Dreamville artist Bas was first introduced to J. Cole in 2007 when his brother Ibrahim “IB” Hamad was attending St. John’s University in Queens with the future rap luminary. Bas wasn’t even rapping at the time, but Cole ultimately inspired him to pick up the microphone — and he hasn’t looked back.
With three studio albums under his belt and contributions to Revenge Of The Dreams, Revenge Of The Dreamers II and Revenge Of The Dreamers III, he’s becoming as seasoned as his Dreamville boss — and there’s nothing “off” about it. Meanwhile, his brother IB now manages Cole and oversees the label.
“When I met Cole in ’07, he rapped and I definitely wasn’t rapping back then,” Bas tells HipHopDX in a recent interview. “He’d been at college at St. John’s University in Queens, which was pretty much in my backyard. My brother was going to school with Cole, and they became good friends. Then when I hit the buzz,and I started working on my music, Cole was just always providing some guidance, somebody I could lean on and get an ear on things.
“Then I remember one day he was like, ‘Man, I can’t wait to see where you’re going to be three years from now as you keep developing.’ I’ll tell you, that’s something that we have at Dreamville that’s unique — artist development. It’s still a thing. Literally, like three years after he told me that, he was starting the label with Interscope, and he told me he wanted to sign me. So it kind of all happened. It was really like a family business.”
Although it’s been seven years since 2018’s Milky Way, Bas is still busy putting out projects. On July 9, he recruited J. Cole and Lil Tjay for “The Jackie” and its accompanying visual. Produced by T-Minus, the song screamed summer anthem. The video also brought a comedic energy to the track, with J. Cole driving a convertible Chrysler LeBaron as an Uber driver and Bas rapping the hook, “You see the drop top bitch/Stop playin’ with me.”
Needless to say, Bas isn’t letting his foot off the gas. On October 23, he and his Dreamville family — J.I.D, EarthGang, Ari Lennox, Cozz, Lute and Omen — will descend on Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado for a rare, star-studded show. The event marks one of the first major concerts Bas has done since the COVID-19 pandemic kicked off in March 2020.
“I’m super excited to get back on the road,” he says. “I miss it a lot. You got to find the pros and cons to it. Obviously, shows were taken from us and just human interaction in general. The adventure of life was also kind of taken away. Things got real settled, but there’s pros to that, too.
“I’ve been on the road for the better part of the last decade, so it’s cool to have some time to work on stuff, build a home situation and see my family a lot more often, things of that nature. Then creatively, there was pros and cons to it, too. I think it’s just what you make of it.”
And Bas has been making the most out of every opportunity that crosses his path — and that sometimes involves some pretty heavy hitters. While Bas doesn’t get rattled by meeting too many celebrities these days, he does admit talking to JAY-Z for the first time had him a little shook.
“I’ve been in some rooms with Cole, where he was working with some people,” he says. “Then I did Revenge Of The Dreamers, where we had half the industry in the studio. You know what I mean? But the first time Hov pulled up to a Cole session, I was pretty star-struck. I can’t lie. I grew up on Hov.
“That was probably like 2011, 2010. It was the very early, early Cole days. I just said, ‘What’s up?’ He’s real cool. Hov’s mad down to Earth. Super down to Earth. But at that point, I didn’t know that about him. I just know him from what I seen. Since then, I just know that’s how he is. He’s just a chill dude.”
Tickets for the Red Rocks Dreamville show are available here. Check back with HipHopDX soon for Part II of the Bas interview where he’ll discuss his path to success, “The Jackie” video and J. Cole’s influence.