When it comes to defining the boundaries for music videos, there hasn’t been anyone else to mention over the last 4 years. Being born in Nigeria, but moving to London in his adolescent years, Daps ended up living in America directing music videos for the likes of Migos, Drake, Lil Baby, Young Thug, Gucci, Travis and everyone else worth mentioning.
With an extensive, invaluable list of credits carrying the likes of: Bad and Boujee, T-Shirt, Walk It Like I Talk It, What The Price – Daps has cemented himself as the most trustworthy director in the game. I managed to catch up with him and speak about his come up, how he made it all happen and some gems to push yourself to global greatness. Hard work meets timing.
Who’s Daps in your own words?
Who’s Daps? Daps is a creative, an entrepreneur. You know, Daps is a go getter. I’m just tryna’ be the motivating force for the people of my demographic.
So let’s speak about where you grew up first.
I was born in Nigeria, and I grew up in London. West London, then North West after that.
Predominantly Grahame Park, Colinsdale, I was there until I was 17. Then I moved to America for the first time when I was playing ball still. Went to High School for one year in Connecticut when I was living my hoop dreams and then did University out in America too. Then I moved back to London and started doing all of this video “stuff”.
Mad, so how old were you when you moved over from Nigeria?
It was just a bit of a back and forth from when I was 3 to about 6 years old
What was that first moment that made you want to get into directing?
It was always just about the creativity, the music. Playing drums, making beats, rapping, writing. You know, that’s what it was. I’d say a lot of that was down to my older brother. He was a producer so we was seeing him from young doing this music thing.
So what was the first music video you directed? I noticed even with your early music videos you were always trying to be different with it. Was it being a music artist that made you pay more attention to the video end of the package?
Yeah that was the initial start point. For me, the music led me to the videos. The video’s were getting noticed and things just kind of took off really quick. When the videos starting getting real recognition I just started focusing more on them.
What was the beginning of the journey like for Daps? Filming videos for guys in the UK – was it tough to make the transition to America?
In the UK I was doing videos for myself bro. I did a couple here and there but I wasn’t really doing it like that. When I started doing my own music videos I didn’t do any for anyone else until all the guys in America.
How did you make the decision to go back to America then?
Because I already lived there it wasn’t like I was going to some foreign land. I wasn’t going to the middle of nowhere or Timbuktu, you get me? It wasn’t a crazy transition for me because I already lived out there, played ball there and went to university there, you know? I spent a few years there, and I noticed that the market in the U.K wasn’t how it is now. Urban artists and creatives are now getting payed enough money to pay their bills. I was just thinking like, the market out here (US) is crazy. If I’m gonna put in the effort I’m gonna’ have to get in a bigger pond with bigger fish. But now the U.K is different, thankfully people can pay their bills doing this Behind the Scenes thing.
What was the moment you decided that this is what you’re going to do?
I was already working on projects, writing for different directors, writing video treatments and concepts for them. I was already in the mix a little bit. And then, when I’d go to America – I’d just watch and learn and soak in the intel, know what I mean? I’d say the first video I done when I moved over was Jordin Sparks Ft. 2 Chainz. That was the first one I did and I was like cool, right – from there I just carried on building really.
So I guess at that point it starts to snowball?
Nah man it was slow, very slow. I moved to L.A in 2015, the whole of that year it was slow. The first half of ’16 was slow. I was still writing treatments here and there, little bits, small jobs. But then 2016, that’s when the Migos happened. That whole “Bad and Boujee” run.
Okay so, a year passes from that initial video – then you shoot Bad and Boujee
Probably a year and a half later.
That moment, aside from their breakout “Versace” was arguably the moment that sent them clear on a global level.
How does it feel being the one who’s created the moment that lives forever, the video – for a seminal song for our generation. You know, is it “Pfft, mad”, or is it “I need to go crazy harder”? (Bad and Boujee)
Nah it feels good, it feels good and it’s definitely a real blessing. Me, I’m a real Hip-Hop head, so just to be a part of the culture, the conversation and have my own little blip on the timeline to say “Yeah, this is what we did.” Changing the whole Sub-Genre of Trap music, just off the run of 4 or 5 videos. There was “Pre” us, and “Post” us when it comes to how you consume trap music visually. But yeah, the more accolades the more milestones. I just get paranoid like shit, it’s time to go harder. The greatest of all of us fail, the greatest of all of us fall on our face so we have to go get it. You get too comfy out here, that’s a wrap, someone will come take your spot.
Okay so you shoot that. Everything around Migos, the track itself, Takeoff with his famous “Do I Look Like I Got Leff Off Bad N Boujee?” line starts blowing up. Naturally I guess a sh** tonne of work is pushed your way?
100%, yeah that was a moment.
So how do things progress after that?
Bad and Boujee was going crazy, you know – Donald Glover made his speech at The Golden Globe awards saying “Bad and Boujee is the greatest song ever”. We shot T-Shirt right after that. Like maybe a few months later when T-Shirt dropped – shit was over. The day after that speech, the T-Shirt video dropped and it was just a Migos tornado. I’ve never seen a reaction like that for any of my work. Non Rap publications writing about it, Rolling Stone, Globe Mag, this person, this publication, this rapper hitting me up. To me it was just all crazy, there was just a mad energy in the air.
