As a mestiza (tagalog for mixed ancestry, usually Filipino combined with another ethnicity, in my case caucasian), Los Angeles emcee Bambu, has a stage presence that is unforgettable and empowering. He had me shouting out, “Who’s that BRRROWWWWNNNN?” at the top of my lungs during his Rent Money Tour show at Nextdoor. This was my third time seeing Los Angeles emcee Bambu perform in Hawaii and after introducing myself formally to him during his visit with Blue Scholars (just to make sure he wasn’t a diva, best part was that he remembered me!), I knew that I had to get some kind of interview with him.
Riana: What is the Rent Money Tour?
Bambu: The Rent Money Tour is a continuation of a series of tours I’m branding. We did The Smugglers Tour last year and we’ll probably bring that one back in the Spring, and we might bring The Rent Money Tour back in the Fall… Traditionally, I usually just travel with my DJ and my manager and find local acts to fill the support (just like Honolulu’s stop), but this time around we decided to take the whole package out on the road. For the majority of the dates we brought along an artist new to the touring world, Kixxie Siete, and he’s been killing shit. Also, we rolled out with one of Northern California’s newest noisemakers, Rey Resurreccion — amazing live performer. DJ Felt1 has been our ringmaster and he’s been holding the turntables down strong!
What was your inspiration for your new album “One Rifle Per Family?”
My family. After the last 30+ city tour with Blue Scholars, I needed to just chill and find a comfortable space to create. It was a challenge trying to juggle writing and recording for a new album and maintain any kind of structure or schedule with my family, but it ended up being a great source of inspiration.
Who designed the album cover?
Manila Ryce. He also created the …paper cuts… EP cover. He and I are really good friends and comrades, and as the cover shows, he’s an amazing visual artist. He hates that I do this, but I literally asked him to complete both of those covers in such short periods of time — like a week. Haha. He’s awesome though. If you look in the woman’s left boot, you can see Manila’s signature in the laces.
Would you say you feel a strong connection to Hawaii? Why?
I do! For a number of reasons. The most superficial, but still very important, is that there are a gang of brown people! Haha. You know, some folks might take this as an opportunity to call me a racist and say that I ‘hate’ white people, but that usually comes from some deep guilt. Walking around in an America that doesn’t feel like my own (even though I’ve sacrificed my life and health to defend it via USMC/USN) is difficult. This isn’t something I’m making up either… It’s hard to feel empowered growing up where I did and living where I live. We are treated as second class citizens and we truly feel as such — with that said, to be around a bunch of brown folks is empowering. So, I enjoy Hawaii a lot. The other reason is that on a socio-economic level, this is one of the greatest examples of colonization at work… From the education structure (or lack thereof) to the exploitation of the culture and the people secondary to tourism — Hawaii’s a great place for study and political work.
Why is there rumors going around that the Nextdoor show is possibly your last show here in Hawaii?
Oh NO! Not at all! I’m trying to come back in January! Haha.