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In the middle of July 2022, Western-Sydney collective BBGB—an abbreviation for Black Boys Getting Bread—dropped their fiery debut single Tough Love. The group name, derived from Lil Spacely’s verse on this track, speaks to a stark proclamation of success and excellence and since their first drop, BBGB haven’t seen anything short of that. Consisting of a rotating collection of creatives of the Afro-Australian diaspora, the movement is guided by voices that should be familiar to the average local music listener. Members like B Wise, Kwame, Lil Spacely, Manu Crooks, and BLESSED have significantly pioneered African-Australian representation across our local hip-hop music fronts over the past few years.
Shedding light on their unique lived experiences through music, each of these artists has been able to infiltrate the mainstream and change the perception of what Australian hip hop can be. Because of the foundations laid by individual members, BBGB are in prime position to further the culture and are driven by a mission that exceeds any set group of members; instead, BBGB introduces us to a new wave of Afro-Australian creatives, from upcoming artists like Baby Prince and Skenzo to complete newcomers like Gheeplug and Munashe whose shared interest in stepping out of bounds, and spreading a deeper message around community, which reflects the boundless nature of BBGB.
The BBGB collective is inherently important in their outward and lively approach to confronting the adversities they are faced with being part of the African-Australian diaspora, and their goal is to encourage the people of their community to do the same. From the arts to spaces of academia, BBGB wants to help amplify the voices of the people that are left unheard. Though still in their infancy, they’ve already commenced on their journey of doing exactly that.
Having made their live performance debut at the AUSSIE BLACKSTAR event hosted by BLESSED at The Sydney Opera House earlier this year, the collective came together as a product of conversations while in lockdown and have since become a driving force of inspiration and positivity to one another. Releasing two follow-up singles ‘Knock Knock’ and ‘Perfect Timing’, it’s clear that the collective is locked, loaded, and ready to show out in the most authentic way they can. We caught up with members Kwame, B Wise, and Baby Prince in Sydney, to discuss origins, purpose and meaning, and what to expect next from BBGB.
How did BBGB come together?
Kwame: It’s kind of interesting. The way that BBGB came about was through a zoom call. It was myself, Wise, Manu, Spacely, and a whole bunch of other people. We were just on a call and were just talking about how it’s time. That was the main focal point of that conversation, that it was time. From there, it just continued as conversations of, you know, what is it that we’re trying to do? What do we want to do? What are some ideas? I guess the main thing for us was what we know best, in terms of creating records and creating movements and energy. So once we were able to get out of lockdown—because these were the conversations that were happening in lockdown last year—the minute we got out, it was just like, boom, Liverpool Studio. We got there. From there, it was like—oh cool. I don’t wanna say it was easy, but the way that we were creating, it was like, yo, there’s some mad energy in here. Everyone’s just in tune and in sync. Even the way the name sort of came about was through (making) Tough Love, and in Spacely’s verse where he says, “because this year is for the Black boys getting bread”, and then we were kind of just like aw, that kinda sounds cool, and then we were just like, alright – BBGB.
Was there anyone part of BBGB that you hadn’t musically worked with before? I know a few of you have collaborated before, of course.
B Wise: It’s my first time working with Kwame. Everyone else I’ve worked with in some capacity. It’s been real dope, even working with Kwame outside of BBGB, like him coming in writing for my stuff or producing for my stuff. That’s how we continue to build the relationship outside of just seeing each other as BBGB. So I mean, it’s really good. And just the dynamic nature, everyone’s just kind of ebbing and flowing. The moment that that really came to truth was at The Opera House, because we only did one rehearsal, and then did the show. And then just to see how everyone was bouncing off each other. It was very natural.
Kwame: I think the coolest thing about us all coming together was the fact that we all come from different paths creatively. And so for us to have all come together, it’s definitely a full circle moment in terms of how we view BBGB. It’s bigger than the five of us, you know, it’s a movement for African Australians to push the culture, to change the story and the narrative around the image and perspective on how we’re viewed here in Australia. Essentially, just creating a safe space for people that look like us, as opposed to being sort of divided especially in a country that brings that upon us. It was just something like that that we wanted to really take forward to the world from Australia.
