Harlem’s most relatable rapper, Rugz D Bewler, emerged on the scene back in 2010 when he dropped his first official mixtape Save Bewler. The project paved the way for his well-received sophomore mixtape, Bewler’s Day Off, followed by his most recent compilation, By Any Means.
Recently, the Harlemite has been buzzing off of the success of his impromptu summer single “Ghost of Betha,” as well as the viral success of his freestyle on Sway in the Morning, where he killed it and then some. While he’s in the lab recording new material for a new season of New York underground rap, the youngblood emcee undoubtedly has a lot on his plate; however, Mr. Bewler still found time to chat it up with RESPECT. regarding his life as Harlem’s most down-to-earth rapper.
So tell me what you’ve been up to this week, what was your schedule like for today?
A lot of recording and preparing for revamping everything as far as my brand, my style, and where I want to go in my career. I been rapping for a while, but you always get pulled in different directions when you’re trying to find yourself as an artist. My team is small but I think we’re really grounded in what we want to do and how I want to portray myself as an artist- where I want to go with art, labels, or any situation that we really want to see progress on. That’s what I’m focusing on because, I’m the artist at the end of the day.
Anything specific, that you’ve really been pushing this week?
I’ve always been into art, fashion, and things like that. That’s just something I’ve always been a part of, but my thing is music at the end of the day. The music has to be good. I’m bringing all this music to the table, and I’m piling up this resume of music. Once I get more, then I can show you my artistic side as far as painters and clothing designers I want to work with. I’m into those things, but I’d rather be the master of one thing right now, instead of the jack of all trades. Those other people that I like and believe in, I’d rather collaborate with them really hands on- so I do have a lot of dope shit that I’m doing as far as paintings and clothing lines, but the music comes first right now.
What kind of artistic style are you attracted to? What makes you say, “that painting is dope” or “those clothes are fresh”?
I’m a real mellow, but arrogant person. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I just mean there’s a subtle way that I can be and how I vibe. My paintings are all based on vibes. I’m such a vibrant person, so my stuff can still be mellow but have a real vibrant feel too. I love a mixture of everything.
Your freestyle on Sway in the Morning was so hot and it’s been blowing up really big on the internet. How was that whole experience on the show?
I knew what I had to do, to be honest with you. I’m a fan of the show, and I’ve seen artists on there that I know, but I haven’t had the chance to check anybody really kill it. I said, “Let me watch the show and see what goes on”, and I’m not saying nobody at all ever kills it, but it’s very rare that people take it that serious. At the end of the day, I know I’m just as good as these other artists I see on there, so I had to go in there and prove my point. A lot of the artists on there are really more established, so I just had to do my homework. I was sitting there the night before reciting certain shit, even though I knew I was going to freestyle, but I wanted to be ready just in case I started stumbling. I just had to come correct, cause at the end of the day it’s all about being competitive and smart, and showing off your stuff.
You recently instagramed a pic of De La Soul, noting that they are a big inspiration to you. What about their style and their music do you like the most?
They were very charismatic. They was one of the first who weren’t really afraid to do a lot of stuff, you know. They had daisies and vibrant colors and shit, but I was still really attracted to their stuff and the music was so good. They had skits too! Nobody was doing skits like that at that time, I don’t remember skits until I heard of De La, you know that I’m saying. I had never heard that before; I didn’t even know what that was, all I knew was that they made a mistake possibly and just kept it going. The group itself was just dope.
Do you have any other big music inspirations that people might be surprised to hear about?
D’Angelo is a big inspiration. I didn’t know at the time that D’Angelo was really was great singer. At the time he came out you had all these other singers and they put their shit to what they thought hip hop was. When he came out his stuff was so mellow and cool, his tones was so dope; and I like to try to use my tones and harmonies also, even though I’m not a singer I still try to use them. I think he was one of the artists that really showed me those things, and then when I heard Brown Sugar,the first album, that was amazing- when I heard Voodoo I wasn’t even ready or that. I really had to appreciate that track years later. He’s a big inspiration on the low and that’s really left field. I could name bunch rap wise, but D’Angelo- people would probably think, “Why D’Angelo”?
You can tell from your instagram that you’re a really big family man. Is anyone else inyou’re family involved in the music world?
My little cousin is also under Team Colors right now, he’s gonna be an artist to come out under us. It’s great to find someone in your family who you grew up with; and we haven’t seen each other in years, but we started reuniting and hanging out, and he showed me all this beautiful artwork. I was so proud to have another male on my family, someone with the same last name, that did something so great. He’s only two years younger than me, but it reminds me of myself when I was coming up as an artist. As far a the rest of the family, I am a really big family man. I try to spend a lot of time with the fam, especially my daughters, because I know how busy this music thing can get. So, I’m trying to get them at the most precious times I can get, like right now, I was just trying to skype with them while they’re in Jamaica.
