Just imagine how hard life is for Bangs, the Sudanese born, Australian based internet sensation who may just be considered the world’s worst rapper. Can you imagine the insecurity, lying awake each night wondering if your fans are genuine fans, or if you’re just evoking a massive irony response from a culture of hyper-critical and overly-cynical hipster cunts. It’s excruciating really. Especially when I believe that Bangs actually offers something vital, fresh and original to a hip hop scene that is largely dominated by pretension and mimicry.
Bangs is the logical extension of a global hip hop culture. A Sudanese refugee, chasing that hip hop dream, filtering those global influences through his own unique situation, geography, culture and experience. In many ways this is pure hip hop. Alas he’s widely received as some kind of internet joke. A funny meme. And his online fame (over 8 million hits on his breakthrough ‘Take You To Da Movies’) means that every time he posts an image on Instagram of himself posing with a pretty white woman (or as Bangs would say ‘shawty’) he collects the vilest racism in the comments. And really, I’d argue that the negative and racist reactions to Bangs online exposes a whole culture of cloistered, derivative, exclusionary early adopters that largely define the ‘cutting edge’ of Western youth culture. The tyranny of cool. Nice work douche bags. Talk about a societal cul de sac.
He’s been compared to Die Antwoord on countless occasions, but the difference between them is marked. Die Antwoord is a carefully choreographed stage show (although Waddy likes to call it an ‘identity’), Bangs just is. This comes natural. Maybe, just maybe, Bangs is the Rain Man of hip hop. Scratch that. A genuine naïf, who just by doing what he does, pushes the whole culture forward.
Personally, I hope Bangs gets to collaborate with his heroes: Akon, The Game, Fiddy and Eminem, blows up worldwide, knocks Kanye into retirement and returns to Australia on a mission to cuckold the motherfuckers who continue to diss him so relentlessly online.
With all these thoughts in mind, we got him on Skype for a quick chat.
Mahala: Yo Bangs, what are you up to?
Bangs: Nothing much man. I was just relaxing, yeah.
What’s Melbourne like?
Yip it’s summer and it’s hot.
You come from Sudan originally?
Why did you leave?
I came here in 2003. We thought life would be better in a different place. We wanted to try somewhere new. So we wanted to find a better place and were like okay let’s move. So first we been to Egypt and then from Egypt we come here.
Did you leave because of the war?
No when we left it wasn’t started. We left earlier. We left to see different people, to do something different. To do what you like in a different place. That kind of stuff.
So you left with your whole family?
You’ve got brothers and sisters?
How old were you?
I was 11 when I moved.
I know that for a lot of Sudanese refugees just getting to Egypt is hard. How did you travel?
No man. It was earlier. When we left nothing was difficult, everything was easy. It took us a week to get there. It wasn’t so hard. At the start of 2004 and 2005, that’s when it started to get hard. But the time we left, it was easy.
So how’s life in Australia?
Hmmm… I really don’t like it here. It’s just bored. Friends. Hard to communicate. Supporting not that much. You know. So. I don’t like it that much here. I’m just here to do what I got to do. And as soon as I get a chance, I’ll get out of here… soon as I can.
Where would you go?
I just want to move to the USA.
Ohio, next to New York.
Do you feel that people in Australia are a little bit bigoted or racist and don’t understand where you’re coming from and think that you’re just trying to be funny, or ironic. As in so bad, it’s good?
Yeah it’s like when you start to do something, then everybody hates. But the don’t understand how long it takes you to get better, so you can’t start up with something that’s better straight away. You’ve always got to start up with something that, you know, and hope that people will understand. But you’ve always got to have haters and you got to have lovers. So for them that never understand me, they think I’m shit, they hating and everything… I’m like OK, let them hate. All of them, they will come back and they will be like, “yeah man you did it good,” and all this. But I’m like OK, I just do what I have to do, so whoever who understood me then yeah! And whoever don’t understand… but there’s other people there who will understand me later.
Between South Africa and Australia there are a lot of similarities and we all know what South Africa is famous for, basically, it’s racism. So I want to know, do you come across a lot racism in Australia?
Nah. Not as much, like right now, no. Not as much.
You play gigs all over Australia, right?
Yeah, I play all over. I tour in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth.
When you left Sudan, when you were 11, were you into hip hop back then? Did you know then you wanted to be an emcee, or was that something you discovered in Australia?
I knew a couple of artists like Tupac, Michael Jackson, you know I listened to those kind of artists, but I only really started hip hop here in Australia, in 2004. That’s when I start.
So can you tell me about Sudanese hip hop? What kind of music is being produced back there?
Nah, I don’t know much about that.
There’s a guy called Emmanuel Jal. You heard of him? He’s doing some interesting stuff.
