Don’t Sleep Spotlight | Dae Zhen

Earlier this year, we introduced our first official Spotify playlist titled Don’t Sleep. Named after our efforts to put you on to our favorite upcoming talent, the W&V crew will also be digging deeper into their backgrounds, recent accolades, and plans for the future in our latest spotlight series.

Our first Don’t Sleep spotlight features Dae Zhen. The Los Angeles resident introduced fans to his lyrical prowess with YouTube freestyles, which segued into his Polaroids EP with KATO and the Mike Derenzo-produced “Dipset.” The catchy tune has feel-good vibes throughout as Dae weaves between punchy verses and a sweet hook.

Following the release of his Women & Wordplay project, Dae stayed pretty lowkey aside from a few covers and features. He returned from his hiatus with “Friday,” which also appeared on NPR. The track essentially picks up where “Dipset” leaves off, serving as another weekend anthem fit for any celebration.

2018 marks the true return of Dae. As the next peak at his forthcoming album, “Hotline” shows Dae at his finest. Self-produced alongside Derenzo, his latest offering rides smoothly with a gentle piano riff and an explosive chorus. Dae’s warm return leaves us excited to see what he has in store in the near future.

Get familiar with Dae Zhen and check out the complete Don’t Sleep playlist below.


dae zhen. Returns With “smoke break”

It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from dae zhen., but know I couldn’t have clicked that SoundCloud notification any faster, nor have been more excited when I got the chance to indulge in the new track. One of my all-time favorite artists has reunited with his right-hand producer Mike Derenzo for a new tune titled “smoke break.” His angelic hook and poetic verses are backed by a wavering “If I Ever Fall in Love” sample and additional vocals from Joni Payne, melding to form an overall steamy journey. This warm welcome from dae has us excited to hear more in the near future.

Take a “smoke break” with dae zhen. below.

Don’t Sleep Vol. 1: Valentine’s Edition

Welcome back! For those unfamiliar, Don’t Sleep is a playlist series where I showcase a collection of tracks under my radar, usually with a particular theme. Valentine’s weekend is officially here and what better way to start than with some dope tunes? Prepare for cuffing season below with five sultry tracks.

1. SPZRKT ft. Masego – “Hesitate”

Chicago vocalist SPZRKT has teamed up with Masego to deliver their latest track, “Hesitate.” The stacked production team composed of Tyshane8X8, and Alias flips Sampha‘s “Hesitant Oath,” lacing it with SPZRKT’s chilling voice and Masego’s smooth sax skills. Vibe out to this repeat-worthy track, and stay tuned for more music from Spazzy and Sego.

2. Smino – “krème brûlée”

Smino is back with “krème brûlée.” Soulection’s Monte Bookerwho also executively produced Smino’s blkjuptroffers his groove-filled production in tandem with Smino’s passionate verses. The sonic duo show no signs of slowing anytime soon, so take this opportunity to bless your ears below; if you like what you hear, make sure you grab that free download, too!

3. Anderson .Paak – “Silicon Valley”

From his latest album, MalibuAnderson .Paak‘s “Silicon Valley” showcases his clever wordplay and unparalleled soul. The track is undoubtedly smooth as it is seductive as Andy interweaves his affinity for sexual references, both subtle and straightforward. If you haven’t already, check out the live performance of “Silicon Valley” rest of Malibu, as well as my INSPIRE article on the recent Aftermath signee.

4. Kyle Dion – “Make Luh”

With well over two million SoundCloud plays under his belt, artist Kyle Dion is set for a packed 2016 and beyond. Many may recognize his name from his collaboration with Oakland’s songstress Kehlani on “How We Do Us,” and since then Kyle only continues to refine his sound. From his sophomore project Painting Sounds, “Make Luh” is perfect for the weekend; his crisp croons laid over upbeat production from Entrstellar spare no time to deliver an unmistakeable energy. If you haven’t already, peep my interview with Kyle, where we talked about his career so far, and his plans for the future.

5. dae zhen. – “Like Fire”

One of my many favorites from dae zhen., “Like Fire” highlights his ability to seamlessly bounce between seraphic singing and ardent verses. I first discovered zhenny when he opened for Awkwafina a few years ago and found myself constantly revisiting his music ever since. While we await his upcoming album, Nostalgiatic, indulge in some classic dae.

That’s all I have this time! Check back soon for the next volume.

dae zhen. ft. KATO // “Crazy” (Stream)

dae zhen returns to give us “Crazy,” featuring a guest verse from KATO and production from Mike Derenzo.  The track is a bold reinterpretation of the Gnarls Barkley classic of the same name.

Embark on the ambient journey below:

“Crazy” is in stark contrast in aesthetic when juxtaposed with dae’s previous release “Friday,” released via NPR Music and available for stream via both SoundCloud and Spotify.  However, both tracks showcase his strong vocals and potent chemistry with Mike Derenzo.

Both “Crazy” and “Friday” are slated to appear on zhenny’s impending album Nostalgiatic, scheduled for release sometime this calendar year.

“Crazy” marks the first time that dae and KATO have appeared on a track together since their joint EP Polaroids, available for stream via Child of Space Beach himself.

If you’re interested in hearing more of this electro-pop infused hip-hop, Mike Derenzo’s SoundCloud will satisfy your appetite.

Dae Zhen is Far From Finished | “Sorry I Never Put Shit Out” (Stream)

That’s okay, Dae– this track will hold us for a bit.

Dae Zhen of Los Angeles is a multi-talented microphone-killer that oscillates between belting passionate lines and reciting seemingly effortless, rapid-fire verses laced with poetry and metaphors galore. I first discovered Zhen when he opened for Queens satirist/MC hybrid Awkwafina at UCSD’s the Loft last December; needless to say, I’ve been hooked ever since. With his debut solo project, Women & Wordplay, now an edge over one year young, his fans have been (im)patiently waiting for more.


Last night Zhen gave us a new track via the currently in-flux SoundCloud titled, “Sorry I Never Put Shit Out.” The latest cut features Zhen doing what he does best: blending his singing with wordplay-filled raps over production from his close friend Mike Derenzo of Venice Beach. Subtle guitar strumming (likely played by Young Dae himself) topped off with piano melodies and Zhen’s piercing vocals definitely makes this a memorable cut that continues to generate hype for him as he progresses in the industry.

Derenzo is one of the prominent forces behind many of Zhen’s projects, from Women & Wordplay to Zhenny’s latest compilation, B-Sides, which features a few tracks that weren’t exactly suited for his upcoming album. Regardless, each track is solid and only makes me more stoked to hear what makes the final cut! The two have a symbiotic relationship that produces nothing less of dope music.

Stay tuned for more updates on Dae’s upcoming album.

Dae Zhen: Twitter // Website