Are your daughters a lot like you?
They are, but it’s hard to say, cause they can be like their mother too. I have twins, so I would say one is more like me and one is more like their moms. They look just like me, spitting image, but hey have so much of their mother in them- you know women just connect differently with their kids. But yea, they look just like me, and it’s funny because they get so much more likes on instagram than me. I put a picture up of them and they get hundreds of likes. Me, I just get my little 90’s and 60’s, but them it’s always over the hundreds. They are the most fun thing in my life that I have.
Do you have any advice for men trying to upgrade their careers in the music world while still being a father (aka DILF)?
Fam comes first, because going through struggles as a parent only makes you stronger as an artist. So, when I play around with the DILF thing, I’m really just saying that I’m shining off of what I do as a father. You can never be a perfect father; you can always be better and strive to be better, but when I say the word DILF, it’s really just saying my vibes as a dad are shining. I’m glowing off of the joys and the happiness I get from being around my kids, and you’re going to be attracted to me because of that positive energy.
You recently tweeted about NY emcees reclaiming the spotlight from “certain guys” in L.A who currently have it on lock. Do you really think L.A is owning the east coast right now?
Nah, they just got the spotlight right now. They can have it- it’s nothing wrong with that- in fact, it’s supposed to be like that. After a while L.A’s Three Peat had to end, so it’s not a constant thing of you always winning. It has to switch sides. What Kendrick did was kind of dope ; he was really saying, “What are y’all doing over there?” and “Who are y’all representing?”. He’s right to ask who’s putting the battery in the back of the east coast, you know. He’s challenging us to ask “What are y’all doing this for?’, and that’s always good.
What do you feel that the Harlem music scene is missing right now that Rugz D. Bewler is able to bring to the table?
It’s the package, we haven’t really had the whole package. I mean someone who has good lyrics, beats, charisma, style, and the whole things in one package. Is it asking for too much? Yea. Will it happen? Probably not all the way, but most likely its gonna be me. I’m gonna get as close as I can, you know. I ain’t inventing this shit, but I’m gonna push the wheel harder than most of them. That’s how I see it. Harlem has so much diversity, and so many things going on that you can’t really pin point what exactly we’re bringing, you know, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But at the same time, someone has to do it, and I think I got it.
Are you a big fan of any emerging artists coming out of Harlem right now? Is there anyone that you hear right now that you can say “Yea that’s Harlem, that’s it”.
I fuck with Ferg; Ferg is the homie. Ferg used to come with me to DD12 sometime when I used to work with Dame and them; and Ferg’s father is very well respected in Harlem, so I like what he’s doing. His style is not what you would say it typical Harlem, but what he’s rapping is Harlem. He’s definitely on my radar.
When did you know that you wanted to do music for you career? Was there a specific song, or show, or artists that made you realized your calling?
I performed at my friend’s shows, but I knew I always wanted to do music because I used to be behind the scenes a lot. I wanted to be in A&R. I thought that shit would be the coolest thing in the world- you just get to pick beats, organize people’s albums, travel, and just chill. I wanted that until I got in the office and realized that’s really not what it is. I interned at Rockafella for a little bit, while I was there I would listen to people’s beats, memorize them, or try to write them on the low. I would take a few home with me and try to bring them back on the low, even though you not supposed to do shit like that, because I didn’t know where to get beats from. After a while, when you playing around with it, a lot of people start telling you you’re kinda good and you should start pursuing it. The spark for me was just learning that I really knew how to make music. I’m very hard on myself, so at the same time, I can really not t like a lot of the stuff I first put out. But when I can tolerate certain shit, and I’m like, “Yea this sounds good”, that’s when I know. I made a song, it was on my first mix tape Bewler’s Day Off, and my favorite song on there was “My Mind”. It was rough and it was raw, but I was like “Damn, this is a song”, I made a good song. It was a dope song, dope lyrics, dope content- so yea that was the spark. I knew I was go do at it, but you never know when you want to take it serious.
You sound like a real perfectionist, so do you know when a song or a project is finished and its time to let it go?
It’s bad, it’s really never finished with me. A lot of times, I’m forced to throw it out. I’m not gonna lie, I’m forced a lot to throw out my music out. I’m really a perfectionist, so I like to make sure you hear everything as it is when it’s 100% perfect. There are a lot of artists like that, who make sure you hear everything aesthetically. It’s like you have on those headphones and you can hear the adlibs and the background stuff on the low. I’m also into engineering- I don’t engineer per say, but I have a good ear. Certain people care about those things, so I’m about sound quality, lyrics, dope beats; and sometimes it’s not even all about the content of the music, it’s about the engineering. Also, my voice is very distinct, so I really have to be particular about who’s mixing my vocals. Right now I’m in the midst of finding a really good engineer that I can stick with.
