You can’t judge a book by its cover any more than you can tell musicians’ music by the genre they are categorized in.

More than ever, in order to resist being spoon-fed what mainstream music wants to force-feed listeners, it’s important to get past preconceived notions of what defines a genre.

With early artistic influences ranging from Phil Collins and Tupac to the acclaimed children’s novel The Giver, Oklahoma City’s Dewayne “aDDlib” Butler is a refreshing exception to today’s mainstream hip-hop rule.

By fusing hip-hop and rap with a laid-back vibe and slower tempo, aDDlib creates a sort of neo-soul with an R&B flavor that is appealing on a diverse, wide-ranging level.

Slated for release at the end of the year, Butler’s LP It’s the Thought That Counts chronicles a love story from beginning to end, beginning with a love letter to his ideal future wife.

“I think if they’re exposed to more positive messages and music they will accept it."

He aspires to bring change back to “true” hip-hop and emphasizes his desire to always encourage positive thinking and messages through his music, especially amongst the youth.

“There aren’t enough artists promoting the right things in mainstream hip hop right now. There’s all of this focus on material stuff and negativity; most songs on the radio are talking about money and cars and women in a degrading way. Kids are so easily influenced, so there are way more important, positive things we should be talking about,” he explains.

As a mentor with the Youth for Christ program for children in Oklahoma City, meeting with students and giving inspirational talks with them twice a week, Butler experiences first-hand the heavy impact music has on youth culture.

He says that the youth he works with not only inspire him and keep him young at heart, but they also challenge his mind.

“They are the target market – they are the ones listening to music the most, buying it the most and taking the most from it – which isn’t a good thing when the messages being conveyed are negative, because kids are impressionable and susceptible to the music and songs that they listen to,” he says.

“I think if they’re exposed to more positive messages and music they will accept it. The problem is that it’s just not as easily available, so they don’t know what else is out there or how to find it.”

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