Humans of Maryville: Draven Fuller

In the bottom level of Maple 3 lives Draven Fuller. A fourth year sports business management major who spends his time surrounding himself with music, basketball, his friends and a pen. Greeted with a friendly handshake, I enter the living room that is filled with music, sports jerseys and posters galore. Draven notices my eyes meeting the poster above the TV, a beautiful piece of Jimi Hendrix. “That one is actually pretty cool. If you feel it, the paint is raised, or whatever. I think it’s called acrylic paint.”

The apartment is clean. Everything has a place. I immediately point out the music playing throughout the whole place. “I figured we listen to music enough that we’d invest in a sound bar and really do it right. I think I have music playing at all times.”

My next 40 minutes, well, 40 minutes and 25 seconds to be exact, were latent with conversation that sparked wonder from both parties and heavy bass from the music playing throughout.

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So you’re obviously someone I’ve seen over many years now with so much more to you than just being a normal student and –

(Draven Fuller) I appreciate that man.

With that being said, I’ve been super excited to sit down and talk with you for awhile now. Simple things first, where are you from? How did you get here? Why are you here? You know, the normal stuff.

 

(DF) OK, so I’m from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which is the second biggest city in Iowa, for the people here that don’t know. Um, how did I get here? It’s a pretty crazy story actually. My best friend in high school, we played basketball together, during a summer tournament he got a letter from Coach Carroll saying that he was interested or whatever, and we always wanted to go to the same school together, so I thought I’d look into it. In seventh grade, we had this thing where we’re supposed to pick a major and send out newsletters to schools and they’re supposed to send you information back. As a seventh grader, I didn’t know what I wanted to major in, so I just chose sports business and it turned out Maryville had a good Sports Business program. They stopped having contact with my friend, of course he didn’t come here, but I kept looking into the school. I actually took a visit here because I was visiting SLU and I thought I’d throw Maryville in, just because I was here. I had a meeting with Jason Williams,  head of sports business, and he had a really personal presentation for me, he knew my name and all that. He really, um, took pride in knowing my family and stuff like that so that hooked me and, yea, I decided to come here and I’ve been here for four years since. Yea, so really weird story, through a friend, then I got here and some people in St. Louis didn’t even know what Maryville was. And now it’s a bigger name.

What have your four years been like so far?

(DF) Um, they’ve been good – I can’t complain honestly. You know, I feel truly blessed to be here, you know, to even make it to college in four years. If I were to describe my years here, I’d say a lot of growth; yea, a lot of growth. I thought I had more things figured out when I first got here, that’s for sure. I thought sports business and being an agent would just be my life. And I found a lot of other interests, of course writing now, that’s what I like to do. Yea, I’ll just say that I thought I knew a lot more about life when I was coming in compared to what I do now.

What have you found out?

(DF) I found out that hard work is basically the only thing that’s going to put you where you want to be. You have to have periods of talking about it, brainstorming whatever dreams you have, but the only thing that’s going to actually get you there is hard work.

For sure.

(DF) What else have I learned in four years? Time flies, that’s for sure. Yea, honestly, find out what you love and do that until you can’t do it anymore. Don’t let anyone tell you that what you’re doing – basically taking anything that’s, you know, feedback or whatever it is, take it and know that at the end of the day, you are the only one who truly knows what’s going to be best for yourself. So I would say those are the big things I’ve learned.

Talk to me about the writing thing. Where did that start?

(DF) Man… (laughs).

Where are you with it now? Future plans?

(DF) So writing –

I mean you have a blog and shit now, that’s pretty cool.

