“You having a good time? Here, try some of this,” Eighty4 Fly shouts over the din of a packed party and the bass-heavy speakers blasting his debut single “So Cool.” Reaching across the chocolate fountain and birthday cake, he tips a bottle of champagne into my half-drunk rum-and-coke. It’s the MC’s birthday, and Pioneer Square’s Last Supper Club is packed—in no small part because he’s picking up the tab.
As echoed by his slogan, “It’s a Fly World, and we’re riding first class,” Eighty4 Fly, aka Devon Taylor, undeniably knows how to have a good time. But in the end it’s all about the music—an enterprise he’s been working since the tender age of 12.
Constantly surrounded by musically inclined family members, from church-singing grandparents to cousins like Guinness record-holding speed-rapper NoClue, Taylor quickly progressed from tape-deck recordings to legitimate studio time. But after putting out just a single project, he hit a dark streak and spent three years behind bars. It’s not an experience the MC promotes, nor one he uses to justify a crime-hardened persona on the mike.
“I’m not a gangster rapper looking for street credibility,” Taylor said. “I was a hard-headed kid doing stupid things with stupid people, and as awkward as it sounds, that was actually a great opportunity for me. When you’re forced to sit down like that, you’re either just going to get in shape and come out the same person, or you’re going to learn as much as you possibly can.”
The records Eighty4 Fly has been releasing—from mellow cruisers like “Sunset Blvd” to hard-hitters like “Until We Bleed” that featured XXL freshman Nipsey Hussle—are as melodic, well-written, and radio-friendly as any hip-hop tunes Seattle’s heard in a generation. But what’s equally impressive is that this buzz has been earned in mere months.
Since becoming Eighty4 Fly in April, things have moved fast: Taylor quickly got two Jon Augustavo–directed music videos and an eight-track EP, The Eighty4 Fly Project, under his belt within just a few months. A mixtape hosted by KUBE’s DJ B-Mello, 1st Class ‘N Flyworld, is due out Oct. 10, and his forthcoming debut full-length, No Flight Home, is scheduled for release early next year.
“I want to be the flagship,” he said. “And I think everybody in Seattle does, but I’m in a pretty good position, and I think I have the talent. But more than that, I want to be the gateway. Once I get my foot in the door, I’m not closing it.”
Just like most rappers in the burgeoning local scene, Eighty4 Fly is aiming to become the city’s crown jewel. But with an accessible sound and swag-heavy, open-minded approach, he’s making his own unique path in a saturated market. And having a damn good time doing it.