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Darius Exorcized Demons On New Album 'Left Alone'

Darius Williams
Darius Williams Facebook page
"Left Alone" is the new album from Darius. He performs Friday night at Nightshop in Bloomington.

Bloomington-based hip-hop artist Darius Williams said his new album was self-therapy during a difficult time. He says it's his most personal work to date.

Known professionally simply as "Darius," he said "Left Alone" is meant to be listened to sequentially, but not how you might think.

“The central theme of it has a lot to do with … there's a phrase 'joy comes in the morning,' right? It's used a lot in churches and stuff like that. You have sorrow in the night. And then joy comes in the morning. So that's how the album is structured. So, on the first half, it starts off dark ... it's me being depressed and not knowing what to do with my life at all,” said Williams.

“Skeletons,” “Need a Hug,” and the title track are the dark songs that kick off “You Left Me."

“It's funny that you said that because the project is meant to be played backwards,” said Williams surprisingly.

“’Skeletons’ is my intro to the listener, right? I've never dropped another body of work that's been as intimate and personal as this one," said Williams.

I opened up my closet

Don't know what's gonna fall out

You might fall out

A bunch of skeletons made my closet home now.

- “Skeletons” by Darius

"And that's me, not just talking to God, but talking to the listener to show you guys everything that's there and become as vulnerable as possible. And it's building up to the rest of the album. But it's the intro of the album,” said Williams.

But he challenges his listeners to listen sequentially beginning with song #13 (“Joy Comes …”) to the lead track (“Skeletons”)

“So, if you play it backwards, ‘Joy Comes’ is basically me waking up and feeling vibrant, refreshed, energized, and happy. And when you finally get to the ending of the album, which is ‘Skeletons,’ I've been through all this stuff. And now ‘Skeletons’ is the final prayer that I came to,” explained Williams.

That raises the question: Why is the album not sequenced that way?

“I wanted to allow people to build that own story in their mind … innocence," said Williams. “So, when I created it … from ‘Skeletons’ to ‘Joy Comes …’, I was like, Okay, I might add some dialogue. I might add a couple of skits. So, people get a full glimpse of the story. But I'm like, ‘you know what, why not just give them the full explanation of them going back into the album and re-listening to it?’ And that gives them even more depth and perspective.”

The album’s fourth song (or tenth if you listen in reverse) is “You Left Me” looks back on the mistakes he or other people in his life have made. That’s followed by the title track, another deep dive into Darius’s desire to be a better person and lead a better life.

“Yeah, I've had a lot of people pass away from me in the last couple of years. My best friend’s mother, relatives, my uncle … my brother-in-law was really an amazing role model for me (Rest in Peace) … he was shot and killed the day of Thanksgiving,” said Williams.

He remembers that being 2017. Darius says the story details how that day went down and then how to deal with all the abandonment.

“That's one of the things that kind of wraps this whole album into fruition, because one of the things I have dealt with is abandonment. And it wasn't just a letter to him. It was also a letter to all the other people that have passed away from me.

If you listen to “Left Alone” top to bottom, the title track is where Darius’s spirituality is first introduced. It continues on “Drowning.”

The sea of depression

I think I learned my lesson

That love is conditional when it’s man made

They fade away as quickly as they planned to stay

Only the love of my father could get me farther

- “Drowning” by Darius

“When you're dealing with suicidal thinking and self-harming the last thing you want to hear is, ‘Oh, you should pray and like, God loves you,’” said Williams. “So, with ‘Drowning,’ I'm relying too much on the world's love and not God's love for me. From what the Bible tells, he's the same guy yesterday and today, and he will always be the same God no matter what … like his love will never, ever change, unlike humans. That lyric is really me saying, ‘man-made love is not going to help me get through life.’”

Darius mentioned a few times that he’s taken up therapy to deal with the numerous losses and disappointments in his life. But the album itself became self-therapy.

“It most definitely was for every song. Especially ‘You Left Me’. I told my counselor; I really don't know if I could write the song because I haven't talked about that (the death of his brother-in-law) since 2017,” he said.

She advised him to put down the pen until he was ready to write about it.

“And I felt like ‘I do want to put it on that album but it's just so hard writing about it. I remember I wrote the first two lines. And I started breaking down just because I couldn’t do it. But once I put it out there into the universe, I was perfectly fine. All my emotions I put on here … talking about suicide, my self -harming … the depression, and anxiety I deal with every day. Most people know me as the funny guy. Always happy all the time, but they're not used to ‘Whoa, you go through stuff this same way as me? You deal with hardship the same way I do. So, this entire album was me venting, and it was so therapeutic … like extremely therapeutic and I love it.

Darius performs his new songs Friday night at Nightshop in Bloomington. His new album "Left Alone" is available on various streaming sites.

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Jon Norton is the program director at WGLT and WCBU. He also is host of All Things Considered every weekday.
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