Butter & Gunz: Street LP
Under different circumstances, San Francisco-raised John DeVore aka J. Davinci, might have become the Fillmore District's premiere musical engineer. Maybe even their best-known NFL Star. But the Fillmore is a different place than what it used to be in the jazz heyday of Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. The Fillmore that raised young J. Davinci was rife with turf wars, the inundation of crack cocaine, and horizontal violence. And it wasn't even until three years ago that J. Davinci was serious about a career in hip hop. But his talent and commitment to representing the reality of the streets could not be ignored. Now he's ready to stake his claim as J. Davinci, the MC. "I grew up in a single parent household. Pops was in jail damn near all my life," he shares. Despite the enormity of his situation, he grew up in a house full of soul and classical music influence. In high school, he dabbled in drums, trumpet, and tuba in a school band that included peers that would eventually follow their rap dreams as well. But back home, the growing turf wars affected the direction of his ambition. Relationships with childhood peers changed, and DaVinci noticed it's effect on his perspective. "You could have been playing in the sandbox with a nigga, but since he lives three blocks away, he forced to roll with dudes and not f*** with his 'friends'," he explains. Influenced by the success and accessibility of local rap stars that paved the way, such as San Quinn and JT the Bigga Figga, DaVinci knew that his love for music was no longer a hobby, but a viable means to put his talents to use. "Most rappers- the LL Cool Js, the Run DMCs - were kind of funny to me, " he says. "I never took them seriously, until I met the dude from my neighborhood who rapped about shit that I see every day. That just hit close to home. If he could do it, I could do it." This was in 1995, and from then on, DaVinci started working on his craft amongst other young men who were also hungry for the spotlight. Within a ten-block radius of Central Divisadero, where DaVinci calls home, there was intense competition in the rap scene. In his generation alone, San Quinn's Done Deal Records family spawned young rappers such as Ya Boy, Bailey, and Big Rich, who would serve as his contemporaries in this second tier of prominent Fillmore rappers. A natural competitor at heart (he earned a football scholarship to San Jose State Univerity), DaVinci never felt intimidated by his peers, but paid close attention to their business decisions. "I really had a big advantage by jumping in the game kind of late," he says. "I was sitting back and watching what niggas did right, as well as what niggas did wrong." Ready to put his observations to use, and strengthened by his patience in success, J.DaVinci finally became ready to debut himself as an artist. In 2002, DaVinci hit the studio in gale force and knocked out 17 tracks for his "Readjustment Mixtape" in one month. Investing all of his free time into his art, he then put out "Street Release" in 2004, nine songs strictly for the internet. Now, J. Davinci is gearing for his third and official street LP release "Butter and Guns", with another 17 tracks featuring his own production as well as production from his label, Thorobred. Most recently, rap-veteran San Quinn signed J. Davinci to Done Deal, further solidifying his welcomed contribution to the impressive catalog of Fillmore music. Because of his stealth approach, J. Davinci is poised to stand out above the rest to bring people authentic music from the heart - and from the streets. " It's definitely not for everybody," he states. "But anybody who struggles will definitely feel my music."