So Baby Prince, though you’re an “unofficial” member, how did you come into association with the guys as BBGB?
Baby Prince: I’ve always like been a fan from the start, since I started making music, and then along the years, I ended up meeting BLESSED, Manu, and the rest of the guys along the way, so it began as a friendship thing.
Kwame mentioned that the concept for BBGB was a product of lockdown. How was it trying to create during that time?
B Wise: The creation process actually came a little after COVID. We started doing couple zooms, everyone was zooming from their crib. We were just checking on each other and just seeing what everyone’s been doing. One thing led to another in a sense—just like people talking about music and what we’re going to do next when we come out, how are we going to change our perception and how will that change things, because we all want to do more after lockdown.
So that was just one of the ideas that was birthed. We got together one session after the other and then from there, we were able to grow and then work really organically. Also, bringing Kwame in was like a joint idea of us just saying, like, you know, this is more than just any friendship circle. Let’s bring in the community and bring us all together and so we did. We all vibed and gelled really quick.
How have the recording processes been so far? How do they usually unfold?
Kwame: I guess the way we get into the studio is just where we’re like “yo, studio tonight”, and then we just get in there. I just set my laptop up and just start cooking, and then the next thing I know, someone’s in my ear being like this and this, and I’m like “yeah?”, and then somebody else is saying something else and I’m like “oh dope, cool”. And then from there, it’s just everyone kind of just writing, doing their thing. Someone wants to go hop in the booth. And then boom, you hear that and it’s like “oh, okay, cool, cool”. It can just happen in many kinds of ways.
B Wise: We just lock into the studio at Livo, shout out to Huss who runs the studio there and just sees the vision; he’s just like, whenever you need it, come through. And yeah, we just go. BLESSED, Kwame and Manu are producers, so it’s just like, who wants to plug in first? Usually, maybe Kwame might or BLESSED might and then from there, everyone just sort of builds and it all just starts. It depends on everyone’s mood and on the day when we get there, what are we feeling today. Once the drums start, it’s all quick, really quick. And then as soon as the beat is up, we just write and then jump in. I’m more of a writer, co-producer by ear, but as soon as I hear that beat, I’m in. Same as Spacely.
Baby Prince: I’ve been part of a couple sessions, and we’ve got a couple of songs that I’m a part of. I feel like the sessions are always kind of different. Some days, it’s super high energy and like, everyone’s really high up there. But it can even just be relaxed. Everyone’s just kind of quiet on their phone writing their verses and stuff but then we’ll have a moment, like on a quiet day where it’s just super hype. Generally, everyone’s working on their own shit, but it’s a collective type thing.
Is there anyone in the group whose energy is completely unmatched and always elevates it a little bit further and further, every time?
Kwame: I think that’s hard to say. We all just bring that energy out of each other. I think that the most amazing part of it is that irrespective of even who is there, when a bunch of artists are in the room together, everyone’s feeding off of each other’s energy. It just brings you forward to just want to have fun, be yourself, do all that kind of stuff because it all translates into the music.
Baby Prince: Everyone has their own different energy. But like, personally, for me, probably BLESSED. When he’s in the studio, I don’t know what it is, but it’s a little different. Something is different.
B Wise: Yeah, probably BLESSED. It’s always work time for him, like as soon as he can, he might even be tired or whatever, but as soon as he gets in the studio, creates something, right into the booth, boom, done. So he’s always really quick with the way he works.
Without fail, you guys are able to conjure up this unspeakable energy that lives in your tracks and you were able to bring it to a live music setting when you played the AUSSIE BLACKSTAR Vivid Sydney premiere, which was your live debut as a group. How was that for you?
