If your favorite rapper tweets about shooting a music video in Miami, you should probably stop what you’re doing and head over there. That’s what hundreds of fans, groupies, and clout chasers did as soon as New York rapper Bas announced this past summer that he was filming a video in the 305.
“MIAMI. COME HEAR MY ALBUM AND MAKE A CAMEO IN MY VIDEO,” he tweeted in all caps. “143 NW 23 ST. WEAR SOME COLORFUL MIAMI MILK OR Dreamville [or] The Fiends MILK. LONG AS ITS MILKY [sic].” Bas fans already knew what to expect: something “milky.” And that “milky” video, shot in Little Haiti, was for the song “Tribe” featuring J.Cole, the latest single from Bas’ most recent album, Milky Way.
Bas’ discography is “milky,” a word he coined to describe his smooth-flowing sound. His lyrical put playful wordplay reveals a well-practiced writer but also shows he has a lot of fun in the studio. He calls his music worldly and beautiful. “I don’t mean ‘beautiful’ to sound cocky, but beautiful instrumental-wise,” Bas tells New Times by phone. “All of the producers I work with are true musicians. It’s not always the hardest beat, but it’s definitely always a vibe.”
But hard beats are hot right now. Chart-topping singles are composed of weird synthetic vibrations that only potheads love, and Bas knows it’s not the lane in which he works. “Not making that kind of music does put me at a disadvantage, but I [take] pride in staying true to myself,” he says. “We incorporated that sound into Milky Way. It’s there. But not sticking to yourself compromises your art, and I always push the envelope with my art.”
The Paris-born, Queens-raised rapper born Abbas Hamad has pushed the envelope with his art since his debut mixtape, 2011’s Quarter Water Raised Me Vol. 1, was released. Things began to heat up for the Sudanese-American artist when Vol. 2 dropped in 2013. Bas was then featured on J. Cole’s “New York Times” single, which sparked a business relationship that later opened doors for his signing in 2014 to Cole’s coveted label, Dreamville. From there, the unrestricted creative juices began to flow, allowing Bas’ milky sound to take shape. “I’ve been in the industry for a while, and I’ve seen the restrictions it has on artists,” he says. “To me, there’s nothing more important than creative freedom. Cole never loses sight of the vision, and it’s a blessing. It’s freedom to keep pushing.”
Pushing boundaries allows Bas to remain visible in a rapidly growing rap scene that’s often criticized for being oversaturated with mumble rap and distasteful punch lines. But If you think the scene is terrible, you’re just listening to the wrong rap. “The beauty of rap or hip-hop as a whole is that it’s one of the biggest genres in the world, and there’s so much space to do whatever you want,” Bas says. “If you’re being original and you’re dedicating yourself to something, people will find you.”
Listeners always find their way to good music, and Bas is always ready to deliver music reflecting real life. “Whether it’s love or what I’m going through in life, my content is real,” he says. “You get my thoughts and feelings, and people relate to that. It’s really me, and my fan base has been rocking with me for a while, so they know me.” True Bas lovers also know what to expect for his Miami stop on his Milky Way tour. According to him, it’s good energy and good vibes. “Oh,” he says, “and it will be milky as always.”