One of our favourite Aussie hip hop kids is growin' up.
Along with a whole heap of up-and-coming rap artists in THIS article from earlier this year, Melbourne's Baro has been on our radar since his beyond rad HOWGOODISGOOD? album. At the ripe old age of 17 he's very quickly positioned himself at the front of the Aussie rap pack, and on the eve of turning being able to drink legally in this country he's about to release a new EP, 17/18 (pre-order it HERE). He chats to Tom Wolff about his progression as an artist, playing Splendour and whether or not his parents have heard the new EP yet.
First of all, props on the new EP. It feels even more jazzy and upbeat than HOWGOODISGOOD?, particularly songs like Bears. How do you compare the two? Has there been a conscious decision to try something different, or has it been a natural progression into 17/18?
The two projects to me are aging, not so much maturing. Just say HGIG? is 17. This EP is the phase I went through being 17 and 18. Like doing and experiencing a slightly different side of life while being a minor is still vivid, finishing school and all that shit. For instance, I made See Less and Bears (FUCK BEARS) last year, and I May Never Meant To Hurt U and Resume a couple days before I turned 18. I’m a grown-ass boy. So in a sense it still has some of the musical and influential elements of HOWGOODISGOOD? but it also has new (to me) influences. 17/18 is pretty much a project exaggerating the country’s concept of “being legal”. Fuck I hate that phrase. So, yeah, I think it’s just been more of a natural progression into 17/18. It just all came together haha.
Recently, there has been much talk (including on Pilerats) centred on this wave of "new age hip-hop" in Australia in the last few years, of which you are considered a significant part. Why do you think this is? Do you reckon it's some form of rebellion against what many have considered to be a somewhat stagnant Aussie hip hop genre?
It’s pretty much fixing what was broke as fuck in your home since you moved in and being able to enjoy it. 90’s RD is fixing something that is broke as fuck, Remi and Sensible J are fixing something that is broke as fuck, Gill Bates is, Tom is. So no one here is rebelling, we’re all just handymen. Pause.
Anyone in particular from that new wave of hip hop that has been playing through your headphones of late?
Lil b. Oh and Marcus’s new album has been on repeat, add the HYPERLINK thing for him so you can click on it and go there so you can hear it, fuckin hear it!
How do you go about writing lyrics for your music? Do you like vibing on a beat and freestyling your way into a song organically? Or do words on paper work better? Has your approach changed at all through the course of recording over the last few years?
For the EP most of it was me and Mitch in my bungalow. We’d chill and drink coffee, we’d make a complete song together in like two hours tops. Prefer to just make it organically, gives environment to the music. Of course it’s changed because it's a little more serious now but I've always liked not to be too serious with what I like 'cause it makes it kinda boring and you feel like you can't do and act like you want.
It's a bit of a clichéd question, I know, but I'm gonna ask you anyway: What have been your predominant musical influences over time? In particular, those influences that lie outside the hip hop and rap genres. Has this changed much since you've moved into recording and playing live shows?
Man, I’ve always liked drowsy indie-rock music. I think I was a sad pasty white dude in my past life when it comes to that. I like Bright Eyes a lot, I like Mac Demarco, Good Morning are a band from Melbourne I love too. And other big fucking influences for me are Pharrell, Erykah, Jill Scott, Roy Ayers, Bobby Mcferrin, Hiatus Kaiyote... You know, outside the rap genre. Ta-ku, production wise, ohhhhh my god. Okay I'm drifting off.
Many artists, when transitioning to bigger stages and bigger crowds, seem to struggle with many facets of their live show - particularly translating that same kind of comfort and stage presence that a small venue promises. Has this played on your mind at all or are you just super psyched to play up at Splendour In The Grass this year?
I’m just psyched to play Splendour haha. I don’t know, me and Fets are comfortable on stage most of the time. Sometimes it’s like 'Yo, there's a bunch of people here and they're probably not going to like us', a couple minutes before we go on stage, but usually it’s cool. We just want to play to enthusiastic crowds. They're all the same, a small venue with a crowd of 200 hyphy as fuck people is better than 1000 boring pretentious motherfuckers all planted over a wide space not moving.
On HOWGOODISGOOD? you seemed to partner up with a number of different producers over the album. How does this compare with 17/18? Have you worked with a number of producers or just stuck to one in order to build a working relationship?
The same producers yo. Ancentric, Oiigi and ESESE produced on this EP and as well as HGIG. Just no Jublet on the EP. But that’s cool, theres a few lil things in the works with me and Jubs.
You often play off the fact you're pretty young in your songs - do you ever cop any shit from people about your age? Any particularly funny encounters over the last few years?
Nah I think people are way past discriminating because of age right now, if anything its more impressive if you are young and doing something better than a 30-year-old who has also been doing it for years.
Have Mum and Dad listened to 17/18? More importantly, did they like it? How have they reacted to having an 18 year old son who raps in front of crowds for a living?
Nah not yet haha. I don't really show my parents my shit, I don't know why. Sometimes it stumbles onto them and they hear it, like Bears, I think my brother showed them that one. They think it's cool, but you know, they're parents. My mum’s a mum so she's always going to be worrying about mum shit, but she’s my ride or die nigga you feel me.
Any particular plans for future domination of the hip hop world?
Well very soon the rawdiverCity website will be up, so that’s a bunch of ideas me and my friends made in one. A shop, our own little blog, videos, music, anything and everything related to the peace sign and wings will be there and more. From there domination bruh, from me and creatives from the same sector as me. I’ve been playing guitar lots too, trying get gud. I made a song the other day.
Check the Baro 17/18 Tour Dates below, and click the pic to find yourself some tickets: