Lil Bam is defining Alabama’s new soundscape one hit record at a time.
The self-titled Airport Baby has easily become a formidable act on the rise when it comes to Southern influence.
In such a fast paced industry where deadlines prompt swift actions, things tend to work out for the better when you trust the process and move at your own pace – or as Lil Bam says, “I took the turtle route when everybody else took the rabbit route, and now I’m lit.“
But the road to being lit didn’t come easy. If anything, Lil Bam had to take the road less traveled, enduring a number of unprecedented losses just before he could see his first win.
Known for his melodic style, uptempo anthems and narrative approach, music is a therapeutic vice for the Birmingham native, who has overcome a series of tragedies in the last few years. However, in retrospect, it’s almost like you have to take the good with the bad, and some of life’s most valuable lessons stem from growing pains.
Sonically, Bam pens the soundtrack to overcoming misfortune through cryptic prose and cash rich mentions. With a number of genre-defying EP’s attached to his namesake, candidly speaking, Lil Bam was certified in the streets long before his breakout single “Julio” was birthed. And just like the former Alabama megastar turned NFL icon (Julio Jones), “Julio made the transition from Alabama to Atlanta and been turnt ever since and I’m on the same shit, so I’m Julio,” Bam exclaims.
With an unyielding work ethic to help champion his flair for inventive wordplay, Lil Bam is slated to redefine what it means to outwork the competition.
Our conversation follows below.
What does it mean to be one of the hottest artists coming out of Birmingham right now?
It means a lot to me because it’s honestly always been a dream of mine, but I wasn’t passionate about it. Starting off, I wasn’t chasing being a rapper – I didn’t know which route I wanted to take.
When I first started rapping, nobody was really fucking wit me. It was people in the hood, I’m coming from the studio, I’m letting them hear the music and shit, and everybody got jokes and shit.
Like, when I used to come on the block and chill, everybody got some funny shit to say – didn’t nobody really believe that I could do it.
I took the turtle route when everybody else took the rabbit route, and now I’m lit.
It’s a great feeling, it’s wonderful.
How would you best describe the world’s response to your breakout single “Julio” ?
It was surprising to me, I never thought Julio was gonna be the song to do what it did.
First of all, I didn’t put effort into the song.
It shocked me, but at the same time, it just showed me that I’m a better artist than I think I am. From that point on, you could hear the difference in my music. I started putting more me into my music, more energy into it.
When I first started rapping, I ain’t want the folks to be down my throat talking about I’m promoting this, I’m promoting that. Like wit ‘Chu Chu’, I was targeting the kids, I wanted to get the kids first and do it like that.
At the same time, I know I can make all types of music.
“Julio” was the spark that put that in me. I can drop whatever I wanna drop, and I’m gone go off, so I just started talking my shit after that.
Sonically, “Julio” sounds like a detailed account of a hustler’s day-to-day life. All things considered, what was your mindset like with creating this track?
I had started saying, “I’m the Julio of the rap game”, because I came from Alabama, went to Atlanta and went CRAZY.
Everybody know how big football is in Alabama, how big college football is in Alabama. It’s basically like he (Julio Jones) was playing for a professional football team here – we don’t have a NFL team.
Julio was already a NFL player here, he was already that.
So I was like, Julio made the transition from Alabama to Atlanta and been turnt ever since and I’m on the same shit, so I’m Julio.
Rick Ross on the remix – that’s pretty huge. How exactly did you manage to piece together a featured verse of that stature so early on in your career?
Through a mutual potna, a mutual business potna ya know. We work with some of the same people.
They played the song for em, but we really didn’t know how it was gonna go – I mean, this Ross we talmbout.
He heard the track and hit us back like send em the whole thing – that’s all he had to say.
Once they said that, I’m like bet, let’s do it – send it to em.
He had it back to me so fast, so I knew he wasn’t finna fuck over the song. And he went the fuck off, he walking that boss shit on there.
When it come to Jucee Froot, she a great artist mane, I just love how she pop her shit.
I honestly wanna say that the female rap scene right now is crazy as hell.
She definitely gone be one of them ones to be top tier, she gone be stuck in this shit for a while.
How she came on that song mane, that shit had me stuck forreal.
It’s evident music is a therapeutic escape for you, almost like the booth is your refuge. What are your studio must-haves whenever you’re in the mood to record?
Just a good vibe, that’s really all I need. That’s the only necessity in it when it comes to going to the studio.
Far as extra stuff that I’d prefer to have there, a little bottle of Belaire, backwoods and my medication, I’m in there.
Whatever we gone talk about, that’s what I’ma talk about – that’s how we coming.
Let’s talk about “Make The Law Freestyle” making someone twerk on top of a casket – how do you feel about that whole situation?
When I first saw it, I showed it to my mama and I’m like,”Ma, you see this shit”, and then I thought about it, my mama helped me get a better understanding.
Ain’t nothing wrong wit that. When people die, you supposed to send em off wit a celebration, instead of being sad and mourning.
I truly respect that mane.
I looked on Instagram and seen how Lil Duval has posted it and some mo’ folks. Lil Duval, I watch his shit every day, and he had my song playing on his page – that shit had me shocked man.
To have me playing in the background of ya people’s funeral, that’s an honor to me.
I’ve noticed a lot of artists have allocated money towards other business ventures outside of music, they don’t just sit on money. With this in mind, have you ever considered exploring your options as an entrepreneur?
I got plenty of different approaches that I wanna take on that tip.
I wanna do the lawn service for one, simply because my dad love to cut grass. I wanna see pops turnt, so I’mma do that.
The food trucks, I got several ideas, but I can’t tell you all of em.
I’m focused on expanding out to doing other shit, I know music can’t be my only source of income.
What are your thoughts on artists using their platform to speak out against social injustice?
I don’t feel like it be genuine, that’s why I don’t really get into it. This stuff ain’t just started going on, this been going on for years now.
I feel like artists doing that now to keep they brand relevant, they wanna do it because that’s what’s trending right now – and I don’t respect that.
If you one of them people that’s fighting for social injustice, be that person – on and off the internet. But when it comes down to having a photo shoot at the rally and everything you doing, you gotta have some type of content – you going to protest for content, speaking on stuff for content, all that shit like that – I don’t respect it mane.
When a rapper been rapping for however many years and then the moment he die, this man shit going platinum. Why y’all won’t doing this when the man was alive?
On that same tip, I’m like why we ain’t been speaking on this? Now when it hit the media and it’s one of the main things being talked about, now everybody want a part.
You know how much they criticized J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar for talking about shit like that, they burning em up mane for what they doing – turn around, and now it’s something cool, everybody wanna be apart of it.
Lotta people done got canceled out for saying the wrong shit, but I don’t wanna speak on it, cause I’m not a hypocrite.
In terms of civic engagement and raising awareness on issues that concern the general public, what would Lil Bam like to see done differently?
Practicing the shit we jumping on social media and talking about.
Let’s be active wit the shit, let’s not make it a trend.
It’s not supposed to be about who can give more or who can donate this.
We all supposed to unite as one, whether you rich or poor, that ain’t how that’s supposed to be mane.