Growing up in Vallejo, Baby Bash took tremendous pride in his city’s -- and the larger West Coast’s -- powerful rap heritage. Even though he considers himself a product of Mac Dre, Ice Cube and E-40, little did Bash know that he would have gold singles, gold albums and platinum songwriting credits on his resume.
That’s because Baby Bash’s rise to musical prominence came by osmosis, not by a well-crafted and perfectly executed plan to become an international superstar. After a stint playing basketball at Solano Junior College, Bash started hanging out at a local recording studio. Going into the studio was an escape, having been raised in a family struggling with addiction and criminal activity. “I’ve experienced so much chaos,” Bash says. “I’ve seen my mother drugged. I’ve seen a lot of little conniving stories, so when I want to write music about struggle, the criminal aspect of life, it made it real simple because I could just go back to my childhood.”
Despite the circumstances, Bash never allowed himself to get caught up in the world of bling and gangsters. Instead he stays true to his own personal style and love for music and words. “I’m no hard ass gangster wanting to step on toes and I’m no corny cat either,” says Bash. “I’m a player and hustler and I love money and love women and love a good time.”
Influenced by the rap, R&B, reggae and rock he and his friends listened to in the culturally diverse Bay Area, Bash felt that spending time at a studio would give him a perfect opportunity to clear his mind as he plotted his next move.
True, he was going to relax with his friends, but being around other artists soon inspired Baby Bash to start rapping himself. His humor and trash talking were a hit with his friends. “I wasn’t even serious,” Bash recalls. “I just liked to cuss and talk trash. I would talk about your momma in a rap. I like to make people laugh and smile, make them feel good about themselves.”
Even though Bash didn’t take himself too seriously, his memorable raps earned him spots in the popular underground groups Potna Deuce and Latino Velvet. His uncanny way with words made him a solid songwriter and allowed him to gain legions of fans on California’s low-rider car show circuit. Traveling and performing on the car show circuit led to Bash’s connection with Latin rap godfather Frost, who then introduced Bash to Houston rapper South Park Mexican (also known as SPM).
SPM had established himself as a major star in the Southwest and, like Bash’s friends, was impressed with Bash’s songwriting abilities. Bash (then recording as Baby Beesh) wrote the hit record “Wiggy” for SPM, who signed a deal with Universal Records. SPM was soon incarcerated, though, and Bash struck out on his own. He wrote the tune “Lifted” and gave it to a friend of his who had some radio connections.
Even though it was an independent release, “Lifted” enjoyed substantial radio play throughout the South and West. Soon, several record companies began calling Bash. Columbia Records, for one, wanted Bash to sell the song to Frankie J for $5,000. Short on cash and eager for a break, Bash almost went through with the deal.
Fortunately, he didn’t, as “Lifted” remained a hit at radio and soon helped Bash earn his own major label recording contract with Universal Records in 2003. The song, later renamed “Suga Suga,” launched Baby Bash’s solo career. The smooth cut subsequently went gold and lead to the gold success of the rapper-singer’s Tha Smokin’ Nephew album.
Subsequent singles “Baby I’m Back,” with a pre-superstardom Akon, and “Super Saucy,” with R&B star Avant, extended Bash’s streak of hits. His straightforward writing style has also made him an in-demand songwriter. Some of his most noteworthy songs are “Obsession,” the smash single from Frankie J’s platinum The One album, and Paula DeAnda hit “Doing Too Much” single.
Baby Bash’s distinctive, all-encompassing style and his distinctive look make him a refreshingly original artist, someone who isn’t easily categorized. “I don’t really consider my music rap, hip-hop, pop or R&B,” says Bash, who is now based in Houston. “It’s just a fusion of everything, and you don’t really know what it is, what I am. People don’t even know what nationality I am, which I like. I’d rather be a little mystery than have all my business out.”
Now, in 2007, history seems to be repeating itself. On the heels of the independent success of his “Mamacita” single -- a radio smash in Los Angeles and throughout Texas, among other major locales, in 2006 -- Baby Bash is gearing for the release of his first, yet to be titled, Arista Records album set for release this summer. The first single going to radio on May 28th is “Cyclone,” featuring T-Pain and produced by Lil Jon.
Bash is working with longtime collaborators Happy Perez (Frankie J) and Ryan Tedder (Timbaland, Bubba Sparxxx). Working with Perez, in particular, holds a special significance for Bash. “It’s my recipe, my formula,” he says. “I’ve been using it ever since I met Happy Perez. He did ‘Suga Suga,’ ‘Obsession.’ Without him, there’d be no Baby Bash or Frankie J. Happy P is the one that made those beats that blew up for us.”
Given his strong ties to Perez, it should come as no surprise that Baby Bash uses beats as inspiration for his timeless tunes. “My music, it starts off with the beat,” he says. “The beat will tell me what melody to use, what the mood should be. I’m more of a songwriter. I’m not really a big-time battle rapper, but I’ll write you a song in a heartbeat.”
Amazingly, Baby Bash considers his lengthy track record a mystery of sorts. “I’m still trying to figure out how I got here,” he says. “I consider myself a regular dude who just happens to know how to do music.”
And one who does it very well.