Kwame: That was amazing. It couldn’t have been anywhere else, like the Opera House. To me, that is wild. And I just think doing that, debuting at probably the most iconic piece of architecture was dope. We are all from a base in Sydney, so I think it was just amazing to have the music and art scene there to experience that, and especially even, having the door. It was very symbolic of how for so long they didn’t let us into any places, so you know, cool, we’re coming into The Opera House, but we’re bringing our own door to walk through. That was powerful because that just showed that we’re entering spaces of power and accord. And so yeah, doing that at The Opera House was a no-brainer. It was insane.
B Wise: It was really, really good. Because it’s what this whole thing is about, the grassroots, right? All of us have had our start in a sense now, but what’s dope about this is it’s like a new baby that can grow from the ground up and the movement that we’re pushing for can grow with it. And to do the songs in front of everyone, because it was a good turnout, it was dope and a big shout out to BLESSED for even allowing us to share the stage with him, and to share that moment with us. But yeah, the room was right, like, from the level, down to production, down to everything. So to come out in that sense, and play like four or five songs that no one’s heard, that’s the energy to test and see how people react. Overall, it felt good in the room. So that was really empowering. I think, for us to do that and just to really communicate what we’re doing to the public and whoever was there, got to see it first. From there, we were able to really go out and started getting the songs out.
Baby Prince: Yeah personally, crazy. The first show was probably the best show experience I’ve had so far really.
Did you have any personal worries or doubts about how the audience would receive it or how the music would be received?
B Wise: I don’t even want to sound cocky but not at all. I know I’m next to six other dudes who have the same energy and the same confidence level. So I’m just like, you know, whatever we go and do out there, we’re just gonna have fun anyway. And then by having fun, we’ll be able to push the energy you know, so I didn’t really have fears about it. All I had feared was, if anything, one or two of us forgetting our words because the songs are so new. We wrote this all so fast and we put it together so fast, so that’s the only thing I was worried about.
Once you guys hopped off stage, what was the energy like?
B Wise: Like, wow, yeah. Backstage was like, proper energy; everyone was cheering and just pouring up, sweating. Henny was being spilled, and BLESSED was still on stage, he had to go back out. So, we’re doing that, watching him. But it was big, big vibes for sure. I got chased off by the police as well at the end, they gave me a move-on order. And I was just like, I’m here to work and they just didn’t care about that, didn’t support the vibes going. It’s just part of doing one thing and living in Australia.
With the two singles that you guys have already released, what kind of message are you wanting to convey to people?
Kwame: That’s a great question. Honestly, the message that we are pushing is that we’re changing the narrative of African Australians from all walks of life in Australia. Kind of just showing what really is at the forefront of culture. All in all, we just want to bring our culture together, just as simple as that, you know. To break that generational trauma from what we’ve faced growing up, from our parents, and then now being in positions and of knowledge in a time now, where it’s like, no, we don’t want to be going back on that. At the end of the day, the youth is the future. So, with where we are at now, we’re just trying to build that path for like-minded people who look like us to look and go, damn, like, I can do this too. To that kid who’s in the back of class, who’s the quiet one, who doesn’t have anyone to look at like. I think of times where I’d be watching TV, and I didn’t see anyone that looked like me. Things like that. So you’re kind of just, oh, do we exist? The biggest take on that is just like, we exist, we’re here and we’re pulling everyone and anyone of the Afro diaspora from all walks of life to come together to shine and yet to stay united through togetherness and to move as one.
B Wise: First off, it’s how we can work as a collaborative effort. But the songs in the way that they are, they’re quite unapologetic. And they’re just very raw. They’re very in your face. They’re abrasive, you know what I mean? It’s supposed to make people think, oh shit, there’s a lot of this, and a lot of that, but like, that’s what it’s supposed to invoke, that feeling. And the production as well. From a production standpoint, even arrangement standpoint, it was also to separate ourselves from what’s coming out from our region and somewhat overseas. The production, the whole shits dumb. It’s dumb. Like, I don’t know, I haven’t heard shit like that. There’s a lot of the same sort of sound at the moment. So we just want to add a bit more, you know, flavour, something different to what’s coming out.
