The Daily Gamecock

Dee Jay Rucker paves his own path

Hip-hop artist inspired, not defined by Uncle Darius

USC students are widely familiar with the name Darius Rucker as the musically talented country star and Hootie and the Blowfish frontman that spent his college years in Columbia. But now a new member of the family is making his musical debut in the capital city, but not as a country musician like his famous relative.

Dee Jay Rucker, 24, is a Charleston native and nephew of Darius, but more importantly, he’s a self-made hip-hop artist who has gained a strong following and successful start with little help.

Although he embraces his uncle’s fame and has looked up to him in the 10 years he has been rapping, he said he has not relied on his uncle to make his career a success and has to put in extra effort to separate himself from Darius.

“I feel like I really have to prove myself,” Rucker said. “I really have to go that extra mile because people always have some preconceived notions of what to expect from me.”

With nearly a decade of hard work, Rucker said he is finally starting to see the success he’s always craved, even releasing his first single and music video, “In it Tho,” that has had about 700,000 hits on YouTube.

“The thing that I like the most so far is people coming up and telling me they like what I’m doing,” he said. “Growing up watching my uncle in the spotlight made me always want to be in the spotlight. It’s in my blood. It’s what I was born to do.”

Rucker’s talents have led him to create hip-hop music that he said is unlike anything else out there. Although artists like Rick Ross and Jay-Z inspire him, he said his own sound is completely unique.

“With just the influence from my uncle, it gives me a different outlook than other rappers,” Rucker said. “With me from a young age being able to see these different venues and listen to different music, I’m able to create different music. You can’t confine me to one genre.”

With his respect for all genres of music, Rucker said he is excited to take the stage in December with a number of different artists to support a cause close to his heart. Rucker said he will be one of several performers to appear in Jammin’ for the Troops at the Historic Columbia Speedway, a concert that will raise awareness for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Rucker was born on a military base in Hawaii and grew up alongside his father and grandfather who both served. He said many of his friends currently serve as well, so anything involving the military is extremely close to him.

“Those who come out of the military sometimes have a hard time getting back into the swing of things,” he said. “They take that job to protect us, so at the end of the day, we want to do the same for them. We want to see everybody thrive.”

And it is not just the musicians that are excited for the collaborative concert.

Michael Lacy, a master sergeant in the U.S. Army Special Forces branch said he is truly amazed by all that is being done for the cause. Lacy takes care of wounded, injured and ill special operations soldiers by helping them to recover or find placement outside the military. Lacey knows that physical, as well as mental illnesses such as PTSD, are difficult to deal with, but are possible to overcome.

“When I see someone who has been injured or mentally challenged by anything holding them back,” he said. “To see them come out of that and know they can overcome anything they see in front of them, that is my happiest moment.”

Lacy said he can’t wait to attend the Jammin’ for the Troops concert and is still in awe by the support.

“It’s an amazing blessing that someone would organize something for our wounded and ill soldiers,” Lacy said. “To know that someone is supporting us, our community is backing us, is an absolute blessing.”

Rucker said after the concert, he wants to continue his work with PTSD and helping those who have served.

“I want to be international. I want to be a household name. I want to be a brand but I always want to be able to help people with my music,” he said.


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