The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Thomas DaVinci brings Chicago talent to Los Angeles

Thomas DaVinci digging through records at Amoeba Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard. Photo credit: Jessica Herrera

Thomas Gentry, also known by his stage name Thomas DaVinci, is a 24-year-old Chicago-born artist who moved to L.A two years ago to get a change of environment and pursue his art.

The rapper, singer, actor, music producer and piano player’s stage name was inspired by mathematician Leonardo DaVinci after finding out they share the same birthday. Gentry saw him as a creator and inventor and felt a connection to the name.

As a result of growing up in a musical family, Gentry taught himself to play piano and sing. He describes himself as a “student to the game,” when it comes to learning. In addition, he owned his first keyboard at 3-years-old.

Gentry began with open-mics at his friend’s event “So Soul Sundays” where he was introduced to other performance opportunities.

“Each event that I did, there would be someone there hosting another event and we’d exchange information,” Gentry said. “There’s more outlets here [Los Angeles] than there is back home. I was stuck in the same house for 23 years and needed a whole change of atmosphere.”

From his creative outlets, Gentry enjoys rapping and singing. He said the two go hand-in-hand. With rapping, he feels that he can have more fun with wordplay and use more vocabulary.

When performing, Gentry gets excited and anxious as he tries to be as aware of the moment as much as possible, which is how he gets in the zone to perform.

Open Kanvas co-founder and CSUN alumni Jerry Don “JD” Bailey met Gentry at a showcase last year and the two have collaborated numerous times since then.

“His unique style blends singer/songwriter type melodies with lyricism and consciousness that applies to social realities of today’s generation,” Bailey said. “His socially aware message is delivered in a nostalgic way by paying homage to old school hip-hop lyricism–such as including storytelling in his songs.

Bailey added that Gentry is a humble man and a real life activist by constantly shedding light on unknown inequalities in the minority culture.

Gentry said that, with Open Kanvas, Bailey has given the chance for artists, such as himself, to be exposed and give them a platform to showcase their talent.

Twenty-one year old CSUN student Melissa Esquivel, a junior Chicano studies and business double major, said the passion behind Gentry’s artistry is evident.

Esquivel is a friend of Gentry and first met him at a showcase last November in a house where he performed in a living room.

“I feel that he has something different to bring each time he performs,” Esquivel said. “From singing to rapping to a capella, the Chicago native mixes it up. Even though I’ve seen him perform repeatedly, each performance feels fresh and exciting. His energy is high and his smile shows the love for what he does.”

“Late Registration” by Chicago rapper Kanye West is one of Gentry’s greatest inspirations.

Thomas DaVinci said one of his biggest influencences is the album "Late Registration" by Chicago rapper Kanye West. Photo credit: Jessica Herrera

“It just brings me life,” Gentry said. “From the intro to “Heard ‘Em Say” to “Touch The Sky” and then it just goes from banger to banger. The songs are all so diverse, from the way [Kanye West] chops the beats to [the different flows of his lyrics].

When Gentry thinks of something or sees something that ignites the start of a new song, he creates metaphors in his head and writes it down or memorizes it.

Thomas DaVinci’s music is featured on Soundcloud.

He will be performing on April 5, at L.A. Unplugged. Follow DaVinci on Instagram for future performances and new releases @thomasdavinci

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