This is why I returned to Seattle. Well one of them. This kind of thing excites me. Seniors in high school making EPs and music videos, establishing a brand, making moves within the scene. Building. Networking. After being struck by the stellar "Dukes of the Hood" video and bumping the song on repeat forever I knew these kids were who I needed to sit down with.
I took a drive to Lakeside High School one afternoon last month to meet the duo. We made our way to the basement recording studio class room where they have done many of their songs and turned the recorder on.
TML: You guys want to introduce yourselves and talk about how BFA became what it is today?
Isiah: Word. Isiah, Sneak, Marshmellow Killer, I got some pretty funky aliases.
Coleman: Coleman Jones aka Breeze. I'm going to try and start going by Oswald Copenhagen. It's all about going to parties in Port Townsend and places no one will ever see you again like "Hey how you doing, I'm Oswald." Look out for Oswald.
Isiah: But how BFA came about was, I've known this guy, I don't know we played baseball together in 8th grade, we were like 12 years old. I don't know this has been my guy. We used to go to northgate and crack at chicks and stuff. I don't know why we started rapping.
Coleman: It's super random actually. My homie, Corwin, raps and we was always trying to get on a track with him and he was never gonna let us do it, he's like "you guys are weak." One day I was like "watch I'm gonna be a rapper." I wrote a weak verse and he was like yeah that's pretty bad. A couple months later, this guy Spike made this beat in class and he told us to get on it.
Isiah: Made that shit in here on a Mac Book Pro and people were like that is filthy. It wasn't. Looking back, listening to that I don't appriciate anyone who told me I should keep rapping. Psych. No. I was just thinking the other day what if people were like that shit sucked, if we woulda kept rapping.
Coleman: It was a lot of fun. We didn't really know what we were doing. It took us days to make songs.
Isiah: We are trying to put out the EP, we get this idea after we do our first song. We are gonna put out an EP this is gonna be dope. For some reason we just dicked around and didn't get shit recorded. So we have this day before finals start and it's the last day that campus is open, you are suppose to come in and study. We came in here and just sat all day, like 7 hours. Got hella sweaty, this guy is taking his shirt off and we just grinded it out. That's how we got the first EP out.
Coleman: My finals suffered on that, that was a bad call. I didn't study at all.
Isiah: Junior year. Hey I'm in college, I could give a fuck.
TML: Where you going to school?
Isiah: Whittier, LA. Me and this guy. Roomates.
Coleman: We got our lavalamp already picked out.
Isiah: Lavalamp and the TV, two most important things.
TML: So this all just started out of having fun and you are just learning as you go?
Isiah: Yeah, basically. Props to Spike Anderson. He peer presured us. And props to this guy for continuing to peer pressure me into doing this shit. I'm lazy. I smoke a lot of weed. He definetly got us like, after that first song he kept saying this is dope.
TML: That was last year?
Coleman: It was Junior year, last year.
Isiah: It was the end of 08. Then we put out the first EP out in the beginning of last summer.
TML: When did the new one come out?
Isiah: That came out December 23rd. My birthday, turned 18.
TML: When did you guys record that?
COleman: That was hecka funny. We just recorded it gradually since the release of the last one pretty much. We had like 10 tracks on it and we did this show and during one of the songs we looked at each other and had this look on our face like "man this song sucks." This stuff is terrrible. Then after the show we sulked around, were at McDonalds at like 2 in the morning like "what are we going to do, this stuff sucks." Then we pretty much cut 6 songs, recorded a couple new ones.
Isiah: Looking back the songs were cool, we played em for a lot of people and they liked the songs but anything that we put out we want it to be a little bit of who we are. I guess we just kinda felt like, I don't know, those tracks weren't really us. Just to have a song like that.
Coleman: The songs we cut were like, come on dude.
Isiah: Hella cocky and shit, and I am. But I don't gotta say that on a track. I'm just trying to let everybody see a little bit of my life. This guy is always says this shit.
Coleman: I stole it from Fade to Black pretty much. I forgot how this guy Pharrel says it, it's proly a lot more eloquent than I'm gonna say it, but an album should be like a movie and each song is a scene from that movie. And I felt like the tracks we cut weren't really us. They didn't fit into my movie.
Isiah: They are made for a Spike Lee movie. Let me tell you something about Spike Lee movies. Spike Lee creates movies that have incredible middles, horse shit ends and horse shit openings.
Coleman: Naw, whoa whoa whoa... His credits are filthy.
Isiah: His credits go hard.
Coleman: You got the opening credits, that's like 15 minutes. Then somewhere in the middle there is that scene where someone is walking but not actually walking.
(Together they break into laughter)
Isiah: We didn't want a Spike Lee album.
Coleman: Don't get me wrong, I love Spike Lee.
