Sometimes you have to admit when your late to the party. I saw a few others speak on Dap Zini and Hesh’s Saga of the Swamp Thing album last fall, but proceeded to snooze for a few months. After finally getting a chance to digest it, I was blown away with the project. Dap uses a rugged delivery combined with witty rhymes, and Hesh provides a perfect backdrop of progressive beats that leave you yearning for more. He has since followed it up with Operation Mogul, fully produced by J-Es. As if that wasn’t enough, the man has thrown his hat into the production arena, producing al.divino’s quick-strike EP DANGER!
A high school quarterback with scholarship offers, Dap decided to pursue film studies at NYU. He is a man of conviction, as he was not even accepted to the prodigious school yet while he was turning down full rides. Years later, at this point in time, his heart is in music, and we should all be thankful for that.
RD: Virginia has produced some legendary talent, we wanted to get your thoughts on the current scene there.
DZ: VA has definitely produced some legendary talent. I’m from Norfolk which is a part of the 757, it’s like 2 hours out from Richmond. I moved to NY in 2012, so I haven’t been paying much attention to what’s going on outside of the homies. I just keep my head down and work most of the time.
RD: Is Saga of the Swamp Thing your official debut?
DZ: I’d say it’s my debut, it’s my first full length mixtape. In December of 2017 I dropped an EP called Corduroy Faces with CHRIS CRNZA, but that was only 6 tracks and didn’t get as much traction. Swamp Thing opened up my fan base substantially.
RD: You’re a dual threat talent, what came first the bars or the beats?
DZ: Definitely the beats. I played violin and drums for a while as a kid. I went to a 2 week program every summer at JMU in 09 (until I got kicked out) and there were a lot of people from LA there. I had a 160gb iPod and this dude named KevG put his entire iTunes library on my iPod. Everything from Fela Kuti to DOOM. Inspired me so much I started making beats at around 15 on FL studio. I think the first beat I made was a flip of Love TKO, I played it all live and just recorded it. I didn’t know shit about tempo or anything I was just loading samples in the slicer and getting busy. I started rapping maybe like a year later. Didn’t start doing it everyday until about 2 years ago. All that music still lives in Bandcamp somewhere or on an abandoned ship in the Elizabeth River.
RD: You have an amazing appearance on Spectacular Diagnostics’ Raw Studies album. Talk to us about working with Spec, and what you have coming up with him.
DZ: Working with Spec is tight because he knows I like cinematic shit and I hate doing the same thing twice. I think our styles just coexist well. The songs just write themselves. Our tape is going to feature the joints we’ve dropped together and some other heat we’ve been cooking up. I don’t want to give too much info but it’s definitely something to keep on your radar for 2019.
RD: DANGER! is a newer EP from Al.divino, Al is a beast on the boards himself so I’d have to imagine he’s not going to rap over any old submissions. What made you confident that Al would take to these?
DZ: Well I like the fact that we live in a time where you can virtually meet like minded collaborators who aren’t just emcees or producers but artists in general. Especially those who take their art seriously. I use artists I like as naming conventions for beats I never send them if it’s reminiscent of their style. It just so happened that stickups screamed Al Divino and I knew he’d body it, so I sent it and the rest just happened.
RD: Who are some of your favorites listens at the moment?
DZ: Shit, it depends. I was always taught to listen to everything so it honestly depends on my mood. If I’m turnt up which is half the time I’m listening to a lot of underground trap shit. Lately I’ve been digging into the Detroit scene with Drego, Sada Baby, etc.
If I’m not turnt it’s Pro Zay, unreleased BlkWlf, CHRIS CRNZA, Doof, Wiles. And whatever links are being posted that pass along the timeline. But mainly you know, the guys.
RD: Psych Ward Records is one of the most interesting labels to emerge over the past year. What’s your thoughts on both the label and the roster?
DZ: Psych Ward is tight because it’s artist owned and artist focused. So you can essentially do anything you want while investing in yourself. We just provide you with the connections and resources to do so. The main purpose of the Ward is self sustainability. Fostering a community where we can speak our minds without feeling like we have to be PC. I’m excited for all the projects we have coming out this year, it’s going to be beautiful.
RD: What do you want people to feel when they hear a Dap Zini record?
DZ: I wouldn’t want to tell anyone what to feel, but I always hope I’m helping someone. Most times I’m just reflecting and trying to control my impulses and it works for me to let it out. If you listen to my shit I’ll take the L for you so you don’t have to.
RD: Plans for the rest of 2019?
DZ: 2019 is looking crazy actually. Psych Ward is releasing Doof ‘Tried Being Sober’ next month. Beats by Deadstock (sadhugold x Hesh). Pro Zay is dropping some EXTREMELY crazy shit in March called 3 Piece. Then around April/May I’ll be dropping some summertime shit more details to come on that. And you know, just organically making the music like we’ve been doing.
RD: Do you have any shout outs?
DZ: S/o to my mama for raising a real one. Salute!
Follow @psychwardrecords on IG and @psychward335 on Twitter.
Cop some Dap music here https://psychwardrecords.bandcamp.com
IG and Twitter @Dapzini