Pressure makes diamonds, but Bodega Bamz will settle for his most holistically potent project yet. For the talented Spanish Harlem MC, the pressure comes from the threat of a self-imposed early retirement.

“If I don’t achieve what I want and the outcome is not what I want, I’m not gon' rap no more. That’s my mind-state,” Bamz tells XXL. “So that’s why at the beginning of the year I put ‘This my last year rapping. The point is, it’s gonna do everything I say it does. I already know it’s gonna reach everything, but that’s my mind-state. It’s almost like, when you playing basketball, I gotta win a championship this year. You don’t wanna think it’s the inevitable, like I’m gonna quit, but I gotta win a championship this year. So I’m gonna do everything I can better than I did last year.

"So it’s gonna be a progression, I’m gonna go harder," he continues. "Now obviously, you wanna psyche yourself out too, ’cause that’s how I work. I wanna have that choice like, What if I just fucking stop rapping because I’m not getting what I want out of this shit. I feel like that puts pressure on me and I like to build around pressure.”

Bamz has been building since before the release of his trap-influenced mixtape, Strictly 4 My P.A.P.I.Z., four years ago. With his relatable street lyrics and proclivity for rapping on ominous-sounding instrumentals, the “Under Pressure” rapper has become known as one of New York’s fiercest and most dynamic MCs, but in 2016, he wants to become known as more of a ladies man in his music. This is just one of the many things we learned about Bamz’s upcoming project, which doesn’t have a release date yet.

Check out what Bamz has to tell XXL about his newest project below.

XXL: What’s the difference between the songs you’ve been putting out now and the ones you put out before?

Well, with this shit I wanna be more consistent. I feel like I’m always consistent but I wanna be more consistent and shit. That’s the reason I’ve been putting out more music than usual. As far as like, sound go, I just feel like it’s always going to be better than where it was in the past. It’s always going to sound better, the choosing the production’s going to get better, it’s going to get more advanced.

Like I was saying this shit earlier, like it’s hard to say like what kind of sound it is, or what is different. I feel like that’s the perspective of a fan or a listener to say. Like I should ask you, “What difference do you see between my shit now and my shit then?” I would just hope that I continue to progress, continue to get better.

What’s the mentality you have while making your upcoming project?

The mentality is … just go hard or go home. It would be easier if I give away the title, but I don’t wanna give away the title because I wanna preserve that. But if I was to give you the title it would be easier for me to explain it—what was the mentality going behind it.

Can you explain the sound of your new project?

I like the fact that I’m very versatile. And I feel like I used to say that a lot but i never used to show that a lot. So I would tell people in interviews “Yeah, man, I’m versatile, I can do this, I can do that,” but I never really showcased that. So I feel like this shit is going to be more versatile than any of my projects. Like I released a fucking record on Valentine’s Day, and I’m singing. And I like it, I think I was singing pretty good. I’m not trying to hit no high notes like Adele and all them, but—for what it’s worth—I’m singing.

So I feel like, and even my art direction is different, so I just feel like, we’re just doing a lot. Basically, we just getting out of our pocket ’cause I’ve already established myself as, alright, it was some Latino shit. Bamz adds the whole trap shit into it. Alright, Bamz is the dude that got played on the radio with this kind of record. OK, Bamz can spit. So I feel like now we’re just doing different shit. Like I said, more harmonizing and more singing and more appealing to the women too. ’Cause I’m a very handsome man, you know that. But I feel like because of my music they cant get into me.

You know what’s crazy? I got a whole bunch of woman fans. I had a woman just see me the other day and she put this tattoo on her neck, on a cross. So but I feel like my music, I feel like they like me, and that’s why they’re fans of me. And because they like some of my songs. But I want the women to like my music too. Not only me, I want you to like my music, so what I have to do? I have to cater to more, not be on some soft shit, but, be on some like, DMX shit, you know what I’m saying? DMX will cater to the women his own way and they love that shit. So that’s basically what we do.

So it’s different angles we’re hitting this time. More woman shit. Still emotional, ’cause I’m an emotional motherfucker. Still pain. Yeah, people going to fuck with it man. The way I’ve got it laid out, the way I’ve got it planned and the title. The title … it’s very vulnerable. This new project is very vulnerable. It’s probably going to be my most vulnerable.

Who’s produced tracks for your new project?

