The Rise of Deno

Elle Evans

By Elle Evans

Elle Evans

9 Jul 2020

Deno, in the space of a few years has grown to become one of the UK’s most prominent artists. Known for his fresh, authentic sound and all-round swagger, at 17 years of age, he’s been able to achieve the limitless; from buying his mum a house, amassing over 100 million worldwide streams, selling out two headline shows, performing at festivals, starting a career in acting, creating a clothing line with boohooMAN – the list goes on! Paving a lane for the next generation, Deno is living proof that if you take your talent and run with it, greatness can be formed.

Born and raised in bustling city of London, Deno grew up in the South side. Attending school in Brixton; little did he know that at just 13 years old, his life was about to change completely. Living in an era in which social media can play a huge role in discovering brand new talent, Deno’s journey to success began when his friends asked him to sing for their Snapchat – “I was always the young one of the group, the funny one” says Deno, whose parents are originally from Eritrea. “My boys kept trying to get me singing on camera. I said I’d do it but told them not to post it.” Soon a video of him singing appeared on Instagram alongside the #imjustbait hashtag. “At first I didn’t think much of it. But after #imjustbait posted it I’d go on my phone and see 2000 followers, then 4000 the day after”. Quickly garnering attention, this short clip was all over the internet and soon caught the eyes of many big names – one of which was Stormzy. In a matter of days, Deno and Stormzy were pictured wearing Adidas tracksuits, sat in the studio working on Stormzy’s No.1 debut album ‘Gang Signs & Prayer’.

Meeting frequent collaborator AJ at a link up outside Westfield’s in Stratford back in 2016, the pair began making music together. Fusing both their individual styles into one, tracks including ‘Know Me’ and ‘How We Do’ featuring Timbo were formed. Surrounded by their friends and an abundance of supporters in the visuals, Deno glazed the up-beat instrumental with his smooth vocals creating quotable hooks and verses. By the time 2017 came around, AJ and Deno were signed to Columbia Records – from then on, it was game time!

Kick starting the year with their first official debut single via Columbia, ‘Ride or Die’ saw AJ glossing the beat with his slick bars whilst Deno covered the hook. Soaking in the spotlight and verifying his vocal ability, Deno’s effortless vocals shone from start to finish. Later that year in June, the pair followed up with their next big single ‘Chase’. Currently sitting at 1.8 million views on YouTube, this single helped boost their names further. Keeping the hype surrounding their name bubbling, they dropped their next single ‘Coming for You’ in August. Unveiling the visuals at the beginning of September, AJ and Deno can been seen performing at Wireless festival. Capturing their growth so far, fans were pushed up against the barrier with excitement, with all phones in the air and what looked like a fun-filled experience, AJ and Deno rounded off what came to be a successful year by sharing their explosive track ‘Real Life’ featuring Geko.

Journeying forward to 2018, after releasing a string of singles the previous year, it wasn’t until their link up with EO on the viral hit ‘London’ that their career advanced even further. Posing as arguably one of the biggest tracks to emerge that year, sitting at just over 60 million streams on Spotify alone, Deno dropped the infectious bridge; “No answer no point in telling / Look now ’cause everyone’s phoning me / These mandem movin’ like paigons / Look now ’cause no one is owning me” – setting pace for the bigger moves he was due to make in the coming months. Making his debut appearance on Mixtape Madness in August, Deno stepped forward for his highly anticipated ‘Next Up?’ freestyle. Amassing just under 9 million views, standing in-front of the signature city-scape, the ascending artist penned his hard work and ambitions whilst boasting his achievements; “Shutdown Westfield ’cause I can though / No dad on my ones, I’m a man though / No, I ain’t no average civilian / 13, I banged my first million views / Might recognize from the videos too / Went from a school yute to a cool yute”.

One month later, Deno and Cadet joined forces for ‘Advice’ – what had started out as a viral Instagram freestyle, turned out to be a huge hit! Spending 30 weeks in the Official Charts, ‘Advice’ peaked at No.14. Lacing the energy-driven backdrop with infectious bars and a bouncing hook, both Cadet and Deno went back and forth; “I don’t care if she’s down/ I’m making P’s, I make pounds / I don’t wanna hear no words of advice / Shut your mouth and turn ’round” sing’s Deno. Their musical chemistry was indisputable, intertwining Cadet’s captivating bars with Deno’s vocals was a no-brainer – the success of the track came to no surprise! Just two days later, Deno made his jaw-dropping appearance on Rapman’s viral short film ‘Shiro’s Story’, playing the role of Bailey – Deno’s character got the nation talking!

