BLAKES - INTERVIEW
interview by Nicole "Nikki" Ryan
You're from Up South, hence your track Up South;, Texas, the lone
star state. What was it like growing up in Texas and when were you first exposed
I was first exposed to hip-hop in Washington, D.C., where I was born and lived
for the first several years of my life. Then I moved up South at age 8 or so.
All of my family is Southern, so Mississippi-Louisiana-Texas is for the most part
all I've ever known. It's America, so there's a lot of blood on the ground. But
there are also great people here and there's plenty of space and natural beauty.
People tend to appreciate life and others' lives, especially the older they get.
When did you realize that you had a passion for writing?
When I was three.
Most of us have dreams, goals, ambitions, and have an idol or role model. Growing
up which musician/artists were your guiding light, your mentor, who made you believe?
My dad was an African history connoisseur, with an emphasis on culture/arts/literature.
He pretty much got me into it, given my natural inclinations as well. My favorite
artist was Stevie, favorite rapper was Rakim, but it goes well beyond that too.
I'd say if you mix all african-american music together, then mix in the last 30
years of mainstream... that's my influence. My mentors were the directors of my
school bands, church choirs and local hip-hop movements like KNON 90.9. Locals
like Nemesis, K-Cold, D.O.C. and Ron C. made me believe.
The rap game is controversial with a lot of politics involved. It consists of
many artists that can be categorized as; conscious rappers or realistic lyricists.
Do you consider yourself a conscious rapper and who, if anybody, do you compare
I certainly don't consider myself unconscious, but those types of terms irk
me sometimes. I'd compare myself to anything from de la soul to the dungeon family.
When I was little, I loved Rakim, but I'm not a five percenter from
New York, so it was more of a vocal and flow thing than idolatry.
With this album Create and Hustle what are you trying to achieve?
Just to put my name out there, gain more exposure than I ever have as an artist,
get some tours happening and do interviews like this.
Create and Hustle, that phrase can be interpreted many different ways. Does this
symbolize anything or relate to anything?
It's very literal, like I tend to be as a rapper. This first album is just
supposed to expose my personality and perspective. I held back a lot of my skill
set and versatility in an effort to get this thing on the market as soon as possible.
Create & Hustle means that no matter how great a rapper I think I am in the
privacy of my apartment, I have to really hustle for anyone else to care or even
be aware. And that goes for anyone, from mc Joe Schmoe to Jay-Z.
I have many favorites on your album, the beats are melodic, very soothing, and
the right touches of jazz, drum and bass. Which track did you enjoy doing the
Why was the track "See You" your favourite track to do?
Because I wrote/produced/arranged the whole thing, it's my Stevie Wonder/Quincy
Jones impression. I got to create this song from top to bottom as a dedication
to my mama, then bring in the players and vocalist. it's one of two songs on the
album that aren't your same ol' 4/4 signature, 80-100 bpm rap song. Some people
will say it's not hip-hop or whatever but I don't care about that at all.
In your self-assured, confidently written track your last verse is: My mission
in this is to innovate the parameter of what rap is, without havin; to overstate
the honest and authentic original sound that makes me". Do you feel you have
reached that parameter or if not, what will it take to get there?
Well, I wasn't trying to reach a parameter, as much as continue innovating,
ie. redefining. Im not supposed to exist up south. The industry defines
southern rap and Texas rap as one particular thing, which is a big lie. Basically,
if you're from Texas or the south, all of your content should be self-destructive
and you should talk extremely country. but everyone's not like that. The industry
defines rap as a very homogenous thing, which is a big lie. My mission is to break
down all the classifications and stereotypes of it all, without trying too hard.
Instead of making songs that are anti-this, anti-that, i want to produce various
styles of music. i think my skill set proves the industry and rap's present outlook
to be a big lie. Rappers who freestyle aren't supposed to write well, eloquent
rappers who write well and can tell stories and aren't supposed to be able to
freestyle or battle. Rappers who can rap well on this kind of beat aren't supposed
to be proficient on that kinda beat. Or rappers who are good lyricist are east
coast, etc, etc, etc... hopefully you'll see what i mean when you get my next
album. above all, i really just like to rap. and the song "I" is a meditation,
me trying to be a good guy.
You mentioned that the industry has cast a stereotype on Southern rappers, what
do you feel gives them that impression and what do you think would rid of that
Limited exposure to what's actually happening here. People are comfy getting
spoon fed what actually makes it through major labels, as if that's the whole
picture. But it's certainly not. More exposure would rid them of that stereotype.
Right now the south as a whole only drops 3 or 4 new national acts a year. When
we get to that in L.A. or NY level of exposure, what's going on in Texas will
come to light.
Do you feel any constraints on what you do? Or what you have set out for yourself
My only constraint will be God's will... I do all that I can to reach my goals.
then God blesses me accordingly. if all this rapping stuff or even just my career
goes away tomorrow, I will not jump off a bridge. Because i'll know for sure that
it was supposed to happen.
In your video Bah Voo what made you come up with the boxing ring concept?
It's basically a battle track. I'm coming out swinging at everything from misconceptions
to garbage rappers to my own shortcomings, and i think it's evident in the lyrics.
My mission as a rapper isn't gonna be easy at all. Given its current conditions,
my motto should be "I ain't goin' out without a fight"! plus there's
a world champion boxer in my city who said i could use his gym for my video.
Do you have any forth coming albums/projects and collaborations?
I work like crazy on this stuff, so here's a quick list of things. Soundscape
duo project with Nicknack. Barrytones trio project with Chali 2na and Supernatural.
Im one of the primary voices in Dallas' Hydroponic sound system, another
collective. Im doing collabs with all kinds of people from strange fruit
project to Scripwiz movement. Today Im writing "everything happens
for a reason", a collab with Damien of K-Otix. My next solo album is called
For those who don't know you, could you explain the meaning behind Bavu Blakes.
For the nobody who knows, bavu means force in kiswahili. blakes means my family
was enslaved by another family and we were their legal property.
You explained what the meaning behind "Bavu Blakes" was, why that choice
I didn't choose the name. My parents named me. I don't have a stage name.
to learn more about Bavu Blakes visit www.bavublakes.com