Get to know 18-year-old Trapo, the rapper injecting new life into the Madison, WI hip hop scene.
Davon "Trapo" Prather is 18 years old and graduated from high school last spring, but he's already staked his claim for the title of Best Rapper in Madison, Wisconsin. On SHE EP and Shade Trees, the two projects he released last year, Trapo tackled difficult topics like race and heartbreak with honesty, intelligence, and immense heart. Indeed, his precociousness has turned plenty of heads, but no one believes in Trapo more than Trapo himself.
HNHH recently had an opportunity to ask Trapo a few questions about his early forays into rap, life in Madison, and his major league ambitions.
What was your household and family like growing up?
I lived with my mother and father and grandpops, I was real close to my mom, and used to go to her for advice. I never had a close relationship with my pops. I'm kind of distant from my family, just because I like to chill alone and be isolated.
What music inspired you growing up?
What was the first song you ever recorded?
I can’t remember what my first song was called but I made it in fifth grade, I didn't know how to download beats, so i just held my microphone next to my speakers, and let it record. Then I rapped over the beat I recorded. The mix was trash but the song was written well, it was catchy.
Early on, were you recording in your house or a studio? What was your setup like?
I was recording in the house, in my room. I had a laptop, a USB microphone, and [recording software] Audacity.
Madison is 7% black. How has growing up as an extreme minority shaped your music and your overall outlook on life?
It makes my music confident. Because it's only 7% black here, and everyday I go outside, I'm constantly reminded its 7% black, it makes me proud to be who I am. It makes my music proud because it's personal music so it reflects on me. It's frustrating because i know how a majority of the white race sees us. I don't feel limited at all, I feel like anything I want is possible.
What’s one thing everyone should know about Madison?
Everybody should know that there's absolutely nothing to do here, and because of that most of the kids here are pot heads or are drinking at a early age, because that's what makes Madison fun. I definitely choose Madison out of all places in Wisconsin.
How would you characterize the local hip hop scene in Madison? Is it strong? Is it weak? Are you on good terms with other rappers in the area, or is it competitive?
I definitely feel like I am the best in Madison's local hip hop scene when it comes to the drive, musical content, and strategy. There are good artists in the scene, but i feel like they are not trying to raise the bar as high.
“Chicago” is one of your most popular songs. How did you come up with the concept?
This was when i was working on SHE EP. I did a show in Chicago at Reggie's with Supa Bwe. And when I went back home I needed an outro for SHE, so I wrote about when I went out to Chicago for that one night.
You tweeted that you “refuse to be in the same category as these new kids.” What do you have that these other kids don’t?
I have actual meaningful content. I have subtext in my music. I'm bringing more of an artsy vibe to it, but not like stereotypical artsy shit. Shit that come from my thoughts, making the music literally feel like my thoughts. With the voice i put on that, with the pitch changes. I'm making timeless abstract music, not shit that sound like 50 other niggas. I'm making music with longevity in mind.
Can you write anywhere, or it does have to be in the studio or another specific location? Do you write on a notepad or phone? Or do you write in your head?
It’s just got to be a vibe, I can write in my room, its gotta be quiet, unless I'm in the studio and the beats playing over and over or being looped. I can pretty much write anywhere if it’s in those places. I like to write late at night at like 4 AM. I write my lyrics down on a notepad. I used to use my phone. And i used to go off the top, freestyling songs.
What lyricists have inspired you?
In your mind, what distinguished Shade Trees from your previous two projects?
Shade Trees was me being experimental. I spent more time on that project in the studio and took more time writing it than on any other project. It was the most truthful music I've put out.
You tweeted that you’ve been producing a lot lately. What program do you use? Is it challenging? What producers are you modeling your sound after?
I'm new to producing, and i'm just using FL studios right now and trying to practice on Ableton. I just model my production after the music i make already, off the sounds i think are cool.
Does producing scratch a different creative itch than writing and rapping?
Yeah, because it involves a lot more attention, you're really making a beat based off of how you feel, it’s interesting to see what melodies and chords you chose.
What are you working on next? What are your goals for 2017?
I'm about to drop a project this year, I might even be dropping two. We plan on stepping up the visuals this year too. Right now i'm working on my album, but I might drop the EP before that though. I'm going to be dropping loosies regardless.