(DF) I never thought – I never thought I’d have a blog. Growing up people always told me to get one and I thought I was supposed to just tell people about what I thought and things like that. But I’ve learned that it’s, one, a blog is way more than just a blog. A blog is a marketplace, it’s a platform for you, its an introduction into a lot of things. But writing, my mom is a poet, so I’ve always had a knack for words, but I never took it seriously. Until about seventh grade, I entered a writing contest where you were supposed to read a book and then write an essay about what that book taught you, and then it enters into an across-the-country writing contest.  I read a book by Earl Woods, Tiger Woods’ dad, called Start Something. Basically the whole book was on, like, just being progressive and proactive and doing whatever, you know? So I wrote a thing on it and ended up – every week our teachers would get our classes together and say ‘ok this is who made it to the next round’, so regionals, city, state, whatever it was. I think I made it to the second to last round, I didn’t win the whole US one, but I made it pretty far. That got published in the Congressional Library in Washington, D.C.

Wow.

(DF) Yeah that was pretty cool for me and I guess that was the first time that I thought ‘Oh, I guess I can really write.’ And after that, I didn’t really start writing personally, I took a lot of pride in whenever I got papers in school and making sure I did them well. I just noticed that teachers would write little notes letting me know I was good at writing, but I still never took it seriously – I considered myself an athlete, I played a lot of sports. And then randomly, actually the summer before I got here, me and my uncle were sitting at a baseball game, and he was like ‘I think you should start a blog.’ Once again I said ‘No.’ And he was like ‘No I think it would be something good, you don’t have to write to get people’s insight or anything, just write for yourself – just thoughts you want to get down.’ I thought I could just do that in a journal, but I (DF) wasn’t even doing that (laughs.) Started brainstorming a little bit and I looked into it and I thought I could use this to get across my thoughts, in the situations I’ve been through, I’ve learned a lot whether it was good or bad. And I feel that other people can learn from what I’ve done or what I’ve seen. So that’s the angle I took on it. Me and my friend were sitting there brainstorming and I was thinking about what I should call it. And at this point I knew nothing about business or anything like that so it was just self-titled, ‘Draven’s Blunt View.’ So I just put it out there, whatever it is. I wrote up an intro post explaining how this wasn’t for anybody else or anything like that, just basically in defense of – well, I didn’t want anyone critiquing my writing.

(Laughs.)

(DF) I wrote that, people liked it and after that I just started writing whatever came to me. Its evolved a lot, like I said the blog is way more than posts, it’s a platform, I legitimately think I’ve built a brand through it. The connections of, like, what people tell you – I remember the first time, I wrote a post about my assistant coach in high school, we had an end of the year banquet and he had a quote saying, ‘This is by far the smallest guy on the team, but he by far has the biggest heart.’ So I put that in a post and I went home my freshman year for Christmas and my aunt told me, Coach Mackie is his name, and she told me he read that and it brought him to tears. That was the first time I had a genuine reaction to something I wrote. I knew that it was way bigger than me at that point, you know that’s a grown man, to be honest I wasn’t thinking about him too much, and just to know that it had that much of an affect on him, that’s when I picked it up a lot more. I’m not writing to provoke emotion, but I’m understanding more of what my writing can do. And I just started writing with that angle. Future plans with it? I’m writing a book. First one is going to be excerpts from the blog now, put them down in print form. Probably 30 or so posts from the 90 I have now. And then after that, I want to write an autobiography but that’s kind of hard to do now.

(laughs) I mean you’re still so young.

(DF) (laughs) Exactly, you don’t know what to put in there at the moment. So for the future just keep writing and keep spreading the word.

That’s dope. Do you want to make a career out of it?

(DF) Yeah I do, I definitely do. Whether it’s – I really think writing is a tool that has gotten swept to the side as an art. I know for me that I was writing a lot on my computer and I got bad writer’s block. For like four or five months, I couldn’t post anything; Nothing I wrote I liked. I decided to go back to the basics. I went to get a bunch of journals of pens and started free-handing it. And that’s honestly what got me out of it because I started just breaking down the art of writing and really getting through what you want to say, word placement and things like that.

Its not as meticulous.

(DF) Exactly.

It truly is an art form when its your own craft when its your own handwriting, your own –

(DF) Exactly and that’s what I’ve always took pride in, handwriting like that. I was actually really anal about it when I was young. Notes from months ago I would go in and rewrite it.

