Ape Drums Makes Modernized Dancehall Music
Check out his new mix and read our interview with the genre-bashing producer.
He's kind of over genres altogether, but if you must call it something, call it what it is. "It's just modernized dancehall music, basically," he says. "People nowadays are making up genres and it's just like, what's the point of a genre now? But dancehall is still dancehall. Dancehall has been there for years. It's not a new genre, and I still call it dancehall because it's the same riddim. It's the same structure. It's just a little bigger."
The Houston producer fell in love with dancehall's tropical style when he was eight. "When I was younger, I always went to the store with my dad and bought cassettes just by the way they looked," he remembers. "The first tapes I bought were a Chemical Brothers tape and another one called 41, which was basically an old-school reggaeton and dancehall mixtape. It was a bunch of beats with Latin rapping over it. Whenever I researched the songs, dancehall came up, and I started to find more riddims. I got hooked."
As an artist, Ape Drums has dedicated himself to educating the masses on these classic beats, whether or not they're ready for it. "Not a lot of people in particular listen to dancehall, but they know the songs," he says. "They know the classic dancehall riddims, and when they hear them in a club they'll be like, "Oh, I remember that one."
His particular style may be hard to describe. He injects classic tracks and musical elements with a hard modern edge. To speak frankly, this shit slaps. In less than a year, he's gotten Craze's attention, earning his first major release, "Bashment," out on Slow Roast Records. He reimagined a classic dancehall tune with Diplo, called "Duttiest Wine." He hit the road on his first tour opening for Chase and Status, and he's about to play his first authentic Jamaican street party. Even his mom can't give him shit anymore.
"She was always like 'when are you going to go to school? This is bad. You're going to be just like your uncles, and blah blah,'" he laughs. "Now she's all bragging about me."
Ape Drums is having a great year, but he's staying humble."I don't want to be like 'oh, I made it,' because I really haven't," he says. He's got to meet two goals before he'll let himself sit back and relax: "I want to get to the point where I have my own tours and pick my own artists. Pretty much what these guys are doing for me, I want to do for other people," he says. "(But) my major goal is to be able to get my mom a house and have her not work anymore. She's always complaining about it. She wishes she could stay home and do other stuff, so that's my other major goal. That's basically why I'm doing this."
While he works toward that house, he stays busy educating ears on the riddims he loves. This mix he brings is pure dancehall insanity. It's 60 minutes of back-arching, head-banging, blood-pumping bass, but it's not a mere collection of his work.
"I didn't really want to self-promote myself. I wanted to put these things that I like more," he said. "The people that listen to me and the people that listen to Thump, I wanted them to jam out to some dancehall a little bit. Then I also put in some tribal house. I put in some, not trap, but like bouncy hip hop stuff in there. It's a bunch of stuff that you can dance to."
All photos by Jay Tovar
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