Growing up homeschooled in the south of Vancouver, bbno$ never really planned on his career of choice being a rapper. Yet here we are, a few short months after the release of “Lalala” the rapper’s first venture into the Billboard Charts. This is no small feat being that he began is rap career laughing over a Chief Keef beat with his friends before realizing this is something he was talented at. Several years and a few million streams later, it seems that bbno$’s eclectic style of hip-hop has connected with people across the globe in a real way.
bbno$ is an incredibly laidback person, which he attributes to his upbringing in Canada, this shines through in his music that is always playful in nature. He has done something out of Vancouver that nobody has really done before, a sign of the times that there is real talent brewing in the often-overlooked Canadian city.
While he is a trailblazer of sorts, his career is getting incredibly more serious as he becomes a mainstream artist that gets recognized on the streets by Grandmas, Toddlers, and everybody in between. His brain understands how the internet works, his marketing tactics are crazy but they’ve worked to get him to the level where he is today. His music paired with his outlandish personality have created the perfect storm of an artist ready to make waves on and off the internet.
I sat down with bbno$ last week before he set off on his sold-out headlining tour throughout the states, the “Best Tour Name” Tour kicked off Friday night in Houston and will continue on for the next month or so before continuing in Europe. We went through a variety of topics but overall our conversation should shed some light on the method of the madness that is bbno$.
LL: Can you give our readers a quick introduction to all things bbno$?
bbno$: I’m a 24-year-old local to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I studied Kinesiology at University, just recently graduated. School sucks, but you should finish your education. I used to be a competitive swimmer but now I’m a full-time rapper. Pioneer of this stupid music that I make.
LL: How would you describe your music?
bb: For what I make with Lentra it’s like SoundCloud Missy Elliot. That’s the best I can describe that. My other shit with Gravy is just like ignorant rap, ignorant but melodic. Anything else I make is just me kind of fucking around.
LL: Vancouver is a weird city in terms with its history of hip-hop and you’re really one of the first to break out of the city. How do you feel that your upbringing in Vancouver shaped you as an artist?
bb: I like that question, typically everybody asks the same questions but this is good. I feel like my light-heartedness comes from how I was raised. If you live in Vancouver you pretty much made it, period. I had a really good upbringing, my mom and dad are very supportive of everything I’ve always done. I have a brother and sister that are very supportive too, so I’ve always been in a positive environment that has allowed me to do what I want. I don’t really know if Vancouver has shaped my artistry. Maybe its because my music is kind of laid back most of the time, so maybe that because Vancouver is laidback in a sense. I feel like some of the production in Vancouver is really different from everywhere else in the world. If I ever blow up enough I want to bring back the grizzlies. This city is my favorite place in the world
LL: You’re somebody who has always given a good amount of shine to your producers, no matter their size. Is there anyone producer out there that could make your music even crazier?
bb: Honestly, I don’t know if I can make any crazier records than I do right now. Some times I just wake up one day, take a shit and make a hit. I have in the works a session with Timbaland. It’s fucked up, one of my dreams. Timbaland and Pharrell are the two main producers I would want to work with. Timbaland said he liked my project and was like, “I understand what you’re doing here”. Current producers, I’d say Jetson Made I really like his sound.
LL: What about an artist?
bb: Missy 100%. She’s one of my favorite artists and she’s such a badass. Her features cost a lot of money so that’s probably never going to happen, but maybe she’ll just fuck with me and just do it for free. Snoop and 50 Cent as well.
LL: What is your favorite song that you’ve ever made?
bb: Definitely not Lalala, so over that song. There are three songs I have sitting with Lentra that I really like. There’s a song I have with Y2K called “Bad Thoughts” that’s really good. I just work all the time so I don’t really sit on too many songs.
LL: What about Lalala, how has your career changed since that song took off?
bb: I was out for breakfast with my brother this morning and some mom came up to me and asked: “Are you the guy who sings Lalala?”. Then she asked me to take a picture with her son and I said sure, that’s kind of my job. That’s never really happened here. Before I was like not booming but I was doing really well, now it’s like full boom and everything makes sense now. I don’t think anythings change I still wake up, grind, and don’t reply to people who need me to do shit.
LL: Is there any genre that you haven’t gone into that you wanted to explore?
bb: I’ve hit house decently. What Lentra and I have been doing recently is putting 3 genres in one song. We just change the beat throughout every four bars. The beat tells a story and the song tells a story as well, even though I don’t really rap about anything. I have two alternative rock songs on the next project, a screamo/punk rock song. A bunch of singing music and the poppiest song I’ve ever made called “Pop Song”. If a beat slaps then it’s really good, that simple.
LL: Some of the readers may not know but your career took off once a few of your songs started to blow up in China, what has been the lasting impact of that in your career? Is the fanbase still crazy out there?
bb: I haven’t been out there to do my own headline in a while, but I’m doing that pretty soon. Realistically it should be bigger. When I first blew up in China I was maybe as big as I am now in North America. I’m really not that big but I sold my first headlining tour out there. I haven’t been out there to notice it, but I know that I’m on the charts out there too. I don’t really know if it changes much, to be honest.
