Sudanese rapper, Bangs, has been an internet phenomenon since putting his videos on YouTube last fall. In total, the videos for his songs “Take U To Da Movies” and “My Special Girl,” have had around two millions views on YouTube. “Take U To Da Movies” has even spawned a series of cover versions; among them are a ” target=”_blank”>Screamo cover, an” target=”_blank”> acoustic cover, and even a ” target=”_blank”>techno remix or two. Responses to Bangs music have been highly polar, ranging from fans that love him, to the always-present ” target=”_blank”>haters. However, Bangs has been gaining momentum with his first album Hard 2 Be Up, and has a second LP in the works. He has regularly been performing live at clubs in Australia, and recently even took the stage at their Big Day Out festival which features artists like Girl Talk, Lilly Allen, and The Mars Volta.
We were really interested in Bangs, his back-story is compelling. He grew up in North Khartoum, in conflict shaken Sudan. He then moved to Egypt, before immigrating to Australia in 2003, and has only been speaking English since 2004. Not the typical path for a rapper. No matter your opinion on Bangs and his music, his music is sincere and he is working hard to make a name for himself. With his next LP, Bangs hopes to show how he has evolved as an artist. This week I got Bangs on the phone from Melbourne and interviewed him. We talked about his life, music, and he addresses those haters.
IL: What’s going on Bangs?
B: Yeah, what’s going on. I’m good
IL: How’s Australia treating you?
B: Treating me fine. Not bad man.
IL: You have almost two million hits with your two videos on YouTube. What was your reaction to the amount of people checking you out, were you surprised?
B: Yeah yeah, just a bit you know. Because I first started you know. I been telling people yo check out my videos on YouTube.
IL: You have a new album coming out. What’s going to be the difference between this new album and the last one?
B: Yeah. The album is coming out soon, real soon. The first album was Hard to be Up, you know, real hard to put together and all that. And the next one is gonna be Still Moving On, you know all the good things coming up, the good new songs, you know. What happened back in the day, the right message to myself.
IL: So you recently performed at Australia Big Day Out festival. What was that like?
B: Yeah, I performed at Big Day Out. It was crazy man. It was good, it was so good. A lot of people, good fans. A lot of people who never saw me got to see me you know, and all that. It was good. I enjoyed it.
IL: Did you get to check out any of the other artists performing there?
B: I caught Dizzy Rascal and Blowfly. Good kinda other bands.
IL: Do you have any more shows coming up?
B: I got a show in Sydney coming up. So I’m doing good you know.
IL: You have a live performance on YouTube where you guys are tossing popcorn at the crowd. The MC mentioned you had record labels contacting you, is that true?
B: That was the first. That was the first time for me to perform in the club like that. That was somebody who was hooking me up in the club and all that. Labels have been hitting me up and all that. Right now I just signed up with HSM, the High School Musical Entertainment.
IL: I noticed a lot of your rhymes are positive and very sincere. Not into the negative aspects of hip-hop. Is that something you try to do and maintain?
B: I know in this world some people are not perfect, you know. A lot of those people get me wrong and all that. You try to do something negative, you tell them na na, this is positive you know. If you do something positive, it’s like this is negative. You don’t know which one to do, but as long as you know what you’re doing from your heart and you mean it, you just keep doing what you do, you know. I got a lot of people telling me “you don’t know how to do that” and “you don’t know how to rap”. I just keep doing what I do, you know. Because let them talk.
IL: So that is what you say to the haters?
B: Yeah, yeah. Haters, they are stupid. They keep talking “you don’t know how to rap” and “you suck” and all that. If I didn’t come out, no one would talk about me. Cause if I’m coming out right now, you know, that’s when people start talking. They don’t want to see somebody up, they always want to see down, always down. I’m just gonna keep doing what I do. I’m doing it for my fans.
IL: You rap about your special girl, and taking girls to the movies. How are the Australian ladies treating you?
B: (laughs) Man, the special girls. There’s a lot of girls here man. You don’t know which one to pick, you know. Even taking one to the movies. Which one you gonna go to the movies with. There’s a lot of girls here, but I’m just looking for moment right now, for the right one. If I get the right one, it will be good, you know.
IL: I’m sure everyone can agree with that. Do you make your own beats and videos?
B: I make the beats on my own. I write the verse, I make the beats and all that. The videos, someone just helps me out. I got a friend and he has a studio where people can use the green screen. So I tell him I need to shoot a video clip and he says “alright”. So we can, and we did, and he helps with everything. So we made it.
IL: So, you’re in Australia now. But before that you grew up in Sudan, what was that like compared to where you are now?
B: I was in Egypt for two years. It was different, you know, because back in Sudan we never hear nothing about what happens here. We never think about what its gonna be, you know the differences. The houses, the places, the life is different. The life was a bit hard, you know, very different.
IL: Did you have a lot of rap music from America there, or not until you went to Egypt and Australia?
B: Nah, when I was in Egypt I used to listen to a bit of rappers. Like Tupac, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Nelly, that kind of stuff I used to listen to a bit. But when I came to Australia, yeah now I got a lot of artists. My favorite rappers are Chingy, Sam Kingston, The Game. Those are good rappers, they are my favorite.
IL: How old were you when you started rapping?
B: I started rapping when I was 14. Around 2004 when I was 14 years old. I just keep moving on, and we’re here right now it’s 2010, you know. And you don’t know what’s gonna happen, they day it comes, it’s by itself.
IL: Would you consider yourself a positive influence and role model for kids growing up in Sudan, someone to look up to?
B: Yeah yeah. I will help. I would like to go back to Sudan. Show the kids what I did and will have done. Help them make their dreams become true, try to make a community for the town. Help make a studio. That’s what I was thinking to do now, casue I’m trying to build myself, then later on I won’t forget back in the day what happened. Because I can’t forget where I’m from, you have to go back and help the others.
-Bangs freestyles for us. Listen in the audio below-
IL: So we’re over here in America and we don’t get to see you, except on YouTube. Maybe one day you will perform here for us?
B: I will be there soon. That’s what my dream is, you know.
IL: If you could say something to the people reading this interview, what would you want them to know about Bangs
B: I would thank them very much. Thank my fans for listening to my music, who support me. What more could I say about them. I love my family. I love them so much who help me up. And tell them the album is coming real soon and “Take You 2 Da Movies” is on iTunes right now. And get it right now on iTunes to support your boy Bangs, and there’s more coming.
IL: Thanks Bangs. We’re a new site and your kinda new at what you’re doing, so it’s cool when people help each other out.
B: Yeah we all gotta support, support each other so we can move on. Thank you.
Below is all the audio from the interview with Bangs, including his freestyle, and his music videos.
Audio of the interview (with a Freestyle around 7:25)
Bangs – “Take U To Da Movies”
Bangs – My Special Girl