This week we chat with Spanish-Harlem rapper BODEGA BAMZ and OH LA of TAN BOYS in anticipation of their upcoming album release Sidewalk Exec. on April 14th 2015. Bamz and his brother / manager Oh La reminisce on their struggles, dish their unexpected musical inspirations and speak on late legend and close friend A$AP YAMS' influence to them and why people should always show gratitude.

BB - My name is Bodega Bamz, I'm from Spanish Harlem, USA. March 17th 1985 is my birthday.
OH - My name is Oh La, I'm from Spanish Harlem, USA. I was born February 27th 1986, that's the Dominican Independence day.
FF - What were you guys doing five years ago?
BB - Selling drugs.
OH - Yeah, I had a 50 thousand dollar car with 24 inch rims, I had three TV's inside.
BB - And we were rapping too. Yeah five years ago was actually hard because our parents got divorced and then my pops kicked us out of his crib, so we had no where to go. From there we went to my Grandma's to stay, we were there for about a good six to twelve months…
OH - That's actually how I lost my car! He took me off his insurance so I was driving the streets with no insurance. I actually sold my rims, everything and that's how we got the studio. That's when we started taking music seriously right?
BB - We were just trying to put our pain in the writing. We found a spot in Washington Heights, and when we went there everything kind of changed because we went through so much turmoil in the months leading up to that, that

our backs were really against the wall, we really had nothing. We put all our cards on the table

and even that was a struggle because things weren't working out with the people we were meeting but by the end of 2010, the beginning of 2011 was when we really put our foot down… My son was about to be born then too so we took it really seriously and little by little shit started picking up.

Then we met Yams in the end of 2011 and after that it was a wrap. When Yams got in my corner, I didn't give a fuck about a co-sign.

I didn't care if a DJ or a legend said Bodega Bamz is next… I would be honored they do and appreciate it but I didn't give a fuck if they did or didn't. Because I had someone like Yams who impact me in a way, not only musically but personally. He'd tell me I was going to make it. When you go through all this shit and you get this one dude, he aint got millions of dollars, he's just a regular guy with influence and intelligence and a heart full of gold, when you meet someone like that and your whole life starts changing so fast… what bigger impact am I going to have? I'm going up, everything is a ladder now, I'll meet bigger people, I'll meet more important people but I'm never going to meet someone that has an impact on my life than that man, ever. He was just a humble spirit, the light. It was about him, the person he was. That man was put on this earth to help people and put people in positions, that man is one of the reasons why I'm able to support and provide for my family.

Before he came in the picture I was a struggling artist. We had the drive, the work ethic, we have the talent that God gave us, we just had no vision.

We were just shooting, we weren't aiming anywhere. Yams showed us how to aim and once we got that down packed it was over, now we had a vision, now we know how to move it, now we know where to go with it. Now he aint here no more, so now it's up to us to make it even bigger.

Our whole come up is just proving people wrong.

I love music, we came from music… we came from gospel, came from worship, we came from preaching in front of a congregation. I'm still preaching, just the delivery is different.
OH - I used to produce, I don't produce any more. But I learned how to engineer by watching the engineer and asking questions. I never got taught how to do things hands on I just watched. When I eventually sold my car and we bought studio equipment, I learned everything on my own. Music is a feeling. It's not just bopping your head, you should feel that through your whole body. And we kind of got that in church…

BB - So music is always in us. But we really got a fire under our ass because a lot of people really didn't think we're going to be where we're at.

The message is overcoming all the negativity and overcoming all the people that said you weren't going to do it

and overcoming every body that had negative things to say and didn't believe in you, just to overcome that and really make a success out of nothing. Another message is the empowerment of our culture and our people, because during those times we were also consumers and we were seeing that we weren't being represented correctly.

So we told ourselves that once we have the light on us we were going to really push our culture forward and really show that pride and that powerfulness.

FF - What do you have left to do until you feel like you've made it?
BB - Just to be on a mainstream level, just to get that same light as people who are signed. To be where we come from I think…
OH - It's an achievement! The thing is we live in an era where people shit on having a deal because of what others have been through but at the end of the day who doesn't want a record deal?! Who doesn't want to walk in the building and your picture is on the wall and ten-fifteen people are working for you…
FF - And it's also about the fact that if you have this message that you actually believe in, why not make it reach its maximum audience?
OH - Exactly. A lot of people have done it without a record deal. Like Tech Nine, that guy is one of the richest rappers right now and he's straight independent. But what might work for him won't work for us. But I'm pretty sure in his road to perdition he wanted a record deal but he just found what worked for him. It's like making the NBA though…
BB - Yeah! Right now we're in college, under ground is college ball. The NBA is record label, that's the bottom line. We put in so much ground work independently and underground that when we do get a record deal it's going to be on our terms, we know what we want. A lot of people get deals and they don't know what they want they just want to sign. We can go in there and be like this is what I need from y'all…
OH - We ask them what they can do for us, because this is what we can do on our own, this is what we've been doing.
BB - That's the conversation we have when we go into record labels. Our talent, our look, our message… underground puts a ceiling on it. It needs to be every where.
FF - What are a few things you wish you knew earlier?
BB - I'm not giving any one advice anymore because most people if you tell them how you feel they'll brush it off. There's certain people who will appreciate it and you'll get that connection by talking to people.

