‘Hi, My name’s BAWO and I make music’ is BAWO’s answer when we ask him to introduce himself to the camera. But to say he just ‘makes music’ would be to sell the effortlessly genre blending, tactical lyricist extremely short. His latest project ‘Legitimate cause’ sees the artist highlight just how talented he is sonically whilst unravelling the nuances of balancing relationships, career goals and responsibility all within the everyday cyclical rush of London. The boundless production paired with his cool, calm and collected cadence make for 30 minutes of borderless hip hop that authentically transport you into the West London rappers world.
Fresh off of his sold out headline tour, we spent the day with the MC to talk more about his trajectory from the beginning to now, how he defines his success, his headspace during the creation of ‘Legitimate Cause’ and more.
Shenell : Legitimate cause tackles a lot of subjects that people can relate to like relationships and just life in general. Describe the headspace you were in when you came to make the project?
Bawo: I was in a very good headspace. I was excited coming off of the last project to just put something together and come even closer to creating the sound I have in my head.
Shenell : So what was the journey like for you both musically and personally between that project and your latest?
Bawo: I could just see how people lived with the music. If I’m being real, my approach with the last project – not that I don’t love it – but I was picking songs I already had as opposed to making a project from scratch. With ‘Legitimate Cause’ there’s only one tune I had recorded years prior. The journey between was just meeting more people who listen to the music, working with more talented people, travelling, just living and quitting my day job too.
Shenell : So, did you go into the project with an idea of what you wanted to make and stick to that or was it more of a free flowing approach?
Bawo: I knew I wanted to make something I considered hard. I just knew I wanted it to be good. It started off as a mixtape idea and it turned into whatever it is now. People are calling it an album – but to me it’s not an album, but it’s also a bit more than a mixtape – kind of an inbetween.
Shenell : For you personally what defines the difference between a mixtape and an album?
Bawo: In my head, coming from the datpiff era, a mixtape is vibes – almost like a playlist, not that it can’t be themed but an album is a heart and soul thing. You’ve obviously gotta put your heart and soul into everything you do but with an album I just feel like it’s a lot more personal and alot more goes into it.
Shenell : Your approach to music is very borderless and you tend to draw from so many genres and infuse them into your own signature style? Where do you think that exploration of genre comes from?
Bawo: Just the fact that growing up I listened to everything but the core was definitely hip hop. I used to think I was anti metal then I realised the WWE games I was playing – I was singing along to rock tunes. Even at school, meeting people, getting put onto new artists – I’ve always liked everything so the more I was being myself with music the more different sounds came out. I don’t discriminate – if it feels right, it feels right.
Shenell : You started releasing music in 2019 – when you started did you see it as something you wanted to do or was it more for fun for you?
Bawo: Going into it in 2019 I was very sure this was what I wanted to do. 2019 was when I decided to absolutely jump – I started dropping stuff on spotify and apple music. I’ve been writing since I was 14 and I’ve wanted to make music since I was 9/10 years old so my whole life I always wanted to be involved in music.
Shenell : Where do you think that longing for music stems from?
Bawo: It might sound cheesy but I just feel like I was born with it. It’s frequency and humans are all frequency. It’s all about being in tune with certain things. My mum told me I used to get cutlery and drum on the toilet when I was like 2 years old and that’s still my favourite instrument – the drums. So that kinda proves to me that it’s always just been there in me.
Shenell : So from 2019 to now, when did it all become real for you – in terms of your trajectory?
Bawo: Shows and people messaging me almost everyday saying what songs have done for them and stuff like that. It’s when I realised I wasn’t deluded.
Shenell : How does that feel for you?
Bawo: It’s surreal. I’ve been saying since the tour ended that I don’t think I’ll ever fully deep that feeling of people singing words back to me so much to the point that I can put the mic down. It’s one of the trippiest thighs I’ve ever experienced. It’s a banging feeling?
Shenell : So legitimate Cause – tell us the story behind the name of the project?
Bawo: It’s kind of a joke but also not really. The joke is that I’ve always been asked growing up – especially in my 20’s ‘oh are you still doing music’ ‘when are you gonna take music seriously’ ‘when are you gonna get a real job’ from my family and friends. ‘Legitimate Cause’ was kind of my answer – how is this for a job? The other side is that me and my boy used to talk about doing this on a bench by a canal. For me, actions speak louder than words – we actually took steps and now we’re here and it was all for a good cause.
Shenell : You’re known for your amazing lyricism and way with words – when it comes to writing how does that approach work for you?
Bawo: Honestly, anything and everything can inspire me when writing. Just hearing my friends talk, I like watching period dramas and hearing the way they talk – there’s always some cool vocabulary in there. Otherwise, I just try to be myself. I feel like the more true I am to myself the more people resonate with that.
You can discover more from GUAP’s music section here.
Production: Sayo Olukoga
Photography: Shenell Kennedy
Videography & Editing: Shane Duncan
Styling: TJ Sawyer
Grooming: Natalie Messino
Set Design: Rita Ade