DAP the contract places a premium on every facet of his artistry. Over the years he’s proven himself to be a multimedia polymath, using every tool at his disposal to advance his creativity right in front of our eyes and express himself more wholesomely than his peers. A deep dive, or even just a cursory look, into his YouTube page will reveal the high value he attaches to his visuals and his live performances. In there, you’ll find the stunning, self-directed visual album accompanying the career-defining LP, ‘Everybody Falls in the Summer’, short videos from tour and on stage, and a phenomenal yet intimate rendition of the equally biting and soothing number “Heroes & Heroines”.
In early February, DAP released his latest project, ‘I’m Glad You Made It This Far’, a loose but focused document of his continued growth as a young person, built on his preference for part-showy, part-honest writing, and boisterous production choices with experimental iterations of Soul, Jazz and Hip-Hop at its core. Similar to previous releases, the EP is held up by the twin pillars of exuberance and introspection, representing DAP’s infectious and affecting mix of youthful fervour and the depth of his self-awareness. Considering his reputation for delivering visual expressions of his music, and his apparent fondness for performing, it’s apt that he’s now just released a virtual live set in support of the recent tape.
Coming in two weeks after dropping the light-filled video for the EP’s opener, “Why Would I Lie”, the newly released live performance is a timely renewal DAP’s artistic image to previously familiar listeners, while also potentially serving as a potent entry point to those still oblivious. Combining his chops as a live performer with his established preference for curating eye-catching, multi-verse short films—as shown in ‘Everybody Falls in the Summer’—“You Made It (Live Performance)” captures DAP in his creative element and makes for a worthwhile representation of an artist always looking to deliver definitive experiences in all aspects of his music career.
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Comprising two cuts from his new EP, and two others from last year’sPowers, Vol. 1’, the 12-minute video subverts the common expectation of a single set stage, using three different settings that act as individual vignettes within the overall scope of the performance. The opening section sees DAP performing “Why Would I Lie” in the outdoors, with the sun and a candy-coated vintage car adding some radiance to his energetic candour. “I’m glad y’all made it this far in my journey, but I wanna take y’all a little further”, DAP says as the song winds down, setting the tone for performance’s dynamic setting.
While been driven, he enters into “Tried Everything”, the second track off the new EP, and in place of featured artist popsnotthefather’s part, the performance segues into an acoustic, folktronica coda entirely shot in black-and-white. In the most intimate part of the set, DAP sits in front of the mic, voice contorted by auto-tune and alongside frequent collaborator Bryn Bliska on piano and back-up vocal duties, singing with his eyes tightly shut in order to further convey the gravitas of his emotionally resonant lyrics.
The final and longest segment takes place in an initially well-lit room, as DAP and close colleague Tiago Sta. Cruz perform “Above the Law” and “Rings”, two swaggering, bass-heavy cuts off the deluxe edition of ‘Powers’. For the latter cut, neon lights and the palpably raucous energy of both rappers recall the days of packed crowds getting turnt at an amphitheater venue, a near impossible occurrence in the year since Covid-19 turned the world upside down. With the facemask a near presence under DAP’s chin while performing, and the absence of a witnessing audience, this live set is a marker of the times we’re in, but also a marker of an artist still very much engaged with his craft.
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A common thread in DAP’s sprawling discography is, he keeps his eye on the three temporal units that frame our existence: the past, the present, and the future. ‘I’m Glad You Made It This Far’ celebrates the trials of the past, relishes the triumphs of the present, and looks with expectant eyes into the future. As the central author and star of his creative expressions, “You Made It” is a visual representation of that ethos. “I’m a producer, rapper and singer. I make my own beats, I write my own lyrics, and I record all my shit. Everything you are hearing me”, he proudly proclaims, a statement that encapsulates just how much DAP is set on owning his singularity as an artist.
You should definitely watch “You Made It (Live Performance)” here.
Featured Image Credits: YouTube/DAP the Contract
Dennis is a staff writer at the NATIVE. Let me know your favourite the Cavemen songs @dennisadepeter