When you're a person that always wants to hold things inside, it definitely puts you in your own box and then you could be missing a good person that might change your life.

And God forbid, people get lost and people pass on and you'd be like damn, I wish I had a conversation with my man to see how he really felt. It's sad because sometimes people should have the courage and the faith to open up in order to get better, but a lot of people don't really see that. People don't realize that you should make people feel like that… just express gratitude!
FF - If your life was a movie what would be on its soundtrack?
OH - There's this song by Moby, it's called When it's Cold I Would Like to Die… that song! It's so unexplainable, it can be a sad song, it can be a happy song, it can be a redemption song. It all matters to what scene you're putting it in.
BB - I'd have Secret Garden by Bruce Springstein, Phil Collins Another Day in Paradise. Definitely the Eagles Hotel California. Nirvana's Something's in the Way… Just real emo shit man. First of all, let's make this clear… I'm not influenced by rap, only my friends that make music and a few selective artists that are undeniable. But as a whole this shit is whack. I might sound like I'm contradicting myself because I am a rapper too but I just take my influence from years like '98 to 2002.

We're more focused on being relatable than likable.

We know it's easy being likable but some body else can come along and look better than me, talk better than me and you're going to like that person… that's human nature. But if I relate to you and have a connection with you, you'll always look at me as number one.
OH - …You're ours forever. From what we listen to, the shit he raps about, we want people to have a connection. The last guy to really have a connection with his fans was probably Tupac. You could connect with Tupac when you put him on. I'm not a fan of his whole discography but the songs that I can name they really touched me. And that's what it has to be about, it has to be relatable, it has to speak to people and that's how we treat the music.

you can listen to TanBoys' music here, and follow their instagram.
as told to: Olivia Seally // video: Olivia Seally



My name is Kish Robinson, I’m 24 and was born in Orlando, Florida. I make music (under the name Kilo Kish), make art and do some design stuff. Five years ago I was at Pratt and took a year off because my financial aid didn’t go through… I was such an academic kid, I never imagined my life without school in it so I was devastated. I never really worked for myself or had to provide, my financial aid paid for my dorm, so I was like what am I going to do?! I got a touch of freedom and couldn’t go back to Florida, I was dating J. Scott at the time and I moved into the extra room in his house in Ridgewood. The rent was $443 a month… it was so far from everything! I never really worked for myself, had to provide, didn't even have a resume! I walked into this salon in SoHo called Georgia and I went in like can I work here? And they asked me if I wanted to be an intern and I said no (laughs). And they’re like OK! You can work here, for $7.50 an hour. So I worked there for like 40 hours a week and I made the $443 a month to live in New York… that’s what I did for the whole year!

I never went back to Pratt, I did an internship with this brand called Salvore and it sold to Barney’s, it was scarves and just patterns… cool screen-printing stuff and I was kind of into tactile arts, I wanted to see where that went, I knew I didn’t want to be a fashion designer but I am into patterns and working with my hands.

I didn't have any formal education in music; when I was little I played the violin for three years but I don’t remember anything. And I was in chorus in elementary school, I knew how to read music when I was a kid, but I forgot everything because I just didn’t care or keep up with it. So my music started around that same time when I was living in the house with J and Smash. Smash had a little home studio set up and we would just make weird stuff and Mel would make beats for us (laughs). Mel was so into it, it was just fun… typing out bars to people on AIM, I just saw it as a funny thing to do for a couple years. Then when I was 21 I started getting comfortable playing my music for people and taking it more serious, I played it for Ty and all those guys at Supreme, then they would play it in there.

The moment that everyone found out that I was making music was when I had that Village Voice cover and if you were in New York it was everywhere and just so easy to see, so everyone was like wait when were you even doing this? That was great because I didn’t have to explain it or make it a thing.

FF- How do all of your interests relate to each other?

KR- When I was a kid I had every magazine sent to my house. Magazine subscriptions were my favorite thing when I was like 14, 15, I had all the Vogues on my wall. When I was in high school I started a fashion club and I won best dressed in my senior polls and stuff (laughs). But I liked thrift shopping then and cutting up clothes and sewing stuff. I had a shirt brand that I started when I was a kid, I sold them to nerds in my class. And I had a bracelet brand when I was sixteen… they were the shittiest! Phil (Annand) when he was in high school made an actual, legitimate brand that made money…

FF- Yeah he said the stuff he made was shitty back then too (laughs)

KR- He made a legitimate brand that was really good… mine was not that!

