Special to InTheRough written by Hibak Mohamed
In 2018, we heard from Bas with his third studio album “Milky Way.” In an interview with Mass Appeal he said, “It felt like for the first time I put together something that fully encompasses all aspects of me.” The evolution of Abbas Hamad’s signature sound wasn’t over night. From the “Quarter Water Raised” mixtapes to “Milky Way,” we have been able to watch the maturation of his discord. I first heard the MC on J Cole’s track “Cousins,” and I instantly gravitated towards his hunger and drive. The grandeur of Dreamville’s music has been distinguishable and highly anticipated as of late. Label heads Jermaine Cole and Ibrahim Hamad have cultivated a movement beyond music. By amassing a roster of talented artists, Dreamville has been able to distinctively set themselves apart in the game.
“Milky Way” by the Queen’s MC, is truly an embodiment of his international identity. Bas’ father was a diplomat so they moved often when he was younger. He was born in Paris, France and moved to Queens when he was eight. During his childhood he also spent some time in Qatar. His worldly view shaped his identity and flows into his art. On the intro track “Icarus,” Bas declares, “I been giving New York City a new sound.” His New York cadence coupled with Afro-beats and Caribbean rhythms make this album stand out sonically when compared to his earlier works. Bas pays homage to his Sudanese roots with the album artwork, a picture his cousin took of him while they were visiting the Nubian pyramids in Meroë, Sudan.
His love for travel translates into his music and it’s even more evident in the samples he used for “Milky Way.” In the upbeat track “Tribe,” Bas sampled “Zum-Zum” by Edu Lobo, a Brazilian singer from the 60s. On “Boca Raton,” the brazilian funk sound is a sample from Sango’s “Para a Luz.” The electronic chords in “Fragrance,” are by French multi-instrumentalist FKJ. In the track “Designer,” Bas sampled British musician Tom Misch. Bas has never been one to limit himself in regards to his music. Bas previously worked with The Hics, a British electronic band on his last album “Too High To Riot.” I was happy to find out that Bas is planning on releasing a collab album with the band.
“This album is about finding ground. About not poisoning your own well.”
Throughout the album, Bas centers the theme of love. He also relays moments of weakness and vulnerability in his music. On “Barack Obama Special,” he says, “I tell nobody else how it feels / I cannot share the stress I'm feeling.” As the album progresses we note that Bas has overcome his challenges. On “Designer” he raps, “My fears make me feel great...let the pain go I choose to move freely.” In this album, Bas is letting go of the pressures of the music industry and shifting the focus to the love in his life. During the release of “Milky Way” on Instagram he wrote, "This album is about finding ground. About not poisoning your own well. About finding and tethering yourself to the love that truly fulfills you. Love of self. Love of others. Lovers. Family. Friends. Fans. You’ve all given me all the affirmation I’ll ever need.”
Personally, this album was a stand out because of the fluidity and replay value. Even the visuals we got for “Tribe,” “Fragrance” and “Boca Raton” exude a feel good ambiance. You can really tell Bas was having fun with this one. “Milky Way” is a testament that Bas’ music is just as versatile as his passport. We also have the “Revenge of the Dreamers III” tape to look out for from the Dreamville camp. Bas is currently on tour and after you see this album live there’s no denying the milk.
Tune in to Too Deep For the Intro Podcast for more.