Isiah: Yeah I love the middles, love the credits. But I'm aiming more for a Quentin Tarantino kind of thing, something like that. I want you to be enthralled in that shit all the way through.
TML: Who makes the beats for you guys?
Coleman: Man, random cats. Mostly our homies from school, were homies from school. A lot of the cats we work with keep getting kicked out of here for some reason. I don't know if it's a coincidence, it hasn't happened to us yet. This guy Skylar Car, Beat Braha, he made "Dukes of the Hood," he makes our more jazzier beats. This guy Morgan, he's kinda morphed into what people say is our sound. Those chill jazzy kinda beats. I don't know what to call it, its so Seattle to me.
Isiah: He's got a really good vibe on his beats, I like his shit a lot. Coming up we've been expanding our beat scope.
Coleman: Mainly cause, this guy Morgan - I love him to death but he's a dumb ass though. He has like 8 beats on his MPC but he doesn't know how to get them off. We gotta branch out. On the new project, we don't even know what the new project is gonna be yet but we got beats from Justin from the Physics, he gave us some dope ass beats. There may be one on there from GMK, I don't know if we are gonna do that. More Skylar definetly and maybe Morgan.
TML: Are you guys working on a full length then? Or will it be another EP?
Isiah: We can't decide if we want to do a mixtape or an EP.
Coleman: I think we have enough to do a mixtape. But I feel like half way through that shit's gonna happen, we are gonna look up and be like, "damn half this stuff sucks." We are just gonna turn it into an EP. We'll see how it turns out.
Isiah: I like figuring out what songs you want to put on there. Recording everything that you got written to and seeing what turns out as like the shit you want to put on there.
TML: How did your relationship with SOTA develop?
Isiash: They used to kick it with my big brothers. Me and this guy were always just the little guys like "oh these guys are righteous. Fuck yeah, I'm trying to be like these guys." And it still hasn't changed. I wish I was Thad. I want the Parker mohawk. And I've always bumped their shit.
Coleman: I feel like Thad kinda made the last EP. We recorded that, I think you were out of town when Thad put down his verse on that "Quarterstackin" track. We went into the studio and that changed my whole way of writing. I went back and re-wrote shit, his flow on that is bananas.
TML: What did you guys grow up listening to?
Isiah: A lot of the reason I think we can jump into this so easily is because in both of our families there is a lot of musical influence. My older sister went to Berklee school of music, her boyfriend is trying to be famous doing some shit with guitar.
Coleman: There was always John Coltrane in the house. My brother bumped a lot of NERD, that kind of sound.
Isiah: My dad plays drums. He was an actor too. Growing up, I remember I was going on some road trip with my church or something and I had my CD player and my brother hands me Resonable Doubt and he says "listen to this and your eyes will be open."
Coleman: I got the same exact story. I'm sitting in my car and this guy Ben hands me ATLiens. So I'm sitting next to my mom hiding this CD with a naked ass woman on it. This guy put me onto Resonable Doubt. My music collection was pretty much whatever my brothers and sisters were listening to. This guy put me onto that and that shit changed my life.
Isiah: I can think of a couple instances, like I listen to a lot of different kinds of music. My sisters boyfriend introduced me to Tribe and I was like "oh fuck yeah." My other sisters boyfriend introduced me to LL Cool J hella long time ago. This girl introduced me to Jack Johnson and this other girl introduced me to John Legend. Maroon 5, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Norah Jones, Raphael Saadiq, John Mayer.
Coleman: We're soft, don't let "Dukes of the Hood" fool you.
Isiah: Just downloaded MGMT Congratulations, fucking with that since last night.
Coleman: I'm on that Chester French pretty hard.
TML: How about local shit?
Isiah: I really like Mack.
Coleman: Mack, SOTA, Physics, the shit they dropped this summer was hella filthy.
Isiah: I just like the song "Good."
TML: Have yall been up on Seattle Hip Hop for a minute.
Isiah: Even still I feel like I'm still learning so much about Seattle Hip Hop.
Coleman: I didn't even know about D Black before i started rapping and I've been bumping his shit.
Isiah: Before getting into the scene I would say I only knew about Dyme Def, Blue Scholars, Pinder and Spaceman just cause of the homies. And I only new Dyme Def cause Benito was our baseball coach.
Coleman: This guy is teaching me how to take ground balls and one day my mom forgot about picking me up and he gave me a ride home and he had the Space Music in his car.
Isiah: I thought this guy was so cool man, I was in Goods one day lookin around and he comes in there and he's like "oh yeah these are my guys" and he throws me a shirt and is like I got you. I was like what?! Benito is so cool man, I'm trying to be on that shit.
TML: Coming into the scene as the next generation of Seattle Hip Hop, looking back at the long history Seattle has with this music, what is your perspective as new artists breaking in?
