Rapper-singer Bryce Vine has another potential hit on his hands with the SoCal-inspired summer jam "La La Land" featuring rapper YG

By Jeff Nelson
May 02, 2019 03:05 PM
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Credit: Lindsey Byrnes

It’s time to add Bryce Vine to your summer playlist.

The up-and-coming rapper-singer (real name: Bryce Ross-Johnson) has been hustling for more than a decade in the music biz. After breaking through with his 2017 crossover hit "Drew Barrymore," New York City native Vine, 30, has another potential hit on his hands with the SoCal-inspired summer jam "La La Land" featuring rapper YG.

“It can be a dark city. It’s beautiful and it’s sunny and when it’s dark out, people make terrible decisions sometimes. I think anywhere that seems like a dream come true in one aspect has equal darkness,” Vine says of the new single. “There is a little bit of sadness, but it’s a great place—it’s the hub of entertainment and creativity, and it’s at the forefront of it; it’s the place to be.”

Below, five things to know about the rising artist.

He had a punk band in high school.

Music was a big part of Vine’s life from a young age.

“Musical theater was always a part of it, Disney movies, so I just always associated music with relief and happiness. When I was 13, I realized I could just write my own songs for that release, kind of my own therapy,” says Vine.

In his teens, he formed a punk band with some classmates.

“I started performing in backyards of friends’ houses, and I was terrified. I made my way to the Whiskey A Go Go with them, and we started just playing shows and practicing,” he adds. “It was always just for fun.”

Vine cites everyone from Third Eye Blind to J. Cole as his influences — and you can hear his punk roots in his genre-spanning songwriting.

He went to the prestigious Berklee College of Music.

After auditioning for the renowned Boston school, Vine was accepted and received a scholarship, and he pursued his passion — but it wasn’t always easy.

“I was lost. I had no idea where I fit in or what to do. I already struggled with confidence all the time, if I was good enough to do music because I have this low voice — I didn’t necessarily want to be a singer, but I loved singing the songs that I wrote. It was a struggle,” he recalls. “And everyone at Berklee is so freaking talented that I just felt so unimportant.”

Two months into his freshman year, “I was in the hallway of my dorm, and I called my mom. I was like, ‘I don’t think I deserve to be here. I think they made a mistake.’ My mom just said: ‘They think you’re worth it, so just do the work.'”

Vine took his mom’s advice. He tried new things — from gospel ensemble to jazz — and began collaborating with his peers, which would lead to some fateful connections…

Bryce Vine
| Credit: JUCO

G-Eazy was an early friend and collaborator.

When he was still in college, Vine and a producer friend posted some tracks on MySpace in 2009 — and a then-unknown rapper, G-Eazy, heard them. Vine went on to open for and collaborate with G-Eazy.

Vine says he’s taken solace in G-Eazy’s slow rise to fame.

“There was one time where we played a show in Boston. We were opening for G-Eazy. It was a sponsored event at a nightclub. And nobody came. Not one person. He was staying in my dorm room because they were on such a budget that they just needed to stay with friends. We played this show, and nobody freaking came,” Vine recalls. “That night, we went back to the dorm, we popped 40’s and we were like, ‘One day it won’t be like this.’ I watched that dude’s entire story unfold. It makes you patient when you see how hard someone has to work to get to where they plan on being.”

He owes his career to Drew Barrymore.

No, not the actress.

After struggling to find his sound for years, in 2017, Vine had an epiphany.

“I just was like, ‘F— it, I’m gonna write the songs I wanna write and eventually the right ears will hear,'” he says.

Two months later, feeling liberated, he wrote what would become his breakthrough hit.

“I came up with ‘Drew Barrymore’ and put it out independently — and my whole life changed,” he says of the track, which he released in November 2017 before eventually signing with Sire Records. “In one week, all of a sudden I had three different offers from labels. Not just meetings, for the first time ever — they wanted me to sign. I had a choice for the first time.”

He’s a classic car guy.

As Vine puts together his debut LP, he’s low on downtime. But when he’s not writing, recording or performing, he’s typically cruising around in his classic Mustang and hanging out with loved ones.

“I drive around my little red Mustang, and I’ll pick up my best friend downtown and we’ll get lunch. Maybe smoke a J — just relax and enjoy the company of people who have been with me for a while,” Vine says. “Or I’ll go see my dad and go to the gym with him or go help my mom with something; she runs a little book store. I just have to see the people that really matter when I get to see them because I don’t have free time anymore.”