Viral rapper bbno$ (Baby No Money) has spoken to NME about his new album ‘Bag or Die’ – describing it as “me, saying absolutely nothing on all these songs”.
Having recently played the main stage at Reading & Leeds festival and clocked up over two billion streams, the Canadian rapper (real name Alexander Leon Gumuchian)’s new record arrives today (Friday October 21) and features collaborations with the likes of Yung Gravy, Diplo and Rich Brian.
Speaking to NME, Gumuchian explained that while the album doesn’t have a specific message, the lyrics are largely concerned with capitalism.
“We live in a capitalist society, so either you play the game or the game plays you,” he said. “Typically, in a nice life, you play the game, you have money and you live life. That’s always been my perspective because I understand that, systemically, some shit you can’t win. Then that’s just the end of the game.
“But the one thing you can do is work your ass off. Typically, when you work your ass off, the majority of the time you get rewarded via success. Success is typically going to increase your quality of life – because money increases your quality of life. Unfortunately, that is the case.”
The rapper revealed that the album is titled ‘Bag or Die’, “Because I wanted to bag this year as far as I humanly can, and now I know my limit, and I definitely don’t fuck with doing this many shows.”
He continued: “My achilles tendon is cooked, and I fully limp now. I really need to go and get it checked out and get a massage but I just have no time. But the show must go on…”
Talking about his packed year, which has also included sell-out US and European shows, he said: “It’s been great seeing all the people who really rock with me, especially as I hadn’t been able to play live because of the pandemic. I didn’t know that kids cared so much.”
Among his most memorable shows was opening the main stages at Reading & Leeds festivals, he said: “All the security guards were like, ‘That was the best opening set I’ve ever seen’ and saying ‘you snapped bro’.
Whilst at the festival, he said he saw PinkPantheress’ show (“that shit was crazy!”) and met Piri & Tommy, and Bad Boy Chiller Crew – the latter of whom he partied with afterwards.
Having played in the UK pre-COVID too, he added: “The UK seems like they love me, and I love the UK.”
Another UK-based artist that he said he admires is the drum n bass rapper Bru-C: “I met him at Pukkelpop in Belgium and became really good friends with him.”
Since then, he said he has “fallen in love with the energy of drum n bass” and next year plans to fly to the UK and make a drum’n’bass project “with a bunch of legends, ” who Bru-C is going to introduce him to.
He added that “making pop music, or whatever the music is that I make, sucks”. Instead, he said, “I want people to lose their minds.”
He went on: “I’m really excited, because I love putting myself in weird situations, positions where I’m not necessarily uncomfortable, but I’m not comfortable. I feel like me hitting different types of beats and being around a bunch of people that are embracing me because I’m embracing a different musical culture, that’s really exciting.”
He also revealed that the D’n’B project will not be his only release planned for 2023. “I’m going back to my independent route where I just drop a shitload of music,” he said. “It starts out with me doing a ballad project (me singing on beats with literally no drums), then I do drum‘n’bass, and then ‘Baby Gravy 3’, which is another EP with Yung Gravy, then I’m going to do another project myself.”
He added that working with longtime friend and collaborator Yung Gravy is great because “we work in exactly the same way; we just get in a studio, say a bunch of dumb shit and, sometimes, that’s just it”.
Speaking of his viral success, the rapper told us that humour and meme culture is important to him as an artist because “everyone’s too serious and there’s too much negativity in the world” and that he’s fed up with people leaving comments online saying he seems “too positive” because “I’m genuinely stoked on my life, it’s amazing.”
“Hypothetically, I understand that I might be a little bit more popular if I took myself incredibly seriously but I can’t – I just don’t care,” said Gumuchian. “I don’t care to be the one in front of a camera being all serious. All these artists that are like ‘I woke up and I was missing her, so I just had to write a ballad’. Shut the fuck up.”
He said that when he writes sad music “I’ll be laughing my ass off, because it’s so funny, it’s so cringy,” adding that he recently finished a song where the lyric was ‘I wake up and I still put two times the amount of coffee in the machine’.
“It’s kind of poetic, kind of depressing and it’s so funny,” he said. “It’s dumb, but it might resonate with someone. I think, through music, I can affect people,” he added, having wanted to be a doctor when he was younger.”
He continued: “In all seriousness, perhaps my music can actually help people and take them away from whatever is perhaps troubling them on that day.”
Gumuchian also described his music for people who haven’t yet heard it as “definitely not for everyone – but it’s definitely for people who get it. Some people do and some people don’t.”
When asked where he thinks bbno$ fits in the music industry, he said that he and Yung Gravy are at “the forefront of our genre – whatever that genre is.
“It’s just us fucking around and having fun,” he admitted. “I think it’s cool because there’s nobody doing it better than us. I don’t know where I fit in, but I definitely don’t fit in with many.”
Having first gone viral on TikTok back in 2020 with the track ‘Lalala’, he said he is now fed up of having to be interviewed about the platform.
“I get that it is the music business right now,” the rapper argued. “Record labels are becoming more obsolete by the day because of TikTok – and, thank god, because fuck a record label. But, every single day it’s about TikTok.”
Having met with the team behind the platform’s new music distribution service, Rezzo, in Indonesia, he added “honestly, I hope TikTok takes the music business forever. I don’t give a fuck about a record label – they can eat my butt.”
He added that his main aim, after music, is to start a non-profit organisation for Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, which he says has a massive opioid crisis.
“I’ve just grown up there and I’ve seen it firsthand,” he added. “I have an apartment Downtown, so that’s my end goal – just to make enough money to be totally okay, and then work on something like that, because that’s what’s important for me.”
‘Bag or Die’ is out now. bbno$ is on tour in North America throughout 2022. Visit here for tickets and more information.