Part 4 of the 2019 Deutschtown Music Festival In Review
ForeverWEST is the stage name of Devin West, a rapper/musician/photographer/videographer/etc from Pittsburgh. Possessing a relentless work ethic, he produces his own songs, creating hard-hitting beats and then rapping over them with a ferocious energy.
After watching The Sun Champs perform at the Wigle Whiskey Barrelhouse and Whiskey Garden, I stuck around to see the next artist up, Pittsburgh rapper Devin West, aka ForeverWEST. Despite an erstwhile DJ who had backed out at the last minute and some resulting sound issues, West took the opportunity to showcase his energetic flow and gripping storytelling ability.
Now, a bunch of yuppies sitting at picnic tables and sipping craft whiskey beverages is probably not the ideal audience for a hip-hop concert, but West brought the heat anyway. Standing on a massive speaker in front of the stage, bobbing up and down, he kept the energy level high, despite the sound cutting out from his laptop a few times, and it seemed like the crowd appreciated it.
West ran through some high octane tracks from his 2019 album Hour XXV (available on Spotify under artist title WEST), taking time between songs to talk about the meaning behind them. His lyrics illustrate the experience of growing up in a neighborhood that he described as a place where “people can die at any time,” and are fraught with both struggle and a strong sense of resolve.
Seeing West perform live is a different musical experience from hearing his songs on a computer; on stage, his voice more often drops into a gruff low register reminiscent of a less unhinged Meechy Darko (from New York’s Flatbush Zombies), while on recordings, a sense of ragged melodicism comes through more clearly. My favorite track from Hour XXV has to be album opener “TheMIND,” which merges a hooky melody with uncompromising lyrics that feature the refrain, “I’ve been working 25/8.” That one line neatly sums up the ethos of ForeverWEST.