ON THE COME UP: Introducing Dane Amar

By Kelsey Tang

ON THE COME UP depicts promising artists in a new light a gentle reminder that they’re flesh and blood like us. We had the chance to link up with Dane Amar, a 22-year old rapper/singer from San Diego, CA.

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If our destiny was ultimately dictated by the type of energy we output into the universe, Dane Amar has mastered the art of manifestation. A few years ago, the rapper forecasted three major dreams: one day, he’ll perform as an opener for bigger artists; he’ll get signed as an artist under a record label; and he’ll release an album titled Past Death.

Fast forward to 2019, and these dreams have manifested into reality. Dane Amar has opened up the VIP lounges for A$AP Rocky and Shawn Mendes, signed under the San Diego-based label Pacific Records, and has just released the 10-track album “Past Death” — a love letter to the romances coming in and out of the artist’s life. 

Of course, the San Diego native knows that this art of manifestation is textbook pseudoscience: “You can’t manifest something if you’re not gonna work towards it as well. And I work everyday towards it. Like I almost got fired at my day job because I keep writing songs at work.” And it’s that sweet spot between luck and hard work that has catapulted Dane to a success that aspiring musicians dream about.

Born Alvin Phiavongsa and named after Alvin and the Chipmunks, the rapper grew up with a musically-rich background. Back in Laos, his grandpa was a prolific songwriter. Meanwhile his dad, Manith Phiavongsa, cemented himself as a famous Laotian popstar. To understand the magnitude of his dad’s fame, a brief search on YouTube for the popstar will bring you to old karaoke music videos still racking over hundreds of thousands of views.

Like his grandpa and dad, Dane has always embodied that same hustler’s spirit while enjoying the spotlight as well. At age 13 was when the rapper actively pursued a music and comedy career on YouTube, looking up to early Asian-American pioneers such as D-Pryde and MC Jin.

At age 20, Dane auditioned for Show Me the Money, a South Korean rap competition TV show, and got a taste of what filming was like for national primetime television. After passing the first round in Los Angeles and personally earning a chain from Jay Park, the show flew him out to Korea. “There were 13-hour filming days,” he remembers. “And most days consisted of us just watching each other rap and waiting because there were a thousand people to go through. For continuity reasons, we had to film four days straight in the same outfit to make it look like one day.”

But the opportunity to connect with other rappers and travel internationally was pivotal: “I lasted one more round. And to say that my first international flight was because of music, it’s sick.”

Now Dane is onto bigger projects and bigger dreams, both as a solo artist and with his global collective Tribe 20:4. “I’m manifesting this right now,” he begins. “I’m the next one. A thousand percent. Top three artists in the game. I don’t know who’ll be the next three but I’m in that conversation.”

Past Death is now streaming on Spotify.

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Jeffrey Wu