Hip-hop artist and St. Marys native Dustin "Dee" Aunkst is hoping to move his career to the next level with his new album, "This Music is My Diary," set for release today.
Aunkst remembers when he first began honing his craft at various venues in and around Elk County, initially recording tracks in his bedroom at his mother's house.
"My favorite thing about St. Marys was the laid-back atmosphere. While I was in high school, it was easy to walk around with a backpack full of CDs to sell. It was a smaller town, so any song I put out created a buzz," Aunkst said.
Today, he travels a bit farther, performing in cities like New York City and Miami.
"I am a hip-hop artist, living my dreams. I don't consider myself a rapper," Aunkst said. "I travel the country working in recording studios, showcasing my talent for crowds and opening for artists that were influences to me."
Over the past two years, Aunkst has opened for artists like Jadakiss, Method Man and Fabolous; reality TV star Ray J; and emerging artists Wiz Khalifa and New Boyz.
"I'm now located in Pittsburgh, where my new album was recorded and is being released January 25. I'm looking forward to taking my experience as the opening act for these celebrities and transferring it over to the headlining spot," Aunkst said.