Listen to BBU’s Fear of a Clear Channel Planet mixtape and it’s obvious the Chicago rap trio of Epic, Jasson Perez and Illekt have a wide array of influences, from rock to rap to juke. One thing that makes the group remarkable is its ability to create danceable cuts with political commentary, something they do on “Chi Don’t Dance,” “Jukin’ On Landmines” and “BBU N’ Phillip Mo.”
Typically, modern rap acts focus on making music for the club or for the mind. BBU - whose moniker is short for both Bin Laden Blowin’ Up and Black, Brown and Ugly - aims to do both.
“One of our goals was to blend the two cultures together,” Epic says. “There was a thin line that wasn’t being crossed at the time, where people were putting conscious lyrics into beats that were like 100-some bpms and clashing those two musical genres together. In essence, that’s how ‘Chi Don’t Dance’ came about. That’s one of the first songs we created that was a perfect blending of the two.”
They also made a point to deliver songs about women that were not degrading, that bumped and that were imaginative. The club-ready “Black N’ Plastic” details ladies living the model lifestyle, while the pensive “Fly N’ Pink” details the challenges the group members face trying to balance life and romantic relationships.
On The Positive Tip
Beyond the group’s interesting lyrical approach, BBU stands out because their politically-minded music has elements of juke, Three 6 Mafia’s get buck sound, trap music and Lil Jon’s crunk, among others. BBU didn’t want to be one of the politically-minded groups trapped by the perception that it needed - and could only rap over - boom bap, backpack-style beats.
“Artists wouldn’t challenge themselves to rap on anything else,” says Epic, who cites Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Ice Cube among his wide array of influences, many of which are detailed on “This Is Chi-Town.”
“I think it has to be competitive. If Travis Porter is making ‘Make It Rain’ and you recognize as an artist that the people are moving to the sound of this beat, you cannot deny that. You cannot say that’s not an option for me as a hip-hop artist.”
Adds Jasson Perez: “It felt like conscious music had gotten so safe. It became a music that a bunch of white people could play and feel really good about and really safe about. It didn’t challenge. It didn’t push you to dance, to think. It didn’t scare you at all. We wanted it to.”
“For us, we were just tired of having Three 6 Mafia be the scariest thing that someone would hear outside of our community and all they’re talking about is what Three 6 Mafia is talking about. We wanted to shake the shit out of all the barriers.”
[Ed. Note: The art of the juke, one of the world's quickest dance styles, will be featured in the launch issue of Red Bulletin USA hitting newsstands Tuesday, May 10. Make sure to cop yours and tell your friends.]
For more from Soren Baker, follow him on Twitter.
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