After one hell of a show at Vent last week, we couldn't wait to get up close and personal with one of the most unique rappers we've heard on Egypt's burgeoning Hip-Hop scene.
We speak to Egyptian rapper and beat maker BamBam who caught our attention performing at Vent last week with some lightening verses and a unique, soulful flow. Working away on his lyrics and perfecting his performances for some time, he’s been in cahoots with some of Egypt’s most unique producers to really make his sound stand out from all the noise that makes up the scene’s Hip-Hop scene. We talk to the man with the mic to find out more.
When and how did you get into rapping?
I was around 12 or 13 when I started writing lyrics. I was really into rappers like 2pac, Nas, and Eminem, and I wanted to emulate them. I just decided one day that, instead of rapping along to their songs, I would write my own lyrics and I recorded some stupid songs on my phone. I started recording properly when I was like 17 or 18 after I joined a local crew.
How did you get so good at it?
Ha, first of all, thank you! But it’s practice and hard work. I sucked when I started; I've only recently gotten to a phase where I like what I'm doing and I still feel like I'm getting better.
When and how did you get into production?
When I started seeing Swag Lee making beats a few years ago, I was inspired. Like, wow its possible create amazing sounds from home. But I still very much saw myself as a rapper. I started helping at production when I was working with G3FR and Komplete. Abyusif inspired me when he became a monster at production himself, so basically I just copied all those people. I'm still in the infancy stage of being a producer though. I'd say Swag Lee inspired a generation of producers.
Who else produces your music?
The producers I've worked with are SkullKave (Komplete + G3FR), Swag Lee, Abyusif, Smash, R-I-F and J!n.
What's the process when you work with other producers: do they send you a beat and you see what works on top of it or is it more of a symbiotic collaboration?
It depends. Sometimes I'm around for the genesis of the beat, other times its, as you said, a file I receive in an email or a Facebook inbox. There have also been a couple of situations where beats were built around something I had written.
Do you have a musical background outside of rap? Do play any instruments?
I tried and failed miserably to play the guitar, for a short while.
Have you given a go at Arabic rap?
Who are your favourite artists/rappers?
Kanye West, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Earl Sweatshirt, Nas, 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G, Eminem, Drake and Wu-Tang.
Who are your favourite local artists/rappers?
Dawsha, Abyusif, El-Joker, Mista Mar, Smash, Swag Lee, J!n, R-I-F, PanSTARRS, Wetrobots
Where do you get your inspiration outside of music?
TV shows mostly. I like dark and absurd comedy. Stanley Kubrick movies and interviews, Albert Camus books, my brother, my parents, people I meet, too.
How does BamBam separate himself and stand out from other rappers here?
I just do what I do, I try not to concern myself with what other people are doing too much. I have no problem making music that sounds current; a lot of rappers are stuck in an old school/90's vibe.
What are the biggest obstacles emerging rappers face in Egypt?
Well, when I started out back in the day the biggest obstacle was to be taken seriously, and I think it still is to some extent. It’s much better now than it was, though.
Where have you gigged so far?
As a solo artist, Dahab Festival and Vent. I did some open mics a few years ago too; shout out Mashrou3 Al Mareekh.
Do you ever see a situation in which English-language rappers from Egypt will get a chance to shine abroad, and do you think it's important to be recognised by the scene in the west?
Honestly, that is why I do it. I don't want to remain as an English rapper in Egypt, I'd like to succeed abroad. I genuinely believe that if you're good enough, and work hard enough you'll get noticed. The internet is a wonderful thing.
Do you have a day job?
Not currently, are you offering one?
Do you have a favourite track of yours?
Whatever I release next.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Making movies, or teaching English somewhere in Asia.