With the year fully in swing, last weekend saw a plethora of high-profile releases, including full length albums from Black Coffee, Joeboy, and the Kuti dynasty, a new visual rendering of last year’s hit single, “Sponono”, alongside a video for “Geng Geng” by Kumasi heavyweight, Reggie. Outside of the mainstream, Chi Virgo threw out a loosie on YouTube, Pyscho YP and Azanti reinvigorated their song, “Focused” with a music video and rapping sensation, DAP the Contract dropped a four track EP to commemorate his journey so far, affectionately titled ‘I’m Glad You Made It This Far’.
Following up April 2020’s ‘Powers Vol. 1’, ‘I’m Glad You Made It This Far’ opens with a novel plight for the rapper. Though DAP isn’t a stranger to experimentation – as early as 2014’s ‘Goodbye for Never‘ DAP was moulding various soundscapes to his tastes. The project leaned toward live production, with its Jazz and Soul inspirations, however on “Would You” – which acts as an interlude ahead of “Would I” – DAP experiments with autotune, a dalliance he would return to in more depth seven years on, as he opens 2021 with a sung auto-tuned verse set to the backdrop of a solemnly “ooh“-ing choir.
After “Why Would I Lie?”, track number two, “Tried Everything” is equally as experimental, with a duality emerging at the project’s third track, “45”, which sounds like a return to the DAP flow with which we are most familiar – the triumphant album closer, “No Talkin'” delivers more of the same. “I’ve always wanted to play around with my voice,” DAP tells NATIVE, before explaining that his classical training as a pianist taught him music in the strictest way, meaning that he found it difficult to deviate from the rules that had been so rigidly instilled into him.
“But I think the idea is to learn the rules so you know how to break them in interesting and effective ways.”
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One way DAP has grown more confident in bending the rules is through his collaborations. On the self-produced ‘I’m Glad You Made It This Far’ DAP invites four artists to flaunt their unique deftness, led by popsnotthefather on “Tried Everything”. Though it took some sitting with the vocals before DAP fully appreciated the verse, popsnotthefather’s contribution to the EP is now one of DAP’s favourite features in his discography. It’s working with the likes of “Pops”, as DAP nicknames him, or “Tone” (who is formally known as Toneraps and features on “No Talkin'”) that has broaden’s DAP’s perspective on music and widened his pool of information on just how many different ways exist of creating this art. Joe bruce on “45” and Player Tu, who escorts Toneraps on “No Talkin'”, are the other two featured artist that bring their expertise to ‘I’m Glad You Made It This Far’, along with DAP’s fiancée, who he tapped for a sample and also took up the mantle of the project’s artwork.
Newly engaged, in a prosperous new job, fresh out of the bar, DAP has truly come along way, in his life, his career and even in the past few months. This EP might be coming at a high point, but the days he spent working on these songs were some of his lowest yet. So, ‘I’m Glad You Made It This Far’ is an output formed from his therapeutic releases during that period. It’s a proud announcement that he’s levelled up in his music career; it’s his proof that he can make a commercially sounding record with meaningful messages; it’s his lamenting the tough times we have to endure in order to reach the jubilant stage which he is at present, at which he leaves us on these stunning four tracks.
‘I’m Glad You Made It This Far’ might be commemorative of DAP the Contract’s journey so far, but in itself it is a journey through one of the most critical periods in the rapper’s young life. In an exclusive track by track interview with The NATIVE, DAP guides us through making it. Enjoy below.
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“Why Would I Lie?”
At the video I shot yesterday, they all said [a particular] person [inspired the song] and the distro guys separately also said that person, but I wasn’t really thinking of that when I made it: Kanye West. I don’t know if it was the content of what I was rapping about, or if it was the energy, or the style after I got off the autotune. I didn’t think of it like that, but in hindsight it makes sense, because this was a very ‘Little Guy V Big Corporation’ type energy, where I’m saying, “guys I’m still going to figure this out, no matter what happens. I still didn’t give away my rights; distribution is going to help, but I still own my masters and my publishing.”
Right before I get off the autotune I say, “I signed on the line I ain’t sounding the same, yeah/ L.City in my lungs and I gotta L.City in my brain/ Pray for thy enemies” and then it changes back to my normal rap voice “like dearly departed/ I’m just getting started.” Here, I wanted that to be the reintroduction. So, the first 45 seconds, I wanted people to be like, “okay, this is a new thing, where is this going? We haven’t heard from him in a while – since May last year,” but once I get into my bag, when the drums drop at that transition, you realise it’s still the same energy, no matter what I’m playing around with, I didn’t lose a step. So that was the energy of that song.
