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Monday, December 11, 2023

SXSW 2017: Madison local rapper Trapo is on the rise

A lot of teenagers have their own cars. Even fewer purchased the car entirely on their own. And an even smaller number did so using money they saved in less than a year. Davon Prather, better known by his stage name Trapo, did all of the above using money he earned entirely from rapping.

The 18-year-old Madison, Wis., native has had an extremely busy year: He graduated high school in the spring of 2016; he’s been flown out to Los Angeles to meet with major record labels; he dropped two projects, She and Shade Trees; he performed in New York, Chicago, Madison and Austin; he bought a car; he started working on a new project.

The past year, as he describes it, has been unexpected.

“Unexpected cuz like, I knew the music was good, but I didn’t realize the more attention you get and the more traction your music gets, the harder the job is. Especially to be an independent artist. Maintaining your buzz,” Trapo said after one of his sets at SXSW. “That’s what I mean by unexpected. I love it, but it was something I had to mentally prepare myself for.”

Trapo isn’t stopping anytime soon either. Sometime this year, he’ll be dropping a new project filled with emotional stories centered around experiences that came with buying his first car. Entitled Ford 4 Door, he said the project is going to be his most complete project yet.

“I want all the songs to sound cohesive. I want it to be a start to finish album. Play it straight through,” Trapo said. “The attention span nowadays is short as f--k, so I’m trying to get the perfect amount of songs. The perfect wave.”

With his massive amounts of momentum, he said he’s finally got time to take as long as he needs to truly perfect his vision. On top of that, he’s venturing into producing for some of the tracks—a first for the young artist.

Since his release of Black Beverly Hills in 2015, his presence in the music scene has grown exponentially. Using his unique approach to songwriting combined with his distinct raspy voice and impeccable flow, Trapo captures nearly every emotion, sometimes several at once.

A style that is nearly impossible to replicate has given Trapo the chance to put his city on the map. Madison’s lackluster history of delivering artists to the national hip hop stage is slowly being changed because of his determination to make the best work he can.

“I’m not really influenced by many of the artists in Madison. Really just Madison itself,” Trapo said. “As far as the Madison hip hop scene, I don’t really have much to say about it because I feel like I am the start of the Madison hip hop scene.”

A new, distinct sound always leads to more attention. Trapo’s music has drawn the attention of major labels across the country trying to get him to sign, but as of right now, that’s not in the cards for the 18-year-old.

“We’ve had people reach out. Especially at this stage, I’m definitely not looking to sign,” Trapo said. “The offers they give you are flat out disrespectful. I’ll tell you one was like 50K.”

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“People forget, all the label is for is so you have a team, so you can basically just focus on being an artist. I already have a team. I already have a team of independent people who fully invest their time into this shit because they see its possible.”

His tenacity and ambition have brought him to levels that rappers who have been in the game for years are still trying to reach. Trapo is the type of artist that can’t be boxed in; his music comes from the heart, unlike countless seemingly uninspired artists who are all over the internet. His beautiful transitions between singing and rapping give him a musical range that most could only dream to think of themselves. All he has to do to become a major player in the game is continue to make music that focuses on innovation.

2016 was a busy year, and 2017 is sure to follow the same path. Even though he hasn’t figured out a release date, Ford 4 Door seems like it will be one of many major moves on the path to greater success.

“Anticipate better visuals this year. Better shows.” Trapo said. “More shows, because we’ve got more connections. It’s time to actually hit the ground running this time.”

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