Canadian rapper bbno$ spills the beans on his recent massive collab hit ‘edamame’ with Rich Brian, putting fun and creativity at the forefront as an independent artist, and his rise to stardom thanks to the power of the Internet.
To put it simply, bbno$ [pronounced ‘baby no money’] is an artist that is the epitome of fun, his rap music smooth yet playful and his music videos full of hilarity and imagination.
No more than a month ago, the Vancouver-based rapper dropped a fiery new track, ‘edamame’. It is an upbeat, fast-paced song that goes in hard with a clean rap flow and catchy lyrics. Definitely an earworm for days on end.
The track is made even more tasty by featuring popular Indonesian rapper Rich Brian, and the chemistry between the two shows how versatile their artistry bounce off each other. A match that can only be described as, dare I say, “two peas in a pod”.
The music video continues bbno$’s goofy nature, featuring him and Rich Brian clad in knight armor and indulging themselves in their antics such as playing table tennis and basketball, and even meeting a wizard played by collaborator Yung Gravy.
The song is the newest single from the Vancouver-based rapper’s forthcoming album, Eat Ya Veggies, due for release later this month. What better time than to have a chat with bbno$ on his latest viral hit?
AsiaLive365: Wussup, bbno$! How’s it going?
bbno$: Good, I’ve been up since 4.30 in the morning and it’s currently 10.30, so I’m pretty tired. But we’re pushing through! We strive, my good man.
AL365: You’ve recently dropped your latest single, ‘edamame’, with Rich Brian. The song has a smooth rap flow and all the verses are fire. But why name the song after soybeans?
bbno$: I don’t know what we would’ve called it if I didn’t say that line (I’ma pop you like a pea, yeah, edamame). Considering that it’s literally a bean. I don’t why we called it that, we could’ve just called it ‘Beans’. I feel the next song I should call it ‘Beans’. We just called it because of that line, honestly.
AL365: Rich Brian is featured in the song. How’s it like working with him?
bbno$: It was sick. I’ve said it a million time but I am a fan of his music. I’m a firm believer he’s a really good rapper. When he worked with me, I was like, ‘Damn, that’s really cool!’ It was a full circle. I’ve been listening to his music for six years at this point. Six years! Holy moly, time has flown by!
AL365: How did you guys get into contact?
bbno$: When he made his ‘Tokyo Drift Freestyle‘, I messaged him, ‘Yo you went off!’ and he was like, ‘Bro! I love your music!’ I was like, ‘Woah, that’s cool.’ We just started talking here and there, and then that was it. I sent him ‘edamame’ and then he jumped on it. It was really easy, actually.
AL365: Let’s talk about the music video for ‘edamame’. All your music videos have this silly and fun tone to them. In this one, you guys are wearing suits of armor. Where did you get those?
bbno$: I sent Brian a message, ‘Yo dude, what’ the idea here? Would you be down to wear knight suits for the music video?’ He went ‘Sure, dude!’ I wasn’t expecting that he would be down to do something super goofy. It was a really good time, I hit up my team in Los Angeles, asking them how fast could they get us knight armor. We shot it for six days after the song was done. The knight suits were extremely, ridiculously heavy. It was a really fun time, nonetheless.
AL365: You even got your friend Yung Gravy to make an appearance as a wizard in a bathrobe!
bbno$: Yeah. Yung Gravy, man. Funny guy, funny guy.
AL365: Even more hilarious, you uploaded a version of the song sung to the tune of Smash Mouth’s ‘All Star’! It was absolutely shocking how well it fits.
bbno$: Super sick, right? Shrek is love, Shrek is life.
AL365: How would you describe your rap style?
bbno$: I honestly don’t know. As far as sonically or musically, it is rap/hip-hop. It’s just fun, upbeat alternative hip-hop. Lighthearted and carefree, I would say.
AL365: You’re preparing to release an album called Eat Ya Veggies, due in September. What can you tell us about the record?
bbno$: It’s really good. Honestly, I don’t really toot my horn that much. I know for a fact that I’m a relatively modest individual, but like I really think this album is good. It’s some of my best work, and a collection of good music. Singles just naturally do better, but this is a good album, that’s all I’m gonna say. I hope you enjoy it when it drops, but music is subjective so I can’t tell everyone to enjoy it. The goal of of being a musician is to have everyone like your music, you know?
