ROUGH UK sat down with up and coming American rapper,Buggs, to talk about his new project amongst other things. Buggs has been on stage with the likes of Hip Hop heavy weights such as Talib Kweli and Hi Tek. He has also received recognition from Pharrel Williams and a host of other Hip Hop superstars.
Hailing straight out of Ohio, Buggs has been making waves in the underground scene in the States which has caught the attention of many in the industry. He has been on tour in Europe and has even collaborated with UK artists, however little is known about him over here in the UK. I gave Buggs a chance to introduce himself and his body of work.
“With my first mixtape I got a lot of national exposure, it was called “Hip Hop Supa Hero” with DJ Mick Boogie. Hes now known as MICK and is a Roc Nation DJ but is also from Ohio.’”
He added: “I then dropped mixtapes primarily until “Mutant Level 5” which featured Little Brother, Sa-Ra, Freeway, Londons SAS and more. The Lost Luggage mixtape and then Wrath of Zeus in 2013 both with DJ Clockwork got a lot of national attention as well. Now its time for the new upcoming project “Scattered Thoughts of an American Poet” releasing on December 10th” His latest project was released this month, Buggs gave us a quick synopsis about the project and what were some of his motivations behind the new album.
“Its literally just my scattered thoughts and bringing people up to speed on what I been on since my last project. Its also showcasing who I am as an artist and person to the new audience. I wanted to show my depth in music and give variety while staying true to who I am and I did that with this project.”
The album showcases his creative side as he blends spoken word with Hip Hop. Buggs’ creativity has also garnered him recognition from his home town of Cincinnati. The city awarded him the best Hip Hop act of 2014 a feat very few artists can boast of and goes to show the wide appeal Buggs has. The mid west rapper had this to say about the award.
“Its always a great thing to be recognized for your hard work and talent, especially as its the people of the city who voted for me and they felt it was deserved.” On his use of poetry in his work the Ohio native had this to say:
“Most rappers dont appreciate connecting with souls through words, they are mostly concerned with making a dance tune or pop tune that can produce money for them and their bosses at the label. Its not about connecting with the people or affecting people in a way to change the world. Most people in the rap realm treat this like a hustle, another quick lick to make some fast money, but not me. Music is a passion of mine. I would do this regardless, its my therapy, my everything!”
The production on some of the tracks is perfect as he makes use of some great soulful samples which help to set the mood; ‘Against me’ highlights this best. Unlike many Hip Hop artists it doesn’t seem like Buggs allows for the beat to take centre stage on the track as he actually has lyrical content. In a time where it seems the catchiest beats make or break a Hip Hop song I asked Buggs his opinion on whether or not he thinks there is a balance coming back to Hip Hop as more lyrical artists such as J Cole and Kendrick Lamar are gaining mainstream recognition. He said:
“I love this question, honestly I feel more needs to be done not only on the artist side of things, but the consumer plays a large roll in correcting the issue as well. If you let the record labels feed you bullshit they will keep giving it to you. The machine is only concerned about what is making dollar signs! “He added,
“I think personally the overall problem in rap music is that theres not enough balance on mainstream radio and tv. Its hard to hear the artist providing hip hop lyricism because the labels are trying to keep the underground music down. Its a constant battle since the rise of indies, they have been trying to make it even harder for indies to blow up as thats cutting the labels money out. Of course everything is a business at the end of the day.”
Ohio has always had a rich history of iconic rappers, from Bone Thugs n Harmony to more recent acts like Kid Cudi. However it doesnt seem to share the same level of success as its other Midwest neighbours such as Chi- town and Detroit. I posed this question to Buggs so he could give some insight into this anomaly.
“Ohio isnt a place with very many outlets to be successful. Most of the people…well scratch that….all of the people who were successful from Ohio had to leave to do so. I dont fault them for that. And if the OGs and others before me had felt a responsibility to showcase and shine light on Ohio, we would be successful as Chi-town or the D. Unfortunately we havent been as lucky in that aspect, but if I have the opportunity I will change that and show them all what they should have done. “
It is this need to be different, to be a trend setter, that really separates Buggs from a lot of up and coming artists. You get a sense of someone who is trying to change the rules of the game from the inside and doesn’t use the lack of radio play or label backing as a crutch. It was this energy I believe that appealed to mega stars such as Pharrel and Talib Kweli, the latter being one of the gate keepers of Hip Hop culture. Buggs speaks on the chance to work with a Hip Hop icon like Talib Kweli.
“Its amazing to work with Talib in any capacity. He is a legend and one of the greatest lyricist that hip hop has ever seen. To be co-signed by him and share the stage with him is a surreal feeling, its something epic. But we linked up as Donte from MOOD and I opened up for him, we already had a few mutual people between us, and I think it was just one of those things where I was making noise and people were telling him about me.“ He added:
“So he finally gave me a listen or two, saw a live show and then he reached out to me. He gave me a call and we linked up in Cincinnati at this lounge weve been rocking ever since. “
Not just content with having some of Hip Hop’s biggest stars wanting to work with him, Buggs has also ventured overseas to pursue his music and linked up with London’s very own SAS. While he was in the country he had time to experience our brand of Hip Hop and had this to say about it,
“I love the UK the scene. Its amazing and I feel the appreciation of lyricism in hip hop over there way more, even in your mainstream, thats the energy I get. I like a lot of different kinds of artists over there, but Ella Eyre and Sam Smith are two I would love to collaborate with!”
Scattered Thoughts of an American Poet is out now on iTunes and make sure to follow Buggs on twitter @BuggsThaRocka and Facebook BuggsThaRockaMusic.