(laughs)

(DF) But yea, its an actual art form and I think it’s really important and it’s, I don’t know how to word it, it’s underrated from a communication standpoint in the way that there’s a lot of things in life that you can’t quite say in the moment, there are many thoughts that kind of run through. But when somebody sees it on paper, or wherever it is in writing, it sinks better.

It’s permanent at that point.

(DF) Yea.

0s6a0448You can read it five or six times and its still there.

(DF) Yeah definitely. So I do want to make a career out of it, whether it’s writing movies or TV shows or whatever it is, I love the craft for sure.

Now, music plays into it some way.

(DF) Mhm.

Obviously you’re always surrounded by, I’ve known that about you for a long time, and recently, relatively recently, you’ve started to put poetry to beats now.

(DF) Right. Um, that is interesting because when I was really young, once again like eighth grade, around the time that my mom passed, I made a couple songs and put them on Facebook, they’re still there, and it’s hilarious to go back and watch them. But I did that, and I didn’t do it after that until recently, this summer actually. How that came up, music has always been big to me, I love music. I think that’s another art form that is very pure in the that it’s somebody’s expression and I think it’s crazy that you can hear vibrations from your stereo and it gives you chills and it can put you in different positions or experiences you’ve had. So with me and music, why I’ve started to do it more recently – I’m glad you said ‘poetry to music’ because that’s what I see it as. Once again, my mom being a poet, that all rap or hip-hop, or whatever type of music it is, it’s writing words or poetry to a rhyme scheme, or maybe it doesn’t rhyme at all, but you put the actual music in the background to create that art. I just wanted another way to get word out, because some people, of course some people take in music differently than they take in a post. Some of the poems I’ve written, I’ve had a tune in my head, but then I thought that I didn’t have a producer, so I’d just put it in post form. Recently, learning more about music, and what it takes to make it, yea, I’ve just taken that up recently.

What I like about it is, you see a lot of – I think rap is interesting at the moment because you see a lot of, from my understanding of it, I think rap is more divided now than its ever been in the sense of, like, 10, 15, 20 years ago, east coast and west coast rap were really different.

(DF) Totally.

And now, the majority of main stream rap isn’t so much lyrical as it is about things just sounding good, having a good beat, and making it a song you can just vibe to. Versus artists like Kendrick Lamar, who stick out so much because he doesn’t need to make a banger, he writes – he actually writes.

(DF) Yeah.

Which is why when I saw your first post on Instagram, that’s why I call it ‘poetry’ because you actually write and mean something that sounds good, yes, but also means more than, you know, a White Iverson (laughs).

(DF) (laughs) And I appreciate that fully, that’s, you know just going forward, I don’t exactly know where I’ll be with it. I look at myself as someone who will always try to spread what I believe as truth and I could never write any other way than poetry the way it is. But going back to what you were saying about music and the way it’s changed. Hip-hop and rap are almost pop music with how popular it is. With the way its changed sonically is that it’s not about what you’re saying now, it’s about the melodies. You don’t even have to be able to sing now because the technology has evolved, so its just a melody and a good beat that someone can listen to. Yeah, whether it’s Migos with ‘Bad and Boujee’ or something like that, you’re going to put on at a party and no one is going to care what they’re saying. But with the way I write, I want people to be able to – I would never shoot for a Billboard #1 hit or anything like that, I want something that will be timeless, that you will want to play over and over. Not something that will be hot for a minute or whatever. Kendrick Lamar for me is top 3, top 5, favorite artists, for me. Me and my friend were talking the other day that even the way he freestyles, the way he approaches the mic, you can tell that he cherishes it and that it means something. Other people just approach it as ‘I’m here, this is something I have to do.’ But for him, it’s a passion, its an art, it’s a craft – something you take seriously. So I’d like to be able to look at myself as a total artist, not just someone who’s going to make a song. 

You’re an artist, you’re not a musician.

(DF) Exactly man, exactly.

