"Skill-honing": that's how 21-year-old hip-hop artist Devin Miles describes his years as a student at Central Catholic High School, when he and schoolmates Roscoe WIKI and Christo would get together to work on music. They took turns recording their own songs and engineering for one another. Miles' drive and experience as a self-taught engineer led to opportunities, such as working as an intern at Pittsburgh music studio ID Labs, and periodically flying to Los Angeles to work with L.A. Laker Devin Ebanks on Ebanks' music career.
Now, the microphone may be pulling Miles away from the production board, as he's in the midst of a breakout of his own.
In December, Miles was featured on MTV's Internet-television program RapFix Live. As part of the "Get in the Game" segment of the show, Miles was welcomed via Skype by host Sway Calloway. After playing Miles' music video "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly," the day's guests, multi-platinum recording artist T.I. and rapper Trae the Truth, complimented the song in a discussion with Miles.
"I was starstruck [by] T.I. and Trae, because I look up to them," Miles explains. "That was an honor. As we started talking and they were feeling what I was saying and my music, I started to ease up a little bit."
It's fitting that Miles had his music critiqued by T.I. and Trae the Truth, who hail from Atlanta and Houston, respectively. Miles credits some Southern hip-hop pioneers as his greatest musical influences, particularly Texas-bred rapper Scarface and rap duo UGK.
"We used to ride around in high school in my manager Zeke's Tahoe, strictly listening to Scarface, UGK and [Pittsburgh rap group] The Govament," Miles says. "I would love more than anything to be able to work with Scarface. He's one of the people who kept me rapping and taught me a lot about my rap style right now."
In March, Miles will be playing dates in Austin, Texas, as an official artist at the South by Southwest Music Festival. More on Miles can be found at itsdevinmiles.tumblr.com.