NATIVE Premiere: DAP The Contract Pens ‘Open Letter III’

an honest snapshot of his life thus far

DAP The Contract has been playing the long game and it seems to be paying off. In the past five years, he has maintained an incredible work rate releasing a slew of singles and projects, including 2018’s ‘Everybody Falls In The Summer,’ and ‘Powers, Vol. 1 & 2.’

All this while, his rap skills and writing abilities have only become clearer as he tackles success and pain with sharp, clear raps. He’s endlessly digging into the beautiful and most frustrating moments of life and flipping them into relatable and poignant stories told over memorable production.


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First starting off his ‘Open Letter’ series over four years ago, DAP’s straight-to-the-matter verses were an honest snapshot of his life. So far, with two editions deep, DAP has shown a 360-view of his life, offering insightful glimpses into his academic career, the state of mental health, his strive for success and his musings on the complexities of his own wiring.

With a masterful grasp of Hip-Hop, he offers a spit-along confessions that are jam packed with critical observations and charismatic production. This year, to get the ball rolling, DAP The Contract is serving up ‘Open Letter III,’ a track that serves as a reflection of what he’s been up to since his last letter four years ago.

From his expansive academic career which includes piano recitals, Latin & Greek and a pandemic graduation from law school, DAP The Contract peels back the layers to ‘Open Letter III’ in his NATIVE exclusive premiere.

NATIVE: Hi DAP, what was the inspiration behind your Open Letter series? Did you ever envision it would grow to have three parts?

DAP: ‘Open Letter I’ was inspired by everything I was going through in 2016. I got some big opportunities that year, probably the biggest in my career at that point, and then ended up parting ways with management at the time that was instrumental in getting me some of those opportunities for reasons that had little to do with me and were out of my control. I had a lot to get off my chest and, since my music was already very autobiographical, I wanted to really tell the story of this rollercoaster year almost verbatim and in a much more conversational way. In releasing the first one, it felt so good to get so much off my chest in one song that I knew periodically I would want to have these timestamps that sum up my life since the last open letter.

NATIVE: Is there any link between the three letters?

DAP: The first 2 mirror each other visually. They both had text breaking up the song so you can read parts of the story, but 1 was all white and 2 was all black. Ultimately, they all capture a specific time frame and describe true events in my life. Open Letter III is different visually but is very appropriate because it follows my academic journey and references Ye’s Good Morning video on his graduation album.

NATIVE: Each open letter chronicles snapshots of different moments in your life. The latest, ‘Open Series III’ looks into your entire academic career, including the change brought about to learning by the COVID-19 pandemic and a summer of racial reckoning. Why were these experiences important for you to document–and in a way immortalise?

DAP: I was looking forward to this graduation so much because I was sure it would be my last. I had no plans of going to any other grad school program or anything so this one was going to be extra sweet, entire family there, the whole nine. I actually ran late to my graduation as an undergrad and almost slept through it, and I planned to make this video before the pandemic hit with me barely making it to graduation being the conclusion.

When quarantine started and we knew our graduation would be on zoom, and then protesting the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor right after that, studying for the New York bar, I wanted to make sure that I stuck to my truth in this series and actually timestamped what was really going on at the time. What was even more of a trip was attending protests in New York against police brutality in Nigeria. It was just a really crazy time, people losing family, just crazy for so many reasons. I know some people will hate that those things were immortalised, and I understand why, but it was important to not allow what happened that year to just fade away in our memory like most things do in our shrinking news cycle these days.


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NATIVE: Nearly every line on there references loss of some kind. What are some of the ways you have grown as an artist since ‘Open Letter I’?

DAP: I’ve become a lot more open-minded. I’ve become more confident in trusting my instincts and exploring and experimenting as I felt as opposed to what I thought people wanted to hear. ‘Powers Vol. 2’ was a true experiment that I knew I believed in and was happy whether people liked it or not, and I think that’s why it became one of my best performing projects. I’ve also learned to let go a lot more and that has let me be more collaborative and trust other people with my art.

NATIVE: This installment also seems to be the shorter of the three. Was this intentional in any way?

DAP: The change in format was the main reason. I wanted it to be a quick moving timeline of my life and highlighting certain aspects only, so it could only be so long. I do want to make it a full animation series one day though and unpack each stage of my life almost as its own season of an animation series.

NATIVE: The visualiser for ‘Open Letter III,’ is an animation that offers visual snapshots of your lyrics. What inspired you to use animation to convey your message?

DAP: Definitely Ye inspired, but you’ll notice that almost all the visuals for the songs on ‘Powers Vol. 2’ are animated visualisers. Creating this right at the beginning of quarantine forced me to create around the restrictions and find ways to be productive from my apartment. Animation made sense as opposed to real, full-blown music videos, and then because of the timing with graduation and the story of the song, it just all fell together and made sense.

NATIVE: ‘Open Letter III’ also features on your last project ‘Power Vol.2?’ How have things changed since you wrote and released the song and now, during its video release?

DAP: A lot has changed since I wrote this in May 2020! I passed the bar, I’ve now been a full-time attorney for a full year (“everybody did their bid and now they working, and that shit working”, “I think they boxing me in, my cubicle full of paper” etc.), I got engaged, I’ve also been away from home for longer than I ever have in my life. In terms of music, I think I’m making some of my best music right now, and that feels amazing.

NATIVE: Now that school’s out, what’s next for DAP The Contract this year?

DAP: I have more power, more passion, more access, more experience, and I have a lot of music in the stash, bunch of singles and a full length album. I have a couple more very important pieces to complete the world of Powers Vol. 2, including this timestamp, but then… flood!

Watch the video for “Open Letter III” below.

Featured image credits/Courtesy of the artist