AL365: You’ve recently asked Twitter who would they like you to work with, but who do personally want to collab with?
bbno$: I would love to work with Ski Mask the Slump God. he is, in my opinion, one of the most talented new age, wordplay delivery rappers ever. He’s not a political rapper but whatever he raps about, it’s super sick. I met him once, and he’s a good guy, so that makes me want to collaborate with him ever so much more.
Who else? Missy Elliott, Pharell Williams, super dope. Timbaland, super dope. Miley Cyrus, that would be really cool.
AL365: When you started your music career, you never expected to become a rapper full-time. Did you expect your music to go viral when you were uploading songs on SoundCloud?
bbno$: No, not really. Deep down, if I keep on making music, I know for a fact I’m gonna 1) get good and then 2) even if I wasn’t getting good, every single time I dropped a song, I would gain 2-3 fans. I’d be like, ‘Well that’s better than last week!’ So I asked myself why not keep making music, it’s exponential growth every time.
I didn’t expect to get this far, I don’t think anyone should. You should make music because you love making music, not because you expect to make money and be famous off it. That’s how I still look at it, I still have fun with making music. I remember when I was studying in university, I started making more money than I expected and it was CRAZY. I was paying off my student loans, thinking I gotta make more money to make this my job. And then I got kinda sour for a couple of months, and at that moment I knew I should not be sour.
AL365: Seeing as you are an independent rapper, do you ever plan on signing on a record deal?
bbno$: Maybe right when I want to quit. I’ll just sign and take off with the money. I mean, it’s interesting because labels know where I stand. I have ‘edamame’ going off like crazy right now, and everyone knows it’s independent. But they just know I don’t care. You would expect people to hit me up if a song is doing almost a million streams a day because all labels swipe down and grab songs from people, and have market share. That is what the music business is based off of.
But for bbno$, they know that when ‘Lalala’ happened, I curbed all of them. I went and met them, got dinners with them, and did nothing. If they know I wanna sign, I’ll hit them up.
AL365: So for you as an artist, the most important thing is all about having fun?
bbno$: The most important thing is if I’m not having fun, then I don’t wanna do that. My managers know that if I’m not having fun, then they’re not gonna have fun. The whole bbno$ strategy is to have fun and be creative. I even wrote on my to-do list to have fun and be creative with Rebecca. [He’s been teasing on a collaboration with popular YouTuber and singer Rebecca Black.]
AL365: How is your creative process like then? Are you always extremely creative?
bbno$: I mean, sometimes it’s a little bit less creative. You can’t be on ’10’ 24/7. Coffee is my vice, if I’ll be honest. I love coffee. Without coffee, I don’t think I would be anywhere near a human being. I’d probably be drinking tea to be honest. Yeah I just drink coffee, and I sit down and listen to a beat, and if I like it, I write lyrics. If it sounds good then it sounds good! There’s no workarounds, I feel like if I don’t make a song that’s noticeably good within the first 10 minutes, it’s not gonna happen. With ‘edamame’, we made it effortlessly.
AL365: I heard that you are very big in China?
bbno$: So long story short, there’s TFBoys, a dance crew that’s famous as shit in China. One of their members, Jackson, televised his 16th birthday and he danced to one of my songs, ‘Yoyo Tokyo’. I immediately went viral. The chance of this shit happening is like winning the lottery. I literally won the lottery. People hit me up in China like ‘you’re super famous in China, you gotta come out’. I was going through university, and I kid you not, I got over a thousand followers on Instagram. Later, I flew there and sold out every single show. It was fabulous, it was a crazy experience.
AL365: You’re planning to go on tour later this year. Any plans to tour in Asia?
bbno$: Oh absolutely, I would rather preferably tour in Asia than North America, to be completely honest. I don’t really do the bookings myself, but I’m sure there’s a couple offers that have come in. I just don’t know if shows are ever gonna happen for a little while but fingers crossed.
AL365: Any difficulties or challenges during lockdown?
bbno$: Not really, I’m very fortunate to be in the position that I’m in. Boredom would be the worst thing. I have anxiety, genetically. I’m not like the most depressed person, I’m kind of a pessimist, but I do have optimistic personality traits. I look on the brighter side of things all of the time but everyone goes through some dark portals. But I’m fortunate, I got a loving family and they’re all safe and healthy, and that’s what really matters.
AL365: That’s good to hear. Closing this interview, anything to say to your fans in Asia?
bbno$: Thank you so much for listening to my music thus far. I’m excited for you guys to hear the new album that’s coming out, it’s a good one.