By: Evan Froiland
Trapo, or Davon Prather, is a 17 year old Madison, Wisconsin native, a senior in high school, and he just released his debut project, The Black Beverly Hills EP. It is just nine short tracks (Modelo, one of two previously released singles on the project, is the only track to hit the three minute mark), which could easily be a gripe against Trapo, but the briefness of it all serves to strengthen the messages it is conveying. Case in point: Tree.
The 1:16 song falls right in the middle of the EP, and there is nothing subliminal about it. No message to decode, forget ambiguous metaphors. In his signature gritty voice, Trapo jumps right in with 'I COME FROM SLAVES, OVERWORKED AND UNDERPAID', and the track doesn't get any less blunt from there. I wouldn't have asked for a longer, less to the point, and in turn, less powerful track. Or project.
I talked to Trapo on the phone about his debut, how things have been going for him, and what's next.
What's it like to be a popping rapper in high school? Does everybody at your school know what's up?
Yeah. Honestly, yeah. Pretty much. Everybody knows, like not even just my school either, other schools know what's up. It's fun. I like it, people will come up to me and call me Trapo and shit.
What about your teachers?
A lot of them know, either because another student told them or some shit like that, but at the end of the day, they're just teaching so they don't really care. But they know. A few of them listen to the shit.
Were you at school when the EP dropped?
I was. First of all, I had to carry a big ass computer around because I had to upload it at a certain time, so it was sus as hell. I was in class, damn near got kicked out, I pulled out a big ass laptop out of my backpack in the middle of a lecture and just uploaded that shit. My teacher was asking me all types of questions and shit, I had to do what I had to do though. Luckily I didn't get kicked out.
What is the thought behind the name of the EP?
I was listening to Channel Orange (Frank Ocean's 2012 album) and I heard him say that. He said that line "the Black Beverly Hills" when he was singing or whatever and I was like "damn that shit's hot". That's where I originally heard that term, and I thought I could take that and make a project out of it, because I call where I stay at 'the Black Beverly Hills'. Me and my guys don't live in a luxury ass place or anything, like it's not no fucking suburb, but we still find the good in where we stay at. So I just took it and coined it, like no matter how bad shit looks, I'm proud of where I come from and shit, so I glorify it by calling it the Black Beverly Hills. That's basically what the title is.
Your sound has never been that of your age, and this EP gets even heavier than some of the singles you've put out. It's certainly not what people would expect to hear from a 17 year old on a debut project.
Generation by generation, I feel like we're growing up faster. Like 30 years ago, being 15 or 16, you were still seen as a kid, but I feel like nowadays you need to be prepared for the world. Especially where I come from, when you turn 16, you're not no little ass boy anymore. You handle yourself. You're expected to act like a grown man, and I think that's how it should be, so that you're prepared for the world. That's just how it is down here, that's why the tape sounds so mature and shit. I'm not used to being babied at all. Nobody I hang with was babied.
What does CTBTS (the first track) stand for?
Cooler To Be The Shooter. I just like the way that shit sounds, but I didn't wanna type it out long as hell. What I'm saying by that, like my persona or whatever, is that I'm not going to pretend like I'm some saint or some shit. I'm basically saying that it feels cooler to be the villain sometimes, not meaning that you should necessarily want to be the villain, but that's just how it feels sometimes.
How did the Allan Kingdom feature come about?
He reached out a while ago after I dropped Cards and Conversation, he just tweeted my link and was like "dope". I was just spazzing bro, at the crib and shit like "damn, Allan Kingdom". Me, being an excited ass, ugly ass kid, I was DMing him and shit like "damn I'm glad you fuck with it" and all that. I didn't think he was gonna respond but he did, and he told me he used to live in Wisconsin too. He ended up doing a show in Madison, and I wasn't gonna go because it was sold out, but then he ended up DMing me while I was just at the crib like "bro why aren't you at the show?" and I was like "it was sold out" and he said to just come and he got me in. That's when I met him and we talked about doing a song.
What are your plans after high school?
I ask myself that everyday. I'm so passionate about music, I feel like I don't have to rush into college, but at the same time I know it's important, my mom stresses that shit 24/7. I would do it for her more so, I'm not as passionate about college as I am about music. It's not like a thing where I couldn't get into schools either. As of now, it's still up in the air.
Is moving to another city down the road foreseeable, or do you think you can make it to the next level in Madison?
I'm not gonna say I can't make it out of Madison because I've already done a lot here in the short time I've been putting out music, but I plan on moving just because I wanna work with artists face to face and shit like that. There's a lot of opportunities out there and I feel like if I just stayed in Madison, I would be cheating myself.
Where do you want to be in 5 years?
I'll keep it 100. In a big ass crib, playing Madden with all of my guys. Hella badass females around me (laughs). I need a studio literally two steps away from wherever I'm at. Really though, I'm not even tripping off riches. I don't need to be rich as hell as long as I got a big ass audience to make people happy, that's all I really care about.
Typically you wouldn't think of a debut release from a kid in high school as a very big deal. He'll push it, his friends will push it, if he's lucky a blog or two will pick it up, but ultimately, it probably won't get much play. This is far from the case with Trapo, who already had well over 500K SoundCloud plays just from an array of singles he has posted. It's a funny thought that a 17 year old would have his first project be such a teaser in terms of length, but Trapo actually has the following to do such a thing. Make no mistake, you will be hearing from him again.