From an early age, Busdriver was weened on rap and what he calls “heavy jazz.” His father wrote the 1985 Def Jam biopic Krush Groove. Busdriver emerged as a rap contender when he was “rapping a lot” on the school bus with his friends, he says. His lyrics, inspired by the L.A. riots in 1992, pushed boundaries from the outset. And he was inducted into the famed open-mike workshop Project Blowed at the tender age of 16.
Since then, his star has been rising on the growing West Coast indie-rap scene. His lyrics challenge race and class divisions, as he sings on "Species of Property" from the album Thumbs: "They’re telling me that the body’s free/But we the species of property. A mislabeled parcel of human electricity... Prehistoric in form, beyond time and essence/I wrote that for Baltimore."
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In recent years, he's collaborated with Milo, Mike Eagle, Jeremiah Jae, Zeroh, Flying Lotus, Modeselktor, Danny Brown, Aesop Rock, Daedelus, Kneebody, Mono/poly, P.O.S, Deerhoof, Daveed Diggs, Anderson Paak, and others. He's dropped ten studio albums during his rap exploration; his most recent release is the critically acclaimed Perfect Hair (2014), as well as the mixtape Thumbs (2015).
“The reason why rap music is so great to me, why I feel it gives me an advantage, is because rap music is about the complete,” he told Fact magazine in an interview. “It’s about being able to synthesize what’s around you. It’s kinda rooted in the lower tier of the socio-economical ladder in being able to forge and make do with little, with the ‘not much’ that you have. It’s born out of disadvantage, so it’s all-inclusive. Taking that ethic with me into the early ’00s and being introduced to all these scenes, it opened me up and I was like, Why doesn’t everyone do this?”
Busdriver. With Zeroh and Bleubird. 10 p.m. Thursday, July 13, at Gramps, 176 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-699-2669; gramps.com. Tickets cost $10 via ticketfly.com.