Bas is an artist who’s always looking to evolve, whether it’s his sound, his stage performance, or his lyrics. And when you hear about his upbringing, that need to constantly diversify makes sense.
“I have four older siblings, and they all kind of imparted their musical taste on me,” the rapper told Rolling Stone Radio hosts Jon Weigell and Charlie Cooper. “My father was a career diplomat, so I was born in Paris, moved to NYC when I was eight, and spent a few years in the Middle East and Qatar. So my older siblings had like Euro-centric and African tastes—a lot of West African music, a lot of French house, UK garage, and then obviously hip-hop. My older brothers were into like everything from the Digital Underground to Pac and Biggie.”
It’s a wide set of influences that has served Bas well. On his first mixtapes, he was rapping over Jamiroquai instrumentals one second and Calvin Harris the next. That eclectic taste eventually really stuck with one of his older brother’s college buddies, a young artist you may have heard of named J. Cole. “The first time he called me, he said, ‘I know you, and this is authentically you.’ He was shocked. ‘Do you know what you just did?’” Bas recalled. “So for two years before I even signed, I came out and did the Europe tour with him, not even performing but just soaking up knowledge—seeing how a live show should be put on, spending time with his producer, and making songs on the tour bus. Cole, without even knowing it, was developing me as an artist.”
Bas eventually signed with J. Cole’s Dreamville records and the rest is history. So before the rapper’s next chapter unfolds in early 2023—”As far as the new album goes, I’ve pretty much finalized it,” Bas said. “We’re looking to hit the ground running at the top of the year”—he joined Weigell and Cooper this week to share his My Life in 10 Songs list on the latest edition of the Rolling Stone Radio on Amp, the live radio app where you can listen to top artists, creators, and athletes spin their favorite tracks and take your calls in real time.
Bas started his list the way many people probably would in December—with his most streamed artist of the year. For the NYC rapper, that artist happens to be FKJ (“Way Out”). The two are now friends, but their relationship began when Bas used an FKJ sample. “One night, I just wanted to DM him and thank him. I don’t take sampling lightly, and if someone gives you the privilege to recreate their work, you need to be thankful,” he said. “He was like, ‘Bro, I don’t clear music, but I like this song.’ Score one for the home team. A few weeks later, he sent me ‘Risk’ to collaborate. When you collaborate, you want to expand your artistry and grow out of your comfort zone. And that song unleashed a whole new side of me, an acoustic thing I want to tap into.”
Bas’ next selections showcased his love for artistic brilliance across decades. He picked one from Sam Cooke (“Bring It On Home To Me”) since he considers Cooke a top voice of all time. Then he chose two artists who his family played often. Bas’ love of D’Angelo (“When We Get By”) stems from his older brother, DJ Moma, who initially played the R&B legend for his little brother. “You know when you listen to an artist and say, ‘Damn I’ll never be that good,’ that’s how I feel with D’Angelo,” Bas said. And the rapper flagged one from the Jackson 5 (“Who’s Loving You”) as an homage to Motown, an institution his father loved and whose influence Bas admires. “Like a lot of Motown records, I think Smokey wrote a hit and then they had someone perform it until it’s a smash, which is a dope concept,” he said. “And with Michael, he was a supernova from the jump. We haven’t seen anything like that before or after.”
From there, Bas included two contemporaries he’s admittedly a huge fan of: Frank Ocean (“Nights”) and Tame Impala (“On Track”). He admires how relatable “Nights” is as a young creative living in a city, but generally Ocean’s work always feels poignant to Bas. “A lot of music today sounds the same and there isn’t much to look forward to. But he’s always bringing something new and original,” he said. “He’s another one whose voice conveys great emotion and his songwriting is so good—an elite level songwriter.“
With Tame Impala, Bas actually stumbled upon the band by chance. He was playing Osheaga Festival in Montreal and simply went into the crowd after his set was finished. He saw Tame Impala on stage without knowing anything about them. “And I was like, ‘What is this? I need it in my life,’” he said. “I’ve been a fan ever since. And this song has felt like it’s been speaking to me.”
To wrap up his list, Bas started globally and finished locally. He first offered a track from Wizkid (”Ojuelegba”) since Bas believes he helped usher in the current era of afrobeats, and then he opted for the legendary Bob Marley (“Waiting In Vain”). “When I die and go to heaven, I hope he throws a festival because I need to see him,” Bas said.
Turning to his NYC roots, Bas closed with songs from Notorious B.I.G. (“I Got A Story To Tell”) and Jay-Z (“D’Evils”). He picked “I Got A Story To Tell” because he hears direct influences. That soft guitar or ukulele inspired similar touches in Bas tracks like “Tribe” or “Just Made Bail.” And Bas calls Jay-Z his all time favorite rapper, and “D’Evils” comes from his favorite Jay-Z record.
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“People know HOV now or from his baller Rockefeller years. But I love Reasonable Doubt,” Bas said. “With this song specifically, he talks about real, real issues he dealt with in his prior life. It gets dark—it’s about temptations of the streets, and that’s rare. You don’t get that perspective from him often, so I’ve always loved that record.”
With that, Weigell and Cooper wrapped up this season of Rolling Stone Radio (@rollingstone on Amp). But there’s still plenty of reason to download the Amp app and tune in to learn more about the other artists and athletes DJing on Amp. To experience their shows live, head to onamp.com and just press “play.”