Coleman: It's been crazy, you mentioned Vitamin D. I've had the pleasure of being in the studio with him a couple times and it's like damn, like we said we don't know that much about Seattle music but that's Vitamin D! There has been hella love from the Seattle scene, it's been good, just enjoying this shit. We are off to a pretty good start.
Isiah: I don't know man, when we did that show with Scholars and Macklemore at the UW, some benefit or something, last month. We were rocking the stage and I was like do you guys realize that I grew up listening to you guys.
Coleman: This guy Mack came and performed here our Sophomore year before we even considered rapping. I didn't even know who he was but that was when I got on to him, I was like damn he is filthy.
Isiah: We gave him a CD, I don't know if he's listened to it but he shook our hands and was like "yeah that was a good set." It's crazy. I feel old, but then I realize I'm not that old, some of these guys have been doing it for hella long. I feel lucky. Hopefully we can keep the whole Seattle thing going, the energy in the town right now is fucking bananas. I just wanna be able to keep that shit going and keep putting Seattle on map.
TML: You spoke on your parents musical background, what's their take on your music? Have they heard it?
Isiah: I don't let my mom listen to it. She's heard it, but I don't let her come to a show or listen to it. Thats just my personal, i don't know, just a weird thing I got going on. I feel weird cursing in front of my mom. I let my dad come to a couple of my shows and he enjoyed it, seeing me perform, he's into the whole performing thing. Both my brothers are big supporters. There was one time I was really beefing with my brother, we were about to fight. Then he came to one of my shows, he was kinda drunk. I got off stage and he was like "Man your a bitch, but you are filthy, I'll give you that." I was like "Yeah bitch, fuck you too."
Coleman: Nothing like that family love. My brothers don't really say shit about it. I have four brothers. One of my brothers, Zach, he made our videos. Another one of my brothers I just go over there and we play Madden, we don't really talk about anything. My mom is super supportive. She is often seen around the house in a Brothers From Another Tee. She lets me go out on school nights for shows.
TML: Can you talk about the "Dukes of the Hood" video?
Coleman: The song in general was hella funny, cause we recorded our verse and I tried to put the hook down and my voice just didn't work on it, we needed someone to come hard on that. We had this guy's cousin come in and put this hook down and he loved the beat was like I'm putting a verse down. He bullied us, but it worked out.
TML: I'm trying to hear more from him.
Coleman: You will, he's been in the studio working on his solo stuff.
TML: Where did you shoot it at?
Coleman: My brothers across the street. I live on this side of the block, I got three brothers who live across the street. It was a school day, we all spent the night at his house. My mom was like "oh you are shooting a video, you can miss school."
Isiah: Thursday skip school day, we drove around town in my homies mini van like oh that looks cool, let's shoot over there.
Coleman: We shot the first half of it at my brothers apartment.
Isiah: Where else did we go, Seattle Center.
Coleman: I'm still mad at you cause that last scene. You know that last scene, it fades out and its just Rebel, it was suppose to be all three of us but you went to go talk to some chick.
Isiah: It's my girlfriend now, I had to go say hi to her.
Coleman: Yeah the video was hella fun.
Isiah: One day, we shot it in one day.
TML: You guys have any shows coming up?
Isiah: April 1st we are opening for Kidz in the Hall and Donnis.
TML: I was gonna ask if "Kids in the Mall" was a little swipe at Kidz in the Hall?
(Laughter and loud NOT AT ALL statements from both come out simultaneously)
Coleman: We didn't even make that connection til later.
Isiah: Yeah we were in Redmond recording with Kung Foo Grip
Coleman: First off Redmond is hella deep.
Isiah: yeah we were driving for like 20 minutes and they are like it's right around the way, we are like what the fuck? But anyway we are recording at there spot, it's some old abandoned fire house or something, and mid way through the session these parents walk in and are like "Where is my kid? My kid ran away, I know he is here." We were like what? We are in the middle of something right here. Then one of the older homies was like "Your kid is probably in the mall."
Coleman: And the homie Greg Cypher looked up and said "Kids in the Mall."
TML: Who made that beat?
Coleman: This guy Cypher found it cruising myspace.
TML: How did you connect with the Kung Foo Grip kids?
Coleman: We did our first real dope show with them at the Hidmo. We were hella nervous it was our first big show and other cats, The Physics and THEESatisfaction were on the bill. We get in and they came up to us and were like "man we heard the EP, that shit is filthy!"
Isiah: I fucking love those guys live, Kung Foo.
Coleman: Kung Foo just showed us hella love and their shows get LIVE! And they are just the complete homies.
Isiah: I heard a couple tracks off their new EP, the shit I heard was really hard. I like the way they flip it up from a jazzy Tribe type beat to a straight up Wu Tang type of feel.
