For those in the know of NY rap, it feels like Bodega Bamz is the next to come up big. Dude has been cultivating a steadily growing buzz with his Tanboys movement and grimy street raps that feel like they were cultivated from a police surveillance camera mounted outside your nearest corner store. Before Strictly For My P.A.P.I.Z drops we took a minute to sit down with Bodega Bamz to see what’s good
Behold The Destroyer: What’s the deal with your crew Tanboys?
Bodega Bamz: Tanboys is a movement that my brother Ohla created. It’s not a rap group, it’s just a movement of Latinos who wanna uplift our culture in entertainment and music. My brother Ohla built it from the ground up about two and a half years ago. It just so happens I’m the voice of Tanboys, but the Tanboys is bigger than Bodega Bamz. We look at ourselves as the Fania All-Stars of rap. Fania was a Salsa label in the seventies, they had a lot of greats in it, and that’s how we look at ourselves.
Going off of uplifting Latino culture through rap, looking back through recent history you don’t see a lot of Hispanic rap crews. Terror Squad was big for a minute and you could possibly count The Diplomats since most of those dudes have Hispanic heritage, but for the most part there’s not that many Latino rap crews. Why do you think that is?
Bodega: Honestly man, I really don’t know yo. It’s unfortunate, at least we had Terror Squad at least we had Cypress Hill. I’m sure there’s a bunch, but to really hit? i don’t know why we didn’t have more mainstream movements that were popping that were Latino. But, that’s why I work hard with the Tanboys to break through that barrier. If there weren’t no Latino groups before, I’mma make sure there’s more now after this Tanboys shit.
There’s a close connection between Tanboys and the A$AP crew, you had a guest appearance on the A$AP Mob Tape, you’ve done songs with A$AP Ant. How’d you guys get to working together?
Bodega: Those are the homies man. Yams is a very important friend. him and Ohla, in the beginning stages of the whole Tanboys shit, Yams gave us a lot of advice. he’s a very intelligent dude. Rocky is the homey, he’s a good guy. they good kids, I’m appreciative to know them dudes. Fuck the rap shit, they my homeys. Real talk.
Did you get introduced to them from both of y’all being from Harlem or through rap shit?
Bodega: I knew of them through Harlem, but I met them all recently. I knew of Yams when he was just Stevie. I didn’t formally meet him til last year. With Rocky, it’s crazy because before the whole A$AP shit took off my brother Ohla was supposed to shoot “Peso” and “Purple Swag”, but he turned it down. So, it was just a matter of time for us to connect. We all know the same people and hang out with the same people. I knew Ant before he was A$AP when he was fucking with his clothing brand. I knew who Ferg was because he used to make chains in the hood, and I knew Ferg’s pops—rest in peace. So knew these niggas but we never really crossed paths til the rap shit started getting crazy.
With A$AP, Flatbush Zombies, Action Bronson, eXquire it feels like New York is coming back, even though y’all don’t sound alike and it’s not a New York sound. Why do you think NY rappers are coming up now?
Bodega: It’s because what you said, we don’t sound alike. And on top of that, the niggas you mentioned, niggas are all cool. We all fuck with each other one way or another. Niggas is humble. The new breed of NY artists what’s important is niggas respect what everybody is doing. I fuck with the homey eXquire, I fuck with Action. Flatbush Zombies are my guys. Everybody knows what the fucking goal is, the goal is to bring back the glory to New york. We don’t have to be with each other every day, but when we get together it’s monumental. The fact that we don’t sound alike helps us too, our styles vary, different crews, different movements. It hasn’t been like that in New York in a very very long time. The fact that everyone is on the same page, it’s important because we are New York. All eyes are gonna be on New York regardless of where we at.
In the age of Youtube, new artists have one video that encapsulates their image. The video you show to your man when you’re trying to put him on to someone new. Rocky had “Peso”, Action Bronson had “Shiraz”, back in the day even Wu had “Mystery of Chessboxin”. What’s the Bodega Bamz video heads need to see first and foremost?
