The best thing about Hip-Hop music now days, is that the music is not only a genre it has become its own culture. From the way we wear our jeans – baggy to skinny, sagging to rolled up with Timberlands on, hell even the way we present ourselves to the rest of the world with our dialect –‘Yo, waddup son’ to ‘What’s poppin’ – Hip-Hop has taken on its own culture where in the nineties Rock left off. Robert Miller, aka B.A.S.K.O. is the latest ‘entertainment entrepreneur’ to create not only a name as a artist, but set a new trend with fitted baseball caps and feathers, indie record label and has single-handedly managed to create his own business empire from this. Hailing from Rochester, New York life hasn’t necessarily been a cake walk for B.A.S.K.O. From issues growing up to issues breaking into the industry, but rest assure, B.A.S.K.O. did what any true hustler would do – keep it moving and pursuing his dream! He’s done music for movies (Transformers, American Pie V: The Naked Mile…Ain’t No Game, The Love Guru) and television (CSI, Veronica Mars, Making The Band, From G’s To Gents, The Hills, Date My Mom, The OC) proving if you have a dream you just won’t stop and can’t be stopped. He took the time to talk with BE-NEW YORK about his latest project – his debut album dropping this December titled, 16-9-13-16 – which has a hidden code. He also told us about why his current trend of fitted caps featuring feathers in them will be the next flyest fashion from the hood to the suburbs.
BE- NEW YORK: Feather N Da Fitted is not just a song off your debut album 16-9-13-16, but it also consists of an actual fitted cap with a feather in it. How did you come up with this marketing concept?
B.A.S.K.O.: The hat came about with me going to a club and not being able to get in because I always wore my fitted there and guys can’t wear a fitted to a club. I walk to the club and the bouncer says, “Yo’ dude, I told you, you can’t come in here with a fitted.” I’m like, “Okay but I’m just going to be here about ten minutes, grab me a cocktail and come out.” He’s like, “Sorry dawg, I can’t let you in.” So I said to myself, “How can I get this done, how can I turn this around and get in this club and not have to take my hat off?” I went back home, watched some old movies and started looking at the way Al Capone did his hats and compared them to the way we rock them now. I said to myself, “you know what I’m about to do? I’m about to flip the band on the fitted.” I started practicing with different cloths on hats until I came up with the kind that I thought was ‘fire,’ and I went back to the same club. Again the boun
cer said, “I thought I told you man, you can’t get into the club with no fitted on.” This time the manager came up and said, “What’s the problem?” The bouncer is like, “Yo’, every time this dude come here he come with a fitted on.” So the manager looked at my head and seen the feather then said, “Yo’, let that motherf***er in! He got a motherf***in’ feather in his fitted!” And it ain’t stopped since, I went and created the track and here we are!
BE-NY: Did you intend for the single, Feather N Da Fitted, to actually ties in business wise with the hat?
B.A.S.K.O.: Yes! The track actually unfolds the hat, which unfolds my label as well as my fashion company and the video.
BE-NY: What can listeners expect of your debut album, 16-9-13-16? Also, what is the significance of these series of numbers being the name of the project?
B.A.S.K.O.: The name of the title really is P-I-M-P. But what happened is I switched the alphabets to numbers, so if you go and spell 16-9-13-16 alphabetically, it will read the word ‘PIMP.’
BE-NY: What can be expected off this project musically that hasn’t been presented currently in the Hip-Hop game?
B.A.S.K.O.: Well I’m doing some of the same things, but with my music I’m delivering a good album from top to bottom. Good music for you and someone else to be able to enjoy.
BE-NY: How did you get your start in music?
B.A.S.K.O.: Actually it started off from just recording in studios until one day I started just leaving CD’s in this guy’s windshield who owned the studio. It was a millionaire dude, and I kept leaving CD’s on his windshield until one day he caught me and it went from there.
BE-NY: How important do you think it is for artists to self-promote such as handing out CD’s in Time Square or being on social networking sites to get their name out there?
B.A.S.K.O.: Well I think that it’s very important. Even if you feel like at the end of the day you’re going up there and getting no where, you’re somewhere because you’re trying. I think any individual whether male or female – if you’re trying, that’s all that you can do. I think any person should love themselves for that.
BE-NY: Would you like to see this new ‘feather in the fitted’ trend that you have started be something that lasts for a long time?
B.A.S.K.O.: Definitely. It’s a continuation and forever thing because what I did with the feather in the fitted and what the dress up code is (in clubs) but the ‘Brooklyn Bridge on it,’ meaning you can go from both sides and come back. That’s what I like about it. It also has my logo on it.
