Get To Know Cincinnati’s Virtual Rap Playoffs Winner Duprae

Duprae
Photo Credit: Vince Young

Duprae is plotting his Cincinnati takeover. The up-and-coming MC was recently crowned the winner of the 2020 Rap Playoffs, hosted by the “Queen Behind The Scene,” NaQuia Chante. Beginning on April 15 and wrapping up this past Friday (May 1), the virtual tournament-style battle saw some of Cincinnati’s most talented artists – including Joness, Aziza Love, and Audley – go head-to-head over four rounds. Duprae was finally victorious in the G.O.A.T. Round against singer/songwriter Naji. Fans were encouraged to vote for their favorite artists in the comments.

“You’re going against different people, every few days, battling them – verse for verse. So, it was definitely a different experience,” Duprae tells Audiofemme.

Now that he’s the Cincinnati Rap Playoffs champ, Duprae is planning to release his debut full-length effort, Whatever It Takes, later this year. The album will be preceded by a new single, set to arrive later this month.

“My new music will really represent me and what I’m trying to do, and the message that I’m trying to get out there,” he added.

Check out our full interview with the Rap Playoffs winner below.

 

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S/O to @jayduprae THE CHAMPION of the Rap Playoffs! ‼️Go follow him RIGHT now‼️ He needs to drop ASAP! Stay locked in as he receives his prizes from our dope sponsors! Thanks again to @vic_land of @audiofemme , @djjdough @goodcoapparel @dreshotthis @blackcoffeecincy @donutsnakahol and @looney_turner at @timelessrstudio ! Take a look at all his rounds to get to the crown! #naquiachante #queenbehindthescene #pinkbrainsagency #cincycreator #dreshotthis #donutsnakahol #ikeepgoodco #audiofemme #timelessrecordingstudio #blackcoffeecincy #rapplayoffs #newmusic #bars #cincinnatirap #rappmusic #nba #nbaplayoffs #cincinnatimusic #rapbattle #rapcontest #16bars #typebeats #beats #rapchallenge #hiphop #unsignedartist

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AF: Congratulations on your win! What has this whole experience been like for you?

D: Thank you! It’s been very interesting. I really got the call to be in the competition from NaQuia, just randomly, out of the blue. I saw a post about it and I thought, “Wow this looks really dope.” Then I got a message from her saying, “Hey, do you wanna be in this?” And I was like, “Yeah, sure!” I definitely didn’t expect it to turn out to be what it was, but it was a great opportunity to do it.

AF: Had you done anything like this before?

D: No – especially with everything going on right now, it definitely had a different feel to it. I’ve been in different rap competitions, shows, performances, stuff like that, but I’ve never been in a competition like this, where it was tournament-style. You’re going against different people, every few days, battling them – verse for verse. So, it was definitely a different experience.

AF: Was it difficult to come up with fresh verses for every round?

D: I’ve gotten a lot better, a lot quicker, with writing verses. Last year, I was doing a segment called “Issa Rap Thursday” and I was coming up with new material every week. The day would come, Thursday, and I’d write a whole new verse, get it memorized, record it, make a video, and put it out. So, I’ve gotten into a habit of being able to write quickly and apply it. It really pushed me to make quality [verses] too, not just put something together.

AF: Tell me a little bit about how you selected your beats. I really liked the beat you used in Round 2, and then later on you also used Wu-Tang classic “C.R.E.A.M.

D: The first two I just found on YouTube, for just something I could vibe with. The first round was about basketball and I wanted to really come with that kind of mindset. That first beat, to me, was really triumphant-sounding, so I thought that worked well with that. The second round was more soulful/R&B round, and I think that beat that I found brought a vibe and something special – a little more soulful, intimate. I really connected with that. The third round was picked by Graval over at Donuts n. Akahol. I was asking one of my friends, like, “Should I use [Drake’s] ‘Pound Cake’ beat?” Because I really wanted to show my lyrical abilities. And then one of my homies, his name’s Rob, he told me that I should go with something classic, like the “C.R.E.A.M.” beat. So, I was like, “Okay, I’ll play around with it.” It wasn’t until I started playing around with it that I realized that “C.R.E.A.M.” is the original sample used in “Pound Cake,” so I thought that was completely crazy. So, I started playing around with both, I added a drop for the transition, and the rest is history. I combined both beats for the round – I love both of those beats too. I love soulful samples.

AF: Was there any round you were especially nervous about?

D: I was kind of nervous – really, every round made me kind of nervous! But, the round that made me the most nervous was probably the third round. I didn’t know that it was gonna be a combined round, against two people, Naji and Turner Allen. One thing that the judges went by was the fans in the comments, and both of those guys had crazy support. I was thinking, “Man, they’re about to flush me in the comments.” So, it really depended on the judges’ votes. That round had me a little nervous. I was happy to come up with a win in that round.

AF: It’s so cool this was all able to happen virtually. Such a dope idea.

D: Definitely. Shout out to NaQuia – she really put this together and it seemed like she came up with it out of nowhere, but she’s really been putting on for the city, bringing people closer together, and I think a lot of people got a lot of different looks and opportunities from this event. It definitely wouldn’t have been possible without her.

AF: Where can people go to hear more music from you?

D: See that’s the thing, right now, they can’t! I’m currently working on a project right now called Whatever It Takes that I‘m looking to drop in the fall. I’m working on some singles right now, too. My new music will really represent me and what I’m trying to do, and the message that I’m trying to get out there.

AF: When will we get to hear some of those first singles?

D: I think you’ll see something very soon. I’m looking to drop something later this month or, at the latest, early June.

AF: With social distancing, lots of studios are closed. Has it been tough for you to record your album?

D: It definitely feels like things are limited right now. Who would ever have seen this coming, you know? It’s just been a time that no one ever thought would happen. I’ve actually got equipment at my house that I can record and send it out to different engineers. So, it’s definitely been tough, but it’s still possible.

AF: How has self-isolating been for you?

D: Self-isolating has been weird for me. Being around my family, I still see them, and I still see my girlfriend, and I’ve been doing drive-bys to see people. You really have to connect with people as much as you can. I heard someone say, just because we’re social distancing, doesn’t mean you have to distance yourself socially. We don’t have to disconnect from people. If you have a loved one, call them. If you have friends that you haven’t spoken to, talk to them. Right now, we really have to stick together and manage our relationships.

AF: Besides making music, what else do you like to do?

D: I love to play basketball and I’m hurting right now, because I can’t. I miss being able to play basketball. I’m just a regular, everyday citizen! I’m watching different things on Netflix. I love doing artistic things, like drawing and painting. I’m also a student right now, so I have a lot of homework to do. Homework hasn’t stopped for me because I’m in online classes.

AF: What else can you tell us about your debut album?

D: Whatever It Takes is a long-time-coming project for me because I was definitely getting around in my city, a couple of years ago, making connections and playing shows. But I really felt like I had to journey to find myself and also to find God. I went through a lot of different struggles to really put out this album. I really think it’s feedback from making music and focusing on my walk with Christ. Now, being able to come back a couple of years later, a lot of time and effort has went into this project. I really can’t wait for people to hear it.