We live in a world of increasing musical ambiguity. With artists like former freshmen Ty Dolla $ign and August Alsina blurring the lines between rap and R&B, a new face has emerged walking the line between the genres. Enter Marc E. Bassy, the 28-year-old Bay Area crooner who can switch flows at a moment's notice.
After spending five years in L.A. based pop band 2AM Club, Bassy broke out on his own in 2012, cultivating a massive SoundCloud following and fighting comparisons to other soulful white boys. Following guest appearances on The Red Ballroom Tour with Skizzy Mars, the singer dubbed by some as the "White Drake" just dropped his latest project, The East Hollywood EP. The 9-track offering is an introspective follow-up to his 2014 mixtape, Only The Poets and an exhibition of the singers "crisper, cleaner" sound.
"It's just supposed to give you a little glimpse of what East Hollywood is really like," he said."We like to experiment a lot and incorporate a lot of different things. We've got a lot of live instrumentation."
So if you're looking for a soulful vibe to act as the soundtrack for your summer kickbacks, get familiar with Marc E. Bassy. —Sidney Madden
Name: Marc Griffin
Hometown: Bay Area, Calif.
I grew up listening to: Tupac and Tracy Chapman. Seriously. I like freedom fighter music. I’ve always liked it since I was a little kid. That’s kind of the music that inspired me growing up. And also, Bay Area rappers were a big influence. E-40, Mac Dre, Starting Six. I always liked Mac Mall too when I was little. And then as I got older, other types of music influenced me. A lot of old school soul music. ‘70s soul music. And D’Angelo was a big influence.
I got into music [when] I was a freshman at Santa Cruz. And I was really having a hard time imagining myself going to college and being a student. So I dropped out and I was like “Fuck it, I don’t want to go. I want to start a rock band.” Yeah, so I just started singing and I moved to LA.
Most people don't know: This sounds weird nowadays, but I used to do poetry slams back when I was 13. Remember Def Poetry Jam? That type of thing? Yeah, so I did that.
That shit makes me feel uncomfortable now. When I see people do slam poetry it gives me like, “Oh my god, I’m so embarrassed for you.” It’s just something about it, it’s just so overly emotional it's kinda gross. But if you’re subtle about it, it can be really amazing. When I did it, I was probably really gross cuz I was 13, but there was this thing called the Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam. It was like nation wide and I got really far in it and that’s kinda when I started realizing how that was connected to hip-hop music. That’s sort of where it began. And then I would write little rap songs, and every time the hook part came up, that was always kinda my thing, to sing the hook. So it was a natural progression.
My style has been compared to: I mean, just because I’m white and shit and I sing sometimes people will be like, “Oh you sound like Justin Timberlake,” but if you really listen, there’s not really any real similarities, I don’t think, between me and the other white boys who are singing soul music. But people compare me to everybody. All the rappers that sing. Like PartyNextDoor, Drake. But any comparison is a compliment in my opinion. Unless it’s like they’re comparing me to George Bush or something. [Laughs]
Naw, I mean, it’s 2015. Everyone sings now. Every rapper sings too. But I classify myself...I don’t know, I’m both. I love to do both. And I don’t plan it out, like “Oh I’m going to do 16 bars here and then come in with the singing part.” It’s kinda whatever fits the song, how I can express myself the best. Singing it just impassioned to speech. It’s all the same. It's just however it comes out.
Standout record or moment to date: I have a song with Kehlani. It’s called "Lock It Up." It’s like my biggest song on my SoundCloud right now.
Because of how Kehlani’s career taken off, a lot of people check for me through that. That’s kind of the cool thing about the internet. Like, I didn’t even meet Skizzy [Mars], he just hit me and was like, “I like your music. Can you get onto something.”...and yeah, Kehlani just came into the studio one day and I was like, yeah, she’s raw, let's do a song and it just worked. And it was before she got signed and became kinda what she’s doing in the last year or so. But that’s just been cool to link up and work with new people and put music out and see how it spreads.
My goal in hip-hop is: My ultimate goal really in all seriousness is to put real substance into my music and it's really hard to get there, to like open the door to get people to listen to you and appreciate you. And you can’t be preachy and I don’t want to be preachy. I don’t want to tell people how to live their lives, but there’s so much shit going on in the world that people don’t pay attention to. No one writes about it in their music. And I love where music is at right now but there’s literally not one person I can look to besides Ty sometimes and Kendrick. But there’s like no one out there talking about what’s going on in the world in their music.
[Like] income inequality, police brutality. Like, our entire society is caving in on itself in front of our eyes and no one in youth culture has said shit about it or even noticed it. And that really gets to me actually. I look back to like, the Tupac, Tracy Chapman, freedom fighter music is what always inspired me so that’s kind of where I want to be at at some point.
I'm the next: Bob Marley.
Standout: "Lock It Up" by Marc E. Bassy featuring Kehlani
"Do You There" by Skizzy Mars featuring Marc E. Bassy
East Hollywood EP