LL: Pretty crazy to blow up in a country that doesn’t speak the same language and still enjoy the music.
bb: I’ve talked to agents and they don’t typically even deal with China. Most North American acts kind of neglect Asia in its entirety and I don’t know why. One, the bag is stupid! Two, I have die-hards out there so why not feed them? They’re kind of the reason why I continued making music. Before Gravy blew up we were both at 8000 followers on SoundCloud and I was like I don’t know if I can do this for the rest of my life. Then I got word of my popularity in China and I was like I have to execute, this might be the only time I can ever do this. When I first got on stage in Shanghai and there was 700 people there to see me. It was crazy, I poured water on the CDJs which stopped the shows and I had to start doing push-ups for a while.
LL: Were there any moments in your childhood that lead you to think you’d be a full-time rapper?
bb: Not at all. My mom always had me play piano but I couldn’t read music. Music theory is not my forte and I can’t read notes so when I produce for people I just do what sounds good but don’t really know how its going. I played an African Drum, like a Djembe and I was really good at that. Rhythmically I understand it but that’s about it. I can rap well, I’m obviously writing it and I don’t typically freestyle anything. Swimming had a lot of rhythm and I swam competitively for about 8 years. That’s all rhythm.
LL: What is the first album you remember purchasing?
bb: Dude, I didn’t listen to music until I was 15. I played my African drum, but I never went out of my way to find music because I was home school. I didn’t really have any friends just my brother. My brother would play like System of a Down, Avenge Sevenfold, Slipknot, Tool, and shit. Then he started to lean towards all kinds of House, that reminded me of Disco which I really liked. When I first started getting into music it was straight bass dubstep, like Excision and Datsik. Then it became too much so I started listening to Tupac. One of my best friends told me to check out Chief Keef and Gucci Mane in Grade 9, I was addicted to it ever since.
LL: What about music videos? Your visuals have always had a distinct feel to them, were there any music videos you watched growing up that really stuck with you?
bb: Not really. When Cole Bennett started dropping his videos that immediately caught my attention, I want fuckery on the screen and he does it better than anyone. I’ve always been a gamer so I really like visual effects. It also takes a song that can be average and take it to a whole other level. I direct most of my shit, if it doesn’t hit without visual effects then just drown it in effects.
LL: What are your thoughts on “meme rap” as a growing genre?
bb: If you can make money, who gives a fuck?
LL: You and Gravy have both had a major come up over the past year, how did you two link up originally?
bb: So I sent him a message on SoundCloud saying “bro you make really dumb music, can we work?” and that was it, pretty much. He sent back, “is this how you say your name baby-no-money?” and we were only at about 100 followers. He was probably the first person to say my name right, everybody says ‘buhbuhnos’. We made our first song and it was kind of mid, but our second song started to do really well on SoundCloud. After getting to know him for a while we just actually became friends and started to like each other as people, not just business. He’s a good kid, if I went to high school with him we probably would’ve been friends. I think that’s why we make good music together, if there’s bad energy with the people you make music and you can’t dick around then you’re not going to make anything funny.
LL: You’re about to set off on a sold-out tour. I know you have some crazy fans out there, what is the wildest tour story you can share?
bb: Nah, our fans are tame but they want to have fun. It’s not like a screamo show or nothing and if somebody gets knocked down they’re getting helped back up, the fans will make a circle around them. When people come to our shows they just want to have fun. When I do shows with Gravy, I know we have a lot of similarities and songs together. Even when we have randoms opening for us, the crowd is still super positive and supports them.
I think that’s where I draw the line from meme rappers because we’re garnering a real following of people who just want to have fun. We’ve built a new demographic of listeners that are the perfect crowd. Anybody can come have fun at our shows because everybody else there is having fun. I’ve been going to a lot of rap shows recently, going to Rolling Loud and the performances are just bad. So we try to make our shows as good and memorable as we can. if I was a kid in the crowd and I wanted to see these two white dudes on stage doing stupid shit, drinking milk on stage and throwing it into the crowd.
LL: Which crowds go the craziest Canadian, American, or Chinese?
bb: Well Chinese don’t go hard at all. They were just introduced to hip-hop music like 5-6 years ago so they don’t really understand how to mosh. They wave their arms and film with their phones a lot. I haven’t done any shows in Canada that are big big, except for this one in Edmonton that went crazy. America is obviously notorious, I’d say East Coast goes harder than West Coast because everybody on the West Coast comes to the shows faded and they don’t want to move. Europe goes the hardest, no doubt in my mind. I have no idea what they have going on over there.
LL: Is there any place in the world you’re dying to perform at?
bb: I’m trying to do Cape Town, South Africa. I want to do South America, my agent is trying to book me some spots down there. I want to do Dubai, realistically I want to do every country in the world.
LL: We spoke about your upbringing in Vancouver, are there any artists that you’re listening to?
bb: All the producers like Lentra, Juelz, Ekali even though he’s fully made it. Carly Rae Jepson, the girl! Angst, Yurms, 2HUNNIT, Rude Nala, and Cold Tvrkey.
LL: Can fans expect new music from you in the near future?
bb: I have a project rolling out soon and then I have Baby Gravy 2 coming at some point too. I have 7 projects like done and ready to go but that’s pretty much it for music.