Fusing blues and hip hop together with The Bad Tenants

The Bad Tenants are a playful trio that are influenced by not just musicians, but by an Outkast mashup, to a conversation with the UPS guy, or a nursery rhyme from their childhood. This already indicates that the quirky trio don’t just mess with flawlessly mixing blues and hip hop together, but use all experiences of life to create their magnetic sound. They recently dropped their latest track ‘Mush’ which was created organically fusing blues, soul and hip hop.

We chat to the lads Casey G and Good Matters about how ‘Mush’ came about, how jazz has always been the root of hip hop, and why they keep pushing the envelope. Margaret Tra writes.  

You guys just dropped Mush, tell us about that track. 

Casey G: Mush kind of just wrote itself. I was on my honeymoon last year when they sent me the beat, and it had Matty's hook on it and I immediately sat down and started writing. It's simple and pure and has more soul than it knows what to do with. Maybe it was the honeymoon love swell, maybe it was the hook encouraging the action, but for me, that song and I immediately connected. It turned out to be kind of an ode to the women that keep us going. They put up with a lot from us and all that we do. At the end of the day, no matter what's going on, there's no one I'd rather kick it with.

Good Matters: Mush was definitely an organic experience, I had originally just been in the booth singing so that I could come in with horns later and replace them. The original horn line I just found to be super catchy, so I thought I’d get something else on there to allow for vocals to be built on top. Then we hit the get it on and on and on, and it just felt so smooth. Then I was thinking I’d have a chorus over that, but realised that the song was solid as it was. It evolved into a really fun track, I love when sitting down in the booth and playing around with different ideas leads to a beautiful outcome. Also a lot of props to IG88 for taking my nonsense and making it sound gorgeous.

How did you guys link up? You guys effortlessly infuse blues and hip hop, how did all that happen? 

Casey G: We actually got asked to be in a big battle of the bands early on in our time together. There were a bunch of bands that made a fuss about us because we were just some rappers backed by turntables compared to all the 'live bands.' Matt and I both grew up playing a variety of instruments, Matt was, and still is, a phenomenally talented blues singer. I'd played in jazz bands most of my life, so we said f*** it let's figure out how to put this all together and we've been trying to push that envelope further ever since.

Good Matters: Friendship, mostly. We’ve all known each other forever, and played music in our own right. We found each other again at the right time and the different influences and musical backgrounds smushed together to make our mix of blues, jazz and hip hop.

Do you ever feel like your crowd can either be hip hop head or blues? Or do they appreciate the mix? 

Casey G: Our crowd is very mixed. We can rock a crowd full of hip hop heads, senior citizens, or soccer moms and we'll find a way to give that crowd what they're looking for. The show we put together is rarely expected, but always appreciated.

Good Matters: Yeah, I’ll have to agree with Casey on this one. Our crowds are definitely a can of mixed nuts. While the hip hop heads tend to be the first in line, the folk/blues/jazz/rando’s show up in the same numbers. Exactly how I like it.

You just dropped your LP in August, what else have you guys got planned?

Casey G: We have our hand in a few pots right now. We're working on new video ideas, some potential remixes and we've already got some new music in the pipeline that we're excited about. Touring is definitely on the agenda as well as a new secret handshake and some heavy drinking.

Who are you influences? 

Casey G: It might be easier to pick who we're not influenced by. From underground hip hop to the Blues Brothers to Muddy Waters or Paul Simon, we make the music that feels good to us and that inspiration draws from anywhere at anytime. In the past week alone I've found my writing being influenced by an Outkast mashup, a conversation with the UPS guy, a nursery rhyme from my childhood and an illegible street sign. Take what life gives you and run with it.

Good Matters: I am, inarguably, the least hip hop of The Bad Tenants. If you couldn’t tell by my T-Rex t-shirt. I grew up on Motown, jazz and blues (Miles Davis, Muddy Waters, The Spinners, Marvin Gaye, etc.). A mixture of punk rock and metal during my high school years, where hip hop started to rear its head. In my early college years/late high school I got introduced to Atmosphere, Blackalicious, and J5 as well as others. Spent a long time, and I am still currently working as a singer songwriter. Lately I’ve been finding a lot of inspiration with the creations of my friends and seeing how much they progress as we get older.

Jazz has been infused in hip hop a lot these days, how do you guys feel about the movement and incorporating that sound? 

Casey G: If it's dope, it's dope.

Good Matters: All rock and hip hop has it’s roots in soul, blues, and jazz. I feel like this transition is easy and it is bringing it back to the root note of hip hop. I think people are responding really well. Blues makes people feel better. Well, blues makes me feel better and I’ll just hope from there.

What stimulates your soul? 

Casey G: New music. Nice butts. Good food and drinks. Family. Packed shows and freestyles in the park.

Good Matters: Family, friends, living a happy life. Music, expression, cheese-based products.