“The world seems to be in a very dark place at the moment and I wanted to use the video to speak to those issues that concern all the innocent children all over the world.”
Dap The Contract is ascertained to be one to keep an eye on. Having released his latest single and visual, ‘Too Young,’ Dap The Contract is making waves with his powerful message regarding the Syrian refugee crisis and the young lives that are being lost all over the world. With his major musical influences being Kanye West, and Andre 3000 (to name a few), Dap The Contract brings a distinct rawness and alluring melody to hip hop, with his lyrics and iconographic masterpieces.
Dap The Contract openly chatted with me about the development of such a sensitive concept like ‘Too Young’ and we also talked about the current “rap beefs,” and how his musical background has contributed to where he is today & where he is headed in the industry. Take a look at our much-needed conversation below!
Dap the Contract is a dope and unique name. How did you get that name?
DAP is an acronym that stands for Dolapo Akinkugbe Productions, and “The Contract” is a duo I formed with my best friend Shane Chubbz, but when he had to take a leave from music I decided to put them together for my solo work.
The powerful words and images in the video ‘Too Young’ was almost a tear jerker for me. Where did the concept for this song and video come from?
I made this song in an attempt to relieve heavy emotions for myself and a close friend of mine that lost one of her closest friends. In the process, another close friend of mine lost a friend of hers, too. The song was my attempt at articulating the grief that one cannot express in words, and just try to have a vessel to hold those emotions. Music has always been a form of therapy for me, and I always find that is the best way to share some of the emotions and lighten the load. RIP Uzi and Dave! The video took on new life when I continued to hear about the refugee crisis in Syria and all the children affected by that, and then went back home to Nigeria for Christmas break. As always, as I drive around, I see so many young kids on the streets, probably no older than 5/6 years old, living in poverty, carrying and looking after their younger siblings. The world seems to be in a very dark place at the moment, and I wanted to use the video to speak to those issues that concern all the innocent children all over the world.
What difficulties did you find in shooting such a powerful and politically inclined video like, ‘Too Young?”
The video turned out to be fairly simple to shoot thanks to my amazing friend Felege Gebru (look out for his project Sober Octaves coming soon). My main concern was representing children from many different backgrounds and struggles, be it police brutality in the United States, the Syrian refugee crisis, or poverty stricken children all over Nigeria and Africa.
I noticed you were born in Lagos, Nigeria. What was life like there for you?
I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria and have lived there my whole life and still do. I have been studying abroad in boarding school since the age of 10, but I have been home every single year since I left, at first every Summer, Christmas, and Easter holiday, and now only briefly in summer and over Christmas break. Nigeria is my favorite place one earth. That’s where I’m most comfortable, most inspired, most happy. Every country has its negativity, but I’m very fortunate and blessed to say that life in Nigeria for me has always been amazing, between the weather, the beach, and as I got older the nightclub scene and more. As I got older, I became much more aware of how the lack of infrastructure, corruption, politics and religion all play a role in the functioning of the country. But, like I said, I hate that my country has been dismissed as solely those negative qualities when there is so much love, so much good, so much talent throughout Nigeria AND Africa!
I read that you come from an entirely musical family. Was your family always supportive of your decision to pursue music in college?
My family is extremely supportive. My parents supported and encouraged my decision to take a gap year and go to Berklee College of music for two semesters. But, my family is also full of educators and very respected professionals, and as any Nigerian child will tell you, school always comes first. My mother and father have also always balanced their passions (my father is an amazing photographer and my mother a pianist and organist) with their primary careers. I think my family knows now that I will never be satisfied and happy in life unless music is my primary career, at least for the majority of my life. But, I have always respected the importance they held on getting an education, and recognize that I articulate myself in my music, and my music translates so directly, because of my intelligence. My content is so pure and potent because of what I have learned and the amazing schools they have been able to send me to.
Who or what are your musical inspirations?
Kanye West is my favorite artist. I think he is the most rounded artist, from production, lyricism, storytelling, presentation, performance, stage design, clothing, aesthetic, every piece of his art is very detailed and well thought-out and he is the first artist I fell in love with. He will be my favorite artist forever (maybe I’m too loyal, but that’s just how I am). I draw inspiration from many different places, however. All Motown music, Rachmaninoff/Schumann/Schubert /Debussy (classical music composers), Andre 3000/J.Cole/Kendrick Lamar/Ab-Soul (for the HipHop world), Jungle/Jai Paul/Skepta/Stormzy (From the UK world), and Fela Kuti, Lagbaja and 2Face (from the Nigerian world).
Who do you dream of working with in the music industry?
I have worked with Jungle on a couple of records, and Mark Ronson at Abbey Road for the Converse Rubbertracks competition, but I dream to work with Andre 3000 and Kanye West more than anybody else. They are my two favorite artists.
I know you have been seeing the rap beef going on between Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma. We usually see men going at it. How do you feel about two female rappers fighting for a spot at the top?
I have a very particular and simple opinion on rap beef. For me, music is the only thing that matters. I love that “Shether” exists because it is a powerful diss and it maintains the FACT that HipHop is a sport. I also love No Frauds, because it is a fun, club banger. Good music came out of it. However, I am me, and I love peace, positivity, and nothing more than showing LOVE. I will always be stuck wondering what a Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma song or more Drake and Meek Mill, or even more Drake and Kendrick Lamar songs would sound like. To me, the good music is the silver lining, but the loss of collaboration is the tragedy. Great sport, unnecessary sacrifice.
In today’s music industry, artists have found ways to build their brand other than music, such as dabbling in the fashion industry, producing and acting. What avenues do you see yourself going into, besides music?
I am already teaching myself to edit music videos, and will one day direct and edit all my music videos. I would love to produce movies and film score, but I don’t see myself getting into to the fashion or acting world heavily. I would also love to write several books and be a recognized author, further than autobiographies, biographies, or journals, but various types of books from self-help books to non-fiction and fiction books.
Who would you consider to be the top artists out right now? Why?
Drake deserves his spot. I think Kendrick Lamar and J.Cole are the best HipHop artists right now, and I think Chance is incredible, musically and because of his stance on independence and returning the power of music to the artist. There are so many artists I love that it is hard to single out specifics, but I think it is very important to mention Skepta and Stormzy for what they are doing in the UK because it is legendary historic shit! That’s what inspires me the most at the moment.
If you were not pursuing music, what else would Dap the Contract pursue (being that you have an impressive educational background)?
I love football (soccer) just as much as music, and I kid you not if I had the choice I would have pursued being a professional footballer in my teenage years. But, I honestly do not know what I would be if I weren’t a musician. My mind cannot fathom not being a musician. I would consider being a lawyer perhaps, or doing something that gave the power back to the people and protected those that cannot speak for themselves, but I will never be able to shake being a musician.
So, you have done your studies at an Ivy League school, you have dropped a mixtape titled ‘Goodbye,’ you have recorded in legendary studios, and you have a beautiful visual/song ‘Too Young’…what is next for Dap the Contract?
I have a deferred place at Columbia Law School, and I start this August 2017. Next, I plan to release the video to my single “Right Now” off my upcoming EP, and then the EP, and later in the year another very important project I’ve been working on alongside this EP, hopefully, all before I begin at Columbia. I am extremely proud of the work I am doing with my music, and maybe my music makes such an impact that it makes sense to pursue it solely now, and reapply to law school later in life, but for now that is the plan.