Big Baby Gandhi’s Not Done Speaking His Mind

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In the last decade, few rappers have been as enigmatic as Big Baby Gandhi (BBG). After releasing two EPs to critical acclaim, ‘Big Fuckin Baby’ and ‘No1 2 Look Up 2’, BBG put out a statement saying he was quitting rap. Once his debut album released at the end of 2013 – leaving fans and critics wanting more – Big Baby Gandhi receded into his private life.

Earlier this year, after nearly 4 years of silence, the Dhaka-born rapper dropped a couple of surprise tracks and videos. The 15-track highly-anticipated EP ‘27’ soon followed. It was welcoming to hear BBG’s half-jokey, half-serious bars once again. Spitting idiosyncratic rhymes in a ferocious growl, Big Baby Gandhi seemed to be releasing years of pent-up angst and frustration.

’27’ came at the back of a time which was spent living a life that made him question what was next, “I quit [rap]. I got my degree. I got two jobs. I got two 20% raises. I work 70 hours a week. I have a cushy corporate job that’s like, ‘now that I’m here, what’s next?’” When asked why he decided to leave rap, he said, “I had to do that for me you know. I grew up really poor. My whole life was making a certain amount of money to take care of people in my life. I don’t think that’s how everyone should live but for me, that was what it was about.”

Peppering his lyrics with statements about societal issues, Big Baby felt like he had a message on his latest EP, “I definitely made this album with brown people in mind,” he mentioned over Facetime one day. “I feel like all this stuff in brown music when it comes to content is really limited. Like, there’s only two types of brown which is really weird to me. An oppressed minority whose subjugated under laws or anything else.”  On ’27’, he wanted to portray that there is no one way of being ‘brown’. Big Baby wanted to show listeners that, “not everyone is a stereotype. Just be a regular brown person who goes to the movies.”

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Moving to New York from Dhaka at 7, the Bengali rapper found himself with an opportunity through his day job to move to Oakland, California last year. After settling into the new city, his creativity surged. With a tight-knit support group around him, Big Baby Gandhi got back into music, “I just started making more stuff. I was always making beats but no one would take them. I was, like ‘Alright, I will just make a song out of one.’”

What that led to was ’27’, a project that stands apart in this year’s releases due to its distinctive singularity. Though Big Baby Gandhi is brushing away the cobwebs, his lyrics hold strong and the production is tight. The EP is littered with skits and samples and on ‘Rokhto’, the Bengali artist raps in his native tongue throughout. The EP may not be polished for some but it was important for the Bangladeshi-American rapper to remind himself that, “This small thing I did [making music] was actually speaking for a bunch of different people.”

Realising how cathartic it felt to make and release the album, Big Baby Gandhi has his sights set on his recently launched record label 411 Records, “My thinking is that there’s so much music out there, we may as well all consolidate under one little name or whatever, even if it’s just a sticker in the corner.” He also wants to ensure that the people he works with and tries to elevate are people of colour (POC), “For me, I’m trying to put on any POC because it’s just as useful; helping other POC helps brown people too.”

Though it seems like he’s got a lot on his plate musically, Big Baby Gandhi isn’t sure of his next step. His short-term future is hazy with a few decisions that have faced him in the past re-emerging out of the shadows to present themselves again, “This last week has been really weird,” he reflected sombrely. “It’s been about a year since I moved here. My lease is going to end. I don’t know whether I should be looking for another day job or do music full time or whatever. It’s kind of stressful.”

written by Dhruva Balram

NEWS - 29. September 2017   CITY - Dhaka ARTIST - Big Baby Gandhi

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