Mad About: Dapz On The Map

Joe Simpson

By Joe Simpson

Joe Simpson

1 Nov 2022

Dapz On The Map is already a highly regarded artist in the world of Grime. His collaboration with fellow Birmingham MC Jaykae on ‘Froggy’ will go down as one of the most recognisable tracks to come out of the genre. Dapz has a unique ability for melody across instrumentals, and he has explored that even further on his new album, ‘Landed’. We spoke to him about his latest project, maturing as an artist, and his career so far:

What stage do you think you’re at in terms of your musical journey?

I’d say I’m at the intermediate stage. If we were playing a game: Spiderman, FIFA, whatever, there are different levels of difficulty. You’ve got a novice level, you’ve got an amateur level, then you’ve got an advanced level at the top. I feel like I’m at the intermediate stage right now. 

And in the run up to your album release, you dropped the single ‘Contingency’. How pleased have you been with the response to this?

Yeah, it’s been good. ‘Contingency’ is me, man. It’s exactly what it says on the tin. I feel like all my career I’ve been battling with myself. All my career, I’ve been battling being inconsistent and focusing on too much irrelevant stuff, basically. I’ve just been focusing on everything other then putting out the music and being consistent. So on ‘Contingency’, you just remind myself that, yeah, I’ve got to stay consistent – got to stay on it. So the fact that I put that out as the first single off my album and the people embraced it? This is wicked. This is what I wanted.

Do you think that message of consistency comes from a place of maturity as an artist?

Yeah, it definitely stems from maturity, because back when I was younger, I took a lot of things for granted. A lot of the perks that you get being an artist in this game, I took for granted, and as they slowly start to disappear, it leaves you left to your own devices again. You realise, ‘Rah, I had all of that? Rah, this person was dealing with me?’ I wasn’t focussed. So yeah, I feel like back then I I didn’t care about the consistency. I was just very good at what I’ve done, and I was receiving a lot of perks that I think got me carried away a bit if I’m going to be brutally honest with myself. 

‘Contingency’ is just all about maturing and growing as an artist in knowing that it doesn’t stop, innit? There’s checkpoints, but there’s no finish line. It doesn’t stop, so you just have to keep going and not let your foot off the gas and float away on a cloud, so to speak. I think that’s what happened to me.

Would you describe yourself as a Grime artist? Your music in the past has been based in that genre but your latest album seems to go in other directions…

Over the years, I’ve been making Grime. I grew up on Birmingham MC’s, I’ve grown up with Wiley, Boy Better Know, The Movement. I’ve grown up listening to Grime and making Grime music, but I’ve always enjoyed singing. I’ve always enjoyed being melodic. I’ve always enjoyed finding ad-libs and harmonies from R&B tunes and singing them. Grime is something that I was born into, but the R&B element of my arsenal is something that I was very shy to embrace for years. I just wanted to be a Grime MC and to be vulnerable and sing about your feelings on a track is so far left from Eskimo Dance or trying to get a reload in a club or on radio. The energy of the Grime scene has always been very masculine.

I like to call the style of music I make ‘Grime&B’. I feel like I’ve created this genre because I don’t feel like there’s anybody else doing what I do: making Grime and singing their hearts out like I do. I felt unaccepted for years from so I had to claim it. This is who I am, and you’re right. Not a lot of it is Grime because I make ‘Grime&B’.

Who would you say your influences have been on your music?

It started out in Dancehall, for sure. Beenie Man, Harry Toddler, Red Rat, Sean Paul, Elephant Man, the list goes on. Then from there, I’ve got a cousin who is eight years older than me who used to MC as well. He grew up on Jungle so I got introduced to all of that side, Skibadee, Shabba, Micky Finn. After that we had Garage, where I used to listen to Craig David, Wiley, Pay As You Go, then it moved to Grime. 

Lauryn Hill as well is a big influence of mine, one hundred per cent. She does what I do. She sings, and she raps, and you can’t pick which one she’s better at. She’s an amazing artist. Craig David as well does the same thing, spitting and also singing. This is before Drake came out as well. Obviously there are always going to be comparisons to Drake when someone does both bars and vocals on a track, but it was those artists I mentioned before who I was really inspired by. 

Do you think you would be a bigger artist if you came from London, or does coming from Birmingham give you a more unique perspective?

I think maybe I would be bigger if I came from London, because they have bigger platforms to introduce you to. I feel like being from Birmingham, it does give me a unique card to play, so to speak. Doing what I do is unique in itself, but not being from London as well, I feel like it’s a breath of fresh air for the Londoners. I feel like they embraced me and accept me as one of their own, even though I’m not.

Birmingham has always been a hotbed of talent when it comes to music in this country. Who do you check for from your city?

I’m not even going to mention the obvious ones because they’ve already made a name for themselves in their own right and been doing this for years. One of the ones I will say though is a singer who goes by the name of Pheleba. She’s the only featured artist on ‘Landed’ and she’s killing it. She’s doing a lot better than some other girls in the game, I can’t lie, so I definitely have to put her up there. 

Another guy that I want to mention is Jordvn Emanuel. He’s the rapper’s rapper of Birmingham. He’s so sick. He’s so technical with his wordplay – like really clean and tidy. He’s someone I definitely vouch for. One more for you is Infamous Dimez. He’s a producer who spits as well and he made a few of the beats on ‘Landed’. He’s someone I’ve worked closely with and he’s definitely an amazing talent.

Is there anyone in particular you’d like to work with in the future?

I’d like to collaborate with Ragz Originale, I feel like he’s almost the London version of myself. He’s so sick, man. Then you’ve got Knucks – I really like what he does. Bellah and Tamera as well are two really talented female artists who I’d like to work with.

Ghetts remixed ‘Froggy’, but Jaykae was incarcerated at the time so it didn’t feel right to do a video without him, so we never really got to complete the collaboration. But Ghetts, Kano, Skepta; even though these guys have dealt with me, we haven’t actually done it. I’d love to make it happen in the booth with those guys, definitely. 

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

One of them is definitely being featured on the new FIFA soundtrack. My son is going to be able to hear it and it’s a moment I’m really proud of. It’s such a big win for me. Aside from that, I would probably say bringing my daughter out at my first headline show. I’ve got her on a song of mine called ‘Murdah’, and I brought her out. To this day, I still get goosebumps when I think about her jumping on stage. She did her part of the song and the crowd went crazy. Goosebumps, bro. The dirtiest reload you have ever heard in your entire life. It was wild, and she was only five years old at the time as well. Watching her do her thing with the crowd on stage with me was something else, man.

What are your plans for the next year or so?

More works, bro. I need to strengthen my CV. This is my first album, my debut album. I was actually chatting to my Dad the other day and he asked me when was the last time I put out a project, and when I told him it’s been three years I thought to myself, ‘That’s terrible.’ I need to be putting out works every year now. 2022, 3, 4, 5, I’m going to be putting out works. I want to grow my name. I want to tour the UK and tour Europe.

I feel like even though I’m much older in this game now, I feel like I can have a late surge. You know what I mean, bro? I still haven’t been introduced to the world properly yet. I’m established in the UK if you know the scene but on a nationwide level I’m not there yet. I’ve got more work to do, bro.

At this stage of Dapz’s journey, it seems as if he has reached a new level of consistency when it comes to his craft. The exploration of new sounds on ‘Landed’ and his ability to express himself with more emotion across the project has only improved his artistic integrity. In what feels like a key turning point in the Birmingham rapper’s career, Dapz is in the right head space to thrive and bring his take on the Grime genre to the world.