PREMIERE: Big Baby Gandhi Drops His Comeback Mixtape, ‘27’
The return of one of New York's finest
New York’s rap scene was absolutely thriving around the 2010s. Veteran rappers like Roc Marciano, El-P and Nas found new voices by reinventing themselves for a new generation of hip hop heads. Careers of rappers like Joey Bada$$, Flatbush Zombies, Action Bronson and RATKING all jump-started by 2012, catapulting each artist onto the internet as their own respective forces of raw, unhinged east coast lyrical talent.
And then there was Das Racist.
The trio consisted of rappers Heems and KOOL A.D. and hypeman Dapwell, who took claim to New York City while simultaneously ignoring what its trends were. Through absurdist rhymes, complex references, word-association games and comedy, they created an atmosphere in hip hop that welcomed irony, self-awareness and vulnerability. They brought an onslaught of forward-thinking raps, beats and friends. They seemed to be more focused on impressing themselves rather than critics or hip hop heads who were simply looking for bars.
One of those rapper friends Das Racist paved a way for was Big Baby Gandhi, a Bangladesh-born rapper from Queens, whose style can be described as a smart-mouthed slacker who raps his ass off, sometimes loudly, but always cooly. After dropping his debut mixtape Big Fucking Baby in 2011 and garnering critical praise for his unique style and energy, Gandhi signed with Heems’ Greedhead label and dropped No1 2 Look Up 2 the following year. At the top of 2013, at what seemed like the peak of his short-lived rap career, Gandhi announced he would retire after the year was over. He dropped his debut LP, Debut, dipped, and moved to Oakland.
But earlier this summer, Big Baby Gandhi announced his comeback to rap and revealed a new project was in the works. And today, Mass Appeal is proudly premiering that new mixtape heat: 27.
27 enlists the production help of Cities Aviv, Mike Finito, RGB and Steel Tipped Dove, with rappers V and Mr. Muthafuckin’ Exquire making their appearances. The rest of mixtape was entirely produced, recorded, mixed, performed and written by Big Baby Gandhi. The project was a year in the making for the rapper and promises an older, focused and wiser form of Gandhi.
We got a chance to chop it up with the O.G. Big Baby to talk a bit about this project and decisions on retiring.
Why did you retire from rap and why’d you come back to it?
I was just going through a lot before, mostly because of pressure to finish school and find a job. I’ve had a dope corporate job for a few years now and it all worked out. I’m glad I stopped rapping when I did.
I don’t have a great reason why I came back now, but I’m glad I did, cause I really feel like this is one of the most open times in rap. And my music is really about the weird shit on the edges. People are usually making things they should be doing, but that’s never been my style. I’m glad people are open to things now, it feels like the Wild West, and the perfect time for me to drop my weird ass songs.
Do you think when you first came out, you kind of helped pave that route to weirdo rap? Who do you think is dominant in that influence?
Uhh… I don’t think I’ve had any impact like that. I don’t think I was popular like that. It’s just that I’m the first Bengali rapper, so it’s important to me to stamp the things I’ve said or created before other people try and run with it.
I’m not really worried about other rappers being in the weirdo rap lane now, I write a lot of original shit so I’d rather just have 10 other future lanes that are my own. To answer your question though, the spiritual successor to all these weirdo rappers is Lil B though, and I’ve always been the biggest B fan. He deserves all the credit for experimenting with all those different styles.
What themes did you want to get across with this new mixtape?
Just different ones. Really, I just wanted to make more relatable stuff, but in a non-meme way. I feel like there’s so many other things out there to say, and most of rap is focused on a few specific topics. I kind of just looked at what stories don’t get told in rap, and they’re the ones you can’t access until you can move like a regular adult in regular non-rap land. I don’t really know if me saying what themes are covered would convey as much as just looking at the tracklist, but yeah, my goal was just to have a variety of different themes.
This mixtape is presented by 411 Records. Who are they?
411 Records is me, Sad Andy, and Mike Melero. It’s basically an independent label, but we are definitely trying to collaborate with other bay area artists and just provide support to the local communities in the few ways we can. Mike and Andy helped me in ways that most labels would, even though they are just the homies.
What’s next for Big Baby Gandhi? More features and tapes?
Right after this drops, I’m going to be working on the next EP. It’s gonna be pretty cool, doing a joint venture with Internet Hippy. He’s been gathering beats from different producers under his label and approached me about doing a short EP. It’s gonna be cool, I’m letting him executive produce it. It’ll be cool to work on a project without stressing about producing and mixing and stuff. I really just wanna see how this tape does. I might just keep dropping free music till people can’t ignore me. I’m fucking back though. Gandhi!!