J. Cole, David Rush and African rhythms inspire Alpha Diop’s music


Mercer student Alpha Diop, a Communications major from North Brunswick, NJ who goes by the stage name ADH, has been rapping for five years and has created and produced three mix tapes: “Tristate Dilemma,” “Stay in Good Company” and “I Am.”

After “I Am,” he says that people became more aware of his work. He was heard by rapper David Rush whose work has been promoted by the famous rapper turned record producer Pitbull.

Diop says, “[‘I Am’] caught the eye of Pitbull’s artist, David Rush [who is represented by Universal Republic Records and Mr. 305 Inc]. Once he heard that we linked up, did a couple songs.”

It turns out that Rush is not the first celebrity to hear Diop’s music. Diop’s cousin knows famous rap artist J.Cole before Cole became famous. The cousin helped Cole when he was working on his mixtape “The Come Up” and later asked him to listen to Diop’s songs.

Diop said, “Maybe four months ago, before I released ‘Alpha,’ [my cousin] let me know, ‘Yo, I let Cole hear “Bionic Man,”’ which is the song on my LP, and Cole gave me some advice on it.”

He adds that J.Cole told him, “The flow is dope, the beat is crazy. He felt like the song was hot but it didn’t take him to another level where it blew his mind. And that’s very understandable when you listen to his sound. Every four bars is different, whether it’s in his beats of lyrics, it changes. So the song was a little too moderate, it didn’t peak really. So you know I found it as a compliment. So I’m taking his advice on everything we work on.”

While working on “Alpha,” Diop took this semester off and went to Africa where he recorded beats and some of his music video for his song “BAM.” In the video, Diop is seen playing the African drums which can be heard in the background.

His lyrics are typical of the hip hop genre, but his music pushes further, including the unusual rhythmns with the electric guitar; all these sounds together separates him from other rappers.

When asked what’s his favorite things to rap about are, Diop says, “Everyday life, everyday occurrences, like personal experiences. Sometimes I like to write from another point of view and sometimes when I hear that music I hear like, ‘Oh snap that’s like me.’”

He goes on to say, “I like telling other people’s stories, I like making up stories, my own little world kinda. Most of my lyrics come from a personal place, either coming from me or someone or something that I know.”

Diop was born into music because his father is an international artist who was signed to SONY/Electra and his mother is his motivation.

He says, “It’s crazy because she never really liked when I was rapping, she’d be like ‘What are you doing? Like, get yourself together.’ [Later] she’d give me the mom pep talk…She would listen to someone on the radio and be like ‘No, you sound 10 times better than that.’ But just her confidence and how she believes in me inspires me and coming from a musical background, it was kinda like I was born to make music in any kind of way.”

Diop says he understands that it is a competitive field to get into, but he feels that with his motivation and the great opportunities he’s had so far, the future is looking  promising.