Bodega BAMZ has been making some noise in NYC lately, and even though we had him on MTV’s Rapfix Live a couple months ago, we decided to do some more investigating on the young “tan boy.”
What does his name mean? What is Latin Trap? What exactly is a “Papi?” Take a look below to learn more about this Dominican/Puerto Rican artist that New York is talm’bout.
Interview by @nickygeezy.
Who is Bodega Bamz?
Bodega BAMZ is a young latino from Spanish Harlem New York.
Describe your music in 5 words.
That’s a good question. Real. Very Rare. Epic. Inspirational. Eclectic.
When did you know you wanted to be a rapper?
I would say the moment my brother, Ohla and I built our studio about 4 years. I’ve been rapping since I was 14 and started off battling but I wasn’t doing it for the right reasons. I was doing it to be popular with the girls. But about 5 years ago, we just started grinding from the ground up. My brother became my engineer and became better and better at it. I became better and better at it. The moment that I felt like we’re real good at this shit, that’s when I really started taking it to the next level and taking it serious.
How did your upbringing influence your music today?
I grew up in a Christian household, so I grew up Church. I was around worship and around drums, I was around music all the time. When I grew up in Church, I used to preach. I used my words to get the ears and attention of people. I’m also Latino, that’s why I use so much salsa influence in my music and that’s why we created a genre of Latin Trap. The whole salsa movement, and the whole Celia, Hector Lavoe, they heavily influenced the way I construct my music and how I tell my producer to make my beats.
What is “Latin Trap?”
It’s heavily influenced by anything that has salsa. We incorporate that in production, and as far as my trap, what I talk about is real shit, the shit that I’ve seen and grew up with. I incorporated the old trap with the latin culture.
You call yourself, PAPI. Why is that? Is that an East Coast thing?
Papi is a term used as a drug dealer, papi is the connect. When other ethnic backgrounds don’t know the name of a connect, he’ll say ‘I’ma go see papi’. I turned Papi into an acronym though, so anyone can be a Papi. “Proud and Powerful Individual.” So that means you don’t have to be someone who once sold drugs or someone who is selling drugs. You can be black, white, jewish to be a Papi I turned a negative into a positive.
How did you get your name Bodega BAMZ?
Before I was Bodega BAMZ, I was Nate BAMZ, because my name is Nathanial. I made a song called, Welcome to Bodega Bamz, and from that song I thought that was catchy. I took the ‘Bodega’ and put it with ‘Bamz.’ And BAMZ is an acronym, “By Any Means,” BAMZ. I’m gonna accomplish any goal, by any means. I’m gonna support my family, by any means. I’m gonna uplift my latino culture, by any means.
And in NY, we call a corner store “bodega.” When it comes to the music, I got anything you need. You you want music to make u cry, I got that. Music to make u wild out, I got that. Music about drugs, I got that. Music about sex, I got that. So, it’s a metaphor, like a bodega, I got whatever you need.
You have features like Joelle Ortiz, Flatbush Zombies and Tego Calderon, how did that happen?
Joelle, I met him through my manager. He’s a notable dude, a latino and hot spitta, so that was dope to do a record with him.
I met Flatbush Zombies thgouth A$AP Ant, on the set of a video with Remy Banks called, 3Flips6. Those are the homies, those are my n*ggas for real, for real.
I met Tego Calderon from Joelle. They know each other, and Tego f*cks with the whole movement and he was really appreciative when we reached out to him. That’s how we linked up.
In your opinion, considering your influences, your upbringing and the people you surround yourself with. What are you top 5 favorite rappers? Of all time – and now.
Of all time…
Biggie, Pac, Nas, DMX, Eminem
Jay-Z… I’m not gonna lie to you, I don’t listen to hip hop right now. I listen to 2001 and under. Like I listen to Sade and U-2 right now. My inspiration comes from 97-2002, like when 50 came out. Other than Jay-Z, I only listen to my friends.
I haven’t sat down and listened to a full project. Not that they’re whack to me, but rap music least inspires me. I take my inspiration from other kind of music.
So what other music genres inspire you?
I love love love love, folk music and Indie bands. I’m a huge fan of cold play, huge fan of Nirvana. I know it may sound cliché, because a lot of artists will say they listen to Kurt Cobain, but I really listen to Nirvana. I really listen to Cold Play. I love sade, I love the Eagles, Journey, the old Rock and Roll, I love the Beatles – I really don’t listen to rap.
But I love Kid Cudi.
What are a few things that your fans really don’t about you?
My fans may not know that I’m very religious and very spiritual. I have a very close relationship with God. I don’t go to church, but I’m always in conversation with God.
I grew up in Church and never forgot about God. The kind of music I do, is frowned upon in my religion but I always seem to have that relationship with the Lord because he gave me the talent to showcase to the world. I may look real rugged, but I’m real spiritual.
I also read a lot. I didn’t finish high school and was a drop out after the 8th grade so the only way to educate myself was to read. If you listen to my music, the lyrics aren’t of a person with an 8th grade education.
I’m gonna start reading again, Everyday a Friday by Joel Osteen. That book really motivates me. That guy is dope.
Your fans know you’re Domincan?
They know I’m Domincan and Puerto Rican.
Would you ever do a mixtape in all spanish?
Hell yeah, but not now. That’ll show another side of my creativity. Whenever someone asks me that question, it reminds me of Selena when she went to Mexico and she couldn’t speak Spanish, but could only sing it. She thought that people were gonna frown upon her if she couldn’t speak Spanish, and only sing it. But yeah, that’d be dope, but I gotta get my point across first.
What’s next for you?
Expect for me to control the whole the world. There’s a scene in Scarface where Manolo asks Tony Montana, “what do you have coming to you,” similar to what you just aksed me, and he says, “The world, Chico. And everything in it”
I just want the world.
Anything else you want to say?
Tan Boys. We’re a movement. One of our inspirations for starting the Tan Boys is Cypress Hill. That was a group, and B Real is latino and he was one of the only n*ggas doing it at the time. Obviously, he got older, but there aren’t really latino movements, besides Cypress hill & Terror Squad. Tan boys is like that, we’re building a movement to uplift the latino culture. I’m tired of A&Rs and executives making it seem like it’s not cool to be latino.