BE-NY: How influential is styles such as the feather in the fitted, to a performer’s career as a successful artist?
B.A.S.K.O.: I think it’s important because a lot of people like to see ‘tomorrow.’ They also like to see what they’d like to wear and what I did in their everyday (style). And I like that from the skateboarder dudes to who ever wants to wear it, I want them to go ahead and buy it knowing that he made this for a person to try it and to be free with it and express themselves. I believe in being the first and a trendsetter, and not being afraid to say, ‘if you don’t like it, so what?!’ My life doesn’t rotate around if you’re disappointed in me, I’m my own individual. If you want to be your own individual and the first, you got to cop a feather in the fitted, and it was predated out of that work.
BE-NY: So Fly Records is your own record label. What made you decide to be an independent artist with an independent label versus going with one of the major labels?
B.A.S.K.O.: Well I’ve tried that and it didn’t come out the way I wanted it to. I also felt like I’d rather own my own business to be able to help people like I wanted to rather than to give myself to a label that has three to four percent of myself.
BE-NY: Do you feel more freedom as an independent artist and label? Because most major label artists we’ve spoken to in the past have said that there is a bit of a strain on creativity with major labels.
B.A.S.K.O.: Right, right! I like to be able to own my creativity and not have in my mind that it’s subjected to those who don’t know. As being a people who are not heard and seen, their creative is overlooked sometimes. People get judged on differences that shouldn’t be judged on when it all boils down to the individual that that person is. The only thing you got to do is be you, don’t worry about me! With that, everybody can respect each other.
BE-NY: Who have been some of your influences in both the music and fashion worlds?
B.A.S.K.O.: Everybody from Jay-Z to Teddy Pendagrass, to John Legend to Babyface. From Puffy to Russell. The road is already there, all I’m doing is following them.
BE-NY: What does ‘B.A.S.K.O.’ stand for? Is there a hidden meaning or message behind your name?
B.A.S.K.O.: Black Americans Still Kicking On. It’s so important because I know our culture has been through a lot of struggle despite that we are continuers. I felt that it would not be right for me to continue and make something out of myself for what was paved for me to even be able. That’s one of my main reasons.
BE-NY: What advice do you have for up-and-coming ‘entertainment entrepreneurs’ such as yourself?
B.A.S.K.O.: Stand up for it and stand out! BE an individual and don’t be afraid. Not everybody is going to like you but you’re not here for them. You’re here to BE! That’s what I would say… BE!
BE-NY: What do you think is the main problem with today’s array of Hip-Hop artists in the industry today?
B.A.S.K.O.: Individualism. People are scared to be themselves so they go live in this box, and ‘act’ and ‘pretend.’ And when you do that, they don’t find the ‘being’ that is themselves so they suppress it. It’s crazy. That’s why you got Whodini, guys like Will Smith, Method Man, BIGGIE, Tribe Called Quest… a whole different range of Hip-Hip is there by them saying, “I’m a be me and so what I don’t make music like you but I’m still good.”
BE-NY: How have you been promoting your new project?
B.A.S.K.O.: Music Choice and BET have both been playing my video and promoting it. There’s people in the streets, some people might pay for a billboard to be in Manhattan. I might give a crack head ten dollars just to ride a bike with my T-shirt, you know what I’m saying! (Laughs) I also have a promotional team working hard out of Georgia that’s making things happen.
BE-NY: I Like The Way You Move, a single off the album is said to describe a woman’s body. Tell us more about this track?
B.A.S.K.O.: The reason I wrote that song was that I just like the whole overt reaction that I see in a female so when she moves, I just like the whole contour of it, to me it’s so interesting.
BE-NY: What keeps you motivated?
B.A.S.K.O.: People. Knowing that I can fulfill a need, and I’m a dreamer. I just like to create and know that I can go into that world and hover and knowing that I’ll be good and just leave the rest of the world alone.
BE-NY: Where can readers get a taste of your sound online as well as the feather in the fitted?
B.A.S.K.O.: You can go to BASKOMusic.com. Also there you can find the link to the store that has my hats in it. Also different things about me –where I came from, what I think, where I’ve been and what’ve been through. You can find my songs, Feather N Da Fitted and Get Her on iTunes right now. I don’t talk a lot about Get Her, but the song is hot.
BE-NY: We look forward to 16-9-13-16 dropping this month.
A very special thank you to Juanita Stephens of JS Media for this interview!