by Ace Woe
Devon Brent has come a long way from his ‘Codeine Martin’ days. So far, in fact, that nearly 90 original tracks have been pulled from streaming platforms, just so Brent could rebrand under his given name; a move reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar ditching his ‘K.dot’ moniker and re-introducing himself to the world of hip-hop.
“I’m moving on from my bender days, so, part of that maturity is dropping the old moniker. I got too lost in the artist personality; started using way too many drugs. It’s back to sobriety now. I want to place my focus on more of who I really am.”
Devon was born December 1995 in Pretoria, South Africa, due to his parents’ particular career paths—a topic he opted not to broach for privacy. They moved to Egypt when he was three and lived there for five years before settling in Bethesda, Maryland, where he continued hopping from school to school before eventually dropping out of Montgomery County Community College.
This trajectory was largely affected by a genetic condition called ‘Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome’ (EDS) as well as health complications that stem from multiple head injuries sustained throughout his youth, the earliest of which occurred back in South Africa at age three. While playing ‘Indiana Jones’ with his brother and cousin, he got caught under a closing garage door which left a dent in the back of his head. Despite all of this, he would go on to live a fairly normal childhood, playing pop warner football up until he was 14 years old. Once he was no longer able to exercise regularly, however, he began gaining weight, going from 160 to 280 lbs over a span of five years before graduating in 2015. By the end of his first semester of college, all the injuries and physical trauma had caught up with him. He was in constant pain and unable to continue his academic career; but, luckily, he had discovered music and comedy.
This newfound freedom coincided with an emerging appreciation for freestyling and stand-up—two skillsets at which Devon found himself to be quite adept. Stand-up comedy became his only form of exercise; comedy clubs were his gym. And, especially since making music did not require too much mobility, he dove into music production as a means to combat depression and hopefully build a catalog worthy of note. This led to the aforementioned ‘Codeine Martin’ days.
Between 2017 and 2018, Brent would undergo a sort of transformation. With Dean Martin as his archetype, and codeine as his fuel, he began formulating the alter ego of his own undoing and a discography that would later be destroyed. Much like Slim Shady, ‘Codeine Martin’ was a brash, no-holds-barred, never-ask-for-forgiveness, verbal catastrophe. But by 2019, much like Marshal Mathers, he had resolved to quit using drugs or else face imminent consequences. He was subsequently forced to take a hiatus from stand-up comedy, but continued using the Martin moniker for three more years.
During this timeframe, Brent experienced his most profound artistic breakthroughs, teaming with multi-talented producer Shadoe and streamlining tracks. The first of which, titled “Trained to Go,” was part of an August 2020 self-titled side project, Trapgawdz, alongside LIZZARDBRAIN. This was followed by July 2021’s Shattered Dreams EP, a four-song foray into psychedelic trap-hop which leaves the listener wondering about the possibility of a Shattered Dreams LP (Brent says “No… but then again you never know. Never say never…”) Either way, it’s on to bigger and better things for Devon Brent, Shadoe, and their legions of misfits, both real and imagined.