(Billboard) – Abbas Hamad aka Bas poses for a portrait duringThe Meadows Music & Arts Festival 2016 at Citi Field on Oct. 1, 2016 in New York City.
You never know who you’ll see in downtown Atlanta. On a random Wednesday in August, three of Dreamville’s signees are riding down North Avenue past The Varsity in a royal blue convertible.
Donning a red shirt and mint green pants, Bas sits on top of the backseat, his signature curls blowing in the wind as J.I.D and Olu of Earthgang sit in the front seat. As the car trails a camera crew in a Uhaul, “Down Bad,” the standout cut from Revenge of the Dreamers III, the Billboard 200 no. 1 compliation album from Dreamville, plays softly from the car’s speakers.
The group has been recording a number of videos around Atlanta for the past few days, but today’s shoot wraps inside the Atlanta Olympic Cauldron Tower. As Earthgang hangs out inside the local landmark, Bas sits in a nearby SUV talking about his forthcoming projects.
J. Cole, Bas, J.I.D, EarthGang and Young Nudy, “Down Bad”
J. Cole Jets to Atlanta to Meet With Bas, EarthGang, Young Nudy & J.I.D. for Dreamville’s ‘Down Bad’ Video
In August, the rapper released the first of a series of EPs under the title Spilled Milk. The project featured four songs, including collaborations with fellow Dreamville artists Ari Lennox, J.I.D. and Earthgang. Later this year, the rapper will release the second volume (or “crate,” to keep with the milk theme) from the series.
Read about what inspired the Spilled Milk series, Bas’ forthcoming project with The Hics and why he says Dreamville is “like Netflix” below.
What made you decide to release this project in “crates”?
I hadn’t done anything like that probably since my mixtapes where I could just create and release so freely. The theme is really just tied around collaboration. There’s collaboration on every song on the project. I really like love these songs. It might not live anywhere specific, you know what I mean? But it was something I wanted to get out. Just trying to keep exploring and keep growing in new avenues as far as my artistry.
It’s been less than a year since you released Milky Way. What made you want to release another project now?
I’m always working on three to four projects. I’m literally working on like three albums right now. I’ve learned my workflow. I’ve learned like the songs I want to share, the songs I regret never sharing. I don’t want to feel that way anymore. If something lives up to my standard, then release it.
And these projects are coming out in the midst of a monumental year for Dreamville.
We’re like a subscription service now. We’re like Netflix. We really got something coming every month.
Was that intentional or did everyone just happen to be ready to drop projects this year?
Both. I think it’s like individual goals and team-wide goals. I think this is the first year we’re really like rounding in the form, really since [Revenge of the] Dreamers. I think that also comes along with all the attention that that album garnered for Dreamville and for artists individually. It’s more ears so you might as well feed them.
Can you explain the inspiration behind Spilled Milk?
Spilled Milk is literally… spilled milk. It’s me opening the vaults. It’s some of the funnest marketing we’ve done. We remade a bunch of “Got Milk?” campaigns. It’s just jokes [and] personalities. With the album, we get so deep into it. It’s exhausting to a point whereas this is just like, let’s release some music.
You use the term “milk” a lot in your projects. For people who don’t know yet, what does “milk” mean?
It’s a Queens saying. I guess it’s the same way a lot of people use “drip.” That’s just something we say like, but it applies to so many things. You could be like, ‘How’s my fit?’ ‘It’s milk.’ ‘I linked up with this girl.’ ‘How was she?’ ‘She’s milk.’ ‘How was the party?’ ‘The party was milk.’ In the span of how we came together for Milky Way, to me it was about having the self-confidence to like artistically do what I wanted to do regardless of certain pressures this industry will put on you. That was my milk in a sense. It was just about really about having a self-assurance. Those are the things you need to not compromise yourself.
And even down to the album cover [for Milky Way], which was me and the nubian pyramids in my native Sudan, it was about making a very unique statement about myself, about who I am as a person and what I want my artistry to represent.
Do you think all of the traveling you’ve done and also your roots being based in so many different places is why you’re so comfortable exploring so many different sounds?
Absolutely. It was part of how I came up. We lived in France for like five years when I was younger. We lived in the Middle East. My family’s African, I got four older siblings that were into all types of world music, as well as just like local New York shit. So I definitely hear it when I create. I know where all my inspirations come from. I know why something sounds like this.
What else do you have coming up?
I’m working on an album with The Hics. If I win an award for some shit it’ll be that album.
How is that collaboration different from others that you’ve done?
They just push me to be more creative [and] to step out of the confines of what’s acceptable in hip-hop or what’s expected. I just did a song with FKJ. It’s the same concept. Some people musically are so fucking good that you feel pushed. You want to be a little more poetic with your words. We can get away with a lot in hip-hop. Even the way we collaborate, we talk about songs in ways that I’ve never talked to any collaborators.