Baby Prince: It looks like it’s an African community type of group. And that’s actually quite far from it. Everyone could be BBGB. It’s more of a movement type-thing. Everyone can be part of it, everyone can be included. It’s not sacred where there’s this one set way. Everyone can be part of it. For me to be part of it, it feels good, like a full circle type of experience because I used to be a fan, and just even being friends, the people I used to be a fan of are my friends, it’s crazy.
It’s very obvious the work that you guys are putting in, making waves both personally and as a group. Seeing a crew of so many talented people come together that share the same cultural identity and geographical identity, it used to be a bit of a rarity in the Australian music scene. Do you think the scene is shifting in the right direction?
Kwame: In terms of Australian music, I would say so. I mean, it’s actually really cool to now see certain artists on a campaign, or you might see them something like this, or like that, or even just hearing certain music on Stan or Netflix and things like that. I think some of that is very important. I think artists are starting to recognise the power within themselves and being like, you don’t need certain people to get to where you need to go, you really just need yourself. I think that that’s the most important thing, because at the end of the day, if you don’t believe in yourself, no one will. I’d say sonically, I think we’ll get to a point where, similar to the US where it’s like, LA does this, Chicago does this, New York does this. I think the beauty of us not necessarily having that is that it’s just diverse. You can go anywhere and you can hear this and you can hear that sound. I think that to me, is amazing. Just keep exploring. Even artistically, I just throw myself in the deep end. There’s no growth in comfortability. I love going to the unknown and not knowing what I’m going to get because that’s the beauty of it.
Life is too unpredictable.
Kwame: Exactly. And if you live life trying to predict everything, you’re just going to be disappointed.
Baby Prince: BBGB, everyone is supporting each other; you can really feel that. I feel like we are moving in the right direction, there’s still a long way to go but I think there’s gonna be a lot of really really talented artists coming out of Australia for the world to see.
B Wise: The Australian music scene was going strong there for a second. Let’s say between 2017 to 2019 just before COVID hit, I felt like it was really going into an exciting place. Now it’s starting to feel a little bit monotonous. We hit one plane now; can we go another? There’s a lot of safety in that. We have to kind of embrace that we need to continue to push ourselves as creatives and artists as much as possible. So, as long as we do that we’ll be fine. I think, with people like The Kid Laroi and OneFour as well, there is a bit of a spotlight on Australia, but now that there is, we have to really show out.
And then on that note, why do you think people should keep their eyes and ears peeled for BBGB?
B Wise: I think if you’ve seen each and every one of us in our own journeys, then you know that all we ever tried to do is push boundaries and put on and represent, you know, and tell our stories as well. So coming together is about creating a movement, creating a message of collaboration and a message of understanding. Rap music is Black culture, period, full stop. So it’s about understanding that Black culture in Australia exists, we’re here, we are doing our thing even as small as we are. But we’re Aussies too you know, and we’re just doing our thing. And we are just trying to show positive messages of the African Australian diaspora compared to what the media kind of shows. So it’s about us really just giving a positive light. And then, because we’re musicians, we’re doing it from a music standpoint. But it’s bigger than that. Then we want to pull in our creatives, brothers and sisters, we want to pull in from like, art, fashion film, you name it, even people who’re doing psychiatry, doctors, you name it, we want this whole thing to just completely grow and change the narrative. And as well, our goal ultimately is, of course, we want to connect with the original Bla(c)k people in Australia, you know, to be part of BBGB or be a part of their story.
Baby Prince: As far as music, it’s already crazy. You got Manu, you got BLESSED, Kwame, everyone else. It’s already where it needs to be. And then as far as community wise, like putting a message behind it, giving it a little bit more substance, I think that’s definitely why it’s different. It’s real, and inclusive too.
If you could describe what BBGB has in store next in one word, what would it be?
B Wise: Perfect. When it comes out, you’ll get it.