It's finally starting to seem like winter outside, and BdotCroc is joining a number of other local rap acts this Wednesday to ring the season in right.
Gimme Noise talked with the Northside rapper about the Pre-Winter Classic Festival coming to Cause and her latest project Hear Forever.
Gimme Noise: You came up freestyling and battling originally. How did you make the transition into writing music?
BdotCroc: Freestyling was always so fun, and it was right then and there. We never got to pre-meditate any of our freestyles, we had to rap right there on the spot. When I was a kid, that was fun to me, like playing a game. You had to be quick, and eventually it became competition because I started battling people. Being a girl, guys always wanted to battle me. Freestyling and battling is just way more natural to me. I started to do songs or concepts, but battling is all about punchlines and creativity, so I had to learn how to be less [concerned with] every line hitting so hard, more getting out what I want to say. Writing is a more creative process to me, to sit down and construct and build. It's a process, that's the only difference. I just started writing when I got older because that's when I could take it more serious. It's almost like playing basketball outside or playing basketball for a team.
B: In Between Crowds was really just me putting together a project of music finally and putting it out there. I didn't know what my crowd was, because it was my first one. Like I was in between crowds, because I didn't fit with any particular group of people, I just made music that I liked and whoever chose to like it drifted towards it. Hear Forever was definitely more of a, I wouldn't say "serious" approach, but it was definitely more planned out, everything about it. Me and my executive producer/engineer/producer Jimmy Easy, we really wanted to take complete creative control over it. Instead of just picking beats and rapping on different people's beats, we wanted the album to have concept and be sonically sound. The first two songs done for were "Hear Forever" and "Forever Hear" [the intro and outro]. It was like having the cover to a book that's not written yet. We had to fill up every chapter. Everything just started to come together. A lot of the album got done a month or so before the album dropped.
GN: You've got a tribute to Fly Henderson, a rapper from Minneapolis who recently passed away. What was it like to write "Your Song"?
B: It's crazy how that song got put together because on the second verse I talk about Fly, and in the first verse I talk about my first encounter with death, which was in high school, losing friends in high school to gang violence, or whatever the case may be. To lose somebody like Fly was the first time I actually had to deal with the death, I couldn't just avoid it. That was a hard verse to write and a hard verse to record. In the booth, I almost broke down. I just wanted to make sure I did it the right way. I spent a lot of time with Fly in the studio. This is a person that I've spent a lot of time perfecting my craft with. The beat, made by Division 1, he actually made that beat for Fly, it was supposed to be Fly's song.
I don't know if I'll ever be able to perform that. It's pretty hard to even listen to it sometimes. It's one of my favorite songs, but definitely emotional, I feel a lot of attachment to that. It's still hard for people in my crew to listen to the song because it hits so far home. Once you put your voice on a track, people can listen to it for however long they want to. Fly Henderson was an artist that was part of the camp I work with tightly, and I just realized through that tribulation that I could still hear him. No matter how much it hurt, no matter how I'd never be able to look at him or see him, I could listen to his music forever.
GN: You've been playing a lot of shows around town lately, the biggest being the Soundset festival. What was that like?
B: Soundset was amazing. To be on that stage itself is amazing. It was cool, diverse crowd. I feel like it puts you on a pedestal as far as being able to be on a high stage. You don't know who's paying attention, who's listening, because it's outside. Even though there might have been 100 people by the stage, I had people tweeting me or telling me they heard me from the bleachers while watching the other stage. Rhymesayers has been really embracing as far as local talent. It doesn't necessarily take them to sign anybody or anything, but their artists are super cool, the ones I've got to meet, build relationships with and bond with.
GN: You've got some great features on Hear Forever, including Brother Ali and Rocky Diamonds. How did those come about?
There's only one song on the album that was really pre-meditated, and that was "We Live It" with Lioness, because that was actually Lioness' song. She decided we should put it on my album. We perform it all the time, but Lioness doesn't know when she's gonna drop her album yet. She helped me a lot when I first started recording, she was my engineer, so we've worked together a lot; personally, she's like a sister. Rocky [Diamonds], we're in the same camp, we work with the same producers.
The people he started out with are the people I work with as well now. We were at the studio listening to that beat, and I came up with the hook, and he was downstairs working on The Diamond Life
, and he came upstairs, like "I think I gotta verse for this" and recorded his verse. We probably did that song in like 30 minutes. Brother Ali, that was the most shocking, it was crazy the way that happened. I saw Brother Ali at the Day of Dignity
, I went there to see the kids from the YMCA because I work for the Y. Damien [aka Dame jones, who appears on Hear Forever]
and all the Y.N.Rich Kids, there's more than just those six, there's a lot more, there's like 60 kids. Those specific kids got asked to perform, so I went there to support them, and when I got there, my uncle King Kel C was there. He was one of the first rappers to come out of Minnesota in the 80's, from the IRM crew.
Slug from Atmosphere was one of the first people I saw, because he's really cool with my uncle, he said he's senn my music and he liked what I'm doing, so I chopped it up with Slug for a little bit, and then Brother Ali approached me and said he liked my music and what he was seeing, and then he was like, we should collab soon. I was like, man, I'm definitely down. I like Brother Ali's whole persona and the message in his music. All the features are pretty crazy.
GN: The Pre-Winter Classic Festival features yourself and a ton of different artists from around town. Who are you excited to play with?
B: I can't say who I'm not excited about playing with. There's so many people on the bill. I always like playing with Lioness, [she's] definitely one of my favorite people to watch perform. I love to see Sti-Lo Reel perform as well. Meta's always fun to watch, and Mike Dreams. A lot of these people I've never seen before, so I'm excited to see them and become familiar with them.
Catch BdotCroc with a number of other artists at the Pre-Winter Classic Festival at Cause this Wednesday, December 12th. $5/$8, 21+.