Oh yeah, I heard of this guy. We met last time, he did a gig here last year and we met. His music is different to my music.
Ja, it’s got more of a traditional Sudanese flavour. Would you be interested in bringing some of that traditional Sudanese sound into your music?
I find my music… it’s different, you know. Everything is different. The lyrics is different, the beats that I make is different. A lot of people been telling me, ‘how do you make the beats all different,’ and all this stuff. And I’m like whatever, it just come out and I put it up. And altogether I make it as an instrumental. When I make the music, I just make it. I’m not thinking about putting any traditional or this kind of stuff. I just go ahead with it and get better. Or if I listen to a different producers, like Dre or Timbaland, all those kind of… I wanna get like people from the US. New sound. Produce new school music.
So you do the beats as well?
Yeah. I rap and I do beats and I write. I do all the stuff.
You played with this South African band, Die Antwoord at one of your gigs.
Antword yeah yeah yeah! Yip, I played with them.
So what do you think of them? Because a lot of people in South Africa still don’t know what to think.
Well always, that thing with the crowd. Some people, you know… it depends on the fans. When you come out with something crazy, they be like: ‘oh this guy mad. We thought of him and this like that, this like this. So it’s cool. Wherever we go, we tell the others and then the word go spread. But when I listen to them, I go whoa… They alright!
So you like their stuff?
How often are you working on your shit?
It depends. If I want to finish a song today… if I start it, I want to finish it. I go five days, four days a week in the studio. And now I’ve set up my home studio, so from now I’m just going to be at home recording.
Your breakthrough track was ‘Take You To Da Movies’.
And a lot of people hit that on Youtube and weren’t sure how to place it. A lot of people reacted as if this was a joke. Or that Bangs is an irony act. Choreographed. So bad it’s good. How did you feel about that?
For me, I feel, whoever hate… whoever take me as a joke, until today they keep taking me as a joke, some people take me as a joke. Going, ‘man I can’t believe it. Man he’s just joking. Man you just rubbish’. I’m like let them talk. I don’t listen to them. I don’t listen to whatever everybody say. They wrote me bad stuff on Facebook, everything, I’m like, I just ignore it. I’m not focussing to them a lot. I don’t focus on that stuff. What I do, I just do what I love to do. They talk shit, until now, I go OK, it’s just talk. So when you take me as a joke, I joke with you. When you take me serious, I’m serious with you. I’m just do what I have to do.
So what’s coming in the future for Bangs?
My plan from now, is just to get to the US. From next year, I’m out of here. Flying, flying to US. Cos I got parents there. I got cousins in different states and I got a lot of people know me there. A lot of fans in different states. So soon as I’m in there, I’m gonna be planning to meet up with rappers, like famous people and get along with them and start recording. I’m going to be doing music for a long time. I still got a lot to record, albums to release. A lot of music videos to shoot. And I plan to do it in the US there.
What’s your legal status? How will you travel.
Yeah yeah, I got a passport. I’m a citizen of Australia. I’ll get a visa for long.
I’ve noticed in your music, the song about the ghetto, coming from Sudan, ‘Hi Haters’ and stuff like that, your music is becoming a lot more direct and outspoken. Do you have a special idea in your head or idea that you want to communicate through your music? Or do you just play it as it comes?
Well, it depends. It depends what the beats tell me to write about. Because I don’t write a song without making the beats. I make the beats first and then I write the song. If the song sad, then I write sad. If the song happy, I write happy. So I just spring up words in my head straight away and I just write it down, record it and just sing over it. And sometimes I see things on the street, bad things, good things happening, then come home and write about. I just write about anything.
So Bangs is a mirror of your life, really. Whatever you experience?
[Laughs] Yeah. Whatever happen, just write it down.
How did you get the name Bangs?
Bangs cos when I write a song things come out, like Bang!
What does your mom call you?
My real name is Ajak Chol.
What music inspires you? Which artists?
First Eminem, Soulja Boy, 50 cent, The Game them kind of artists there. They make me to do more. More music. Because when I listen to their music, I go OK I want to do something better. So then I go to the studio and say let me come up with something better.
Right now what are you listening to? What’s banging for Bangs?
Right now it’s just a mix of hip hop, r&b and pop. Tupac, 50 cent, the Game, Neo. All those kind of artists I listen to.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Have you been in touch with any of these guys.
Well, I haven’t been in touch with any of them, but last year they came to Australia on tour. I went to their concert, it was great, and in the US my friend know them and he said whenever you come to the US, just contact me and we can attach and get to the studio to come up with something. I really want to meet him, introduce him to my music and see what he will say. Then we can make something.
Thanks Bangs, peace.
*All images pilfered from @urboibangz on Instagram.