Duane Gibson aka D.O. has defied the odds as a rapper from Canada, becoming a certified international artist, a successful record label executive and a socially active community ambassador. He set a Guinness World Record when he freestyled for nearly nine hours in 2003, sold tens of thousands of CDs, hit #1 on U.S. College Hip Hop Radio charts and travelled the world performing for sold out crowds; D.O.’s success is defined in his own terms.
In the last year, Gibson has lived up to the nickname “Mr International” as he has toured Asia, showcased at MIDEM in France and performed at the Indie Music Awards in Sweden.
In 2014, D.O. will release his latest project “Down Home” a 10-song album produced entirely by Classified. D.O. had the idea for the album in 2012 when he heard the intro on Class’s albumHandshake’s and Middle Fingers. “Class has a line where he says “I’m trying to find somebody I can pass the mic. Who got the drive and will make the same sacrifice.” I felt that could be me. I hit him up later that day and asked him what he thought about doing an album together. He was with it. I think its because he knows how hard I work – both on the music and the business.”
The album’s name comes from D.O.’s connection to Nova Scotia. His father is from Cape Breton and growing up he spent his summers visiting his family by heading “Down Home.” D.O. regularly flew to Nova Scotia to work on the album over the following two years. “It was great because I got a chance to work directly with Class in the studio, but also I got a chance to see my family. It was crazy because I lost two Uncles over the last couple of years, but I wouldn’t have had a chance to see them as much if I hadn’t been going down to work on the music.
The journey began for D.O. in 2003 when XXL featured his Guinness Record and he hit the road for the first of many tours, selling mixtapes from his trunk in the north-eastern U.S. Around the same time, D.O. created his school tour program, Stay Driven, and started investigating the inner workings of the music business. By 2007, D.O. was ready to release his debut album, Northstarr, the name which would eventually double as his label. D.O.’s music was instantly recognized and the album was nominated for a Toronto Independent Music Award. Northstarr also kick- started a spree of radio hits that would land him on Flow 93.5’s countdown at least once every year from 2006-2010.
D.O. found success in 2008 as one half of the duo Art of Fresh, whose music was featured in a television ad campaign for Volkswagen and Orville Redenbacher Popcorn. Their singles “Out Of This World” (Feb 2009) and “Amerika” (Feb 2014) have hit #1 on the U.S. College Hip-Hop Radio Charts. In the summer of 2013 they performed in Croatia at Fresh Island Fest – Europe’s biggest beach festival – performing alongside Snoop Dogg and ASAP Rocky.
Throughout this string of releases and constant domestic and international touring, D.O. also found time to build Northstarr Ent and established himself as a go to music executive for independent artists. Northstarr has represented up to 15 artists worldwide.
Somewhere between Tupac (in terms of social consciousness), Common (in terms of artistic integrity) and Jay-Z (in terms of business sense), stands D.O., a man who is bounded only by the hours in a day