SPOTLIGHT: DAP The Contract Plays With Genre & Defies Expectations (Audio / Video)
Often times, for as colorful and diverse as Hip-Hop music may appear, there is a constant cry for more originality. There are storytellers, social activists, party-starters, and technically-savvy lyricists, but the genre arguably misses the eclecticism and diversity among the new class, at least at a certain skill level.
A Brown University student named Dolapo Akinkugbe is trying to combat the notions that uniqueness is lacking amidst the new class. Known as “DAP (Dolapo Akinkugbe Productions) The Contract,” the artist may be a “producer first, and a rapper second,” but he emulates the hunger and drive of someone in this state of Hip-Hop that is distinctive and creative in his own right.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, DAP learned how to play piano at age 4. With his mother as a keyboard instructor, Dolapo comes from two musically-gifted parents. At boarding school, Dolapo took to the art of rapping as a teen, finding his said calling. A standout amongst his friends, he was the one in the group to really explore all of the elements of music. “I listened to everything from The Beatles to Eminem. From 50 Cent’s ‘Candy Shop,’ to UK House and Jazz,” he reflects.
Rap afforded DAP a passion for the word. “I learned how to rhyme my words in English class, and from then on, it’s been my passion.” His music likes span from listening to John Lennon in the morning, to bumping Gucci Mane by night. After school in London, Dolapo crossed the Atlantic to Berklee Music College in Boston, Massachusetts. “While I was in Berklee, I got that Jazz influence that you hear in some of my songs,” the MC states, of the prestigious institution. After he attended Berklee for two semesters as part of a gap year, DAP enrolled at Brown University in nearby Providence, Rhode Island, where he will be an upcoming senior after the Spring 2015 semester.
Akinkugbe’s creativity appears limitless, and his range as an artist spans from Jazz to Drill music. When it comes to “boxes and categories,” Dolapo waves off labels. He feels as though the type of artist he is, and the “breath and range he has makes him feel like he can make any kind of music.” For example, on his latest single titled “HEAV7N,” there are two parts to the song. The first part, DAP considers a “mini opera,” with some heavy bravado and soaring sopranos thanks to the vocal contributions of his featured artists Peter Traver, Jordan Schulz, and Tasj MelRose. The second part he showcases it as “ATL Trap music,” with some Travis $cott-like elements at play in the mix.
He explains the reason why he produces his tracks so variably is a way to get people to listen and appreciate genres other than Hip-Hop. “My mission is to polarize people, where I want them to listen to anything. My friends don’t really like the first part of my new single, but they love the second part. Whereas my mother loves the first part of the track, and she dislikes the other half.” In theory and in substance, most of his work aims for depth, with stories about love, money, power, and corruption.
In a discussion about peers and influences, DAP placed three prominent figures into their own interesting categories. “I think Drake is the best songwriter. Kendrick Lamar is the best rapper, and J. Cole is the best storyteller.” Notably though, Dolapo says his favorite rapper of the moment is actually Ab-Soul. When it comes to other outside projects, Dolapo never stops working. He is part of a duo called The Contract with his cousin from London named Shane Chubbz. They have a project out called Jam On Scones, which channels retro-UK House music that demonstrates their abilities to flex their lyrics over sounds unlike their respective solo work.
Now an accredited pianist, DAP’s talents are featured on some of the biggest Classical works around the Ivy League university under his government name. “I want people to expect nothing when it comes to my music. You never know what is going to come next on my projects and that is the sound I work to produce.”
Currently working on a sequel project to HEAV7N called 7th HEAV7N, Dolapo just recently released a visual for the 9th track off of his GoodBye For Never mixtape, titled “Before I Let You Go.” The video (included above) is a symbol of the worldly corruption and exploitation people experience on a daily basis. From drug abuse to the tragic schoolgirls kidnappings of Nigeria, Dolapo showcases his mind, production, and his flow.