular job, support my son, and watch him play with sons. Or, I could be my son’s superhero. I can literally put the image of my head of [becoming the superhero toy]. To look like a superhero, you’re gonna have to be one—to your child. At that moment, I [decided not to be an ‘American Dad’]. That’s why I became the character that I am. Now, when I come home, my son is like, ‘Yo dad. What did you do today? Did you save somebody? Did you save the world?'” Now living in a part of Orange County, California where he says Black men are scarce, the tattoos only add to an image he says promotes fear in banks, grocery stores, and walking down sidewalks. “To me, it’s fun. ‘Cause the world opens up for me. I come outside, everybody goes in the house.” Daylyt also says that he may consider removing the tattoos after his Battle Rap career ends, “When I’m there, I’ll hang up the bat-suit.” For now, the ink stays as the story develops.
To those who may not follow Battle Rap, this interview shows how unrestrained Daylyt is. Approaching his debut album, the MC has something most of his peers would covet—an Eminem appearance. However, in speaking about the blossoming relationship, Daylyt keeps it all the way real. “Eminem is like the weirdest person in the world: he don’t talk, but he talk a lot.” The MC says he thought of the 8 Mile star and creator approaching 2014’s Total Slaughter Battle, which Eminem and Shady Records produced. “This is the greatest rapper on the planet. He gives a fuck about y’all niggas’ lyrics; y’all don’t impress him. I have that in mind, the whole time.” Day’ says he prepared for his battle asking himself “what would Eminem do?” Explaining, the artist says, “[Eminem] would show his fuckin’ ass. Literally! When you know you’re better than anybody, there’s no need to prove it. Look at the reality show; I swept through the whole house.” This led to a crescendo. “When I got to that big moment, I wondered. I know he’s gonna sit there and watch this; I want this mothafucka to crack up [laughing]. That was part of my whole shenanigan. After that, I got the call, ‘Yo, there’s a gift for you.’ I didn’t know what it was. I downloaded the .wav [file], and it was just a random hook. I was just like, ‘Oh, shit. Okay.’ Then I replied to the email, and nobody replied. I was like, ‘What the fuck? I thought we had some type of [friendship]. We had zero connection, like, ‘Here, nigga. Get the fuck outta here.'” The MC says he should be grateful with the gift, which will reportedly appear on the LP.
In the nearly 50-minute interview, there is lots more discussed. (23:00) Daylyt explains expanding into the URL (Ultimate Rap League). He declares that he plans to participate in all major battles, outside of the leagues. This is why he released songs like “Uncharged Up” in the Drake and Meek Mill conflict (which dissed Meek), and prepared for the rumored Drake and Eminem battle. Daylyt even went as far as appearing at a Future concert, in disguise—prepared to battle. “I almost tore Future’s head off,” he proudly states. The MC criticizes the Hip-Hop industry, and decries posturing in the club with bottle service, while also stating why he shuns name-brand clothes and promoting logos. The Sway In The Morning Show also calls close affiliate Kxng Crooked (f/k/a Crooked I) after Daylyt reveals that Crook’ and Slaughterhouse band-mate Joe Budden made a $30,000 wager surrounding one of his battles.
(31:30) As he transitions to albums, Sway asks Daylyt why so many battle rapping MCs have not been able to harness successful recording careers. “Me, I did music before Battle Rap. I jumped into Battle Rap as an outlet. Battle Rap is the only place I can get credit for my lyrical ability,” says Daylyt. He points out that French Montana, who has released Top 5 albums, cut his teeth as a battle rapper first. According to Daylyt, who openly states that he feels French “sold out,” it was one of two options for artists in his position—and the better of the two positions.
Day’ says that artists can either make dumbed down hits, which he refers to as “Shake Ya Tailfeather” (poking fun at Puff Daddy, Nelly, and Murphy Lee’s 2003 #1 hit), or be “lyrical / miracle niggas on the corner.” The MC says he would gladly sell out too, for sponsorship deals. Daylyt believes he will break the trend of battle rappers poorly transitioning to albums, because he never began as a battle rapper. He says that while most of his competitive peers make impact while rapping to no beat, he has the experience of spitting in the pocket.
#BonusBeat: Daylyt’s first album single is “Bruh,” released in June:
“Bruh” is produced by former Death Row Records Music Director Darren Vegas (Snoop Dogg, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Crooked I).