Fast track to October, the visuals for ‘Pumpy’ were unveiled. Teaming up with Da Beatfreakz, Swarmz, Cadet and AJ, Deno blessed us with yet another slick verse referring back to his role as Bailey in ‘Shiro’s Story’; “Say-say you done know / Got a pumpy, now they call me Bailey / Getting money in my pockets daily”. Closing out yet another successful year, he made his second Mixtape Madness appearance with a ‘Mad About Bars’ freestyle. Introducing Deno, Kenny stated; “I think it’s only right, I bring through one of the youngest and waviest to ever do it. This kid’s ahead of his age and he’s coming for the game! DENO DRIZ!”. Proving his versatility, he switched up his style on this one. Bringing his signature buttery vocals to the studio, Deno explored his melodies further and certified his position in the UK Rap game – becoming the nation’s next cherished artist to emerge.

2019 was Deno’s biggest year as a musician yet, unfortunately due to a tragic accident at the beginning of the year, the nation lost one of their most treasured rappers – Cadet. Known as a close friend of Deno’s, at the start of February he released ‘First Days’, a heartfelt tribute to Cadet. Releasing the song independently, this allowed Deno to donate all the money made from the single to Cadet’s family. The touching visuals shared clips of the pair together, alongside Cadet’s memorial at Hyde Park, where hundreds of people including family and supporters turned up with balloons to pay their respects; “You were here from back at the start / When I was only on my first day / You were here from back at the start / When I was going through my worst days” sang Deno. March came around and the rising star released the boast-full single ‘Lifestyle’, as self-explanatory as the title may seem, Deno soared through the club-esc backdrop touching on how much his lifestyle has changed, riding around in a flashy whip – this was just another banger to add to his ever-growing catalogue!

Picking up momentum, at the beginning of May he joined forces with Da Beatfreakz, Swarmz and Geko for ‘Motorola’ – a huge summer-infused smash! Following up from this feature, Deno unleashed ‘Change’ featuring DigDat. Dressed in an all-black outfit with a suave coat, this tune took an introspective turn. Reflecting on their harder times as well as the future, the piano-lead beat enabled both Deno and DigDat’s pengame to take the forefront of the song. An un-expected feature at the time, however the pair complimented each other perfectly and created a thought-provoking track.

At the beginning of September, Deno announced his collaboration with boohooMAN – amazing right?! He created a 30-piece collection that was set to fit all shapes and sizes that captured Deno’s fresh style – what better way to celebrate than to shut down Thorpe Park the following day! Inviting a few familiar names alongside lucky supporters, they had full access to the mazes and rides! With an exclusive performance from Deno as well as JAY1 – it was a moment to remember! At the latter end of October, he shared his debut EP titled, ‘Eye 2 Eye’. Spread across 7 tracks with features from Krept, JAY1 and DigDat which included pre-released tracks ‘Walking On’ and ‘Change’. Not only this, it was around this period that Deno bought his mum a house – incredible! Only certifying his trajectory as an artist, this was an amazing time for Deno.

At the start of November 2019, Deno was called to the YouTube Space for a live performance of stand-out singles ‘Lauren’ and ‘Badder Than Bad’ which were featured on his newly-released EP. Fast forward to the end of November, he joined Geko, Stefflon Don and Dappy for their collaborative track, ‘Link Up’; “You’re the one that I can think of, yeah / For true, drink for two / I’ll buss gun for you, do it all all / You know how I love it when you do what you do”, Deno sang, blessing us with yet another slick verse. To close out yet another immense year, his cover of ‘Someone You Loved’ by Lewis Capaldi was released. A powerful and passionate performance to say the least, Deno left the nation speechless with his vocal ability and captivating performance!

Having come off tour, and performed shows all over the UK, – 2020 is looking to be a bigger and better year for Deno. Opening the year with part one of the short film titled, ‘The Re Up’. This short movie is filled with drama, action and plenty of twists and turns, in April part two of the film followed through. Collectively sitting at over 3 million views – if you haven’t seen it, then go do so! More recently, Deno dropped his brand-new single of 2020 – ‘Circles’, featuring OFB’s Bandokay and Double Lz. Gaining over 1.2 million views in just 3 days, this single is the ultimate summer-infused riddim! Giving us a taste of what is to come in the following months, we’re sure that Deno has got a stack of bangers ready to drop!