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Songtrust Spotlight: Dapz OTM

Birmingham-born, multi-talented artist, Dapz OTM (Dapz On The Map) is more than your average Grime MC. He has a philosophy towards his art that moves the listener and has gained him the respect of fans, artists, and media alike. He sings, raps, and eloquently raises topics that other MCs fear to speak.

Dapz OTM is now an integral part of the next generation of Grime MCs/Singers. He combines all of these influences into his own neo-soulful sound, which he developed in the studio with the guidance of mentor/engineer DJ Apostle. Dapz OTM’s songs touch on various issues, both personal and political and he often talks of the struggle he’s faced as an aspiring artist attempting to balance being both a father and a musician.


WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO MUSIC?

I’d have to say two people. Firstly my dad, who would play his ‘roots-rock/reggae’ vinyl on the weekend. I was introduced to artists like Garnet Silk, Luciano, and Sanchez from an early age. He is the reason behind the reggae influence in the music I make.

The second person to influence me is my elder cousin ‘Ozed’. He used to MC to Jungle back then and would go to all the raves. He taught me about the Birmingham Pirate Radio circuit. Passion FM, Silk & Smooth FM. The likes of Power-Hill Crew, Brasko, Vader, Loki, etc, and would bring back sidewinder tape packs showing me the likes of Pay as U Go, DJ Slimzee, and Dizzie Rascal from the London scene. Then I found out about Craig David and the use of melodies on Garage. The rest is history.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF MUSIC AND PERFORMANCE? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PHILOSOPHY AND STYLE AS AN ARTIST?

Nowadays I describe it as "Grime&B," which is Grime & RnB/Bass fused together. Without sounding arrogant, I feel like I’ve created a whole new genre within my music as not many, if any, take it to where I take it with the mix of rapping/singing.

I tend to take time with my music and treat it like a drawing or piece of art. Sometimes a piece could take 3 days, on or off. Sometimes 3 weeks, searching for pieces of the puzzle, like a jigsaw. It's a challenge to find a different word or say something clever and fit the right amount of words to fit the bar. I love that stuff.

WHAT DRIVES YOU TO CREATE & HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS FOR YOURSELF IN MUSIC?

Creating is a passion and tends to come to me naturally, but my family's happiness/stability drives me to create and keep going.

I’ve always deemed success as waking up in the morning and feeling free to enjoy your life. I remember when I left my job, waking up the next day like I had no more restrictions. I’m finally able to commit to doing what I love. Obviously, money is also an indication of success, but to me being able to be a free spirit is more rewarding.

THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER, WHO HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST WITH DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT?

I’m grateful to have learned from the best in the game, but being a supporting act on Kano’s "Made in The Manor" 9 city tour changed my perspective on performing live and how to carry myself as an artist. The little tricks of the trade he showed me on how to control the crowd and how to pace myself on stage were priceless. I still use them to this day.

SOMETIMES BEING IN THIS BUSINESS CAN BE OVERWHELMING. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR MAINTAINING PERSPECTIVE AND NOT SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF?

That’s something, until recently, I’ve always struggled with as I needed to be involved with everything, but struggled to multitask, so I would become anxious from the pressure. What I tend to do now is focus purely on creating the art. The art is the first hurdle. Once I complete that, all the rest is a bonus. I find I only start stressing when I don’t have enough art in my arsenal. Away from that, I try not to sweat maintaining, as that’s what the art is for. 

YOUR NAME IS SYNONYMOUS WITH YOUR ADVOCACY AND PRIDE FOR THE GRIME SCENE, AND IN YOUR INTERVIEW WITH COMPLEX UK YOU STATED, "I FEEL LIKE GRIME MUSIC HAS BEEN KEPT ALIVE FROM THE OLDER GENERATION AND NEEDS THE LIKES OF ME AND OTHERS TO CARRY THE FLAME OVER TO THE YOUNGER GEN.” WHAT'S YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF GRIME AND HOW CAN THE YOUNGER GENERATION OF MUSIC CREATORS GET INVOLVED?

Grime has its cycles, when it returns and when it is in the spotlight. Right now Afro & Drill control the spotlight, but I believe that’s because a lot of Grime artists have stopped making Grime music, me included. The more of us putting out good Grime music, the stronger the scene becomes. I recently put out a Grime track "Hunger Games" and the support I received was crazy. Comments like "Breathe of fresh air from what’s currently out." Radio and playlist support. Grime still has a space, but as I said, the more music from us as a whole, the more the younger generation will follow.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG MUSICIANS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS, BASED ON WHAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED?

Keep going and don’t allow the perks of what the music industry brings distract you, as we musicians have a shelf life. No one is hot forever, so make the most of it. Stay in the game, restarting wastes valuable time.

Follow your intuition and don’t spend too much time second-guessing yourself, and, lastly, have fun!

WHAT MOTTO, AFFIRMATION, OR QUOTE EMPOWERS, INSPIRES, OR MOTIVATES YOU?

DSAW (Don’t say a word) is my label and the code that my supporters and I live by. Actions speak louder than words. We believe in getting it done silently but gracefully.

FOR FUN, IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND AND COULD ONLY HAVE (3) ITEMS WITH YOU, WHAT WOULD YOU BRING?

That’s easy... an iPhone, Crypto.com card, and Bose Headphones. Simple life, lol.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP NEXT?

My debut album, "Landed." I’ve spent some time chipping away at it, but I can finally see the finish line. This is by far my best work. Very balanced in regards to what I represent with the "Grime&B" sound I’m pushing. Excited to share it!

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