TAPZ on Childhood in Zimbabwe, Respect for A$AP Ferg and Becoming the Next Global Hip-Hop Star
Over the years, hip-hop has moved from its birthplace in the Bronx to other parts of the United States and throughout the world. And we're seeing how hip-hop has evolved in different regions of Europe and Africa.. 21-year old TAPZ was born in Wedza, Zimbabwe, and moved to Wellington, New Zealand, when he was nine years old. The young TAPZ soon started to hone his musical craft; drawing from his early experiences in Zimbabwe and his family's immigrant experience. He penned personal rhymes about his own unique journey--and it would resonate. TAPZ has already gained the praises of Beats 1's Zane Lowe, toured with G Eazy and A$AP Ferg and dropped some sizzling tracks including "Killa" and his latest, "Shadow."
Since you didn't move to New Zealand until you nine years old, how did both Zimbabwe and New Zealand musically influence you?
Zimbabwe and New Zealand are two completely different places, and they have two completely things to offer to my life. I feel like when I was in Zimbabwe, I was able to grow my creativity because I didn't have access to things that the first world did, which are your computers, your TVs. I didn't even know a computer existed until I came to New Zealand. So I would go outside and exercise my creativity, and I was next to a national park. So on the walk home from school or even [the] walk to school, I would interact with animals. You would see them, and I had a direct connection with nature. I felt that helped grow my creativity and aspiration for innovation.
So when I moved to New Zealand, that's where everything changed. I was introduced to all crazy technology. Then there became a language barrier because I couldn't speak English, which again, gave me a need to express [myself] but in a different sense. This time it was a necessity for me to use creativity as a language for so I could be understood. That led to music, and it led to how I dress, how my visuals look and my designs. So those two places gave me two completely different perspectives and allowed me to communicate differently. I like to put it like how Frank Ocean said it, "I see both sides like Chanel."
Zane Lowe was an early fan and even shared "Killa" on his show. How did it feel to hear yourself on Beats 1? How did you feel it helped your career grow?
It was a moment of awe that people like Zane Lowe are listening, and people like Zane Lowe are appreciating the songs in the same way that I appreciate them. And I know that Zane has such a love for music. So when people who have a such a love for music share that same passion as I do and recognize my work, it always feels nice. It was cool. And my goal as an artist is to become a global artist that communicates to different demographics. When people like Zane Lowe and America appreciate it, then it makes me see that I'm on the right track and be able to communicate with places that I've never been to at all.
"Killa" was number two on the viral chart in the [United] States before I even stepped foot in the States. It was crazy. I've had shows in Russia, Russia of all places. So yeah, I'm on the right track to communicate with all these different people.
What is "Run Don't Run" about?
It's about giving thanks to my mom and dad for leaving everything that they knew and everything in Zimbabwe to give me what I have now. And that's the same mentality that I would apply to life -- I would give everything to you guys through a sonic and visual experience. And I do it through creativity and art. In the same way [my parents] set me free, they gave me everything. So I want to do the same thing for people by giving my everything.
And aside from making your own music, you produce and write for other artists. Do you approach the process differently when you're making music for others?
All I have to offer is my perspective and my uniqueness. So [the work I do with others] is important to me as writing my own songs. It's just applying my perspective with another perspective and completely understanding what they're envisioning and what they want to do.
You've already gone on tour with G Eazy, A$AP Ferg and Hermitude. What did you learn from going on tour with them and seeing them perform each night?
I was fortunate enough to start music early on in my life and fortunate enough to do these tours quite early on. I did all those tours before releasing "Killa;" so by the time "Killa" came out, I knew damn well what I wanted the visuals and my music to be like. And I learned so much from those people. But when A$AP Ferg came to New Zealand, I have so much respect for him because he showed so much love. He went on to have this interview with Red Bull, and he was giving me praise. He was giving my gang praise, which is Gallantino. It was awesome. And at that time, it was really cool to have someone from America where the home of hip-hop is, understand what I'm trying to do and what I'm trying to say. Although I couldn't completely articulate what I was trying to do in that moment, he was so futuristic enough to understand the message and see the vision.
What's next for you?
Before releasing "Killa," I took two years off to really learn how to articulate myself, to master my production and just really, really learn the language. After releasing "Killa," I just started writing and writing and meeting new people. I came to the States and traveled, and now, I have this backlog of songs and songs and songs, like hundreds of them. So hell yeah to new music. I have this incredible team, and I have an awesome manager on that side of the world and an awesome manager on this side of the world. And I'm ready to release a project. That's all I can say for now.