Bodega: You gotta show ‘em “My Name Is”. It just showed everybody that we them new Latinos, we them new Spanish kids on the block and we aint fucking around. It introduced everyone to what my name is “Papi”. The best thing about it is, I don’t want one video to define video to define me. I want the whole body of work to work together for niggas to get. Imma continue putting out music videos that’s gonna push the fucking envelope. I’m tired of seeing videos of niggas standing around in the hood and niggas in the street. That shit is corny. If you see ASAP videos, you see Tanboys videos, you see Flatbush videos, everybody else gotta step they shit up. Look at our visuals, niggas is not fucking with us. We not standing around in front of a camera rapping. Step y’all niggas shit up. We pushing the envelope on everything. I’m trying to inspire the masses. Fuck looking cool, I’m looking regular doing what I do. You will never see me with no whack shit, ever.
Going off of that the video for “P.A.P.I” looks different than anything else you’ve done. It feels baroque and very cinematic with all the food and the low lighting. What was the concept behind that?
Bodega: Shoutout to Shoni, he shot that video. He shot “Bath Salts” and “My Name Is” too. He’s a great friend of mine, great director. The treatment em and Ohla came up with was a last supper feel. I don’t even dress up in Versace, that’s not my flow like that. That was a one time thing. I might not never wear Versace again, cause niggas done killed it. But, we wanted the last supper feel. Show you that we live good, we eat good, we smell good, we drink good. We’re gonna celebrate for today, because the storm is coming. It’s the calm right now. But the storm is coming, that wave. When that storm comes it’s all hell. I had Yams in there, Ferg in there, Cody B. Ware, Prince Samo from World’s Fair and all my other Tanboys. All the de facto leaders of the new new New York. One way or another you gonna be hearing all these kids’ names.
With the cinematic feel of “P.A.P.I” I’d imagine that you’re a movie head, what’s your favorite movie?
Bodega: We gotta go by genre, my motherfucking favorite comedy of all time is Anchorman, my favorite horror movie of all time is Halloween, it all varies. But the movie that trumps ‘em all is Godfather. That’s the motherfucking bible to me.
I heard that back in the day you used to do a lil drama and acting?
Bodega: I used to go to church and in the back of my bible I had a list of things I wanted to be when I grew up and this was when I was an adolescent. It said was that I wanted to be an evangelist, a preacher, a comedian. But at the time I was doing the drama, I was acting. I always knew I wanted to be an entertainer even before the music. Before I picked up a pen to write raps, I was in dramas in my school. I loved that shit, I loved putting on a show. I loved showing my talent. It just so happened when I went to high school I saw kids rapping and that shit looked cool. But before that I was writing poetry and it translated into raps. It took me years to perfect it. I didn’t think it would be rap that was gonna take me somewhere. I always knew it was gonna be something. I thought it was gonna be acting. You know crazy shit, I tried out to be on the show Reading Rainbow.
Werd? With Levar Burton?
Bodega: I don’t know if you remember that show, but real talk my mom took me b, to read for them niggas. Reading Rainbow, I was like eight years old. I always wanted to be an actor, I’m still gonna be an actor. I’m not gonna be one of them niggas that’s gonna be rapping for ten years my nigga. That’s not my goal. My goal is to make timeless fucking music, make as much music as possible b, make sure my niggas is on and everybody is good—and I’m splitting my nigga. Let me do what I gotta do and open up doors. That’s why this Tanboys shit is important. We not just trying to uplift ourselves as rappers, we wanna see more actors and actresses. More Latino comedians and A&Rs, and journalists. That’s why all this Tanboys shit is bigger than Bodega Bamz. Y’all niggas gonna know me for more than just rap.
What should we be expecting from Strictly For My P.A.PI.Z?
Bodega: The sound of Latin Trap man. That’s the genre man—a whole new genre. Just real timeless music. No matter what year you gonna listen to that shit. That is the beginning of the whole Tanboys shit, when that tape drops. We been building shit up, all the eyes been on us, but this is when shit really gets crazy. This is when people really start noticing, hearing what kind of artist I really am. I get a lot of haters. I see a lot of tweets with people saying i got elementary school raps and blahze blahze. Cool, y’all gonna see. Y’all gonna see I can rap circles around a lot of niggas and chew a lot of niggas heads off. I take being lyrical very seriously, I didn’t roll up out of bed and decide to be a rapper. I really been rapping for years, this ain’t no ten day contract. I been in that gym shooting, real talk. So when Strictly For My P.A.P.I.Z drops—P.A.P.I stands for “proud and powerful individuals”—you gonna see how proud we are and how powerful the music is. It’s gonna be self explanatory.
Strictly For My P.A.P.I.Z drops October 17th.- raythedestroyer