In an excellent new interview with Fader, Dreamville artist Bas and his biological brother Ibrahim "Ib" Hamad, the president of the label, reveal that the Sudan-born buzzmaker never aspired to be a rapper and that his initial career trajectory could have taken him down a much different path:
Bas never really aspired to be a rapper. He doesn’t remember exactly when he first met Cole, but palling around with his older brothers, they often partied and played basketball together. In 2009, at the New York City release party for The Warm Up, he even handed out Cole’s mixtapes. “Bas was there from the very beginning,” Ibrahim, his older brother, said. “When Cole and I didn’t even really know what we were doing, standing outside of Baseline waiting for Jay-Z in the rain to give him a beat CD, he was just down for whatever. ”
Despite receiving a full scholarship to attend Hampton University, Bas' pre-rap career involved a stint as a drug dealer. Bas says the allure of earning easy money by selling drugs took over and what started as petty dime bags turned into moving real weight. A frightening incident during a trip to make a sale, however, was the beginning of a push in a new direction for the upstart emcee:
One day, a customer, one of his regulars, told Bas he wanted two pounds. When the customer changed the meeting location at the last minute, he sensed something was up. So he hopped in a car with a friend, the guy who was fronting him the bud, and drove to the building. On the defensive, he left most of the weed in the car. His intuition, it turned out, was right. After entering the apartment, three men in ski masks stuck guns in his face. “It was a mess,” Bas said. “One dude was like, ‘This nigga don’t got it. Shoot him!’
Thankfully, Bas and his friend escaped the incident unharmed, but the experience meant something had to change. Enter Bas's other brother, DJ mOma, who began to try and help guide his brother in a more productive direction. And while rap wasn't yet in the conversation, Bas had always been a fan of acid jazz and house and, according to mOma, had "sharp musical sensibilities."
Fast forward seven years, Bas has signed to Cole's Dreamville Records and has released two albums, 2014's Last Winter and 2016's much-heralded Too High To Riot. Despite moving less than 10k first week units for both releases (remember, Dreamvilleignores album sales), the latter album was universally praised for its depth and descriptive bars that hearkened back to a time when rappers put you on the block with them and made you feel their pain and successes.
Left the town a drug dealer / Came back a fucking poet - Bas "Methylone"
Album sales aside, Bas embarked on a successful headlining tour following the release of his latest album and like J. Cole before him, is taking a grassroots approach to building his career and is connecting with fans like only Dreamville can. As one fan said in the article, "Many times, when he’d be performing with Cole at Madison Square Garden or at the Staples Center, he’d still meet me at the merch stand. He’s a celebrity now but he doesn’t act like one.”
by @brokencool, out the 6ix
Photo Credit: Doubi