Buddy Feels OutKast Helped Him Hone His Sound
Buddy has been awaiting this moment for nearly a decade. The Compton rapper, who was first discovered and signed by Pharrell Williams in 2009, set out on his own after dropping his debut Idle Time mixtape in 2014. He's since created his own waves via self-released projects Ocean & Montana and Magnolia last year.
Yet, finally, Buddy's full-length debut album has arrived. Harlan & Alondra is a dedication to the namesake cross streets that raised him, the block where he spent his wonder years. "I would go and play outside, go to school, come back," he says. "It’s just like the inspiration for my music."
That extends to Buddy's black pride (the A$AP Ferg-featured anthem "Black") and his own family, which appears on the cover in a photo shot right on Harlan Avenue in Compton. Buddy sat down with XXL to speak about recording his first full-length album, meeting OutKast and the music that inspired him growing up.
XXL: What was the process of making Harlan & Alondra?
Buddy: It was tight. I got to make it with my friends. It was super dope making it. I got a bunch of dope songs on there, a bunch of live instruments. I just went hard on it. It was a lot of fun. A bunch of weed, Henessy, tequila.
How was it different from creating your previous projects?
Yeah, just because I signed with RCA and they gave me a budget for the album to have studios. When I did the tape with Kaytranada, I was writing and rapping by myself with the engineer over beats. It was just me and him working together going back and forth. When I did the shit with Mike & Keys, we was always making a bunch of music, so it was a bunch of songs at that time and we just kind of picked five that made sense. With the album, it was more like you picked a group of people to come and record—Mike & Keys, Roofeeo, I got something with Scoop Deville on there, Jahaan Sweet, everybody just came through. It was like gumbo.
What do the cross streets in the album title represent to you?
That’s where I grew up. My parents’ house where I grew up. I would go and play outside, go to school, come back. It’s just like the inspiration for my music. The energy. The vibe. It was cool, playing basketball, skating, climbing trees, jumping off stuff. Regular childhood. Sleepovers, whatever.
"Black" is a standout from the album. What made you want to record that song?
Well, it was Black History Month. Jahaan Sweet played the beat and I was fucking around on them mic, like, “Black, black, black, black, black!” I was like, "That’s tight, that’s the hook." Then I wrote some verses. I really had to go and do my Googles for the second verse to research Black historians and Black history moments in time and just really bring some intel to the record. I just kept a lot of stuff in the back of my mind. It was just the vibe, like, "Damn, all this black shit."
You and A$AP Ferg say "black" exactly 240 times in that song.
Really? I should’ve said it more, damn. [Laughs] Growing up, I always hung out around a bunch of black people—went to a Black church, Black schools, had Black friends. I just think it’s really important. I thought it would sound tight.
What made you feature Ferg on the record?
We was looking for another Black nigga to rap on it.
I was trying to get beats from Pharrell for the album and he was working with A$AP Ferg at the same time. Pharrell went home, then me and A$AP Ferg was hanging out. I played him the record and he rapped on it that night. He’s tight.
"Trouble on Central," is reminiscent of Skee-Lo's classic 1995 song “I Wish.” Was your mind in that vibe when you did that record?
SiR from TDE actually helped me write that hook. He came through, heard the vibe and then he came up with the “I Wish” part. So yeah, he was probably channelling some Skee-Lo or something. I don’t know. That nigga tight.
On "Hey Up There," you reference OutKast. How did they influence you while you were coming up?
Super-relatable, bars tight, rap cadences, beat selections, you know? Really helped me with my swag. Trying to be cool, rapping and trying to do stuff like them. Sorry, Ms. Jackson and all of that. I’m for real.
That’s a good interpolation. You also interpolate OutKast's "Liberation" for your own song “Young.”
That’s a good song. I was so high when I made that song. We was on acid and the beat sounded so tight I was just singing “Liberation” before I wrote any other part of the song. And I was just like, "I’ma leave that in there, that shit sounds good." OutKast cleared it and I said, "Cool, thanks."
They probably don't clear a lot of requests.
They fuck with me though!
Have you had a chance to meet André 3000 or Big Boi?
Yeah, them is the homies. I met André through Pharrell. They was working and I pulled up and we just started hanging out, talking about stuff. And then I met Big Boi in Atlanta, he wanted to make a song with me. I pulled up and rapped on some shit and we was smoking and chillin’.
You mentioned that there was a lot of weed, Henny and other drugs involved while making this album...
When you’re in different states of mind, do you notice that each one affects you and your creativity in different ways?
Yup. Sometimes I be sober. It’s just cool to have options, because you’ll be nodding, vibe, then have a little drink, get back in the vibes, smoke a little blunt, get back in the vibes. It’s more so like maintaining the vibrations because you’ll be in the studio for hours, days on in. Sometimes you gotta switch it up. I ate a bunch of shrooms during the album.
Were there any songs that you made while you were on shrooms?
I can’t really remember. Probably “Trippin.”
What's your creative process? You’re such a versatile artist—you can sing, rap, make songs with different vibes and styles.
I just get on the mic and say whatever. I be mumbling, not really saying words but just kind of feeling out how I want to approach the beat. I just rap how it would sound rather than actual words and then go back and listen to it, pick the parts that I think sound the tightest and stencil the words in. Pick a topic and try to make it make sense and flesh it out into a full record.
Is it always the beat first or do you sometimes have the words or idea first?
It varies. It changes from time to time.
What is your favorite song on the album?
I like the song on the deluxe version with my mom and my nephew. It’s called “It’s Love.” It’s so good. My nephew is on it. We let him play on the mic and pick the part that makes sense. It sounded tight.
What’s next for you?
I’m finishing up this tour with A$AP Ferg, Lollapalooza in August, lining up a bunch more shows, promoting the album, shooting a bunch of videos and trying to take it as far as we can go.
See New Music Releases for July 2018