I’ve always wanted to have a store,

to have a space that exists where all the different parts of my creativity can live.

I think that’s my actual dream creative project, this cool space where I can sell and keep all of the fun, different things that I make and collect. I love making music but I also love crafts and weird stuff like that, stupid little figurines, children’s books, audio books, clothing, games, things that I just make up.  

I liked music for the same reason, when I first started and because you could just be complete; if I have an idea I can make a complete thing that’s finished by the end of the day. Whereas with drawing and painting was something I always had to go back to, spend so much time and fixing. It takes a lot of precision, where as with music you can be freer.

Now, of course, it just became every other art outlet for me where I have to dissect it and painting and drawing is a little more freeing. The relationship among them is that

they switch back and forth between the one that’s the main focus and the one that’s the hobby. When all of your outlets are commodified, when do you make your personal art? And where does that fit?

If you’re doing a Capsule collection and your design aesthetic is being commodified, if you’re doing music and your sound is being commodified, if all of these things are consumed, then where does the art for you come in? They shift and you just find that balance… that’s how they’re related.

FF- Three people that are in a similar lane that you can recommend FF to chat to?

KR- Brandee Brown, Laura Harrier and young Kitty Cash!

FF- Do you feel like you are a freshman, sophomore or senior in your field?

KR- Sophomore… I feel like you kind of have to kick around and go through certain things to get a handle on what you’re doing and now I’m definitely in a different head space about it. I was a freshman was up until maybe last year, because I didn’t really take it that seriously and I feel like I hadn’t done anything yet. But I wish I would have trusted myself a little bit more, in my own capabilities. I wish I was able to see what other people saw in me, earlier on. But now that

I see music as an outlet for my art, just like I can make painting my art, just like I can make a collection my art. That gave it a different level of seriousness for me.

So that’s where I am now, it’s also just getting older… you have a little more pride in the things you do and they’re more calculated and you’re less aloof with your work method. So I just want to make the best things that I can make and try to learn and get better at what I do. I just want to make stuff until I’m old. Hopefully, by the time I’m sixty I’ll just be able to chill, money-wise and be able to paint and draw and make books and eat fruit in the morning and just be old, you know?

you can listen to Kish's music here, and follow her instagram.
as told to: Olivia Seally // photos + styling: Olivia Seally


My name is Shayna AKA Junglepussy. I'm 22 years old. Five years ago I was just one year out of high school so I was 17. I graduated high school at 16 and I went to FIT right after high school for two years and I hated it. It was so fake and I could not commit. So I had to quit. My junior high school was a public school for the gifted and talented, Philippa Schuyler, and I played an instrument, I played the clarinet. I have yet to apply that to my music so that's about as far as my education within the field goes. I don't have any formal training... no piano lessons, no vocal coaches, none of that. I don’t know if I taught myself. It just came very naturally. So I’m lucky. One person I'd attribute a large amount of my success to is myself! I’m so proud of myself for really committing to something for over a year, usually every six months I gotta really switch up my whole shit. So I’m proud of myself for really sticking out with this JP stuff, producing music and visuals and really just handling everything, for the most part, on my own, independently. It’s a lot staying positive and doing this, like the stuff that I promote, actually living it. It’s a full time job, and it’s not a job, because I enjoy it, but the option to do bad things is there and it's just as easy. But to really make the choice to be good and be consistent with it and just want to be better every day it’s really like… some days I really don’t wanna do it. But I work for myself because I don't want to be signed... that's not even the goal for me. I wanna be able to just survive, I wanna be able to help out people that I love when I can and support myself and my loved ones and be able to support my craft and my art, that’s really what I need. And I feel like, I’m not gonna say that I can do everything on my own, I definitely know that I need people that are gonna be there to help and stuff like that. But as far as getting signed… I don’t know. I’m signed to God and He got it on lock. He really plans everything out for me, as long as I’m staying true to myself every day and just being aware of my surroundings and the things that I’m going through He really sets it up so beautifully and I’m just so grateful for that. My mother always gave speeches in church when I was younger so I always saw that and she just taught me and my sister to be very outspoken women. And for some reason when the music came along it just worked out! That’s why I have to keep on being good because if I fuck up I’m gonna give the wrong message and I’m gonna produce shit. So as long as I keep my mind where it needs to be, it’s gonna be great!

FF- So what is the message that you want to be spreading to the world?
JP- The message is.. it’s our culture and everybody, forever has tried to take it from us and put their name on it. And that’s one thing I do not want to do,

I don’t want people to ever think that this is not for them… my people of color.

