Hip-Hop Wired: We hear May 27, 2010 was the day you began rapping. How did that happen?
Bas: I was deejaying a lot of local parties in the city at the time. My homie manage NYU’s basketball team – I didn’t go to NYU, but I went to high school with him. So I started getting into their circle and deejaying their parties. Some of friends his friends that I met through him that are a big part of our crew now, they had an apartment down in the West Village on Bleeker St, and we used to call it the Bleeker Street Carter, ‘cause at the time we were super Lil’ Wayne fans and the Carter series was so legit. We would just hang out there – after parties, have pregames there and just come back after parties and just smoke or whatever.
So that night, it was my birthday and I deejayed my own party. At like 5 or 6 in the morning we got back to that apartment on Bleeker and we just started smoking, me and the homies, and then everyone just started passing out. Me and my boy DJ, he always like to rap, like on Garage Band. He would just like to freestyle and we would listen to it to kinda get a kick out of it. That particular night, he just kept nagging at me like ‘Yo, let’s rap, let’s rap’ and I was like ‘Dude, I’m not a rapper.’ It just never seemed like a viable thing to me, something sustainable. Coming from New York, we were just always hustling for whatever way to make a realistic buck. It was really really short-sighted. But finally he convinced me, we did a freestyle on a Kanye West beat, the “Breathe In Breath Out” record from College Dropout and we just did it for kicks. Woke up the next day, played it for the homies and everyone thought it was funny and cool. The next day we did another one. We got on Waka Flocka’s “Oh, Let’s Do It” beat. Throughout that Summer, we just kept messing around and by the time we hit August, I got really focused.
HHW: Dope! Why did you decide to make rapping a profession?
Bas: Well, I was a college dropout. Six months prior I had a huge wake up call, like on some street shit, where I thought ‘Man, this isn’t worth it.’ A friend of mine got shot over some stuff we were doing. I had a good talk with my family, where the people around me, like my older brothers – even Cole – pointed out that I just wasn’t meeting my potential at all. And I’m lucky. A lot of people don’t have that support system and they go right back to what they were doing. But I had a lot of support in place, so when I hit rock bottom, I really didn’t have nothing else. My brother gave me his Macbook, because he deejays all over the city. He’s got a lot of big gigs and had me open up for him. So I spent like six months doing that, just deejaying. When I caught the rap bug, I just couldn’t stop doing it.
HHW: And now you’re a part of Dreamville records. Has J. Cole mentored you in any way?
Bas: Cole took me out on the road in 2011 and I didn’t start performing with him ’til this past June, ya know? It was such a huge developmental process. It was like being in the minor leagues and they just kinda prepping you. You know, going on the road, you learn so much about how you want to write songs to get that crowd participation, and you meet all these other artists and producers and songwriters. So I got to spend a good two years just really developing as an artist and that kinda goes hand in hand. And yea, we’re pretty much just here now.