In Conversation with Ducee' Drop Top
Devin May has a very unique moniker.
The 24-year-old rapper is known as Ducee’ Drop Top, an alias he was christened with as a result of his obsession with a certain automobile.
“We used to get rentals a lot when we were a little younger, when we would take trips wherever we wanted to go,” May said. “But every time we wanted a rental, I always wanted a drop top and so every time we got one I was just always doing some crazy stuff. So people just started calling me ‘Drop Top.’”
|Young droptop supports Daded Clothing. This was a post shared by Ducee' Drop Top on Instagram.|
Ducee’ was a name that friends would repeatedly call him, and it soon became part of his rapper alias.
His music is majorly influenced by rappers and musicians in hip-hop, like Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa and Outkast, but he’s also inspired by everyday experiences.
“A lot of themes (in my music) are things that I just see and a lot of things that I do. I really just go off of vibes to be honest,” May said. “You know, I rap about everyday lifestyles. I rap about the struggle of what happened with my homeboys and why they’re locked up right now.”
For May, who is a perfectionist, it is important to maintain a balance between being serious and laid-back when creating music.
“My main thing is practice makes perfect,” May said. “You’re gonna always have tracks that you don’t release and you’re gonna have different stuff, but at the end of the day, if you’re having fun, that’s all I care about.”
May was raised in Durham, North Carolina but travels frequently between the Bull City and Atlanta.
“I say the Bull City raised me and Atlanta made me,” May said. “I network and that’s where I have gotten to see things that changed my perspective on the music game and life.”
He speaks fondly of Durham, especially about its recent rise as a creative and artistic hub in the Southeast.
“I love what it’s become because everybody’s working together. Everybody’s pushing each other,” May said. “Everybody’s bringing out all the art and if it stays like this, I’d say in the next two years, Durham’s gonna be crazy.”
His musical background began at a young age.
Having played the violin, trumpet and French horn throughout his elementary, middle and high school years, he played in an all-star band and attended art school in Durham. From there, he focused on other instruments, including drums and guitar. It was only about a little over a year ago, however, that he started rapping and immersing himself in his love for hip-hop and rap culture.
His ultimate goal with his music is to give back to the community.
“You know how Akon lit up a whole city in Africa by giving them electricity?”, May said. “I’m trying to do stuff like that with money. Whenever I get on, whenever it happens, I’m giving back to the community because they need the money more than I would.”
Read below for an exclusive Q & A with the artist.
Tell me the origin behind your name.
“Behind Ducee’ Drop Top? To be honest with you, alright, so, it’s a little funny story. We used to get rentals a lot when we were a little younger, when we used to take trips just wherever we wanted to go, but every time we wanted a rental, I always wanted a drop top and so every time we got one, I was just always doing some crazy stuff. So, people just started calling me ‘drop top.’”
What’s a drop top?
“Like the car. You know, when the roof pops off.”
Oh, ok. Ok. I wasn’t sure. Sorry. That’s funny.
“And yeah, Ducee’ just came from… my friends just call me that. I don’t know why. You should ask them. I mean, it was just like, ‘You know, I like Ducee’. Call me Ducee’ Drop Top.’ You know what I’m saying? It’s just a name that just came over time.”
Yeah. So, it was just kind of like a mish-mash of things in your life that came together.
“Yeah and it’s a little different too. You know what I mean? It’s like drop top. It’s like naming an item on a car, you know what I’m saying? It’s something different.”
Mmm-hmm. Yeah. You don’t hear that too often.
So, in terms of some of the themes you primarily rap about, what would you say are like some motifs or just like themes that come up in your music a lot?
“A lot of themes are a lot of things that I just see, you know, a lot of things that I do. I really just go off of vibes, to be honest. I just go in there and I just make something happen. You know, I rap about everyday lifestyles. I rap about the struggle of what happened with my homeboys and why they’re locked up right now and stuff like that or I’m just talking about trying to make a little club banger or I’m just talking about, you know, all of my homies, walling. We’re in the club, walling. You know what I’m saying?”
“Just different things and it depends on my vibe when I just go in the studio, you know what I mean? You just try and go in there and just have fun with it, you know what I mean?”
Yeah, yeah. That makes sense.
“Cuz you make music and my main thing is practice makes perfect. You’re gonna always have tracks that you don’t release and you’re gonna have different stuff. But, at the end of the day, if you having fun, that’s all I care about.”
Yeah, yeah. You’ve gotta make something that you’re proud of but you’re also not too serious about at the same time.
So, what would you say, you mentioned your homeboys being locked up, what would you say happened with that, if you don’t mind me asking?
“Well, they had a situation. I guess I can’t speak upon their charges or whatever, but whatever they’re going through, we just want them to know that we’re here for them, you know. We gotta push it for them. So, when they get out, they’ll be in a better situation, you know what I mean?”
So, would you say in terms of social justice issues, would you say police brutality and the pipeline-to-prison thing is something that you’re passionate about?
“Well, we’re not going to go ahead and start off.”
Yeah, yeah. Oh god.
“Fuck Trump. Fuck all this corrupt bullshit. Honestly, if people just looked at each other equally and we all came together as a whole, we don’t even have to be countries. All this extra shit is just a result of going back in history. History just repeats itself, you know what I’m saying?
“You just kind of gotta deal with what’s going on, you know what I mean? Just try to stay positive. You feel me?”
