No matter what the establishment tells us, the kids will be alright, but they won’t be controlled. Damien Styles speaks for every outsider who thinks outside of the box and colors outside of the lines. Similarly, he disregards convention in his hybridization of alternative, hip-hop, post-hardcore, and punk. After piling up millions of views and streams, attracting a rabid fan base, and landing a deal with 10K Projects, the Wichita, Kansas-born and Los Angeles-based sonic disrupt or trumpets a clarion call to outsiders everywhere on a series of 2021 singles and his forthcoming debut project.
With open arms, he invites them toDropout Klub…
“We’re the kids they can’t control,” he states. “Dropout Klub is about dropping out of whatever is holding you back in life—whether that’s an unsupportive friend group, unhealthy habits,or toxic environments—in order to become who you’re supposed to be. We’re turning negatives into positives. If we take the proper steps in life, God will make sure those steps lead us to a brighter future.”
Damien has definitely taken control of his destiny. Growing up in Wichita, Kansas, he stared down limited possibilities. “It was either work at Spirit Airlines forever, start a family straight out of high school, or get hooked on drugs,” he sighs. “There was no scene or industry. So, we had to figure shit out on our own.” His dad operated a small independent studio, engineered, and rapped for fun. So, Damien recorded his first raps at five-years-old. By the time his parents divorced, he had developed an appreciation for elite MCs such as Eminem and Tech N9ne in addition to listening to My Chemical Romance and other post-hardcore favorites. After dropping out of high school in junior year, he stoked buzz with early uploads such as “Sacrifices” in 2017, cracking100,000 views for the first time. He followed his brother to Lake Tahoe, worked at Taco Bell, and recorded music out of an RV.
Eventually, he wound up back inWichita, selling drugs to survive.
“My mom freaked,” he recalls. “I made a promise to her, ‘If I don’t make it by the time I’m 27, I’ll switch up and start doing something else.’ That made me go harder and realize I had to really bust my ass. I was twenty years old when we had that conversation, and things started to pick up the same year.”
In 2021, he served up the breakout single “American Paranoid Freak.” Gaining traction on TikTok, it generated 1.3million Spotify streams, while the follow-up “Bad Bitch Energy” surpassed 752K Spotify streams. He joined forces with Sue co for “Condom Song” (which used an actual condom to make a different kind of musical friction) and exploded to the tune of 30 million TikTok views. In its wake, he signed to 10K Projects and presented his single “Generation Nothing.” On the track, airy guitar wraps around glitchy 808s as sirens resound. His vocals stretch from intimate verses into a chantable chorus, “We’re gonna be nothing after all…”
“It’s about how the older generation blames us for a lot of things as if they weren’t the ones who raised us,” he states. “They want to point fingers at us without looking in the mirror. No matter what their opinions are, we can amount to anything we want to. Our disadvantages will be our strengths. It’s an anthem for the youth.”
In the end, Damien speaks for the youth, and there are millions who hang on to every word.
“When you listen to me, I want you to walk away more confident,” he leaves off. “I want you to know you’re important, you matter, and anything is fucking possible. I’m a megaphone. I’m a vessel put here to guide the youth out of darkness. I will stand up and say everything people think but are too scared to say. Welcome to the Dropout Klub.”