Dapz on the Map is a musician born and raised in the West Midlands, who grew up on the origins of grime, but has spent years crafting his sound in what he labels as his own genre of music. The talented rapper and singer sat down with PENALTY and chatted with us about his career and everything that’s inspired him as an artist.
“I feel like we’re having our time now. The Commonwealth Games, the artists who are yet to make their mark,” says Dapz as we talk about his hometown of Birmingham. Dapz had just driven down the M40 on a sunny afternoon and although late due to the perpetual traffic that sits on the border of London, he’s with his boy Trill Troy and both seem excited to have arrived in Hackney.
The urgency to move to London as a creative often seems the most obvious route. I tell them both that I read a disappointing but very believable fact that says 52% of the creative industry lives in London and the rest is spread out over the rest of the UK. Both seem surprised but unphased. Dapz is proud of his West Midlands roots “I have a lot of experience here. I was born and raised here. My kids were born here, I met my first love here, and my family and friends are all from here.” In his latest release, Born and Raised, he voices the lyrics “If man says stay in the city or move, I wouldn’t move” and “Where some man move to London and forget who they was.” Both song and video express how proud Dapz is to be from the place he was born.
It’s happening more and more that we’re noting Birmingham as becoming a hub for some of the most exciting musical talent in the UK. It’s artists like Dapz, Trill Troy and S-X who are putting the West Midlands on the map. “I feel like I have a duty so to speak to represent for Birmingham. Who in Birmingham is putting out an album? There is lots of that happening in London, Manchester, etc, but who’s doing that in Brum, there’s only a handful, if that.”
Devilman and Low Key Crew were the original Birmingham-based artists that inspired Dapz. A combination of artists from his hometown, along with Craig David and Roll Deep crew became big inspirations for him as a teen. “I used to listen to these guys on pirate radio, record their sets and remember their bars. A combination of lots of these artists, it’s where my music knowledge and inspiration has come from.”
But this wasn’t the first introduction to music for the young teenager with big dreams, his dad would play Reggae and Roots rock around the house. “I grew up on the Jamaican root rocks sound. If you listen to my music nowadays or my music as a whole, it has Jamaican influence in the bass. If you listen to Champion Champion, Oh my Days or Murdah, all of the bass is inspired by root rock bass. I’d always sing along to what my dad was playing. Even today when he plays the songs he played when I was young, I still sing along to them and I know all the lyrics to every single one.”
We talk about inspiration as a form of motivation and Dapz tells me that although many artists have inspired him over his life, he’s recently become inspired by his own journey. “I’ve got a lot going on in my life and enough to inspire what I want to create. My oldest was featured on Murdah when she was 5 years old. My partner makes music and we have a beautiful relationship. My fears, insecurities, my friends, my family, and haters, I’ve got enough inspiration right where I am.”
He tells me that although his work has had many unique influences over the years of him making music, it’s his own sound that he’s finely crafted from an amalgamation of individual genres that he’s eventually become proud of. “Grime is a sound that’s more aggressive and more masculine, whereas R&B is more emotional and it’s a whole different feeling. I used to think I didn’t get accepted because nobody knew what category my music fitted into, but now I’ve released there are no rules. That’s how I’ve come to create what I believe is my own genre. I was making Grime and R&B and it just came to me that I was creating Grime&B. That’s my sound and when I leave the game, I hope there will be a batch of artists who make Grime&B. Grimes evolved so much, it’s just a natural evolution within the world of music.”
After spells of what he describes as creative stagnation over recent times, we recently got blessed with the news that Dapz has released his debut album, Landed. The album marks a proud moment for Dapz as he arrives having developed a further understanding of life, the music industry and his musical intentions.
Listen to the album here