BBU What It Do! Interview With Chicago’s Finest
What kind of hip-hop group names themselves after America’s most despised villain? What group of guys can make a crowd get buck wild while simultaneously feeding them food for thought? Who refuses to leave their hometown behind for a chance to relocate in search of stardom?
BBU, that’s who!
BBU; or Bin Laden Blowin’ Up; or Black, Brown and Ugly; are three MCs (Epic, Illekt and Jasson Perez) backed at North Coast by Dj Esquire, bringing some major heat from the Midwest hip-hop capital of Chi-town. Armed with a forthcoming album, an energetic stage presence, and a hit collaboration with Das Racist and the Hood Internet, these guys are on their way down a road paved with gold.
They’ve been mighty busy this summer, playing sets at both Lollapalooza and North Coast, reppin from their home base. When I caught up with them, they were getting pumped for their North Coast performance, caught in a whirlwind of questions like they hadn’t yet experienced.
“This is the first time we got to do like 15 interviews over and over again, so it’s a little bit different,” Perez said of their festival experience. “It’s a nice problem to have.”
But BBU is no stranger to hard work. Although studio life is something fresh for them, the group formed almost four years ago. By the time they recorded their first song, they already had about 150 live shows under their belts.
“We weren’t really interested (in recording),” Epic said about those early days. “We wanted to have a really live open mic set.”
Back then, their focus was keeping the energy high and the booties bouncing from the first beat, but such an attitude leaves little room for growth and creativity. The guys admit recording has changed them, some of their new songs aren’t as hard as they used to be, but now they have more room to get thoughtful, musical, and they kind of like it.
“(Recording) let’s us think about songs more,” Perez said, “kind of get off of the hook, 16-bar, hook, 16-bar. We can be a little more creative.”
“We’re able to slow it down and show that we have the style that we have and bring the lyrics into it,” Illekt was quick to agree.
And for sure these guys have something to say. Shit, their name is a message in itself.
What started as a joke now represents America’s debilitating dependence on scapegoats. When we were attacked on 9-11, we focused our rage on a single bearded man instead of our politician’s penchant for building up super-villains just to turn and tear them down. They’re tired of seeing America’s lower classes locked up and blamed for doing what they need to survive, when it’s really our poor education system and political policies that need more attention.
“If you don’t take care of your problems for real, they’ll blow up in your face,” Perez put it simply.
But it’s not like these guys are all about making you feel bad for your problems. Even when they’re delivering a bitter pill of truth, they’re doing it to a beat that forces you to shake it down. Their music is about good times and bad times, just like life.
“It’s human music,” Epic said, because everyone is affected by issues of class, gender, race and politics. “Honestly, we’re just trying to be who we are … We really are that conscious.”
It’s true. When they’re not recording or tearing the roof off a club with their performances, they’re hitting the street petitioning, organizing and trying to get their fellow men and women involved in their community. It’s all about taking the future in your own hands while you clap to the beat.
“We’re telling the stories and the struggles of the people we’re also trying to help out, and the stuff we’ve been through,” Illekt said. “It’s real life stuff.”
And these guys are mad proud to rep their city and the people in it. They recalled a time recently when some label guy was all up in their face, telling them he’d move them out to New York where they’d have a better chance of making it big. You know they told him where to go.
“It’s a beautiful place,” Illekt said of the windy city. “This is home. Everything that we’ve been through, everything that we are comes from here.”
And honestly, they don’t need the help. They caught the attention of radio darlings Das Racist just being themselves, collaborating with the electro-pop duo and the Hood Internet on the blogosphere hit “Please, No Pictures,” available for free download on their website.
These guys couldn’t be nicer, and they deserve all the love they get. They’re primed to drop their first official release, Bell Hooks, in October. They couldn’t be more excited about it, and honestly, you should be pretty stoked, too. For now, like them on facebook and jam out to these chunes. And get that free download while you’re at it.
BBU – BB Who (prod. by D-Wizz)
BBU – Jukin’ On Landmines (prod. by Arlo – Trailblazerz MPC)
BBU – Please, No Pictures (feat. Das Racist)