NYC-based hip-hop artist Dante Rapper is one of the genre’s most daring thinkers, a creative visionary with an authentically artistic approach.
After issuing a series of critically acclaimed singles and performing a sold-out show at London’s Scala, he’s readying his latest track for release on 19th July 2019. We catch up with him to find out more!
“600 Horses”, your brand-new single, will be released on 19th July – what can fans expect from the release?
Honestly, I have no idea what fans can expect but I can tell you my intention with “600 Horses”. I wanted to create a mainstream record whilst talking about my hesitance and skepticism of the mainstream itself. A lot of people think my songs are usually quite sad or angry and my previous releases are stripped back and purposefully quite under produced, so for 600, I wanted to create something wavy that could be played at a house party or in a club whilst lyrically highlighting my contradictions with the whole lifestyle that is portrayed as mainstream. It’s really about juxtaposition and opposites, which I think is at the heart of us as humans. The chorus is cocky and boastful, while the verses are the opposite, I talk about how I’m stuck in a trance where “every night is like the last night” and my “dream-life” feels like “real-life” — but before I can get deeper and describe this crossover of fantasy and reality, I’m distracted by girls and fast cars — “my bitch is fine but my whip is gorgeous, switching lanes, 600 Horses”.
For the visuals, I wanted to make a music video that was more like a short film and something that you wouldn’t expect if you listened to the song. I wanted the video to be quite shocking and dark — so I wrote and directed the video along with co-writer and director, Arya Ardavan. We decided to base it on a concept by Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who highlighted the fundamental juxtaposition between “Technology” and “Wild Nature”. The battle of these opposites is what we wanted to characterise in the video for “600 Horses” and it’s a battle that Nature is clearly losing with our dependence on Technology, so we thought it would be interesting to role-reverse and depict Nature defeating and torturing Technology, all the while using technology to deliver our message…just to bring home the irony. We just found out that the video became a finalist for Best Music Video at the IndieX film festival in Hollywood and is in consideration for a number of other festivals throughout 2019. That’s pretty cool because it’s the first video I’ve creatively directed and I really enjoy that process and later down the line want to get involved in film but we’ll see on all of that.
You’ve combined mainstream and underground styles in the track – how would you personally describe the sound in “600 Horses”?
For me, when you listen to the song for the first few times, especially as the bass drops, you’re distracted from the lyrics because you’re probably vibing out to the bounce, the bass and the melody. It’s definitely a wavy sound and this creates the atmosphere, so when the lyrics start penetrating, you’re sort of hit with the contradiction and when the outro plays, you feel the emotion.
You’ve been making music for quite some time now – what have you learned with each release, and how have you grown as an artist since your first release?
I’ve learnt that making music is a privilege, the ability to get under the skin of a feeling and to express it in ways that you can’t otherwise. Whether it’s the lyrics, the guitar, the drums or any other part of the song, I can speak to you and I can feel you and you hopefully can feel me and that creates a bond that I revere. With each release, I just get more able in creating that bond and hope that it just gets deeper with each song.
You performed a sold-out show at London’s Scala – are there any other London venues on your radar that you would love to perform in one day?
Yeah, that show at Scala was really cool, we were able to perform some unreleased tracks from my upcoming project and the reception was overwhelming, it made me more confident that these songs would resonate with people like it does with me. There are some really great venues in London like Alexandra Palace, Roundhouse, Royal Albert Hall and countless others, but all I really care about is the people there and if we can create a bond with the music, I don’t care if it’s in a garage or a stadium. However, if I had to pick one, I’d want to hit up Brixton Academy next, I know that’s where The Smiths performed their last ever show and it would be a blessing to be on that stage.
You recently teamed up with hereisgrey for ‘Bad Times’ – how did this relationship come about?
I met hereisgrey when we were young, he had just left his band and I’d just come back from New York and we clicked straight away. He put me on to a lot of dope music like Elliott Smith and Jeff Buckley and we just vibed. Actually, that first day we met, he played guitar and I rapped over it for hours, it was some cool shit. Now, some years later, we work together on the music every day and we started Hideout Music Group as a way to independently release our music to the world. But more than music, grey is my brother and best friend.
Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Haha, that’s a good question and one I don’t really know. There’s a lot of great artists out there, known and unknown. It could be anybody from any “genre” as long as we vibe together. I would love to collaborate with Frank Ocean though, I’m a big fan of his stuff especially his rougher cuts like on Endless and I think we could make something pretty raw together. Also, Morrissey, I don’t know if he’ll like me haha but that would be cool.
Which artists are killing it at the moment for you?
To be honest with you, everyone I listen to on constant rotation is pretty much dead. I listen to Elliot Smith, Xxxtentacion, Nirvana and Jeff Buckley. But I do hear what comes out from time to time, and I’m fucking with anyone making music with depth. I have heard a lot of Juice WRLD and I like his sound and also Cautious Clay. But for me, hereisgrey is a really fucking dope artist, he hasn’t released anything other than Bad Times with me but I get the privilege to listen and work with him on unreleased songs on my project and his own upcoming tracks and it’s so real, so he’s always been killing it for me, and when it drops, he’ll be killing it for you.
Will you be hitting the road soon?
Most definitely, but right now I’m focusing on putting the final touches on my tape, “Sick of Living / Unwilling to Die”, which I want to come out later this year. If I’m still alive when it’s finished, I’ll be doing some touring for sure haha.