New Orleans, Lousiana native Dee-1 describes himself as a man, a soldier, and someone on a mission to inspire people to be real, be righteous, and be relevant.

“I call myself Dee-1 because I feel like I was ‘the one’ that God chose to be in this game and reach people with my music.” He spells Dee the way he does after his first name, David.

Growing up, Dee-1 listened exclusively to hip-hop. Though he rapped with friends throughout his youth, he started taking it seriously as a sophomore in college. “I was part of a group when I started, but then I had to break apart from the group because we were rapping about a bunch of stuff we weren’t really living.”

Their lyrics spoke about killing people and selling drugs, glorifying lifestyles that they did not live, nor wanted to. “When I really found God, I couldn’t be living a lie like that anymore.”

Dee-1 says that he always knew who God was, being raised in the church, but never had a relationship with God. “When I got to college, everything I had based my identity on started falling apart and [was being] taken away from me.” He turned down basketball scholarships to multiple colleges to go to Lousiana State University with his girlfriend, but after arriving, he learned that she was cheating on him. He tried walking on to LSU’s basketball team but was cut. Also, during that period, his best friend was murdered.

“I started realizing that the only thing that was never going to leave me was God. I realized that God had been there all along, but it was on me to take a step forward.” After coming to this understanding, Dee-1 became devoted to his faith.

Now in 2019, Dee-1 released his fifth full-length album, God and Girls. “I feel like those are the two most powerful forces in the world: God and girls.” The album details some of Dee-1’s past relationships and his aspirations for a future wife.

God and Girls begins with “I know God.” Dee-1 describes the song as sharing the confidence in knowing that no matter what happens, God will take care of him, “but being confused sometimes as to what my next step is or what path He wants me to take.” The song is venting about the struggle between questioning the future while remaining patient in knowing God’s promises in the present.

“It Ain’t Safe” is inspired by the experience of falling in love, sharing how it feels “when you first fall in love with somebody and everything is so perfect, [and] that person can do no wrong in your eyes.” Dee-1 describes it as a fun summer anthem. “I just want people to smile and dance when they play that song.”

Dee-1 collaborated with Reflection Music Group artist Canon on his song, “Always Knew.” “Canon is a friend of mine, and I only collaborate with people I’m friends with.” When they made time to meet up in a studio, Dee-1 wanted a song upon which to tell his story. “If a person has never heard of Dee-1, I want them to be able to listen to Always Knew and to understand a little bit about my upbringing.”

Taking listeners back to his youth, he explains that he always knew he was special, “but felt like a lot of people around me didn’t want to build up my confidence.” Despite and perhaps because of the lack of confidence coming from others, Dee-1 learned that if he wanted to succeed, he had to foster his own self-confidence.

God and Girls continues with “The One,” featuring singer Jonathan McReynolds. The song is about what Dee-1 would hope to have in a wife. “If you’re a single Christian, The One is kind of like that anthem that really talks about what you want in your spouse.”

“People Don’t Want That Real” speaks on how people fail to practice what they preach. “People say that they want the world to be different. They say that they want the killing to stop. They say they want people to be treated fairly across the board, but a lot of times our actions don’t show that same thing.” Dee-1 wants people to consider how the movies they watch and music they listen to influence their audiences, “because we’ve got to ask ourselves, ‘Do we really want that real? Do we really want things to change?'”

Among Dee-1’s favorite songs on God and Girls is “Put Me In Coach,” which uses a basketball metaphor to describe his relationship with women. “God is the coach, and we are the players. When you listen to it, the song sounds like it’s talking about basketball,” but he explains that it is also analogous to what he calls the game of life. “I loved being able to incorporate basketball and real-life into one song.”

Dee-1 collaborated with Columbus, Ohio native Christon Gray for “The Narrow Road.” Since the album’s release last month, this song has been the fan-favorite. The duo speaks about experiencing the attraction of a woman who likes them but does not care about living a life of faith. “This is something that as a believer, you’re going to have to get used to dealing with.”

Dee-1 encourages Christians to not give in to the temptation, having made that mistake himself. “Sometimes you have to forfeit relationships with people, and you can’t allow [these] people in your life because they only want you on the surface.” The song speaks about a personal experience in which Dee-1 was in a relationship with a woman who not only wanted to date him, but also to manage his music career. This woman not only didn’t want Dee-1’s faith on a personal level but also sought to persuade him to avoid speaking about his faith in his music. “She wanted me to just rap about whatever she thought was popular at the time.” He ended the relationship.

“I ultimately want people to know that God made us unique so that we could utilize our talents and our personalities to show how diverse His Kingdom is. People need to embrace their individuality and showcase it.”

Follow Dee-1 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Get or stream God and Girls here.