Dixson, born Darius Scott, exudes the confidence of a well-seasoned artist, with a career going far beyond his third album — which, incidentally, he’s in the process of polishing for submission to his label, Roc Nation. With 2018 debut album Young and 2021’s DARLING under his belt, Dixson made inroads to secure his place in today’s R&B space. Despite his early wins, the triple-threat can already claim writing credit for Beyonce’s “Be Alive,” the standout track from this year’s Oscar darling King Richard. Dixson’s not just looking to find his space in the industry — he’s preparing to win championships.
“You know how you walk into an arena and you see all the championship banners?” he asks, earnestly. “I want each album to serve as a goal post for me — and this next one is a big one for me. A big growth point. ”
This past June, the Atlanta-bred singer took the stage at Essence Festival’s Coca-Cola Superlounge, belting lyrics about love, lust and life. Later that evening, he popped up at Spotify’s House of Are & Be, moving through the crowd, cultivating relationships, still dressed to the nines in Dior and Margiela. It’s safe to say that Dixson knows exactly what’s needed to win, it’s just a matter of time. He discusses his process with Billboard below:
Can you explain that image on the artwork for your debut album, Young? What’s the significance of Berkeley Hills Baptist?
I used to live in Dallas. I lived there for six years. I was an executive at Neiman Marcus so I like clothes. I like a lil’ flash, you know? But I was living there and I would drive to church where I used to sing for Bishop TD Jakes at The Potter’s House — but on my way there, I would see this church on the side of the road and I’d be like, “Yo. What is this space?”
One day I just pulled off to the side of the road and started walking around the property and was like, “This would be a great place to shoot in.” So we just did a photo shoot, honestly. We weren’t even looking to make it the album cover. It was so good. Shout-out to Denzel Golatt. He’s a very famous photographer now, but he shot us in Dallas when we were all living there, and it ended up being the album cover.
So you just travel to different cities and end up hanging out with the creatives?
Oh yeah, we find each other. I always find the creative person in the room, [but] it doesn’t matter where I am. I could be overseas. I used to live in Paris, and some of my good friends to this day [are ones that] I met over there. And I was there as a student, but I found the creatives, they found me and we would all just hang out at the cafes.
What did you study in Paris?
I studied Fashion Merchandising and French.
Okay, so you’re really deep in the fashion side of things.
I love it. I love fashion. Like I could walk you down my whole outfit right now…
Okay. So my suit is Dior, the shoes are Margiela and all the Dior jewelry is my own.
What would you say is the most distinctive difference between your albums, Young and DARLING? Sonically, they’re completely different.
There are some through lines with Young and DARLING. Like, Young was my baby. I made it in the second bedroom of my apartment in Dallas. I just quit my job and it was a tough time for me. Luckily, I was financially OK so I was able to take some time to do what I wanted to with my life. And Young was my baby, so I listen to Young and I feel like there are so many flaws. When people bring it up I get nervous.
You can’t really hear the flaws, though?
I know, I know. But I feel like, “Yo. They can hear the flaws.” But Young was exactly where I was in life: just young and rambunctious. Just trying things, throwing paint at the wall. With DARLING, it was just way more subtle. It was the first album I ever made as a signed recording artist — I had a little budget and I tried to make it sound expensive. That was the thing.
I wrote it for women, obviously, and I think as Black people sometimes I think we have a hard time buying into the facts that we owe ourselves luxury too. My father used to tell me that when they would buy vinyls, they would feel like they had the most money in the world, because they were holding currency. A real piece of history. When my father bought his first Curtis Mayfield album, he was on top of the world. And I wanted to make music that made our people feel like that when they heard it. That was a big deal for me, to use our creative output as currency — that’s why I wanted the album to sound expensive, and I think it did.
That’s a great point. Vinyl records in Black households really are a huge deal.
My grandmother just decided this year to let me have her records. And she’s almost 90. She’s like, “Okay, you can come pick them up. I’m not gonna bend down and go through all the crates.”
Was your primary objective always to come out as an artist or did the idea come to you as you worked on your production skills?
The goal has always been for me to do both — and we’d been trying to keep that balance. Because you know, as one thing grows for me as an artist, sometimes, I don’t get to do as much production and songwriting. So we’re still trying to find that perfect balance.
One of my mentors is Pharrell. I look up to him so much, because he’s found the perfect balance of being able to do all the things he’s good at. He’s my north star as far as my career path — not just because I know him, but he’s proof that we always can do it all. I always knew that I could do both. It’s just a matter of when.
Here, in the press room, you’ve spoken about Atlanta and the fabled Black monolith.
Thank God for that city. Thank God that I grew up there and I felt free from very young to be who I am and whatever I wanted to be. Me and my cousins, we come from a side of Atlanta that’s a little dicey sometimes, but I get to be this, there. And they see me walking on Campbellton [a street that runs through Southwest Atlanta] — and they know who I am — I’d walk to my barbershop in my skateboard gear or whatever, but everybody in the neighborhood knew me, and they were fine with me being myself.
My cousins would ride by in their old school [cars] and roll the windows down like, ‘Aye n–ga what you doing?’ But it was love! So many dope artists from Atlanta — look at EarthGang, look at Andre 3000, look at all of these guys. They’re really from parts of Atlanta where you wouldn’t think they could exist in those spaces. That’s proof that that city has birthed this culture that allows one to be themselves and to be their full selves.
It’s one of the Blackest cities in America, and proof that Black people don’t have to be any one thing. We’ve had a Black mayor for however many forevers. And these people have a higher education. It’s just a beautiful thing to see when I go home, I go to the mall and walk around and look at the new generation of kids running the mall and I’m like, “We were not dressed like that!” But it’s OK, because they’re free to do it.
So, the next project —
I know it’s crazy to already be asking about the next project…
No, no. It’s perfect timing actually. I’m almost done with it. I’ll be taking the next week and a half to tighten it up. I’m supposed to be turning it in soon, and I’ll say it’s expressive. It’s a different sound. I try never to do the same thing with each project. Ever since we put out Young, I’ve wanted every project after to feel like a piece of growth. As human beings we grow, we acknowledge the growth, we see it right? But where I am in the music industry, it’s like — people want to keep you in one place. Fans don’t want you to grow. It’s a weird relationship, because you need to build that trust with them.
I usually shy away from uptempos, but now? I’m fully tapped in. I’ve been listening to Fela, we’ve been listening to James Brown. It’s deep. It’s a deep body of work, with layers. And every song, you’re gonna feel. So I’m excited for everyone to hear it.