Today sees the release of one of the most anticipated UK hip hop albums of the year so far, BVA’s Be Vary Aware. The emcee, who is signed to UK juggernauts High Focus Records, drops an odyssey full of uncompromising boom bap production, razor-sharp lyrics and a unique laid-back cadence on this debut solo LP. We caught up with the wordsmith to discuss his influences, the underlying concepts of his album and the three albums that he would take with him if he were stuck on a desert island.
Sampleface: What is your earliest memory of music?
BVA: Probably the Thomas the Tank Engine theme tune! [laughter] Can’t front, it’s basically a hip hop beat anyway, innit?
SF: If you were trapped on a desert island with no possible hope of escape, what three albums would you want to have with you and why?
BVA: That’s hard. Right now, I’d say… 36 Chambers because it was the start for me or definitely being a hardcore hip hop fan anyway. Gang Starr – Moment Of Truth just because and MOP – Firing Squad because I think I might get angry and need to smash some shit up whilst listening to that one. Must say Fugees – The Score was very nearly in there.
SF: What interests do you have outside of music?
BVA: Good questions. Weed, women and food. I’m a pretty simple creature – add music to that and I’m there I reckon.
SF: In terms of being an emcee, who would you say has been your greatest influence?
BVA: I can’t answer that with just one. Lord Finesse, Slick Rick, GURU and Biggie have all been big influences amongst others like 2Pac, half of Wu Tang, Chester P and Roots Manuva.
SF: You’ve collaborated with some legendary emcees such as KRS-One, Vinnie Paz and Sadat X. How did those collaborations come about? And are there any emcees that you haven’t worked with yet that you would like to work with in the future?
BVA: With Sadat, we just hit up back in the days when Myspace was popping off. Leaf sent him a message, he said yeah and that was that. We paid him a few hundred tokens or something. KRS, Vinnie and Reef came about from Leaf and Illinformed hustling their beats basically. All traded and hustled in one way or another via the producing. But yeah man, I’d like to work with alot of people really. I’d like to work with a load of the dudes that got me into the UK side of things like Chester, Farma, Rodney P and Roots Manuva. Over the pond, I’m feeling people like Roc Marciano, Action Bronson, Joey Bada$$; people like that from the new wave sort of thing.
SF: As a musician, do you feel more comfortable in the recording studio or performing live on stage?
BVA: I feel more comfortable on stage I reckon, that’s how it all started anyway. Me and Leaf were writing rhymes, freestyling and hitting stages before we hit the studio and recorded things; that came afterwards.
SF: February 14th sees the release of your debut solo record ‘Be Very Aware’. What can we expect from it?
BVA: I’d say beat wise its straight up boom bap, “cream of the crop” beats from Leaf Dog and Illinformed (with one from Amdek). Lyrics wise, it’s just me being me. It’s honest and personal and it ain’t just some bars, everything’s about something.
SF: What are the underlying concepts of your new release ‘Be Very Aware’?
BVA: The underlying concept is a journey from me being aware and speaking observations to me being very unaware and tripping out and losing it a bit in the middle and then back to being very aware at the end. It’s almost like me documenting my journey and some of the lessons I’ve learnt and shit.
SF: Can you tell us who is handling the production on ‘Be Very Aware’?
BVA: Its pretty much a 50/50 split from Leaf Dog and Illinformed, with one beat from Amdek.
SF: Are there any other projects that you are planning to release this year?
BVA: Me and Leaf have a label called RLD Records that we are bringing out two guys on: ‘Jack Jetson – The Adventures of Jonny Strange’ and ‘Smellington Piff – Notice of Eviction’, all on Leaf Dog productions. They’re gonna fuck shit up for sure! I also intend to finish a Four Owls album and another Brothers of the Stone album.
SF: Okay, thank you for taking the time to do this interview and good luck with the album.
BVA: No worries, thank you. Peace.