In the absence of new releases from groups like the Fugees and the Black Eyed Peas, the D.E.Y. has stepped up to fill the void. Composed of MCs Divine and Yeyo and singer Elan, the bilingual Latin trio’s fusion of hip-hop, pop, R&B and Afro-Latin rhythms mesh with soaring vocals. Their witty lyrics touch on everything from political corruption and racial profiling to catcalling and sexual tension.
The threesome formed three years ago when a member of Divine and Yeyo’s management team introduced them to the pint-size songbird. “We were at a Latin showcase in Miami called Soulfrito. It was the first time I saw Elan perform and it just felt so natural, like we should come together for one common cause,” explains Divine.
Prior to coming together, though, the members of D.E.Y. had all been individually leaving their marks in their respective markets. Divine, 25, born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents, had been working with Afro-Cuban hip-hop group Yerbabuena; he penned their Grammy-nominated hit “Guajira (I Love You Too Much).” Half-Puerto Rican, half-Cuban Yeyo, also 25, was making a name for himself in the underground Latin rap scene with his political rhymes. New York-bred Puerto Rican / African American Elan, 22, was singing back-up for salsa singer Huey Dunbar, with whom she had collaborated on a duet titled “Sin Poderte Hablar.” The song appeared on his Grammy-nominated album “Music for My Peoples.”
Now the D.E.Y. is poised to break out with their debut album, “The D.E.Y. Has Come,” which is slated for Oct. 23. The Epic Records release boasts production from Timbaland, J.R. Rotem and Stargate among others. The promotional single, “Dame Un Momento,” flies 30-20 on the Latin Rhythm chart this week, while the troupe’s first radio single, the Timbaland-produced “Get The Feeling,” will be serviced to stations next week.
Other standout tracks on the album include “She Said,” which is in contention to be the follow-up single. “It’s a track dedicated to our moms and the struggles they’ve been through,” says Divine. There’s also “Corre” (“Run”), where Yeyo raps about the September 11 terrorist attacks and unification. “Another track that we love is ‘Buen Camino’ (‘The Right Path’). It’s about walking on a spiritual path and finding faith,” adds Elan. The set ends with a salsa track recorded with salsa legend Marc Anthony’s band.
“It takes most people a long time to come up with a conscious album that works in the pop and urban worlds, but we figured out our creativity,” says Elan. “We find artistic ways to express ourselves without being preachy,” adds Divine. “We want English-speaking people and Spanish-speaking people to listen and have a great time with it. We want to bridge the gap between brown and black and bring love back.”
The D.E.Y. also recently embarked on a ten-day trek with the McDonalds Live tour that started July 26 in California’s Venice Beach Recreation Center and ends September 25 in Austin, Texas.