Bassboy Makes the Best Soundcloud Rap But Isn't a Soundcloud Rapper

Okay, we're joking – and so is he. We talk to the Brummie bassline producer about the parody rap tracks that have seen him 'go viral.'
March 19, 2019, 10:39am
Bassboy press photo
(Photo via PR)

The line between music and memes grows thinner every day. Whether it’s the extended run of novelty acts like Big Shaq and Pete and Bas in the UK or the meta-trolling of any rainbow-haired SoundCloud rapper across the Atlantic, you increasingly might need to squint to catch where a joke stops and ‘serious’ music begins. Birmingham-based producer Bassboy discovered that first-hand, when his series of parody videos led to him gaining millions of views, fielding requests from festival bookers and even contemplating becoming a SoundCloud rapper for real.

Chances are you’ve seen one of Bassboy on your timeline at some point this year – at this point, he’s clocked up about 20 million views across four parodies. If you haven’t seen one, here’s basic gist: Hunter clocks the popularity of… something – Migos, Valentine’s Day, his last parody – and speeds you through a montage-like process of writing a paint-by-numbers AutoTuned rap track to match. At first, the videos grab you because they’re funny. Then you think, ‘damn, this guy can actually speed-write this fake Soundcloud rap really well???’ Consider him the owner of the mantle handed down by those guys who once parodied Alt-J so deftly in 2015 that the band changed their Twitter profile picture to match the punchline.

Anyway, since we like talking to people who are mid-meme explosion, we rang up Bassboy to find out more. He’s even been ‘forced’ to upload a full version of the first track to Spotify, after all. But more than that, despite his new-found comedy fame, Bassboy’s first love is bassline, a British genre of dance music that sits somewhere between house and UK garage. And now he’s on a mission to introduce his new fans to his original sound, too.

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Noisey: Hey Bassboy, when did the idea for the parodies happen?
Bassboy: The videos are really recent but the idea behind the jokes… I would do that stuff before it was even a thing, before Instagram was around. In 2009 – the first time I left the country – I went to Ayia Napa and broke my leg from being silly. When I got back to the UK, I’d come from such a fast lifestyle that it was really strange that I couldn’t do shows. It was hard for me to slow down and I went into a crazy state of depression.

I did this thing in my house called Bassboy TV, and I was doing videos like these to get out of the depression. That’s when this whole idea for videos and stuff started, way before anything. I did a few, and I used to post them on Facebook, and they’d go quite viral. I don’t think the word “viral” was about then, but that’s what was happening. I had these ideas for years, but I never did it because I didn’t have a team and I couldn’t be consistent with it.

The SoundCloud rap style stuff is music I’ve been making before I started making bassline; if I get brain-block I just mess around in the studio and make beats like that. But the one that blew up, I was drunk one time, and I made it. That’s the truth, I got home from the gym, I got drunk, and I was thinking ‘let me make a funny video’, and it went crazy.

There’s a clear understanding of comedy in the way it’s edited – it seems like you know what you’re doing…
I always had the ideas and I just didn’t know how to execute them. But this formula is simple innit? Because it’s music, I already do that, making the whole song and video takes about an hour maximum. It’s not a whole lot of time for the result it gets!

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How has the reaction been? The first one got around 12 million views right?
It’s gone way beyond that now! Last time I checked, it was on 18 million, about a week ago. My Instagram has blown up: I got 50,000 followers in the last week, and I’ve only done four of these videos! My DMs are crazy. Loads of people are reaching out to me asking about the stuff I use to make the songs; there are giant festivals in America trying to book me.

Wait, really?
Haha, I’m being dead-ass. It’s crazy!

How are you dealing with it?
It’s been so organic, I wasn’t planning on any of this happening. I was just drunk in my house and it happened. I’m a universal person, so I’m just looking at it logically, I couldn’t have told myself how to get all these views, so I’m just handling it the same way I made it, whatever comes, comes.

How long did the first video (below) take to blow up?
When I posted it on Instagram, it had a little buzz, but it didn’t have more than like 6,000 views. I was thinking, ‘that’s calm’ because it was just a little video. Then I posted it on Twitter and the next day it was on like 200,000 views. Someone asked me if they could post it on Facebook and from there it was gone: it got 3 million in a day.

Why do you think they’ve been so popular?
It’s just a high bandwidth. Most people don’t have this music software, so that’s eye-catching to start, but I think it’s that the end product was so good. People think it’s really that simple to make it though! I’ve seen comments of people spilling their hearts out about ‘the problem with hip-hop today.’ It’s fascinating. I think it’s a mix of talent, comedy, a likeable character, I’ve had loads of messages from girls saying I’ve got a good smile, so maybe that helps.

When did you start making music?
I first started as a rapper. That was in like year seven when I was about 12. I was very young. I got into making beats in like 2000, I started on PlayStation, using a thing called Music Generator. It’s been a long time now. It’s just my normal life, I don’t even see as it making music, it’s just me.

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You’re a bassline producer by day. How much is this having an impact on your ‘serious’ music?
I was in a crazy place when this happened. I was going through firing my management and all of this stuff because, in bassline, where I’ve been trying to put in work, I was really frustrated. I was thinking, ‘why I am stressing about all of this?’ So, I decided I didn’t care anymore. This is more me anyway, I’ve been doing stuff like this since before I knew what bassline even was.

Have people been discovering bassline through your videos?
A lot of the new followers are Americans who like the kind of stuff I make anyway, so it’s boosted my other posts and my music too. I’ve got an EP coming out soon from this all popping. It’s all positive so far.

It sounds like you’re enjoying it…
Yeah, it’s fun, it doesn’t take lots of time, there’s no stress. It’s just me in my room doing this. If anything, it’s given me reassurance that I am good at what I do because I was struggling with self-doubt and a whole bunch of negative stuff before that happened.

Are you a fan of the kind of music you’re parodying?
Yeah, I love all that stuff! I wasn’t even expecting anything musically to come from it, I thought people would just take it as a joke, but they’re really asking me for this music. I had to release the first one on Spotify, and it’s building up. That’s the trickiest part for me now because I have promoters asking me to do this and asking what my booking fee is and I don’t know how to deal with that right now. I don’t even write the songs, I just freestyle it all.

What are you telling these promoters that are trying to book you as a rapper?
I’ve got my agent, so I’m just forwarding it to them – I don’t want these conversations. But if someone offers me $20,000 to go, I’m gone! I’ll learn how to perform it right now. I’ll move to LA tomorrow.

What’s next, then?
I think the organic route is the best, if I start to plan it, then people will pick up on that. I only do them when I have a good idea. I’ll give them the music because I do make fully finished tracks and I’m not gonna deprive people if they want it.

Thanks, Bassboy.

You can find Mike on Twitter.