White Collar Rhymer: Dustin Bailey (DJB)

White Collar Rhymes began as an incipient group of hip-hop aficionados who met in the early parts of the new millennium when forums, instant messages, and chat rooms were the primary mode of internet communication.

Dustin Bailey, a.k.a. DJB, grew up in Cool, California, a small town that, despite its jazzy name, is not known for its vibrant music scene. However, this lack of local opportunity allowed him to break out of his shell and explore ways to expand his musical knowledge and reach like-minded people.

“[White Collar Rhymes] is a rekindling of when I fell in love with making music,” said the rapper, producer, educator, and father.

In the post-Napster world of 56k modems, digital music was hard to come by. As such, young DJB made the weekly 45-minute journey to a record store nearby Folsom to buy a new album and broaden his musical horizons. This growing love for music and a passion for creativity led the young artist to RapBattles.com.

But anyone who remembers the industrial tones of dial-up connection knows that music — big and small — was not easy to come by.

Enter text battles.

DJB credits these cutthroat workshops, which combined hip hop lyricism with poetry’s classic textuality, for giving him the confidence he needed to write, record, perform on stage, and collaborate with others.

“I was able to connect to like-minded people and absolutely get berated and belittled over how terrible my music was.”

Eventually, the community went silent until DJB got word that Cody Nash and collaborators got the keys to the old domain.

Now, they want to take those sentiments that go back to the days of forums and make their place in the industry, not as young newcomers but as seasoned veterans who still love making music and want to share their passion with the next generation of talent.

The newest iteration, White Collar Rhymes, combines the artistic camaraderie from the mid-2000s with modern-day connectivity and accessibility. From lyric competitions to lighthearted game nights and podcast discussions, the RapBattles community got the gang back together and wants to bring new members in to join them.

After all, creativity has never been more accessible than it is today. With small, grassroots operations finding great success through TikTok, SoundCloud, YouTube, and more, White Collar Rhymes was built for this moment in internet culture — but it all comes back to the community.

The White Collar Rhymes Discord server brings a modern twist to those same forums where DJB and company met. From casual television marathons to competitive writing exercises and breaking bread with newcomers, the Discord server isn’t just for those who started at the forums. There, the founding members connect with newer, younger members who strive for a creative community beyond music.

White Collar Rhymes has reached a new generation of aspiring artists and hip hop fans to come together, enjoy the music, and expand to new horizons with a multigenerational community of fans, producers, rappers, artists, and more. This, perhaps more than anything else, brought the forum together 20 years ago and continues bringing DJB and company back in this new era.

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