In August this year I passed through Los Angeles briefly and managed to use some of my spare time to sit down with Busdriver, a mainstay of the L.A MC underground and someone whose input for the book I felt was essential.
While the focus of the book is on the producers and the music, to simply dismiss MCs entirely would be a grave mistake and innacuracy. Throughout the 20 year or so history I’m covering there have been a handful of MCs who have been just as catalytic as the producers in moving things forward and exploring the potentials for hip hop production. In many ways, these MCs are partly responsible for pre-empting the move back from producer-only, instrumental beats towards a more traditional rap formula. See Flying Lotus’ Captain Murphy incarnation, the Earl Sweatshirt album, Samiyam’s work with Alchemist and so on.
As for Busdriver, his roots in the Good Life Cafe and Project Blowed workshops place him as a link between L.A’s past and its present, and what’s more he’s also one of the city’s best known experimentalists, working with the likes of Daddy Kev, D-Styles, Daedelus, Nobody and more at times when they were still relatively unknown outside of underground circles. In many ways Busdriver is the vocal link between L.A’s electronic past and present.
I spent a couple of hours with Busdriver in a cafe in Highland Park during which time we discussed his extensive career, and also looked back at all his albums.
The full interview is here, covering rap, race and his latest album as well as discussions on the lifecycles of Los Angeles’ underground scenes. There is also a second part where Busdriver remembered stories and anecdotes from each of his albums including some particularly relevant bits about DJ Nobody, Daedelus and Nosaj Thing.
Excuse me, but I didn’t really see any differences. There was an emphasis on different proceeds… different things were brought into focus like maybe you have a rapper, or a singer, and then… in L.A. at the time when Daedelus and I met, when I fell into his studio and started working with him, I got invited into other people’s worlds like Dnte,l and I started to understand that when rapping on a 65 bpm beat you literally are doing just that, the beat can be anything [laughs] And a bass signature is important in multiple musics, not just rap.
The reason why rap music is so great to me, why I feel it gives me an advantage, is because rap music is about the complete…it’s about being able to synthesise what’s around you. It’s kinda rooted in the lower tier of the socio-economical ladder in being able to forge and make do with little, with not much that you have. It’s born out of disadvantage, so it’s all inclusive. Taking that ethic with me into the early ’00s and being introduced to all these scenes, it opened me up and I was like, “Why doesn’t everyone do this?”