Yeah, yeah, absolutely and I think you’re right about you know, countries and borders and nationalisms. It’s such a barrier between human beings. Some person will say, ‘I’m from this country’ and another person will say, ‘Well, I can’t relate to you because I’m from this country’ and it’s just really sad.
“Yeah, man. Honestly, it’s ignorance and it’s lack of education. It all starts at the house, you know what I mean?”
“Eventually, hopefully, it’ll all change but the only thing we can do is just thrive and prosper and try to make the situation better for the next generation. You know what I mean? That’s what I’m trying to do. You know how Akon had lit up a whole city in Africa? Like, he gave them electricity and stuff like that?”
“Yeah. I’m trying to do stuff like that with money, trying to start things like that so whenever I get on, whenever it happens, I’m giving back to the community because they need the money more than I would, you know what I mean?”
Yeah, absolutely, sort of like what Chance the Rapper did in Chicago. I forgot what exactly happened but I think he did something to help school kids and I thought that was really cool.
“Yeah. It all starts with youth and if you give them something to do that’s positive, then, you know what I’m saying, it can change a lot. But some people get the money and they forget about everything else and they’re just worried about whatever else involves more money and then there’s those people like J. Cole and Damian Marley that are real humble people. You can tell the real humble ones out there by how they act when they get money. Money sometimes changes people.”
So what would you say some of your primary influences on your music are?
“Like right now or what influenced me overall? Like, people?”
I would say both.
“Ok. Well, the people that always influenced me when I was young were people like Snoop Dogg, Outkast, different people. Outkast, I always loved Outkast because they were way ahead of their time and if you really still listen to what they’re talking about, it’s the same stuff that’s going on now. It’s just so crazy. So, I just like dope stuff like that. Wiz Khalifa and you know what I’m saying. They inspire me. Honestly, I try to get inspired by everybody that’s around me.”
That’s awesome, yeah.
“All my friends, they’re the ones. We just push each other to do better. Those are the real people that inspire me, you know what I mean?”
Yeah. So, what would you say, it terms of the places you live, between Atlanta and Durham, how has living in those places shaped your music, do you think?
“It’s changed. Oh, man. I’ve grown up in Durham since second grade, but my whole family has always been from Georgia. So, I’ve always gone over summers. I’ve gone back and forth from Georgia and stuff like that. So, it’s different scenery. It’s a bigger city. It’s different. Now, Durham’s a good city. It’s developing now and I’m loving to see what it’s molding into because it’s a beautiful city filled with a lot of artistic people and it deserves shine, you know what I mean? Now, everybody’s working together to actually do it, you know what I mean?”
“One of the last people that came out in Durham that actually made it was maybe 9th Wonder, you know what I mean? These people are like older heads now. But the reason why a lot of people, there’s been a lot of artists throughout time, that haven’t made it is because they didn’t want to work with each other and actually worked for individual prosperity instead of trying to put the city on the map, you know what I’m saying? So, excuse me if I’m trying to ramble.”
No, it’s all good. Stream-of-consciousness is always better.
“Yeah, I love what it’s become because everybody’s working together. Everybody’s pushing each other. There’s a lot more shows. Everybody’s bringing out all the art and if it stays like this, I’d say in the next two years, Durham’s gonna be crazy.”
Yeah, they moved Moogfest there, which was, you know, kind of a thing in Asheville and then all of a sudden, they moved it to Durham, which, you know, Asheville was kind of sad. But, I went there last year to cover it and I could totally see why Durham is really up-and-coming because it’s super hip and cool.
“Yeah, and it’s always been like that but it wasn’t like this two or three years ago. It was nothing like this. But now, I love it, you know what I mean? So, I just want to put the city on the map and you know, I love Atlanta. I say the Bull City raised me and Atlanta made me. I network and that’s where I got to see things that changed my aspect of the music game and life, you know what I mean? I’m just trying to take whatever I can. I just like to travel. So, even when I was in LA, I’m just trying to take what I can from each little spot.”
Yeah, that makes sense. So, if you were to say what inspired you to become a rapper primarily, what would you say? When did you become a rapper?
“Ok. Well, I’ve always done music my whole life. I was in fourth grade. I started playing the violin in the school program. When I got to middle school, I played trumpet and then they switched me to the French horn and I played in the all-star band, went to art school in Durham and I was focused on drumming, like percussion and guitar and stuff like that. So, I’ve always had a love for music and I always thank my parents for getting me into it early, you know what I mean? So, I didn’t really start taking rapping seriously until about a year and some change ago. I’ve always liked beats and loved hip hop and the rap culture and so, you know, I started just doing it for fun and I started really trying to take it seriously because the two homeboys that I mentioned earlier that are in jail, they were the main people that were really rapping and I used to always be around them. It was a team. It was always love. It was about brotherhood. So, they were really pushing me to keep the dream alive, you know what I’m saying?”
Yeah, absolutely. That’s awesome.
“So, it’s really just for fun but if, at the end of the day, people love it then I’m just gonna keep doing what I like, you know what I mean?”
Yeah, you gotta roll with that.
“I just dropped my first mixtape. It was called #boostUP. I just dropped it on December 30th and it’s available everywhere, Apple Music, iTunes, all that stuff.”
Is it on Spotify as well?
“Yes. It’s on Audiomag, Dat Piff, Google Play, Amazon, it’s on everywhere. Check it out.”
The original version of this article was published in Recount Magazine.