“A rumbling voice that could be picked up on a seismograph” – Pitchfork
“It was all in front of me; I just had to go get it,” Dusty Locane says at the beginning of his viral drill heater, “Rolando (Caught In The Rain).” That’s an understatement: less than a year after he started rapping, the gruff-voiced, baby-faced Brooklyn spitter has experienced one of the most meteoric rises in recent rap history. He’s only released three songs, and he’s already a star: his breakout song “R60LLXN N CONTROLLIN” went viral instantly, and its follow-up “Rolando” garnered 1 million video plays and 1 million streams in its first week. The world is closely watching Dusty, and he’s ready to deliver.
Dusty Locane came up in Canarsie, Brooklyn, where people get caught up in gang culture and packed guns as early as sixth grade. Dusty’s OGs encouraged him to develop his talent on the basketball court. He earned a partial scholarship upstate, but college didn’t last very long: the sudden death of his sister-in-law led to a period of mourning, getting low grades, and getting info fights. With his hoop dreams dashed, he moved back to Canarsie and got caught up in the streets, leading to a pair of jail stints during the uncertainty of COVID-19. Dusty only had a couple years of being fully active in the streets, but he speaks incisively about the impact from his decisions.
”When you face repercussions and understand the consequences of what you did, it’s no longer a burden. I saw grown men wake up in the morning crying, and hop on the phone barking at their mothers and their shorties,” he remembers. “Stop blaming people outside of yourself for the reasons you’re in here.”
“For some people, (prison) puts a battery in their back. Other people, they outthink you now. Instead of pulling my weapon, it’s better to know that I can take a break from that,” he continues. “I did it, and I learned what I needed to learn from it. Now, it’s about making a way for me and the people around me.”
When Dusty was in high school, his late sister-in-law told him that he was destined to do something great, even if she didn’t know what. And after his second bid, he began to discover it for himself. People in his hood always suggested that he make music––he had a distinctively deep, gravelly voice since age 18; he’s dark, muscular, and handsome; and he has a charismatic charm. But he wasn’t moved to create until after his jail time, when he decided to channel the aggressive energy from the street into freestyles. He dropped them on YouTube and instantly became the most buzzworthy new name in Brooklyn’s burgeoning drill movement.
Early listens have caused vocal comparisons to Pop Smoke, the Brooklyn drill luminary who was tragically gunned down in February 2020. Dusty embraces the similarities and it’s only natural: they grew up together in Canarsie from the time they were toddlers, they’re both Woos, and they share a similar understanding of accountability for their actions. But Dusty Locane has his own story, and his own sound: “R60LLXN N CONTROLLIN” and “Rolando (Caught In The Rain)” contrast airy, angelic vocals with booming basslines, an influence that Dusty says comes from hearing gospel music play in his home as a child. “Intro 2 Me (Part 1)” forgoes the drums altogether, relying on somber strings to set the scene for his dark origin story. And his movement is already heavy: he’s already amassed millions of streams off of only three songs in just a few short months, and he’s just as excited to see his artistic growth as his quickly-increasing fan base is.
“I always say, God gives His toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. I just try to stay humble and not get ahead of myself. What I’m doing now, I’m meant to do,” he says. “I’m still trying to figure out how to come up with more intricate concepts. Once I get there, I already know it’s over.”