It’s all for them, everything I do, it’s forever gonna be for them, the decisions I make is gonna have them in mind and myself in mind because it’s benefiting myself and then you know by me eating healthy and living better… people really do it, people tweet me like Oh my Gosh! I’m in McDonalds, don’t hate me! And I’m like I don’t hate you! And I won’t tell you don’t do it. These people are really listening… so once I realized that, I definitely had to make sure that I maintain it and keep on showing the world that a young, black girl from Brooklyn can be natural and not have a fake body and I just feel like I’m really being myself! Because that’s all I have and that’s all I wanna share with people, because they need to see that’s all they need themselves, is themselves.

I’m so bad at scheming and plotting. And a lot of people are great at that, like a lot of people know how to just come and just pow boom! They get their shit and they just be moving up mad quick. And I was like woah, should I be doing that! Is that what I need to be doing? What? It’s really not me and I never wanna go outside myself to get something like that. But I definitely have to keep myself in check... there’s a few things that I’m working on. I don’t wanna take anything personally, a lot of the times people take things very personally, even small things. Not everybody is thinking about you all the time! And sometimes I think that everybody is thinking about me (laughs). And that’s one thing I really need to work on because

once I take myself out of the center of everything, I see it. I wake up and have to kill my ego every day.




I came up with this new fall schedule… summer was a little weird, I put out the project in June and things got poppin'... I was traveling a lot. It was my time to have fun! But I’m used to the school format because I was in school up until this past spring so, you know, after labor day it’s time to buckle down, settle down… school work! So I came up with this new schedule it’s a four hour block - one hour of reading, one hour of writing, one hour of exercise and one hour of meditation. And it’s so good! It’s only four hours… four hours goes by so fast! It goes by and you get things done and when you go back into the world you know you’ve had that moment to really do the necessary things that your body and mind needs.

I just need that discipline because I battle my darkness a lot. And… I’m a scorpio! My birthday is halloween! So this is a big thing for me, just making right decisions. I could be really dark about life and I really have to push myself to be better because I feel this is my higher calling, to serve this purpose, and just spread this message on earth and I can only do it if I’m trained. And I don’t have a mentor, I don’t have nothing so I had to be really hard on myself. Not too hard! I don’t wanna beat up on myself but I do wanna get shit done.

FF- What is your dream creative project?

JP- All live instrumentals in the studio! And just a big orchestra and then it’s gonna be Erykah, Jill Scott, me, Oprah… doing ad libs! I’m working on the rest of the vision.
FF- What’s stopping you from that!?
JP- I feel like I have my own clock in my body and it’s not time yet.. and it’s coming but I know I’m not gonna force it. That’s one thing I don’t do. I’ll know when it’s ready. But it’s cooking up though,

I’m pregnant with success

and its like over nine months, of course it’s longer than that... But it’s a super baby!

FF- Would you consider yourself a freshman, sophomore or senior in your field?
JP- I’m a junior because I’m almost there and I would’ve been a junior in college if I was in it right now. For such a small amount of time that I’ve been creating music and putting it out there the response that’s come with it has been so shocking to me and so great and amazing. I’m so grateful for it and people really love it and I’m like ok this is really like a first run just doing it and seeing what's up. So I’m about to graduate! I’m pregnant with success still, so once the baby comes thats when the graduation happens you know! And it’s gonna be so great but I’m not in a rush to get there I’m really learning how to enjoy the journey because I know that these times are not gonna be here forever so it’s cool to just have nothing to do or you know just stare at the sky, and just taking those times in because then when everything get’s so fast I never wanna get lost, I never wanna get overwhelmed and forget what I’m doing.

FF- If your life was a movie what songs would be on its soundtrack?
JP- Woah. It hasn’t even been written yet. But I would have to say mad Brandy songs, like probably her whole discography. And a lot of Drew Hill. And… who else? who else would be there singing for me? Fefe Dobson! I love her. That’s my cousin, in my head. Kiss Me Fool or Bye Bye Boyfriend but then I love Rainbow because it’s mad soft.

FF- People I should chat to?
JP- You should talk to… Salomon Faye he makes good music, I went to his show last week it was really good. It’s like hip hoppy but he sings a little, his voice is really powerful and his visual is very artsy and he performs with live bands and I love that shit. His thought process seems very good too and I don’t really know it but thats why I want you to talk to him cos I want to know it. Alright I’ll tell you people whose minds I wanna know… Gito, Salomon, Dylan, QIANA… those eyes! What do they tell?!  

you can hear Junglepussy's music on her soundcloud, watch her on her youtube and follow her on her instagram and her twitter.
as told to: Olivia Seally // photos: Olivia Seally