According to Whytri, he got started in music “completely by accident.”
After dancing competitively for years as part of a Phunk Phenomenon dance crew, participating in battles and jams, the Boston rapper (born Dimitri) tore his meniscus — actually, both of them, one right after the other. These injuries put him out of commission for a long time, and even when he recovered, he knew he’d never be able to perform at the same level. “It was hard, I went through like this big year-and-a-half depression state… I thought I was gonna be a world traveling dancer like I saw a bunch of my homies were doing.” But when dancing as a career was no longer an option, Whytri realized he had another creative pursuit up his sleeve: rapping.
In his senior year of high school, he had taken a rap class with Cambridge artist Acrobatic and started making music for fun with his friends. After a few years of rapping on the side during college — “I was completely garbage” — he decided to pursue music for real. And the dancer Dimitri became the rapper TRI JEDI, who then evolved into Whytri. Music took the place of dancing as a creative outlet in his life.
Whytri’s history in the dance world still plays a part in his music. “I picture my flows kinda like tap dancing, really sporadic and all over the place.” The energy, rhythms, and sense of movement in dance became aspects of his rapping, especially evident in dynamic songs like “Tiptoejoe” and “Yerr” off of his EP A Bad Porno. You feel his flows in your body — powerful, jerky, singsong.
The songs on A Bad Porno and Whytri’s newest project, Lucies Vol. 1, are dark, foreboding, and theatrical. Over cold, industrial beats, Whytri raps in a sinister croon or yells with frenzied intensity. When he performed “Yerr” at WBRU for his live session, his voice was so loud and hype that you could hear him through the whole building, and everyone nearby got swept up in the powerful energy. To match this sound, his lyrics are blunt and aggressive, clever and witty — like a cartoon villain’s monologue. In fact, he’s influenced by the narrative and over-the-top characteristics of movies and video games. “I feel like my whole aesthetic… is very cartoonish. But at the same time it’s very serious and edgy.” He could see his music soundtracking a Black sitcom or an adventure film: “something that’s loud and adventurous and booming.”
Whytri’s affinity for narrative and fiction also pops up in his writing; he composes screenplays for skits that appear as his promotional videos or as interludes on his mixtapes. In these skits, the rapper plays the part of a talent agent, an interviewer, or himself. Hyper, talking rapid-fire, brimming with physical energy and gusto, he goes all-in with the skits just as he goes all-in with his music.
Whytri has valued the art of experience, and the combination of different media, since high school. In his junior or senior year, he built a brand called LSTVSN (lost vision) to serve as a platform for whatever he and his friends want to create. “LSTVSN is my home for my creativity… it could be whatever I wanted it to be.” Through LSTVSN, he’s put out accessory lines, published his skits, and promoted his music. He has plans to keep building the brand and using it as an umbrella for all of his creative pursuits. “Like, if I was to sign a [record] deal I’d probably just sign myself to LSTVSN.”
This drive and energy are evident in Whytri’s unrelenting work ethic and ambitions. Right now, he thinks his live performances are his greatest strength. “I had ten years of entertainment experience almost on a professional level from dance… so I understood what it’s like to be in front of 600 people by yourself and keep cool.” Whytri’s performance skills have scored him several gigs with big-name artists before he even had fifty followers on Spotify: he’s opened for Bhad Bhabie, Asian Doll, and Rico Nasty. But he wants to bring his recorded music to the same level of expertise as his live shows. “I’m trying to have my songs as great as my live, and if I can do that, I can take over the world.”
In order to elevate his music, Whytri’s been recording songs in the home studio he put together. He works with Boston and Providence artists like Nino, Beato, Jon Glass, and others, but he’s increasingly been producing his own music in order to have complete creative control. “I want to be able to give people my full ideas in my head as clearly as possible.” He produced three of the tracks from Lucies Vol. 1, which was a project he made to give out with VIP packages at his first headline show in February 2019. He’ll probably give away song packages like this every time he headlines a gig. “I feel like the cool thing about the Whytri brand is I’m really trying to sell experience over like the music and over the visuals,” he says.
With his next few projects, Whytri aims to change up his sound and look while staying true to his artistic identity. A lot of people were turned off by the eccentric style and aesthetic of his earlier projects like A Bad Porno: “People were like, ‘yo, I didn’t know Dennis Rodman rapped!'” But after going that left-field, Whytri feels free to do whatever he wants musically, knowing that people will understand him better now. “With this next project… I’m just learning way more about myself than I did prior from making music, because I have to dig deep and understand things like what I wanna say and why I’m saying it and why I think it’s important to say it.”
It’s ironic: for someone with a name like “Whytri,” he is the furthest thing from apathetic. Right now, he might be an underdog, but that’s his charm. “I’m taking my own different road to winning, but it’s eventually gonna happen,” he says. Just wait, and Whytri will become the hero. Watch out for his next projects, and in the meantime you can listen to his music here.
Photos by Seth Israel