Abbas Hamad aka Bas is a Sudanese-American rapper born in Paris and grew up in Queens, New York. He’s signed to J Cole’s label, Dreamville. He was in 254 this past weekend for the Jameson Connects Kenya concert, as part of his Milky Way Tour. Alfayo Onyango caught up with him
You are finally in 254. What are you relishing the most about this place?
We landed in Kenya at around 1:30am on Friday and went straight to the club for a hang-out with fans and it was super exciting. While I’m here, I’ll be looking for inspiration, learn the culture and enjoy being in the motherland.
Just how did you get into music?
I was inspired by some friends to start rapping. Some random night, as we had drinks kind of sparked me to it. Coming from the States, hundreds of children around you rap and I used to be around them a lot. I never thought of doing it myself because I used to look at it the wrong way and couldn’t figure out clearly what I would get from it.
I ended up doing one verse and got so addicted to that form of expression. It felt special, therapeutic and addictive because I had never drawn, written or composed anything. I was 23 years old by that time. Your show was put together via social media.
How easy or difficult was it to bring it to fruition?
It was hard until that first tweet. I was used to conventional channels of booking agents and what not, but I was too keen to do shows in the African continent. Kenya was already major to us via our social media following, so it was easy to make it a reality and I’m glad to be here right now.
Are you looking forward to working with homegrown acts?
Yes; I’m quite excited to be informed about what goes on out here. I’ve been to other places such as Lagos and Johannesburg before and realised how distinct artistes can sound in context to where they are from. The fact that I’m not in tune with so much from here means there’s more for me to discover.
Do you stay in touch with Sudan’s current affairs owing to your parentage?
My dad was a career diplomat, my sister worked for United Nations, so those kind of conversations do pop up frequently. You seem so fond of Africa.
How important was it for you to be physically here?
It is very important. I believe it’s a good time for the continent, especially culturally for the arts and music. For me, I’m simply doing my part and this is part of it. You’re also a football fan and your song Tribe is featured in the latest Fifa video game.
What team do you support?
I am a great fan of Paris Saint-Germain. It is a club I have supported since my childhood.
What other interests are you pursuing besides music?
I am on tour right now for my new album, Milky Way. So, travelling, as has always been a great experience for me, is what I am doing a lot currently. I also watch a lot of movies and so I am trying to write more and scripting for films.
What’s that one legacy Bas wants to leave behind?
I want to positively impact on people; to leave behind a story of positivity and respect. Additionally, as long as I live, I wanna be accessible to people.