Napps is a Northampton rapper who has recently put out his debut EP, entitled ’22’. Its a smorgasbord of sounds and collaborations, and New Boots thinks it is probably time you tuned into his frequency. We wanted some more lowdown, so here’s a few minutes with the man himself.
How did you start on this musical journey?
I feel like I’ve always been on this musical journey, I just never knew how the opportunity would present itself. From a young age music has been a huge part of my life. Dancing came like second nature as a kid, taking me to perform in front of hundreds of people. I used to have the odd playground rap battle, but music-wise I used to be more of a singer. It wasn’t until after college I realised that I had some talent rapping. It started off as poem that I wrote for my grandfather after he died, then about three years ago I came across the Drake ‘Pound Cake’ instrumental. That was it; my mind instantly took off. I ended up making a sort of tribute rap for him, I recorded it on my phone and uploaded it to my Facebook. The reaction I got from friends and family was great, from that day I just wanted to keep writing and getting better.
How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences in music?
If I had to describe my music that’s out there already, I’d call it hip-hop/trap/rap with a dash of grime but I’m still very much in the experimental process with my music. What people have seen from me so far is just the tip of the iceberg. Some of the ideas may work and some may not, but at the end of the day music is my passion and I’d rather make my own lane than follow the curve; less traffic.
As far as musical influences go, I come from a family with a lot of different backgrounds. My dad was American, a staff sergeant in the US air force when he met my mum. I cherish the long car journeys we used to have because he opened my eyes to everything from jazz like Boney James, Motown like James Brown, old school hip-hop like Kurtis Blow and Slick Rick, all the way up to the likes of Lil’ Wayne and Jay Z – and everything in between. One of my grandfathers was a Guyanese Rasta: family parties at his house introduced me to reggae like Bob Marley and Beres Hammond to Nyabinghi drumming. Whereas my other grandfather used to be in a swing band; he showed me music like Tom Jones and Frank Sinatra. I’ve always been around a diversity of music and it made me appreciate all sounds. I may not play them everyday but the love is there.
What was the reaction like to those early releases like ‘Whipping In The Kitchen’ and your first performances?
People loved ‘Whipping In The Kitchen’. It was crazy because it made the dream of becoming a rapper real, you know? That feeling of your first official release. I had a few songs on soundcloud, one of them called ‘Get Up Out My Way’ was my first music video on Mike’s channel but they didn’t get as much attention. I remember walking through the Sixfields tenpin car park and hearing it playing from one of the cars, I immediately ran over like “YO THAT’S ME!”, all mad like I’d just won the lottery or something. Was nice to see that It wasn’t just my people listening.
Someone told me at the last Lay It Down event that it was the first time they had seen me perform since the first show we did, and the improvement was amazing. So proud to be part of Lay It Down because it’s given me so many opportunities to hone my performances skills.Nowadays you have to drag me off stage – I love performing and interacting with the crowd, there just nothing like it.
Tell us everything about this new EP, ’22’.
If I told you I had some elaborate plan whilst creating this I’d be lying. It started off as a selfie – there was a little 22 stamp on the corner, I thought it looked like an EP cover which gave me the ideas to start building up tracks. I tried to bring a bit of something for everyone. It takes you on a journey through different vibes so whether it’s a late night cruise, working up a sweat in the gym [or at home in these circumstances], or just doing the cleaning I’m sure there’s something for you. Six tracks, six producers, most notably Nathaniel London. He produced the beat for ‘Natsu Freestyle’ [my personal favourite] and is behind some of the biggest bangers from people like Lil’ Baby, AJ Tracey and D Block Europe. I’m yet to find a producer to work with properly, but for now YouTube is doing me just fine. Eventually I would like to produce my own stuff. Some of the verses you hear you may recognise from my Instagram, a lot of the songs I make start as freestyles, like ‘Give It Some Love’. I never intended to make it a track when I uploaded the first verse, but when Elle [Delaney] messaged me about the hook she came up with, it fit so perfectly it had to make it happen. The track ‘How I Do This’ was a crowd favourite at the Lay It Down events, originally written to the ‘Boom’ instrumental by Royce Da 5’9. I wanted to make sure I kept that old-school feel with the new beat and my guy Scott Whitman did an incredible job. He also mixed and mastered four of the tracks and the other two being mixed by Eli [who is also featured on ‘Flexing’].
You’ve got some quality guests on the EP. Is that a reflection of a supportive Northampton musical community?
Definitely. Northampton is full of amazing talent, we are all here to support and lift each other up, we are all in the same boat, trying to make a name for ourselves and fly the flag for Northampton.
Describe your live shows in five words or less.
Great vibes, even better music.
What has been your favourite Napps moment of the past year?
There was so many it’s hard to choose. I performed at some great events, but I think has to be my birthday/EP listening party. What started off as a very cold evening turned into a hot night! I was amazed at how many people came out to support and the love and feedback I got was brilliant; big shout out to all my guys that came and performed as well, everyone smashed it.
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
I’m pretty sure the last album I bought physically was Chip’s I Am Chipmunk back in the day! Last album I streamed was J Hus Big Conspiracy.
What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have for after this craziness all blows over?
I just want to succeed and be able to look after my family. As for 2020, in these times of uncertainty all I can hope is that I stay happy, healthy and focused, I pray the same for everyone else as well, stay safe out there.
The ’22’ EP is out now via the usual digital platforms