Selected by: Ian Opolot

Name: Bawo

Where He’s From: West London

Genre: Rap

File Next To: Danny Sanchez, Sainte, Osquello, Knucks, Sam Wise

Sounds Like: “I would define my sound as an honest effort to find one’s self and make people move and feel good, too.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “I can’t remember a particular song but it was mainly 50 Cent’s album, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, and all of the hits that Nelly had around that time. Anything on MTV from 2002 to 2004, really.”

Despite uncertainty brought on by the pandemic over the last 18 months, West London rhymer Bawo used such adversity to flourish, working tirelessly to produce single after single to form the base of his debut EP, Live & Let Thrive. Bawo’s style is of the laid-back variety, with punchlines relating to football and the everyday delivered with differing flows, upping the tempo depending on what the beat dictates.

As with most artists, your alias is representative of your identity, and Bawo has had a fair few in his time. “‘Fury’ was my first tag name when I started writing bars, and then ‘Enimi’,” he tells TRENCH. “I had the name ‘Nova’ as well.” He started writing bars in 2008, and the changes in name were essentially creative rebirths, the journey required to arrive at the artist we see today. What you see now is a rapper confident in the art he releases, whether it be the smooth, R&B-tinged “Undercover” or the more viscerally profound “I Hated My Name”, which explores the sensitivity of Blackness and identity amongst the backdrop of a society that seldom celebrates it.

Bawo is someone who reflects the times in his music, and this was evidenced brilliantly when he dropped “I Hated My Name” during the BLM protests last summer. He’s already demonstrating an angle of artistry that indicates a well-calculated creative process, which points to his upbringing in his family home. Bawo says he grew up on “mainly African music, but specifically music from the Itsekere tribe, as well as music from West Africa and the rest of the continent. There was also lot of gospel and African Christian music, as well as Fela Kuti.” Such influences have seemingly rubbed off on Bawo, whose music comes straight from the heart and soul. Not afraid to tackle the difficult topics, he explores themes surrounding identity, love, race, success and self-doubt in a truly relatable way. His Live & Let Thrive EP was extricated from personal experience, decorated with the gift of the gab and the maturity to channel the passing of time to tape. Production on the project ranges from cloud-rap to Afrobeats to UK garage, inviting you in to Bawo’s world as he showcases his heartfelt pen.

And that pen is already making an impact. “My biggest achievement is being told that the music that I’ve made has been there for people in any way and has helped them through any sort of situation,” he says, “whether it be a situation at home or anything else. Making music that connects with people is the best feeling.” Looking forward, Bawo has his eyes set on further establishing himself in the music industry by developing a production house called Say Nothing. “I started Say Nothing in 2019 with a close friend,” he explains. “It’s a production company that is home to all of my music at the moment, and will be a home for a lot more output that will come in the near future. We want to grow it to be the best thing that it can be.”

Don’t sleep on Bawo.

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on October 21, 2021