It’s been a huge year for Dreamville Record’s own Bas. After releasing his debut LP Last Winter and being a part of Dreamville’s Revenge of the Dreamers mixtape, he went on tour for quite some time, spreading his music to the masses alongside J. Cole for the fifth anniversary of The Warm Up. Bas is currently on tour with Ab-Soul and made a stop here in Urbana at The Canopy Club in October. We got the opportunity to speak with Bas about the making of Last Winter, playing FIFA with Drake, his trip to Ferguson, Missouri, and future plans.
UPC: You hail from Jamaica, Queens, but on your track “Charles De Gaulle to JFK,” you let the listeners know that you are actually from France. How old were you when you first came to the States and why did your family make the move?
Bas: Yeah, my father worked his whole career for the United Nations. We were in Paris up until I was 8. And my oldest brother was about to start college and my father had the opportunity to transfer to New York and figured since his eldest son was starting school, and with employment opportunities, decided we should move to New York.
UPC: Being J. Cole’s first artist signed to Dreamville Records, do you feel like that there is any pressure coming being the first one?
Bas: Nah, honestly because we are such a tight knit group and family, and we are so honest with each other, there’s never really nothing gone unsaid. You know on top of that, Cole is only 5 years removed from signing his first record deal; it’s easy for him to put himself in my shoes. He also provides great advice and insight and has been really good at doing it. You know, he’s not breathing down my neck and saying, “Yo, where’s that single?” He just wants me to make good music and projects. That’s his theme for Dreamville. Make good music and then go on the road. Cole built this amazing fan base because he gave everyone an hour of music for people to sync to. Thankfully I am in a blessed situation that has a good vision for hip-hop.
UPC: When you first got signed, was Last Winter supposed to be a mixtape or did they want you to push that as your first album?
Bas: It was just one of those things where it was the next logical thing to do for my career. I had it ready to go before I knew we were doing the deal. Then I went in and played it for Interscope and they said ideally, we want this to be your first LP under the contract. They wanted to get me out on the road and start to market me. I haven’t released new music since “Quarter Water Raised Me,” and had been on tour with Cole for about 8 months and I need to release some new music. They cleared the samples for me, which was a blessing, and then put it out on iTunes, which you know, added a different viability to my career. You know, I got an album being sold in stores now, we charted on Billboard. It was the next logical step to grow my profile as an artist.
UPC: One of the big moves for your career was having the feature on “New York Times.” It had to of been huge for you being on a track with 50 Cent, a fellow Queens native.
Bas: That was incredible for me. 50 is a local legend for us and that just blew my mind. That was really [the] night before the album was due and I went in and did that verse. Originally, Cole wanted to get Nas on it and that would’ve been crazy. But Nas and 50 got some kind of unresolved beef and Nas wouldn’t do it. I remember being at home and Cole called me and was like, ‘Yo, I gotta turn in this album tomorrow. If you can get to the studio right now, you can be on “New York Times.’” I hung up and made my way there.
UPC: Speaking of “New York Times,” you drop a line about eating steaks with Cole and playing FIFA with Drake. Now I gotta ask, can Drake play FIFA or what?
Bas: He’s alright—he’s not the worst. I beat him, but he’s not the worst.
UPC: Who’s your go-to squad?
Bas: Honestly, I don’t really got one. We play 3 team randoms. I like playing with the random teams. We do 3 random countries and then we do 3 random clubs from the country. My last game I played with some Saudi Arabian club.
UPC: I really liked what you, Cole and your camp did by making that trip to Ferguson, Missouri. We obviously can’t really fully understand what’s going on there since we are only exposed to what the media is showing us. How was it being there with the people of Ferguson at a time like this?
Bas: It’s completely opposite of what the TV is showing everyone. It’s crazy that the unity, the love, it honestly… because I have been to a music festival, it seriously felt almost like a music festival to me. You know how you go and people just want to listen to music and enjoy each other’s company. There was a lot of love there and then there was dealing with bullshit from the police. First of all, the police were the aggressors. People were peacefully marching and then the police kept coming up to people and kept saying, “Wait until tonight, wait until tonight.” Saying crazy shit like that and it’s just like, why are you such a dick? There is no reason for these guys to be aggressive to these people who are peacefully marching. How often do you see people coming together like that? Then obviously the media shows up and sensualizes shit. Only showing people what happens at night when things become unruly. The whole day, they don’t put any onus on showing people that groups of people can come together peacefully and try to make change in this country because they have their own agendas they want to further. But that was the most upsetting part. Being out there every day and getting back to the hotel, and turning on the news and being like why are they just blatantly lying? It’s really disheartening, man. It tells you a lot about how the people in control of our media and how they want to box us in. How they want to do us dirty. If the media shows you a fucked situation, no one is going to want to come or support it. If they show you thousands of people marching peacefully, handing each other water, giving each other roses, and telling stories, you know? People, who might be at each other’s throats any other day, were showing love and there were some real dudes out on the streets with us. It was all love and they don’t show that.
UPC: After a big year of dropping Last Winter and being on this tour with Ab-Soul, what’s next for you and Dreamville?
Bas: I’m featured on Cozz’s new EP, Cozz N Effect, which is Dreamville Records’ newest signee out of L.A., who is a really talented kid. I’m glad he’s part of the team. Omen is dropping Elephant Eyes and I got a verse on that. And then Cole is working on his album. We have had such a good year for Dreamville. We are keeping this Dreamville thing going and making waves. I want to see my brothers prosper. I’ve had such a blessed year and I want that for everybody. You know I’m always working on music and I’ll be back next year. But this year I’m going to ride out these Dreamville features and help my brothers out. We’ll keep Voltronin’ this shit.