Pinning Bryce Vine down to one sound is tricky. There’s the bass-heavy reality rap he was baptized in, flying down Los Angeles’ freeways with his father. The bright and sunny pop aesthetic of a happy childhood in Manhattan. The DIY ethos of the punk band he formed in high school. The loose and breezy reggae and gospel ensembles of college. The mellow stylings of crooner jazz and classic soul.
His keen blend of laid back, in-the-cut hip-hop and anthemic choruses —or, as Bryce describes it, “If Outkast and Blink-182 got drunk with the Gorillaz and started playing music together” – prompted Entertainment Weekly to praise Vine’s “boundary-pushing aesthetic” and hail him as one of the “artists who will rule 2018.” His buzzy current single, “Drew Barrymore,” is climbing the charts at both Top 40 and Rhythm radio and has helped earn him over three million monthly listeners and 110 million plus streams on Spotify. Now gearing up for his major label debut, via Sire Records, Bryce Vine is poised to break out and shift the musical conversation.
Born in the bathtub of his mother’s Manhattan apartment, Bryce grew up without material comforts. Scraping by as an actress, his mom—who eventually landed a major role on a soap opera and now runs a volunteer book store—enriched their lives with music and literature.
“We didn’t have much money at all,” Bryce says. “But she was always so positive, I never realized how poor we actually were. To this day, she says I was the happiest child.”
But there was something dark seeping into the corners of Bryce’s mind, and by the time he was a teenager, he was diagnosed with depression and ADD. Alleviating his psychic pain, however, was music—especially rap. While visiting his father, a restauranteur, in L.A., “How Do You Want It,” by Tupac came on the radio, and Bryce felt his world shift. “I remember thinking, ‘This is the coolest music on the planet, hands down,’” he says, laughing.
The discovery of gangsta rap, with its refusal to sugarcoat life, was fortuitous—he sought refuge in music that spoke to harsher realities. “What excited me was how positive the songs sounded, even if the subject matter was dark,” recalls Vine. “Music was therapy for me. You can always find a song about something you’re going through.”
For his 13th birthday, he received his first guitar, and spent countless nights teaching himself to play and write songs. Eventually, he started a punk band with three high school friends in L.A., where he and his mom had relocated, instilling a DIY sensibility that would permeate his career — especially after Bryce was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music where he met his current producer, Nolan Lambroza, (aka Sir Nolan) and with whom he collaborated and released his debut EP, Lazy Fair.
The EP immediately connected, as Bryce found out when he sold out of CDs halfway through his first-ever support tour. The bouncy single “Sour Patch Kids” racked up 20 million plays on Spotify. The next batch of songs included “Los Angeles” and “Bang Bang,” which are playful commentaries on society and growing up as a biracial millennial.
Vine’s momentum attracted shared marquees with the likes of G-Eazy, Big Sean and Kyle as well as major label attention. Now, he’s gearing up to release his debut album on Sire Records. Maintaining his optimism yet keeping an unblinking eye on life’s ups and downs, it’s obvious why his rapidly growing fan base is devoted to him: His main goal is to make them happy simply by relating to them through his music. Fans are also drawn to his openness about having the same fears and internal conflicts they do.
“Honest emotion is missing in music. I want to be somebody who’s not tainted, someone they can root for,” Vine says. “I want to bring people together and leave the world a better place. That’s what drives me.”