I got some shit with Hudson Mohawke. Hudson, that’s the homie. We actually put together a mixtape. We going to drop a mixtape me and Hudson Mohawke. He sent me a shitload of beats, and me and Ohla [his brother] recorded like seven. So that’s stashed away. So, yeah, got some shit with Hudson Mohawke. We have a record called “Hold Up.” It’s never been released. It’s about a motherfucker getting deaded at the front door ’cause we’re not a woman. We just want our bottles type shit.

I’m trying to give you names that you know. I got a dude named—I don’t know if you heard of him—his name is A.Chal. He did some shit for Rocky recently. He’s a fire producer. Other than that, we got producers that I work with on a personal level that I see. ’Cause I like to sit with motherfuckers. I like to sit with motherfuckers, I like to tell motherfuckers what I like to hear. That’s how I like to work.

I don’t like to do the whole Gmail shit. With Hudson Mohawke, he lives all the way in Europe, you know the time difference—it’s all different. But when he came out here, he was on tour—not this tour that just passed, it was the one before. He was in Webster Hall and he brung me out and shit like that, so that’s the homie, man. Them records is fire we got too. P on the Boards. Youth Is Dead, Iffy. We have an amazing record. Me and him. It’s called “Mind You Business.”

What makes it so amazing?

It’s really out of my element. You’re hearing me in a different light. One word I come up with for this shit, it’s just vulnerable, yo. It’s real vulnerable. I feel like this gonna be my most vulnerable project. I feel like that’s why it’s gonna be—I think people going to appreciate it more than anything I have.

Describe the mood of your new project.

It’s a few moods, it’s not just one. It’s a emotional celebration type shit, you know what I’m saying? It’s a roller coaster. You know, you’re happy going up, and then you go down and you’re like, “Oh shit!” It’s that kind of mood. It’s not one frequency. So I might take you here, then I’ll take you back down here. I literally got a song that I’m singing throughout the whole song.

And I sound pretty damn good. I’m not trying to compete with nobody, you know what I’m saying, but for me—how I rap and how I came like—I sound good. It’s just very vulnerable. It’s definitely a good piece of art and I think people, I think they gonna appreciate that shit because … it’s different, you know what I mean? I’m not saying it’s different entirely, I’m not saying for me, what I’ve done in the past, it’s different.

Are you dropping your newest project on Duck Down Records?

It’s going to be free. Because I don’t want to hear nobody say they don’t got it because they don’t got $10.99. I need everybody to hear this motherfucker. Everybody to hear that shit. I already did the album shit last year and it did good for what it is, but I still get the, “Yo Bamz man, we like your debut better. We like the debut 2012 Strictly For My P.A.P.I.Z. that came out that everybody know you for."

And one of the reasons why is because it’s free. So if it’s free—unfortunately, even for fans like—a fan might not have money to pay for it. So what they gon’ really hear is what you gon’ release on the video, on SoundCloud. Doesn’t necessarily mean that when they see “Buy” they like, “I ain’t fucking with Bamz,” some niggas don’t got money. I feel like the more you give to fans the more you get out of it.

The whole experience with the album shit was amazing, ’cause I never experienced that shit and like I was explaining to Roger, I’m a kid from the hood, so having a disc in stores and all that, that’s fire—that’s an accomplishment, know what I’m saying? A lot of people can’t say that. And it was successful for what it was for me, an independent artist. You know what I mean, I don't have no major cosigns, we do everything on our own. But I wanna bring it back to that essence man, just the free shit. You know what I’m saying like … I think people appreciate that shit more, you know what I mean? People appreciate that shit. Duck Down’s gon’ be involved, but it’s not going to be distributed. It’s not going to be through stores. I might have the option of it’s free but you can buy. I might. I’m still mulling it. But other than that, it’s gonna be a free download. But I’m gonna treat that motherfucker like it’s an album.

What’s 2016 looking like for Bodega Bamz?

In one hand it’s the world, and the other hand, it’s retirement. I want the world, I want everything that I didn’t achieve last year on a bigger scale, everything better. On the other hand, I'ma stop; just gonna fall back. And don’t look at retirement as like, I got all these trophies … because I obviously like—in a broader scale—I really haven’t achieved anything, you know what I’m saying? I’m not a Grammy Award winner, I don’t have millions of records. Retirement in a sense that, don’t wanna do this shit no more. I don’t want to say quit, ’cause I don’t look at it as a quitter, so I say retire.

What does Bodega Bamz do after he retires from rap?

Be a superintendent like my dad, you know what I’m saying? Electricity paid for, rent free, phone bill paid for, free apartment, do whatever the fuck you want, work when you want, get tips on Christmas. Super life is amazing, word up.

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