Stevie B: On the road

by Halee Hastad

photo by Jesse Schooler

“Pretty luxurious,” said Steve Borden, who goes by the hip-hop stage name Stevie B, describing his first West Coast tour. Sarcasm, really, as the tour was navigated via Dodge Caravan, an agreeably less than luxurious, but practical tour vehicle for an up-and-coming musician. 

Borden gives off the air of a man who is (not unlike some Dodge Caravans) often simpler on the outside, and full of complexities on the inside. He doesn’t speak as the type who wears their heart on their sleeve speaks. He is careful with his words, taking time to articulate thoughts before answering questions. As a hip-hop artist, his words are his craft, and he knows how to use them in a meaningful way. 

Growing up in Alaska, Borden moved to Washington while in high school and has been in Bellingham since 2012. He studied music at Washington State University and was living in Palm Beach, Florida when he decided to start making music seriously. He said his passion for hip-hop had been decades old by then. It was there that he began looking at the business aspects of the industry as a way to start navigating the wide world that hip-hop resides in. 

Having moved back to Washington to be closer to his family, Borden took on the creative endeavor as emcee for Deadly D, “…a [Bellingham] funkadelic hip-hop fusion band comprised of 2 emcees, a female vocalist, drummer, bassist, and DJ.” 

 While Borden continues to be active in Deadly D, much of his most recent tour, as Stevie B, has been performed solo, without the rest of the crew. This five-week spread included a send off in Bellingham on Feb. 11, with the first away show taking place in Portland on Valentine’s Day. Shows span along 11 states all on the West Coast, as Borden, for the first time, tours outside of the oh so familiar states of Washington and Oregon. 

“Really, in all honesty, we are just piecing it together as we go for this first tour,” he said with a hint of casual and controlled optimism. 

This has meant reaching out to people he has never spoken to or met before, and rolling the dice on making new, yet meaningful connections, Borden said. He aims to be able to give back what he has been getting this time around, too. By making these connections on the road, Borden hopes to bring them back to Bellingham and show the same humble welcoming he has been shown while on tour. This type of art, he said, is all about networking and not taking any connection for granted. 

And the sentiment here, that one should give back what one gets, and vice-versa, is reflected in the sounds and messages of Borden’s music. He is inspired by social elements – those things that almost anyone can relate too, any everyone has, in some way, shape, or form, likely experienced. 

“A lot of my music is subject-driven, so it only makes sense that the lyrics are reflective of inspiration I find in everyday happenings of myself and those around me,” he said. “Everyone has emotions and feelings… I try to make positive and feel good music that touches on issues faced by those everyday people.” 

Whether it’s a simple comment made by a friend, or a tune he hears on the street, Borden’s experiences in daily life are what fuel his art, he said. And he has support in Bellingham.  

“It’s definitely a small scene, but it’s a very supportive one,” he said of the hip-hop community. “I love what we’ve got going on there.”  

When asked what the final goal in his hip-hop career is, where it all boils down to the end, he said, simply and surely, after a short, contemplative silence, “To do nothing but this.”

For more about Stevie B, follow Deadly D’s Facebook page.