By this point you’re easily the most exciting director in the industry, you’re coming up along side Migos at the time they were on their way to becoming the leaders of the music scene. What’s it like balancing their rise to stardom with all of the new work coming your way?
It was a good run man, 2017 was a good year. People were hitting me up but, with the Migos it wasn’t like we just 2 videos and that was it, I was still busy with them. Bad and Boujee, T-Shirt, Deadz Ft. 2 Chainz, What’s the Price, Slippery. We’re talking about world wide hits, these weren’t no flukes. Then off the back of that, they’re the hottest out, so they’re getting features – I’m being called to do the videos for their features. So now you’ve got Sean Paul Ft Migos – Body, 2 Chainz Ft. Migos – Blue Cheese – it was just one on top of the other. I didn’t even have time to do anything for anyone else. I missed out on bare videos for other people but it takes time do do a video well. After that there was – 2 Hotty! End of that year, beginning of the next you’ve got the QC artists coming out, you know – you’ve got, City Girls, I done 2 City Girls video before this whole twerk thing. Then off the back of those videos back to back I did Walk It Like I Talk It.
How did the day go that you got the call for Walk It Like I Talk It?
I already knew I was gonna be doing that video. Yeah, I didn’t do Motorsport, I didn’t do, Stir Fry. I was like “You lot, wagwaan.” It wasn’t nothing personal or nothing everyone just works with new people but, Stir Fry was good. I was still around these times, you know, they’re touring and I’m backstage still or whatever – I was there during the process, that’s why it was more of a “Okay it’s Dap’s turn” kinda’ thing, you get me?
So what was the creative process like with that video, given that you directed it with Quavo?
It was Coach K’s idea to do the whole Soul Train thing. So I went and researched a few episodes to see which one I wanted to do. Built the stage a certain way, did this and that a certain way. So yeah, it was Coach K’s original idea. After that Quavo put me in a group text, me, him and Drake. After that Drake called me like, “Listen, I’m wearing a fucking jerry curl for this thing, it’s gonna be jokes. Make it look proper retro. You know, your T-Shirt video was cold, we need to do that, make it a moment.”
At this point, the world is pretty much your oyster, how do you decide the play?
For me it’s just about keeping the quality of work moving. Right after that I did Plug Walk. Shit was just back to back hits. Plug Walk went Triple-Platinum. I was just working bro, head down working – same time, tryna’ get the accolades, awards. Got a couple here and there, not the big ones, but we keep it moving. Just know that this shit’s temporary init, do what you can in it, make your mark and move on. I’m tryna’ do the TV and film shit.
What’s next on the timeline?
Obviously I’m doing Wizkid Ft. Drake – Come Closer. Davido – Fall, I’m doing Stormzy – Big For Your Boots – this is all 2018. There was a moment in 2018 that my boy made a point, he said it so it’s his words init. There probably isn’t a more intersectional than I am right now. Number 1 in Naij, Number 1 in UK with Stormzy, Migos, Number 1 in America. There was a certain point where I had, Africa, The UK and America on lockdown. At the same time. That was the big moment for me personally, bigger than any accolade or money or award. Like rah, there has been no one from my background to have done what I have done, period. That’s the blueprint. I was born in Nigeria bro, people don’t really get to make it. I’m showing people that people can do this shit for real.
London, Lagos, LA – even though there was people bigger than me or better, but he ain’t touching what I’m touching. After that, we’re doing what we’re doing, you know. Quavo + Nicki video, Lil Uzi video, to end the year off. To end ’18, I shot Lil Baby – Close Friends and City Girls – Twerk.
So every year I’ve had 1 or 2 moments that have just been like, woah. Grime, Twerk, Trap. That’s a spread. Anyone that come before me, I’m not saying I’m better they just aren’t doing it like I am, at that level.
Some of the U.K videos you’ve done?
Stormzy – Cigarettes and Kush, Mist, Hardy Caprio – Sponsored, One Acen – EIO. You know, a few.
Obviously not everyone is just friends with the Migos, but how can talented directors or videographers start working with global artists.
To be honest, it’s about creating your own luck. Hard work meets timing, keeping that consistency. People think they can fight the war virtually, you’re either in the trenches or you ain’t. If you aint tryna’ fight in the trenches – everyone fuck off and go home then. Like yeah, “ I wanna stay in ends, but I wanna be the biggest.” Yeah, aite’, you’re lying to yourself. But guess what, they’re making big budget videos in India right now, they’re not hitting up. Why aren’t they hitting me up, I’m hot right? But guess what, I’m not in the trenches with them – out of sight, out of mind. So whatever you wanna do, go and do it. You can’t do it virtually on the keyboard, move to where you wanna go and be. Only reason people reach out to me from London is cos’ they know I’m from there.
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