"Harlem is the Mecca of the World!": Bodega BAMZ Introduces His Latin Trap Movement
"I'm from Spanish Harlem and the story has never been told from my 'hood," says Bodega BAMZ, the uptown rapper who's plotting to write his own chapter in hip-hop's history with his Latin trap movement. The cornerstone of BAMZ's come up so far is Strictly 4 My P.A.P.I.Z., the 'Pac-style mixtape he dropped late last year which sees BAMZ's feisty flow complimented by collaborations with A$AP Ferg and the Flatbush Zombies. Ahead of performing at tonight's Open Mic live session at Public Assembly with A$AP Rocky, we caught up with BAMZ to get the scoop on his Harlem heritage, his battle rap days, and his appreciation of Nirvana songs.
See also: A$AP Rocky Lights Up The City
How did your connection to the A$AP Mob come about?
A$AP Rocky is from west Harlem and I'm from the east side of Harlem so we all know the same people: Rocky knows the same people I know, Ferg knows them, Yams knows them. I did a song with A$AP Ant ["Told Ya"] and that kinda broke down the doors between me and A$AP. Ohla, who's my brother, was supposed to shoot the "Purple Swag" and "Peso" videos for Rocky but due to time we couldn't get it done. There's always been a connection but it was always a person in the middle too, but that song broke it all down. And the collaboration with the Flatbush Zombies ["THRILLA"] came about through A$AP Yams. Those are good kids, man.
What did you think about the Flatbush Zombies when you first heard their music?I didn't understand it because I didn't do LSD and I don't smoke weed any more. But getting to know them, I get the music now. I'm someone who has to get to know an artist before I work with them. So doing what they do and knowing them makes me love their music. I think [Erick Arc] Elliot is a genius and those kids are talented.
So are there gonna be more Bodega BAMZ and Flatbush Zombies collaborations in the future?
Going back to your upbringing, what defines a rapper from Harlem?
I feel like Harlem is the Mecca of the world. When you think of New York you think of Harlem. Not all artists are pushing the envelope from Harlem, but for the most part a lot of us are. We're kids that are creative. There's not a lot of inventors in the rap game -- just people who copy. So when you have a group like A$AP who are doing a new sound of music and creating a new style, you have to take notice of that. We're from Harlem; fashion comes from Harlem, getting money comes from Harlem -- if you a nigga from the street you know that Harlem niggas always have money. And the fact that I'm from Spanish Harlem adds a different enigma. Dipset came outta Harlem, Mase came outta Harlem, A$AP came outta Harlem, but I'm Spanish Harlem. That's why I'm here, to tell that story.
You sample Big L on "Glorious" from the mixtape.
Big L's the king, man. When you look at it, he had a group called Children Of The Corn and that was Mase and that was Killa Kam before they was who they were. Big L was the forefather of all that Harlem shit. He was the first one to come out and talk that slick. He's definitely top ten of all time and in my eyes the greatest from Harlem period.
Are you old enough to remember much about Children Of The Corn?
Hell nah, I was way too young for that! But everybody in Harlem knows who they is. Cam had a cousin called Bloodshed and he was part of Children Of The Corn and they have a mural of Cam's cousin in Harlem where I'm from.