Chicago rap trio BBU has the internet ablaze thanks to its “Fear Of A Clear Channel Planet” mixtape, which showcases the group’s inventive mix of up-tempo, political music, with a dash of Windy City juke added for good measure.
We sat down with Epic, Jasson Perez and Illekt to get their Top 5 most influential artists of all time, which they listed in no particular order.
Epic: “I think they’re the epitome of what revolutionary artists are supposed to be. The goal of a revolutionary artist is to make the revolution irresistible. These guys go all over the world and they stay true to their culture.
They made a perfect blend between really potent lyricism and extremely challenging music with an out-of-the-ordinary beat selection. They didn’t go with the typical boom bap. On their albums, they went and kind of challenged the status quo, not only in their music but in the production they chose.”
Jasson Perez: “To me, they’re one of the few hip-hop groups that actually sound really, really different. I think that they’re the closest to when people say the Beatles are so great, in terms of how they changed throughout the years, OutKast does the same thing for me. They push themselves and the push hip-hop overall from a gangster rap style all the way to where they ended with ‘Stankonia.’
To me, that’s where OutKast kind of ended. Even when they did the two separate albums, Andre’s [The Love Below] album is basically what you hear when you hear the singer/rapper now, whether it’s Drake, Kid Cudi, etc., etc. Even the whole ‘ATLiens’ thing, just being some brothers who are rapping from like outer space, that whole aesthetic that everybody uses, from Lil Wayne to Kid Cudi to on and on and on.
OutKast just pushed all of that. I think the biggest thing is for that songs like ‘Bombs Over Baghdad’ and ‘Rosa Parks,’ those are two songs that I don’t see my not hearing those songs and knowing how to do what we’ve done in BBU because those songs are so much a part of BBU’s aesthetic and style and swagger in terms of how we approach lyricism, beat selection, making hooks, making breakdowns.
All of that has always been wrapped into how OutKast did it, whether it’s a slowed up conscious song like ‘I Do This For My Culture’ or a fast ‘BB Who’ or ‘Chi Don’t Dance.’ We didn’t put Goodie Mob on the list, but without Goodie Mob, there’d be no ‘Chi Don’t Dance.’ Goodie Mob was a major influence.”
Jasson Perez: “That’s our style, our aesthetic, our noise. When you hear ‘Fear Of A Clear Channel Planet’ or our newer stuff, we try to have that noise that Public Enemy had. You could literally feel the distortion of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s in their music.
So we wanted it to where you hear the sound and the lyricism of BBU and you hear us live that we had that same presence that PE did. Even the dynamic on stage, in terms of our rapport with each other, lyrically how we are, Epic is definitely on some Chuck D type steeze and I’m definitely on some Flavor Flav type steeze on delivery and approach.
We have a different dynamic since it’s three MCs, but in terms of how the energy worked, we definitely vibed off that.
Epic: “I’m talking ‘2Pacalypse Now’ 2Pac. Tupac Shakur, he is the essence of that artist that was born. He was a revolutionary. His mother was a Black Panther. I’ve literally been bumping ‘2Pacalypse Now’ for like a month a half nonstop. That album, it’s about as revolutionary as anything you hear right now that you would quote-unquote call revolutionary or conscious hip-hop.
‘2Pacalypse Now’ was there. He covered everything. He dropped the ‘cracker’ bomb about five or six times. He talked about everything that was going on in his community at the time and I think things kind of changed for 2Pac as time went on, but he always kept that essence.
To me, he wasn’t one of the most talented lyricists in the world, but his emotion and his heart was bigger than the music. The beats couldn’t contain what he had to offer. You had a Biggie Smalls, who was dope, but at the same time, Pac’s heart was in every record that he put down.”
Jasson Perez: “As a lyricist, what stands out for me from Slug is his emotionalism. He’s also not like a great technical lyricist, but it’s how he writes songs. Slug is the first rapper that made me realize that it’s not about writing 16 bars to cut someone’s head off.
It’s about being able to write 16 bars and another 16 bars and another 16 bars and a really good hook and also have that song really connect to your greater life struggles. He put hip-hop in that place like just an everyday person going through their shit, whether it’s your girl, raising your kid, being on the road all the time.
As someone who has a seven-year-old kid and who’s on the road a lot, I can relate to the stuff that he’s rapping about. And then just the model of how they did it. Atmosphere was somebody that 10 years ago nobody knew about them and now their [Rhymesayers Entertainment] is like the largest independent hip-hop label in the game.
They just showed to me on a personal level that we don’t need to be in the Internet all the time, the blogs all the time. What we need to be is making records all the time and also doing shows all the time and eventually everyone will come to us. Also, he’s shown me you can be over 30 and still rap, have a good career and not pretend to be young, to not have to pretend that you’re still making young raps. He makes old man raps, which is dope.
For more from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter: @SorenBaker