“Tried Everything” (ft. Popsnotthefather)
I wanted to make a super easy song to listen to. I’m a Gemini, if you can’t tell, so I love when things clash, things are juxtaposed, [when I] force different perspectives to meet each other and try and understand each other. So, I wanted to make a super easy, mindless song, seemingly, but the lyrics are actually really rich and really mean something. The whole song is about everything I am saying on the project but in a radio friendly format.
I wanted the sound to be a little different from what I was usually up to. I was playing around with the autotune and then Popsnotthefather sent his verse back and it just made sense together. I think he enjoyed the fact that I was saying something substantive too, but it was in a style that he’s more familiar with – with the autotune – and he could play around with his voice on it too. It’s supposed to be a carefee, ‘the devil works but God works harder’ type thing. I’ve encountered a lot of obstacles, a lot of deals I thought were really shitty and disrespectful, considering that the person I was working with knew that I knew what to look out for, they didn’t care to not just offer me the same shit you offer any random artist who has no information.
“45” (ft. Joe Bruce)
45 is kind of the balance in the project. The rest of it is very confident and hard-rapping, but this song is based on The Last Dance documentary. I am a huge sports head – soccer mainly – I just love watching great people do great shit. So, I was watching that and learning about how Jordan’s dad got killed and then he went to go play baseball for a year. When he came back, his number was usually 23 but he changed it to 45 for that first couple games he was back – maybe just the first game. The anticipation was crazy but then he had like a bad game. So, the next game he changed back to 23 and just went crazy and destroyed everyone. I just found that such an interesting thing, so I made this song based on 45 being [a point at which] things don’t feel quite right; you’re kind of off kilt, you don’t really know what’s going on, your energy’s kind of off.
The first line is, “This feel like 45, not 23 What they say? Was feeling cute but later might delete it”, then it continues like that, saying how things can seem all perfect and glamorous and inspiring, but people are also going through a lot of shit, which is what the bar was like for me. People saw that I passed and it was great, but they don’t know the hell I went through studying for that exam. So, that’s what that song represents. The rest of them are similar in terms of just celebrating making it over another big obstacle. This is the opposite side, the side that people don’t always like to show. What we see a lot of the time is everyone’s life is so perfect and lit on Instagram everyone is on holiday all the time and life has been great, but so much shit has been going on. Even without COVID, without 2020, people were already going through so much shit, so I always make a point of giving both sides of the story, so that people understand that it’s not all amazing. Especially with the way my life has been, someone said to me the other day, “you your life just keeps levelling up, it’s so inspiring to watch,” and I’m like if only you understood that your life is levelling up too. All the shit you went through, I went through the same kind of shit, you know? So, 45 was like, let me get all this off my chest.
“No Talkin’” (ft. Toneraps & Player Tu)
The energy of the song is self-explanatory, more celebration, more me talking my shit. And the feature, when Toneraps sent that feature back I must have run his verse back a hundred times. Yo, Tones’ verse is crazy! In the middle of the verse when the beat switches – I didn’t even know how he was going to deal with the key change. The key changes from my verse to his verse, and I didn’t know how to rap on that, but he figured out a way to make it the hardest part of the song.
The sample is another [example of how] law school saves me. I still don’t understand the process of clearing samples. I don’t have a label who can email whatever board, society, program that owns the rights to the music I wanna use, but I’ve always wanted to use samples. Kanye was my favourite artist growing up; I came into loving Hip-Hop through sampling, and also growing up in a house where you’re listening to Motown and old school music all the time, I recognised a lot of samples already, in the music I was listening to from Hip-Hop artists. So, I always appreciated that sound. I grew up in the church, loved gospel, harmonies and choirs, that sort of thing; but I can’t use those samples that I find because the clearing process is going to be difficult, and if the sample doesn’t get cleared that’s why people’s albums get pushed back, or they get released later for free; I see that happen to artists all the time. So, that loop is from a website my friend put me on to called Splice. Then at the end, I wanted it to sound like a sample, but it’s actually me who made the whole thing. I wanted it to be mine and a female vocal on there, but I couldn’t go anywhere because of COVID so I just asked my fiancée to sing it, and she killed it it one take!
Featured Image Credits: DAP The Contract