Rising popularity no big deal for road manager turned rapper nobigdyl.
A self-described “rapper influenced by the storytelling of poetry and folk music,” Dylan Phillips, known as nobigdyl., is making his mark in the rap world by differentiating himself from other acts. Audiences are taking notice of his unique focus on lyricism and content— so much so, that his album and debut retail release, “Canopy,” which dropped Feb. 3, reached No. 7 on the iTunes hip-hop charts, an amazing feat for an independent artist with no major label backing against some of the hottest artists with an abundance of publicity.
Dylan and his wife, the former Chelsea Fleet, who were both Buchanan Fellows, began their tenure at MTSU in 2009. If their names sound familiar, it may be because they were the centerpieces of a Spring 2015 Honors Magazine feature, “Rings of Honor,” outlining their unique relationship: Chelsea and Dylan were the first Buchanan Fellows to marry one another.
Since 2015, life has changed dramatically for the couple. Our last article documented Dylan’s marriage proposal and Chelsea’s health and touched on Dylan’s transition from a road manager for a rapper to a budding music career under the moniker “nobigdyl.” Chelsea, who lives with Crohn’s disease, which at times requires her to use a wheelchair, is doing much better these days. “Last year, I was officially in remission,” she said. “The disease isn’t gone, but right now there are virtually no symptoms. I haven’t had to use my chair in years, and I thank God for that.”
While Chelsea’s health is on the upswing, Dylan’s music career is as well. After graduating and getting married, the couple focused on music and have become incredibly successful in the endeavor.
In addition to nobigdyl.’s success on the hip-hop charts, he also founded indie tribe., an artist collective run by Dylan and Chelsea comprising nobigdyl., Mogli the Iceburg and Jarry Manna. “After we got married, we turned a spare room into a recording studio and started the company,” Dylan said. “We do everything together — book shows, handle merchandise, come up with marketing schemes, and even record together.” The couple hopes to parlay their company into an imprint record label in the future.
Dylan’s’ music has met with positive reviews from a wide demographic: soccer moms, kids, hip-hop heads, nonbelievers and pastors. Comments left on his social media profiles demonstrate his widespread appeal.
Children at City Church, the local church Dylan and Chelsea attend, tell him how much they love “Purple Dinosaur,” the song that seems to be the favorite among his youngest fans. Trevor Atwood, a 2000 MTSU alumnus and pastor at City Church, said, “My highest endorsement of ‘Canopy’ and nobigdyl. is this: My two youngest sons go to bed every night listening to ‘Canopy.’ They know every word.”
Recalling the words of Scottish writer and politician Andrew Fletcher, “Let me make the songs of a people, and I care not who makes its laws,” Atwood added, “Music has a way of shaping what we think and believe in the realm of morality, ethics, philosophy, and theology. In all these categories, as a father, I’m delighted to have Dylan’s lyrics and beats forming all of those things in my sons, even as they sleep.”
As a longtime fan of hip-hop and rap, Atwood said that nobigdyl. isn’t “just another rapper, he’s a lyricist. His lyrics are layered with meaning and create pictures in the listener’s mind that aren’t soon forgotten. ‘Canopy’ is everything I appreciate about art — nobigdyl. tells a story from the first to the last track that’s personal, yet universal, and acknowledges both immanent and transcendent truth.”
Dylan has an upcoming showcase for record labels and the future is looking bright for him. “Our desire is to use this music, this company, this collective, and our entire lives to show people how much they need God and how sufficient He is to meet that need,” Chelsea said. Even the name nobigdyl. — with its lowercase stylization and a period — “represents the fact that we are nothing without Christ, dependent on Him, and in need of God who is much bigger than us.”
The sky is the limit when it comes to Dylan and Chelsea, and nobigdyl.’s popularity is quickly growing. For the chance to say “you knew him when,” nobigdyl. can be found at nobigdyl.com, on Instagram and Twitter at @nobigdyl, and on Facebook at facebook.com/nobigdyllie.
Photo by All of the Stars Photography
Story by Maz Rodriguez and Marsha Powers
To read this Honors Magazine story and others: Honors
Have any questions or comments? Contact us at: Darby.Campbell@mtsu.edu