#bodega bamz featured
One of the most talked about acts of this year’s CMJ week was the buzzing Bodega Bamz. With ties to the A$AP Mob & Flatbush Zombies, the 27-year-old emcee out of Spanish Harlem has been turning a lot of eyes and ears of late, becoming another upstart out of the Big Apple to keep your eyes on. Just a few weeks after the release of his latest mixtape Strictly For My P.A.P.I.Z, we caught up with the uptown rapper to find out the answer to the question a lot of industry insiders have been asking. Who is Bodega Bamz? — Neil Martinez-Belkin (@Neil_MB)
Who is Bodega Bamz?
I’m 27. Born and raised in Spanish Harlem. Since people started paying attention, they’ve been asking ‘Who is Bodega Bamz? Who is this Latin dude?’ That’s what people say and I love it. I love when they say who is this Latin dude. Because that’s who I am. I’m a Latin who happens to rap. Not a rapper who happens to be Latin. There’s a difference.
On early musical influences:
I grew up in a Christian household so we couldn’t listen to hip-hop in my house. Only thing we listened to was Michael Jackson and Christian music. When homie died, I shed a tear. I felt like my childhood died with him. When I was 13, 14 years old I started listening to rap heavy. The first rapper I was fucking with was 2Pac. “Dear Mama” was the first rap song I knew front to back and ever since then I was infatuated with Pac. My attitude was fuck the world. I’d listen to 2Pac before I’d fight people. He was a heavy influence. Then one day my cousin put me on to Big’s Life After Death, disc 2. That shit just changed my life. I fell in love with music. I couldn’t do anything else.
On high school rap battles
When I went to high school, battling was the thing to do. Battling was what made you popular. It was what got you the bitches. I wanted all the hoes back then. Everybody was into Jay-Z and Bleek then but no one really listened to Life After Death. So I would rap battle niggas spitting Big’s rhymes from Life After Death. Also, we was the only Spanish niggas listening to Slim Shady so I’d rap his rhymes and make believe it was me when I was battling niggas in high school. But then I started to take rapping seriously as I got better at it and people gave me compliments. Then like four or five years ago we built our own studio and the rest is history. But I’ve been rapping for like, no lie, 13 years.
When me and A$AP Ant did “Told Ya”. When we dropped the video in March, I didn’t think it would catch steam like that. But it caught a wave. The numbers started piling up and we knew it was our time. I wasn’t gonna be one of those niggas who didn’t know what I was gonna do when the limelight hit me. I wasn’t gonna hide. We knew exactly what we’d do and we did. We started hittin’ niggas with inspiring, motivational shit.
On the making of his latest mixtape, Strictly 4 My P.A.P.I.Z:
Right after “Told Y’all” I started working on my mixtape. Back in March. I had a mixtape right before that was strictly bars. On some ‘I’m the best rapper alive’ shit. That was my goal. To show niggas I was dead nice and would rap circles around anybody. By then when that video caught steam, I was like damn, this is the style people are fucking with. So I thought, let me hold off on this lyrical assassination tape and work on something people are fucking with. Through the process we created this Latin Trap sound, emphasizing on the congas and the horns. Everything that you would hear in a Spanish song, we put it into Rap records.
Who are the Tan Boys?
I’ll say it like this. You ever seen Scarface? Remember the dudes Sosa sent to kill Tony Montana? Those are the Tan Boys. Except you throw some construction Timbs on ‘em and instead of guns, you throw machetes on em. That’s the definition of the Tan Boys. What’s crazy, is they never make a movie about the connect, Papi. Papi’s my moniker and that’s the story we’re bringing. You always hear about the nigga on the corner, or the nigga who’s getting’ it. But you never hear about the dude frontin’ those bricks.
On the state of New York Rap:
The world, chico. And everything in it. Trying to push this mixtape as far as we can. Shooting videos, grinding. Just maximum exposure. I didn’t come in this motherfucker like a chicken with it’s head cut off, not knowing what I want to do. Everything we do is strategic. I’ma keep putting my foot on their nicks and force feed ‘em. I knew people would come around. So this isn’t surprising, but it’s humbling. Even when the haters come around and switch their shit up, it’s humbling.