It’s interesting, I even get into conversation with people about photography stuff. They say ‘Anyone can be a photographer,’ and that’s true, anyone can! But its different when you, like for me, music has always been so massive –

(DF) Yeah.

Its always been so massive and, like, 90 percent of the time I take photos, there’s a beat to the pictures I’m taking. Which is weird, because they’re not necessarily combined, but it’s having a much more artistic approach to your craft than just clicking a button or writing a thing.

(DF) That definitely applies to all types of art, especially photography, like yeah, my brother picked up a camera recently and he’s shot some really good stuff, like most of the things on my Instagram accounts from him. He didn’t have any experience with it, it just comes from inspiration. Whatever you’re trying to portray, people not always get, but that’s part of it too; Perception is reality, but your perception isn’t always someone else’s reality. I really believe that. The way you see something is never going to be the same (as someone else’s). You can spend hours and hours trying to describe something the way you want others to see it but its just based off the break down of their experiences.

 That’s one of the things I’ve learned. I’m almost 22, and in my lifetime I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve stopped trying to explain things so much. However they’re going to take it, they’re going to take it.

(DF) Yeah I really like the quote ‘Whatever is understood doesn’t need to be explained.’ Numerous times you’ll wear yourself out trying to explain yourself to people. I try to always fall back on do it for the art and do it for the love. Whatever comes from it is supposed to be. That’s basically how I go about that.

That’s dope. What’re you listening to now? Or the stuff that you go back to. It doesn’t have to be your favorite, I mean I’ve been listening to Post Malone for the last three weeks and he’s not even close to my favorite.

(DF) (laughs) For the last year and a half, I’ve been going through severe waves, like I’ll bump an album for two weeks to a month and then it’s onto the next one. Whatever I naturally revert back to is something I subconsciously picked up and think, ‘oh I like that.” But what do I listen to? The Travis Scott album, for sure is good for any type of vibe. The Weeknd’s new album, I love that one sonically, and that’s one of the albums that if you do individual songs, you may be like, ‘eh’ but if you let it run clean through it’s good.

Dude people have lost the value of listening to complete albums. They rely so heavily on songs – and all my friends make fun of me because I do albums, pretty much exclusively only albums.

(DF) My whole library is albums, I hardly do singles.

Exactly and you know, as an artist, you understand – for example, not to keep bringing him up, but Kendrick Lamar, I remember when I first listened to To Pimp a Butterfly, the thing that stuck out to me was the monologue that grows on itself throughout the entire album, starting with the first line, and by the end of the album, it’s a full monologue. Obviously there are certain songs that stuck out, but to be honest, I didn’t understand the album the first five or six months. It took my several times listening to the full album before I feel like I got a general album, but the art of the album as a whole was incredible, and you’ll never get that from one song. 

(DF) Never. The thing is – I was talking to my roommate the other day about albums, I don’t even know the last time I pressed shuffle on an album. I still have to listen straight through –

Its almost disrespectful (laughs) .

(DF) It really is! (laughs) Like how’re you going to mix this album up. The artist put it there for a specific reason for the album to sound a certain way so you can make connections. But yea, the value of listening to albums has gone down a lot. I think it’s coming back a little bit with vinyl. I think more artists are starting to drop more albums as opposed to mixtapes. So hopefully the art of listening to albums and valuing albums and being able to judge that as a piece of work comes back because I really live for albums; singles don’t really do too much for me. Even if I’ve heard the single before, I need to know, sonically, why the artist put it there in the first place. I was talking about how Travis Scott placed Antidote in the album and how it was really well placed, and then Big Sean just came out with his album and I thought Moves was completely out of place, but still, its not up to me.

That was kind of the thing with The Life of Pablo. I think the first four or five songs go really well together, but then after that it’s a bunch of random-ass songs. And that was a little disappointing because that’s the first Kanye album that seems thrown together. But you know how Kanye is, maybe in three years we’ll look back and think its perfect, that’s what happened with Yeezus for me.

