In person, Virginia rapper DP isn’t as brooding as his music. The 20-year-old’s face looks illuminated when we meet, but I wouldn’t have expected it from his breakout song, “Jabar.” “At your baby mother’s crib, shoot up the kitchen / watch her drop her baby, bullets hit her riblets,” he spits on the song that made record labels come calling. “After ‘Jabar’ dropped, we got immediate interest,” he told us. “I thought it was crazy, like ‘Is this shit that easy?'”
For DP, rapping is about as easy as breathing. He’s built a buzz with only a handful of officially released tracks so far, and with big things (that we can’t speak on) in the works, we wanted to talk to the man himself. When he came to the office, he played us some music from his upcoming debut project Designer Casket (and some stuff he’s planning to release after that, too). With the release of his puncturing new track “Flight Risk” featuring Sha Hef (which you can hear above), now’s as good a time as ever to publish our discussion with the rising rapper.
Draped in BAPE from head to toe with shining 12 karat white gold fronts in his mouth, DP (which are just his initials) sat with us for his first ever published interview to talk about why Virginia artists are so unique, who he’s working with on Designer Casket, and his inevitable conversion to Judaism. L’chaim.
WatchLOUD: Where are you from?
DP: Born in Chesapeake, moved to Virginia Beach.
Why’d you move?
I think that was when my pops got locked up and it was just a different situation. I was 7 at the time.
What did your pops get locked up for?
Drugs, cocaine conspiracy. He got out a couple years ago. That’s probably one of the reasons I’m doing music and not on some reckless shit right now. Pops just being there, he wasn’t there earlier and I was just running wild. That’s my nigga.
How’d you start rapping?
I just been around music all my life, and I donno…just started rapping with the homies on some play shit, some kid shit. Then I really started taking it more serious.
Do you want to rap?
I mean…I want a check. [Laughs] I want to be great. It’s easy, so why not do it? Why not go the hardest?
What’s the first song you put out officially?
I couldn’t even tell you. A couple years ago I was actually putting shit out on my Soundcloud, but if you want to say officially, this is DP right here, I’d say my first song was “Jabar” last year.
You’ve kept your output real slim. You only dropped three songs in 2014. Why?
I just didn’t want to oversaturate myself. I just wanted to drop three really tight songs from the project and then drop a really good body of work as opposed to just a bunch of random shit.
How did you meet two of your main producers, Brooklyn Taylor and Yoga Flame?
Me and Brooklyn, we been kicking it since the 10th grade. We went to the same high school in Virginia Beach, and when I moved back to Chesapeake in 11th grade that’s when I met Yoga Flame.
The first time me and Yoga kicked it on some official shit, like I’d knew him from school, but we went to this basketball game in Virginia Beach with a mutual friend, and I got beef out there, and these are some kids I knew from school, so I’m like, “Yo, if I get in anything tonight, I get jumped or some shit, y’all just stay out of it. Let me handle my shit.” So come the end of the basketball game, I end up gettin’ jumped, and Yoga Flame jumps in that shit. This is the first night he ever played beats for me, first time I found out he was a producer, and that nigga held me down, so that’s been my nigga ever since.
What was the beef?
Oh, I had beat this one nigga from Green Run ass and then his homies caught me slippin’. Simple as that.
How’d you like high school?
Oh na, I fuckin’ hated it. I was rarely there. I don’t even know how I graduated – I mean I know how I graduated, but that’s another story. On some other shit. [Laughs] A technicality.
Were you running in the streets in Virginia?
Have you tried to minimize that?
Yeah, that’s why I’ve been up in New York. I’ve been here for like a month because it’s nothing but trouble back home, literally nothing but trouble.
Who are some of your favorite rappers?
Jay Z, Pimp C, Beanie Sigel. List goes on. The greats.
It seems like there’s something so special happening in Virginia right now, with another incredible artist like D.R.A.M. coming up out there. What is it about Virginia that makes it so different musically?
Man, I can’t really say…I know growing up in Virginia, it’s a lotta hate there. It might be the hate, man. Everybody wants to prove something to everybody else in Virginia, like “I gotta get the fuck outta here.” Niggas feel like they can’t do that shit on their own. I stay away from the local scene a lot. Virginia definitely didn’t help me get on.
I read a Shy Glizzy interview recently where he was saying something similar about D.C. and how many young artists don’t get the support they need starting out. Do you get the support you feel you need in Virginia?
Well now, I feel like back when I dropped “Jabar” and “Glass Casket” early last year, nah, definitely not. But now that I’m dropping shit and making a name and D.R.A.M. is buzzing, it’s kind of bringing people together. Now everybody wants to unify and shit. I’m still in the same spot I was in a year ago, I’m still in the same space I was in with everybody. I can’t tell you I’m real into the Virginia scene.
And you know, it’s two different Virginias. When you talk about Virginia, it’s the 757 and it’s the DMV. They’re two totally different, separate entities. 757 is four hours away [from the DMV]. When people mention Virginia and they talk about GoldLink and all these other artists, that’s not where we’re from. That’s not Virginia, you feel me? That whole NoVA, Northern Virginia…that’s Northern Virginia.
What’s changed for you since your music started getting recognized and you started taking meetings?
I just got a better understanding of the music industry. This shit is not what it’s cracked up to be. It’s a lotta fake people in this shit, a lotta smiles, a lotta people got hidden agendas. Just real life shit, learning about the industry. I’m still relatively new to this shit, so I got a lot to learn.
What do you want to achieve with your music?
Shit man, besides monetizing…just making hard ass music. Classic shit. I don’t want to just be that guy who’s got one hard album and four trash albums and he’s not in the conversation. Even if I only have three albums, that’s a trilogy, like The Godfather. I just want to be great. I know I talk that “fuck rap” shit a lot, but I’m not doing this shit just to…I won’t compromise myself, you feel me? I gotta make some hard shit? That’s all I’m really trying to do, make a lot of money and touch the masses.
So Designer Casket. It was supposed to drop in 2014. What happened?
Chickens weren’t in order. It gotta be perfect. Like I said, I refuse to drop anything mediocre. It has to be nothing short of a classic. It’s my first project. You look back on Nas shit, Illmatic – I don’t know if I want to call Designer Casket my Illmatic per se, but this is my first project. It’s my baby, so it’s gotta be right. So I don’t give a fuck how long it’s gonna take. If I had dropped what I thought was gonna be Designer Casket last year, it wouldn’t have been what it is now.
What changed from then until now about the project?
Just different songs. This time around I got better production and just made a couple better songs. It’s done though, we’re just working on one feature. Everything I gotta do is done.
Who are you working with on the project?
Besides Brooklyn Taylor, D.R.A.M., just know…whatever you’re expecting, whatever you’re wanting…just expect the unexpected.
How’d you meet D.R.A.M.?
I was with the homie Tash at some video shoot, his brother [Shomi Patwary] was shooting some video, and he introduced me to D.R.A.M., and D.R.A.M. needed some weed, so he was like, “Yo, I need a ten bag.” So I was like, “Aight, here you go,” and I gave him like a 30 bag, first time I ever met him or anything. I hooked him up, he was just a cool ass nigga, that’s why I looked out for him, it wasn’t no music shit or nothing. I seen this nigga a couple months later like… bubbling, I was like, “Oh shit, this nigga’s popping out here.” And that was it, basically on some cool shit.
How was the VA show with D.R.A.M. back in December?
Fucking crazy. Hometown showed love. That was my first time performing in VA – well, my first show. I’ve performed with people who have brought me out as a guest, but that was my first DP show in Virginia. They showed mad love. I’ll be at SXSW, too.