The worlds of rap and rock have intertwined many times in the past, but never quite like this. Far from the nu-metal pioneered by Limp Bizkit, Rage Against The Machine et al, on his debut mixtape, North Londoner Bakar presents a different spin.
‘BADKID’ is a gloriously genre-bending collection, unrestricted by traditional boundaries or preconceptions of what he ‘should’ be, or what his fans ‘should’ like. Opener ‘One Way’ mixes the raucous indie of Jamie T with incessant, half-rapped vocals and socially-conscious lyrics (“If the government calls, put my dick in their mouth / ‘Cause I’m back at my mum’s, I can’t even move out”), while highlight ‘BADlands’ sees choppy, Bloc Party-esque chords set above a thumping 808 drum machine and a wild, shouted rap that channels the energy of Death Grips, before a sombre, softly sung chorus filters in.
“It’s trying to bridge the gap,” he tells us, “and having young kids - especially young black kids - knowing that you can like whatever you want, and have no rules or obstruction.” As tiring as constantly being second guessed with regards to his somewhat indefinable sound can be for Bakar, it’s something he also relishes.
“Yeah,” he half sighs, mulling the point over. “With the colour of my skin, it looks like a rap mood, but when they listen and they realise it’s not… yeah. And that was by design, not by accident. I hear the same thing all the time. ‘Oh my god, I didn’t expect it to sound like this, ra ra ra!’.”
“It’s trying to bridge the gap, and having young kids - especially young black kids - knowing that you can like whatever you want, and have no rules or obstruction.”
“From early on, as a kid, my taste was varied without me really knowing it. As I got older, I started to realise when I got to my early teens that my taste was kinda different, and a bit all over the place. It’s been a real journey.”
He points out Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ‘By The Way’ as a particularly influential record that shaped his taste. “When I was like 13, I was a super rap kid,” he says, “and then I heard that record. As a kid that was listening to rap and grime really heavily, it made sense to me.”
“Also ‘Antidotes’ by Foals,” he expands. “That might have had the biggest effect on me, on a musical level, thinking ‘What the fuck am I listening to?! Whatever’s in my brain, it’s all making sense. Everything’s connecting.’”
‘Everything connecting’ is a perfect, succinct way to describe ‘BADKID’: a first statement from a new artist drawing inspiration from all corners of the musical canon, and creating with it a sound like nothing else around at the moment.
Bakar’s new mixtape ‘BADKID’ is out now.