(DF) Yeah that’s nuts. You can never know when someone is ahead of their time. And Kanye is so good about, I don’t remember what interview I was watching, that’s another thing: I’m really big on watching interviews to get a total scope of an artist because there’s no other content that you get that’s better than them saying their own words. But I was watching a Kanye interview and he said ‘I have no problem with being a trend-setting or a trailblazer or if I take all of the blame for knocking down walls or breaking the barrier. And if in five years, people come after me and take after me, so be it.’ And you can never really know, he likes to yell and go on rants, but you can never really know what Kanye wants to do with whatever art he puts out. Ultimately it’s up for whatever interpretation you want.

Then you have guys like Chance the Rapper, and in his interviews, he exclusively calls his ‘albums’ mixtapes. And about a month and a half, two months ago, he finally stated that the next project of his will be a full album. He talks so heavily on the difference between a mixtape and an album. A mixtape, you’re kind of ‘allowed’ to have it be a hodge-podge of placement, but with albums you have to be really careful. And he’s my favorite guy in the game right now. He’s even brilliant, Chance 3 is even brilliantly placed.

(DF) That’s all I have on my wall, just Chance posters, ever since 10 Day. Mixtapes are weird with him because Acid Rap, for me, felt like an album when I listen to it.

Definitely.

(DF) The big thing with him is he’s an independent artist, which is hugely inspiring to me. He doesn’t need a big-label backing, he does it all himself since I’ve followed him. Early in his career, printing his own t-shirts and stuff… So now, with everything he’s done, putting that together to make an official album when everything he’s done so far sounds super album quality, that’s just outrageous. A lot of people don’t know the difference between albums and a mixtape, and I don’t think a lot of people care. But as an artist it’s a treat to say ‘I put this into this.’ With mixtapes, no matter how hard they work on it, they can always pass it off as a point-in-time thing. Albums, is more of a time-period thing, you’re either trying to project something or capsulate something. I’m excited as an artist to have conversations with other artists about things like that and be able to make those distinctions.

As an artist, who do you draw inspiration from? 

(DF) That’s a very good question. Man… I would say a lot from Kendrick. He’s a true Gemini and I truly do believe in the two sides of a Gemini, and he really balances between being a really humble person, and then some of his bars are super aggressive.

(Laughs)

(DF) I draw inspiration from that because it lets me know I can be like that and still have a chip on my shoulder. Chance, definitely, because independent and does everything himself. When I started my blog, I started writing, and started making t-shirts, I know how hard it is to get sole-proprietorship or whatever to sell funds and get funds to have people believe in your ideas. Its just crazy to hear him go from 10 Day, which I was listening to Senior Year, to now the Emmys, or uh…

Grammys.

(DF) Yeah Grammys. ESPYs, that’s what I was trying to say. He did that (Muhammad Ali) tribute. It’s crazy to say that. I would say my mom, definitely.

Does that still stick with you every day?

(DF) Yeah, well, not every day. I’ve never been one to say, and I’m definitely not judging, but ‘I’m thinking of you every day’, because I think its almost impossible to really recollect on everything every day. It’s mostly the little things. I don’t know, when you’re talking to a girl and you wonder ‘what would my mom think?’, just things like that. When I’m writing, I would definitely like to hear what she would say about it, you know? Yeah, it definitely sticks with me for sure and something I carry with me. It’s something I take pride in, persevering, and just carrying the torch because I honestly think she’s 10 times better of a writer than I’ll ever be, but I still carry that with me.

That’s a wild thing.

(DF) Yeah it is, its always crazy. Its always crazy to lost somebody and then try to think how they’d react to certain things. Because you really want to say you’d know, but that’s the whole reason you’re asking yourself the question in the first place, because you really don’t know.

**Draven’s roommate and teammate walks out the front door**

(laughs) His head almost hits the top of the door.

(DF) (Laughs) 6’10” cannot be fun.

I’m 6’2” and I have no desire to be 6’10.”

(DF) Not at all (laughs). I even thought about it, like even if it makes you a superior athlete, eventually that stops, like after that, its not comfortable to live.

