CHICAGO - A chart topping Chicago-born rapper is opening up about his struggles with mental health, in hopes it will help others.
His music is upbeat and enthusiastic, filled with energy and light. It’s a testament to what he’s overcome.
Ten years ago, the "DLOW Shuffle" swept the nation. Now, at the age of 27, Daryon Simmons is sharing the personal pain that almost pushed him to the brink.
"My mom passed away in her sleep from a drug overdose. My father, I never met my father, have no clue who he is today. My grandparents raised me," said Simmons.
As a teenager, when he lost both grandparents, his life spun out of control.
"So that left me and my brothers and sisters to kind of deal with life alone at a young age. I was 13, outside just trying to figure out life, sleeping in abandoned buildings, sleeping in cars, not having an outlet, not having a foundation," Simmons said.
He turned to dance as an escape. Then, he put lyrics to those moves and came up with the name "DLOW", which stands for Determined, Loyal, Optimistic and Willing to learn.
"Dance has been a way to express myself through the hardest times, through my easiest times, and dance has been my language," he said.
His unique approach caught on like wildfire, leading to songs like the "Bop It Challenge", which is now TikTok famous.
But, it all came crashing down again.
For three years, he struggled with deep depression, afraid of facing the truth for fear it would jeopardize his career.
"Not having anybody to reach to, nobody to call on, that’s what caused my depression. But instead of trying to battle it all by myself, I just let go and I let God," said Simmons.
That mantra became the motivation for his latest song, released this month, called "Let Go Let God".
"It's never about what you go through, it's always about how you go through it… If we live in yesterday we'll probably never see tomorrow," he added.
Late last year, DLOW released his first song as a solo artist, called "Dancing Across the World". His dream is to open up an after school program for kids on the West Side of Chicago, where he grew up.