When 14-year-old Damien Styles’ voice changed a year ago, deepening from a boyish treble to a manly bass, he didn’t even notice.
Neither did his father, Scott Al-Tall, a rap artist turned recording engineer.
It wasn’t until they finished Styles’ new album, “Young Picasso: The Legendary Fossil,” and compared it with his previous work that they noticed anything was different.
“That was the only complaint I ever heard about him – that he just sounds like a little kid,” Al-Tall said. “Now that his voice has changed and he sounds more mature, people are taking him more seriously.”
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Styles, who just started his freshman year at Rose Hill High School, will celebrate the release of that album, which dropped Tuesday, with a party and performance at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Loony Bin, 215 N. St. Francis.
When he does, he’ll be realizing a dream he’s had since he was a small boy hanging out in his dad’s studio making beats and learning to run the sound boards.
Styles grew up admiring his father, who started a rap career at age 19. Al-Tall, who went by the stage name Billistic, was invited to perform in Panama City Beach, Fla., as part of MTV’s 2006 Spring Break Celebration. At the time, his son was 5.
“I put him on his first track when he was 3. It was on one of my songs, and I had him doing a few words here and there,” said Al-Tall, who has recorded 10 albums of his own and now works full time recording other acts at his NLR Studios. “He wrote his first own entire song at the age of 5. He’s probably recorded 100 songs since then, but we never put anything out until now.”
Even at his young age, Styles – who used to go by the name Lil Bounce – has already filled his resume with impressive performances.
When he was just 10, he was on stage at former nightclub Doc Howard’s performing with Hurricane Chris. He performed with Tech N9ne at the Cotillion in June. Styles also was one of the openers for rapper E-40 at his May Cotillion show. He’s also recorded the soundtracks for a couple of short films.
Styles was able to get several notable rappers to make guest appearances on his album, including Bobb’e J Thompson and Skyzoo. Tracks from “Young Picasso” will soon be featured by DJ Statik Selektah on Eminem’s XM/Sirus radio station, Shade 45.
Styles, who was born in Wichita, moved to Rose Hill with his parents when he was 4. His father had a studio set up in the house.
“My dad was always making music and having people come in and out and record,” Styles remembers. “I was always around music, and it was ‘monkey see, monkey do.’ I just kind of picked it up.”
He gets inspiration for his songs from music, movies and his own life, which he describes as having been tough during points in his childhood. He writes about his pain on the track “Lamb of God.”
People at school know about Styles’ budding career, he said. Some are impressed. Some are indifferent.
But he tries to keep his focus on writing and performing, which keeps getting better.
“I think it just feels more and more natural every time and gets a little easier,” he said. “I don’t feel butterflies anymore.”
Though his father predicts he’ll become one of the top independent selling artists in the world, Styles says he’s not focused on fame.
If it happens, it happens.
“I speak my mind in all my music, and those who don’t accept it won’t, and so be it,” he said. “I just want to keep doing what I’m doing. If something big happens, something big happens. But I’m not too focused on that. I’m still a kid, and I just want to enjoy life.”
If you go
Damien Styles album release party
What: The 14-year-old hip-hop artist will perform songs from his first album, “Young Picasso: The Legendary Fossil.”
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Looney Bin, 215 N. St. Francis
How much: Admission is $8 for ages 21 and over, $10 for ages 18-20