Senior’s mixtape reflects self, modernizes 60s, 70s

By: Eric Callahan – Staff Writer

After student musician Dave Zupkovich’s third mixtape reached more than 10,000 downloads, he set out to produce a new body of work he described as “hip-hop in its purest sense.”
Zupkovich, a senior electronic media major more widely known as Dave Zup, released his new work “New Leaf,” on Nov. 19.

Through the University of Dayton’s recording studio, Street Sounds, Zup produced his fourth mixtape with the help of close friends and fellow musical talent.

Street Sounds is a student-run organization located on ArtStreet where artists can experiment with their own material while learning the ropes of the production process. Zup has worked with Street Sounds since his freshman year at UD and currently serves as vice president of the studio.

Zup began producing the album in June and worked closely with two 2012 UD graduates, general studies major Bobby Trick and electronic media major Ronnie Pinnell. Both Trick and Pinnell have musical background and each served as the president of Street Sounds during their time at UD. Colin Bradley, a student at the University of Akron and a friend of Zup, also played a role in production.

“Colin would make the beat and send it over, and we would rework it, putting the vocals on and layering it,” Zup said.

Pinnell, who met Zup when he first arrived at UD, said working on this project together was a great experience.

“Dave and I get the work done, but we also have fun,” Pinnell said. “That’s the most important thing – that we can have fun making the music. I think the mixtape will do well and people will really enjoy it.”

Although the process took a lot of time, Zup said it was worth the effort.

“I’m not out to make bangers. A lot of artists now just keep putting out songs after songs after songs,” he said. “But I like to take time. There’s a higher quality that I like to do. They’re more stream of conscious steps. It’s intelligent hip-hop.”

Zup said he didn’t see experimentation with mainstream rap, but saw it rather with the lens of his own roots and understanding of soul.

Zup said he grew up under his father’s musical influence, who sang with Wild Cherry in the 1970s and 1980s, and he sampled some of his favorite soul artists including Aretha Franklin and KC and the Sunshine Band on the mixtape.

“Each of the cuts contains something from the 60s and 70s,” Zup said. “They’re just crazy samples that we found and flipped into new, modern beats.”

The mixtape contains nine songs, all inspired by events that have personally impacted Zup. One song on the mixtape titled “Drugs,” focuses on relationships and experiencing the addiction to love. He said he tries to write honest music about subjects that are relatable and enjoyable.

Dani Reiss, a senior public relations major and a close friend of Zup’s, said she admires the personal connection listeners can make to his music.

“I like that he talks about real things and real people. It’s not like the other hip-hop songs where it’s just about partying,” Reiss said. “He talks about his friends, his family and where he comes from.”

Reiss also acknowledged Zup’s dedication to his music.

“Music is his number one priority, and he’s very humble about it,” she said. “If he ever were to get bigger in the industry, I don’t think he would get caught up in the fame or the money.”

Looking forward, Zup said he will begin producing more original works and moving away from the mixtape format in the hope that his next release will be through iTunes. He plans to continue bettering himself and spreading an important message.

“I’ve worked really hard to get where I am now, but I know that I can always do better,” he said. “By going after what I want to do, I hope I can tell people to do what they want to do, to do something no one else thought they could do, and succeed in it.”

For more information about Zup’s music, visit or download “New Leaf” for free from

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