South Florida is a goldmine for musicians. MCs have diverse backgrounds, but few truly cherish Southern roots like rapper Eric Biddines. Since releasing his first album, Walkin, in 2009, Biddines has approached hip-hop with the same Southern hospitality as legendary lyricists like the Dungeon Family, Outkast, and Goodie Mob, who continue to influence his music. After dedicating his previous four albums to his love for coffee beans and Southern Fla, Biddines has issued a fifth album, The Local Café, which tells more personal stories from his past.
“With this project, I wanted to bring it back to the local scene, but I also wanted to incorporate a bit of my personal taste and my love and fascination with coffee and the entire culture within that,” Biddines says over the phone. “So I merged the two.”
Biddines’ Southern hospitality stems from his roots in Ocala, where he was born in 1984. To escape country living, his family relocated to the projects of Delray Beach when he was 6. Before his mom went off to work in the morning, young Eric would fix her a cup of coffee. He eventually began making his own java. His was a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses, so hip-hop wasn't a topic of discussion at the dinner table. All Biddines was worried about was staying out of trouble and vibing with friends.
Biddines was introduced to the art of rapping after a cousin showed him an immense collection of music from legendary rappers such as Tupac, the Boot Camp Clik, and Heltah Skeltah, as well as Southern artists like Three 6 Mafia, UGK, and Outkast. After acquiring a taste for sounds from the OGs of Dirty South music, Biddines realized he could shed his shyness. After a karaoke session with friends, he felt confident enough to pursue a serious music career.
“I didn’t really talk when I was young,” Biddines says. “I was real shy, so when I was playing around with my friends, I found out quick just by recording on a karaoke machine that you can be anybody through music. I was writing stuff early on with lyrics that don’t necessarily reflect me, but I felt like it was a mask that I was able to express myself behind the audio.”
Biddines' fifth album is an authentic collection of stories from his past with various mentions of his go-to spots in his hometown, his thoughts about a handful of social issues, and coffee references galore. He serves up 16 tracks filled with memorable tales that anyone can relate to. There's “20 Dollar Loan” featuring Drew Tucker, in which Biddines asks for a dub and promises to pay it back by Friday, and “Sumn to Say,” a song he dedicated to venting his real frustrations about Palm Beach County kids who grow up in poverty. As you spend time with the album, you can imagine him performing spoken word on a small stage inside an off-the-grid coffee shop.
But the album isn't just about his past. In the emotional, driven single “Rushing Forever,” Biddines derives inspiration from the great Smokey Robinson as he speaks for all the dudes who aren’t really in touch with their feelings. He pours out his true thoughts about the woman he wants to be with forever and describes making his move posthaste.
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“I came up with the slogan ‘Rushing rorever’ first as if it was a tag line like Nike’s ‘Just do it,'” Biddines says about making the record. “Then I built the song around that because I felt like women want a guy to want to be with them forever, not take his time. We tend to procrastinate a relationship for as long as we can. So I wanted to go the opposite way and say, ‘You know what? I want to be with you forever right now.’ I’m in a rush to want that.”
Biddines' innocent coming-up as a self-righteous youth surrounded by the turmoil in his hometown resembles the familiar story of another good kid who grew up in a "M.A.A.D. city" and became one of the greatest rappers of our generation: King Kunta, AKA Kendrick Lamar. Biddines hasn’t reached that level of rap royalty yet, but he’s doing everything he can to attain that position, one song at a time.
After nearly eight years on the grind, Eric Biddines is on his way to becoming a South Florida staple like Plies and Trick Daddy. Even after he becomes famous, though, he'll always make time to visit his favorite local café, Subculture Coffee in Delray Beach, to sip a cup of breakfast blend, cook up some rhymes, and, if you’re lucky, perform a song or two right out front.