At just twenty one years of age and already smashing the game with three major global deals to his name, Zimbabwe born rapper TAPZ is undeniably a star on the rise. While making a quick pit-stop in Auckland for the Gallantino tour at REC bar over the weekend, the young super-star in the making, kindly took some time to tell us about where he’s been lately, where he’s planning to go and everything in between…
“I’ll start you off from the beginning of last year,” TAPZ began, with a friendly smile spread wide across his face. “I went back to Zimbabwe for the first time in a while, to see my family, including my grandparents who are about to turn 100,” he proudly announced. “The contrast between here and there was just so refreshing, then coming back to go on tour with Jeremih throughout Australasia was amazing.”
“Then I signed a co-management deal with Winterman & Goldstein (Empire Of The Sun), run by Pete Lusty, and Control Music,” TAPZ went on. “Plus I signed another deal with GOOD management (Headed by Grammy winner Che Pop, managing artists like Kanye West, Big Sean & Travis Scott), so since then I’ve been writing, travelling and going to the States a lot more. But this is just the start of my journey. I haven’t even reached 1 percent of the things I’m trying to do yet, so by teaming up with them they’re helping me get to those places and build those networks, along with a lot of things I’m very grateful for.”
Born and raised in Zimbabwe, TAPZ shares his early and fond memories of listening to Michael Jackson on the radio, before finding his own creative voice upon moving to New Zealand at eight years of age… “There’s a lot of dance rhythms in Zimbabwean music and because I didn’t really understand English, I gravitated towards Michael Jackson because of the rhythm and what he was articulating through the melody,” TAPZ explained. “Zimbabwe was beautiful to grow up in as it gave me a place to exercise my creative mind as a kid, instead of spending my time inside.”
As for his upbringing in Zimbabwe influencing his style musically, TAPZ is quick and proud to agree, “Hell Yeah! We had a tv, but I didn’t have the internet or a computer,” he divulged. “I used to wake up super early to watch this one UK television show called ‘Brum,” he chuckled. “It was about a little car that would go out on adventures all day, which is then what influenced me to go outside and have my own adventures,” he added.
“But my need to get into music was fuelled by a quest to be understood and have a voice, in a new country where I could not understand the language,” he admit. “I’ve always known that I had a creative mind, so when I heard Michael Jackson articulating himself though melody, I thought I could try that same way and here we are. He’s definitely my greatest influence of all time.”
“I was twelve years old when I had that moment,” TAPZ explains, talking us through the moment he realised he wanted to pursue music as a career. “It was just that first moment when I knew I was dying to be understood and when I felt that, I thought, this makes sense – I finally have a voice to say something and really articulate what I’m feeling and to change people’s lives in the same way that music changed mine,” he revealed.
When it comes to fitting in however, TAPZ went on to explain why he doesn’t see himself fitting in with the rest of the broader hip-hop world. “I don’t see myself fitting in anywhere, in the same way that I didn’t fit in when I first moved to New Zealand and that’s because of my comfortability in my uniqueness,” he added confidently. “Moving to New Zealand gave me a perspective that no one else has, so I just see me doing me and the rest is up to the people. I aspire to be a global artist, and stay true to myself and the vision, which is to serve people and add value to their lives. It’s really all about communicating with different demographics.”
With a forthcoming EP set to drop at some point throughout the year, the project’s lead single, ‘Run Don’t Run,’ and visually captivating music video has been garnering all sorts of attention and high praise globally, including an impressive 151,000+ streams on spotify within the last month and a half.
“I put equal value and equal importance on visuals and sonics, so anything to do with TAPZ has to be as consistent as possible, because it’s all a platform to communicate my vision,” he explained, when asked about the single’s music video. “I met this awesome team in Vermont, which is about 2 hours away from New York, which then led me to flying over there and filming these visuals in the way you see them. The video is a visual representation of my journey to find fearlessness in a system where we are taught to run and act without question and while shooting it I literally felt like I was living the song,” he confessed. “I had to fucking run in the snow in minus twenty degree temperatures, so I was faced with everything I had written, which was a great test to see how much I truly meant each lyric, and yeah, I really did mean it all.”
“Music is not all I am,” the young rapper announced. “It is one of the platforms that I use to communicate, which has now opened more doors for me to use my artistic voice, fashion being one of them,” he acknowledged. “I treat it like a tool, in the same way that I use music as a tool to say and share something with others.”
With only hours to go until TAPZ performance at REC for Auckland’s experience of the Gallantino tour, he excitedly announced, “It should be really fun! We put a lot into making this an experience like no other, so whoever is reading this should come to the next show, because it’s definitely an experience and a half. The show is all about being innovative and giving the people something that they’ve never seen before. I’m giving them something to go home with, which you won’t know about until you come to a show,” he concluded, with a delighted smile across his cheerful face.
“A lot more songs,” is what TAPZ promises 2017 will bring, as we went on to discuss his creative process. “If I’m working with another artist, producer or co-write, then I have to adapt to that situation, but if it’s my own session I just start with whatever comes first, whether that be the beat or a melody,” he explained. “I like to write the song and then build the production around the song, so sometimes I will start with a couple of lead notes or chords, then write and produce the song from there. I just like creating,” he confessed. “I say this is ‘my voice,’ and I don’t take that shit lightly. I’m inspired by creativity and the fact that it’s such a beautiful process where I can go away with nothing and come back with something whole.”