Shaq is on TV, and what, he’s 7’2”?

(DF) Big boy. And now that he’s not playing he’s what, 360lbs? That’s a big ass dude.

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So what’s next? I’m a big believer in possibility. So in 10 years time, if all the limiting factors, finances, how much you know, what you’re ‘qualified’ for, where you are geographically – if all of those things weren’t factors, what does your life look like in 10 years?

(DF) In 10 years… wow. Nothing is holding me back?  In 10 years, I’m at a point where my brand is definitely running itself – its self-sufficient. Honestly, for it to outgrow me. I want DBV, Draven’s Blunt View, but its bigger than that. It’s Despite a Billion Variables, which is what the underlining motto of it is. I want it to be real estate, restaurants, all that. I just what to get to a point where what I’ve created is a self-sufficient engine where I can collaborate and volunteer wherever I want to. I really believe in, once you get to a certain point, you have to donate. And I don’t want to put a monetary value on it, because its not just about money, but you can donate knowledge, or time, or experience, you know, going in and telling people how you did what you did. So in 10 years I want to be traveling and spreading my word to as many people as I can and freelancing. I have no limits. No limits with who I can work with or what I can do. If I want to take time off, don’t want to be in the public eye for six months, there are no constrictions. Still definitely making art – I’m living.

That’s dope.

(DF) I do, by 30, want to have a Bentley (laughs). So that’s one of my goals.

Good shit, I love that.

(DF) I appreciate that man.

Now my final question is a question I always like to ask. And why I ask it, is that I think everyone has something to say, everyone has an opinion, I don’t need to be telling you this –

(DF) (laughs) Right.

Everyone has an opinion and very rarely do they get asked the right question. They have an opinion, they have something they find important, but very rarely do they get prompted. So my final question is: Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you wish I had? Or is there anything that you wish to share?

(DF) That’s a good question. And I do fully agree with that – There are so many interviews, or forums, or whatever where 1) people really like to hear themselves talk, and 2) they want validation for what they have to say.

And how shitty of a thought is it that you spend 45 minutes with someone and you walk away thinking ‘wow, we didn’t even talk about what I really care about.’

(DF) So I don’t know if there’s anything specific… If I were to say anything, it’s that I put a lot of value on chasing dreams. I like to press things to the point where they either bend or break. I like to see how far things can go with thoughts. Honestly, yeah, just pretty thinking. Freedom of thought is a big thing to me. Don’t ever question questions you have or the way you think about things. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Be impeccable with your word. Really believe what you believe in. I’m trying to think of any questions… If anything, I want people to know that I’m more social than I seem.

(Laughs)

(DF) That’s probably one thing. If I had to get that across, (laughs). I’m pretty introverted, but all it takes is one conversation, just like anybody else. I guess, do what you love, find a passion and do it for as long as you can. Life has taught me that time is very limited, so wasting your time doing anything you’re not interested or invested in is very dangerous. Be very genuine and trust your gut as much as possible.

You almost speak in a very spiritual sense. It’s very interesting. The word choice you use, the way, in my eyes, the way you methodically go about the way you speak, there’s a very spiritual approach to the way you speak. 

(DF) One, I have to thank you for that. I don’t want to say I’ve worked on that, but being a writer, I value words. The right words need to be said at the right time. I feel that I need to think about the words I say because there’s that perception point; somebody is going to perceive your words some way. So you want them to have this outlook on the way I say things, even though they may not. I do think out the way I talk because I don’t ever want to come off a way I didn’t intend. The one thing you can control is what you said. And in terms of being spiritual, definitely. Definitely a lot of faith and just knowing that it’s way bigger than me. I’ve been put in situations that I’ve had no control over and I know it’s a part of something bigger. I have trust and faith that I do know what I’m doing, and I know that its good-hearted. And once again, being impeccable with your word, and not second-guessing what you think is right. We’ve been on this earth 21, 22 years now, there’s eventually a point where what you see, feel, act, that’s you and that’s how you’re going to go about the world.