[Original artwork by Jayson Musson]
When Heems — Das Racist’s former frontman and founder of Greedhead Music — introduced Queens MC Big Baby Ghandi to the rap game, fans and writers weren’t sure what to make of the Bengali rhymer. He had a high-pitched voice and a manic rap style, with subject matter that often delved into politics and social equality. One thing was for sure though — dude could spit. Over the course of two mostly homemade (“RECORDED IN MY CLOSET. ENGINEERED IN MY CLOSET. MIXED IN MY CLOSET.”) projects, Gandhi established himself as a deep thinker and dextrous rapper with true Queens sensibilities. With a building buzz, his future looked bright.
Then, a few days into 2013, Gandhi up and quit the game. In a now-deleted Tumblr post, he level-headedly explained, “hey guys im quitting rap. no more bbg music. decided to move on,” and announced that he was headed back to school to get his degree in hopes of becoming a pharmacist. When we caught up with him not too long ago (after releasing a mixtape of previously unreleased freestyles via his Bandcamp), he expanded a bit on his untimely retirement:
“Retiring from rap was a practical decision for me. I looked at how bankrupt the music industry was and the evaporation of social mobility and decided that it wasn’t the way to a better future. I’m trying to be a man, and a man is an adult, and an adult is responsible for themselves and the people they love. So many rappers have nothing else, but I have pharmacy school and that’s where I’m going to refocus my energy. I do take solace in the fact that I’ll be able to release all the material that I’ve recorded over the past year and a half. This includes this EP and a debut solo album I plan to put out later this year.”
So, in a continued rollout of previously recorded music, he and producer Yuri Beats have decided to premier their new five-track EP – America Eats Its Babies - with XXL. Reminiscing on the duo’s creative collaboration and artistic outlook, producer Yuri Beats had this to say:
“The first track we did together was ‘Madonna’s Kids.’ I sat in one room and worked on the beat while Gandhi went in the other room to write. We recorded and mixed it that day. I was immediately impressed with the way Gandhi was able to craft characters and have them interact. All of the tracks names on the EP are different characters; jazz players, movie characters, even porn stars, and the title provides some insight to the commonalities amongst these actors. They all struggle with identity and duality, which is a very American problem, the struggle to merge the double self into a better and truer self. All the individual pictures on this album kinda represent questions we would riff on in our sessions. Mainly, how do we balance the conventions of rap with need to be honest? How do we try to be artists and survive in America? How do we both, as financially struggling young artists, participate in a medium that often appears to emphasize financial success over artistic integrity? We didn’t come up with any great answers. We came up with this EP, then Gandhi quit rap. We hope you enjoy it.”
The (really good) EP is a perfect mix of laid-back, soulful and introspective tracks, and it’ll make you nostalgic for just a few months ago when Gandhi wasn’t yet retired. You can download it here, and stream it below.