TML: Have you heard the track with them on the SOTA album?
Isiah: I only saw it live, haven't heard it.
Coleman: Live they had like a hundred cats on stage, I felt like I was at a Wu Tang concert. It was absurd. It caught me by suprise. It was in the middle of SOTA's set, that shit was live.
TML: How aware are the teachers and staff of the school about your music?
Coleman: Like I said all our homies keep gettin kicked out so we are trying to keep it a little quiet. We'll be recording in here and the dude who runs this area will come down and we will just sit over here and turn down the song about weed.
Isiah: They seem to be pretty cool about it, I don't know how much they have heard. We performed at a benefit here. One of our teachers let us skip class to do a show. That was cool. We did an assembly at Northwest.
Coleman: There were little kids running around, it was funny. But this guy was like "man come up for a reason why we aren't in class." I was like "we got a show." I was expecting to get some shit for that but the teacher was like "oh that's cool. Cats are pretty supportive.
TML: So you are excited to be on the Donnis and Kidz in the Hall show? You are fans of those guys?
Isiah: Yeah! Just discoverd Donnis and he is dope.
Coleman: I didn't even know he was on the show and Isiah told me to download the Diary of an Atlanta Brave, that shit is hella filthy. Im a big J Cole fan and was flipping through the XXL freshman issue and saw Donnis is a freshman top 10, so I got hella pumped off that to.
TML: How did you guys get on that show?
ISiah: I don't know, we've done a lot of shows at Studio Seven. Not a big fan of Studio Seven shows. You gotta get it how you live. That's the thing. The whole all ages thing. I just wanna be able to go to these shows. Somebody hook me up with a fakey! I just wanna go perform, do my music. I mean I might get smashed, give me the fakey we'll see what I do, but really I just wanna perform.
TML: What is your favorite Hip Hop album of all time?
Coleman: That's tough. Reasonable Doubt is up there.
Isiah: Resonable Doubt is up there but that might even say that is too hard to answer.
Coleman: Resonable Doubt, ATLiens is classic.
Isiah: I love Resonable Doubt, I'm in love with The Blueprint as well, big Jay-Z guy.
TML: Did you guys go to Jay?
Coleman: I did.
Isiah: I had the flu, I was sick as fuck man.
Coleman: I feel like I got it by default, he's the homie but I feel like he likes you more, but you were sick.
Isiah: I was so mad, I don't even wanna talk about that.
Coleman: I was sitting in the way back and there was a bunch of old dudes sitting by us, but it was Jay man.
Isiah: Man fuck you guys... But what else do I like in terms of rap albums? I'm a big Tribe guy. I really like the Tribe. Take naps to the Tribe. Beats and all that. I don't know thats too hard to answer.
Coleman: I'd have to agree.
TML: Aside from rapping, what else do yall like to do for fun?
Coleman: We coach little league.
Isiah: We used to play baseball, but I got tired of it.
Coleman: I'm trying to make a comeback. We played til Junior year here, I played hella seriously. I was trying to be the next Dereck Jeter for hella long, but once I realized that didn't happen I figured I needed to channel my energies somewhere else.
Isiah: So now we just coach the kids, teach em how to play baseball. And they are bad, I hate em all but it's fun. I'm a sneaker afficiando, I fucking love sneakers. I'm in the process of selling them so I can go to college and then buy more in college and sell them again.
TML: You guys have ideas for what you want to major in?
Isiah: I was thinking about going into education with a minor in business or marketing just in case I do become famous.
Coleman: I'm going into business and marketing, I don't really know why, what I plan to do with that. As far as hobbies I'm slowly becoming addicted to tatooes.
TML: How many tatooes do you have?
Coleman: I only have 3, but that doesn't equal how much I want.
Isiah: I'm trying to think what else I do. Vintage clothing shoping, good will hunting. Big fan of all that shit. What do we do bro? I don't know.
Coleman: We kick it really hard.
Isiah: I went sailing this weekend.
Coleman: I hit this guy up like "what's good for the day?" He's like "I'm sailing."
Isiah: What else do we do?
Coleman: We smoke alot of weed. This guy takes like four naps a day.
TML: Are yall Curren$y and Wiz fans?
BFA: Oh yes, for sure. Of course.
Coleman: Orange juice and blunts. This guy is the reason we haven't completed like 6 albums, I'll be like "you trying to record?" and he's like "I'm asleep." It's like 2 o'clock in the afternoon, what are you doing bro?
Isiah: I'll take that, I'll honestly take that. I nap like twice a day bro, I can't help it.
Catch them April 1st at Studio Seven opening for Kidz in the Hall and Donnis. Check out their blog, download some tunes and watch for the name BFA.