How does beat selection work for you?
You’d be surprised with what people can give out. Out of 20 beats somebody can give you just one beat that really moves you, so I’m always willing to give people a shot. I connect with people that vibe with me, and lately I’m been vibing with my own team , my producers, and people I really want to grow with aesthetically. If I’m diverse, and they’re diverse then we can grow together, you know. It’s great to work with different producers, but nowadays you can really build your own shit with your own team, you know, and then branch out. There are a lot of people I would love to work with, but for right now let me just do my own thing with my own people.
What were you listening to on the way over here?
Tyler, the Creator.
Any favorite summer projects?
I’m feeling Jay Z and Kanye obviously. I like Cudi’s shit a lot too. I felt there was too many tracks on there, but I love it. I liked Tyler’s project too. That one also had a lot of damn songs on it, but those two, Cudi and Tyler, are hot. The one’s I’ve really been going back and forth on are Cudi’s, Tyler’s, Ab-Soul’s, and Gunplay. I keep those on rotation.
You’re an actor as well. Do you have any upcoming acting projects coming up?
I’m about to get back into it seriously. Some people that represented me before have been asking me about what am I doing and things like that, so I think I am going to start submitting for roles and looking to get back into it. I’m at a time right now where I feel more established; I know my look and I know where I want to go, just like music, so I think I can do acting right now. Really it goes hand-in-hand nowadays with rapping. Let this music pop off really soon and you’ll be seeing me in the theater.
What kinds of roles would you want to play?
I want to play a soldier role, some real shit like that. I want some cigarette packs in my helmet, I’m stressing, I’m attacking people, I’m crying, but I’m laughing at the same time type shit- real dramatic, real type shit. That’s what I want to do.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is obviously you’re favorite movie. Why?
We didn’t have cable all the time growing up, so channel 11 used to repeat movies like that, and they always used to come on. So when you were coming back from school those movies were always playing, so those were the movies I knew. I would see it all the time and I just got with it. I connected with the character; I thought he was so cool; like he wasn’t hanging with the cool kids, but he was still the cool one. I felt that’s how I was at a certain time. Especially, when I got to high school and I watched it again, every couple of years, I go back to it. That was an awesome movie.
Any other favorite flicks?
I’m a Spike Lee fanatic, so Do The Right Thing. And City of God. That movie is nothing to play with. That movie is in my top 5, if not my top 3, and I’m a movie buff. Right now I’m stuck on Walking Dead, that show is really kicking my ass. Right now that is my go-to show.
Who is Bene?
Bene is my alter ego. It stems from a character from City of God; he said that he’s the coolest person in the slums, but also dealt with the cool kids. That’s no different than me, just in a more urban way. I fuck with that character, I love that character, and that’s how I got to watch the movie. Before the movie even got out, a dude told me to watch it at an independent theater, because he said a character reminded him of me. He was like, “you remind me of Bene”, and when I saw it I was like, ‘oh I get it”. It took me a while to get why, but I finally put it together with my music. Bene: beautiful, extraterrestrial, nigga, eating
You have given yourself the tittle of “The Relatable Rapper.” I like that because the problem with most emcees nowadays is that they come on the scene with something fresh, gain a lot of fans, gain success, and then become absorbed in the rapper/Hollywood lifestyle. So much so that by their second or third project, their original fans aren’t really feeling them anymore because the average fan can’t relate to the new stuff they’re rapping about like cars and money. How do you manage to keep your sound fresh and your music relatable while still gaining the success you want?
Being around a lot of successful people, but you’re still going home to some bullshit and problems- that humbles you. I’ve done some fun shit and I’ve made some money- nothing crazy like the amounts I wanna make- but I know there’s so much more. And when you’re hanging out with people that have a lot of fucking money, you really start to realize that you’re not in their shoes. You’re hopping in and out, you know. You know how to hop in the beautiful life, but then you hop right back out into that real life, and I like to show that concept in my music. There are people around us doing that all the time. We live in fucking New York City, the most ghetto fabulous city in the world, where somebody may really look like they doing it, but they not really doing it. So, with that said, I know how to balance that shit and be humble. And me being humble is just saying, “Yea I’m a cool dude, I do what I do, but at the same time, I’m not greater than you, homie”.
“Woosah” is my favorite song of yours. Can you take me through the process of making that track?”
“Woosah” is produced by, not only my producer, but my homie Sal Dali. Originally, I took the beat from my boy. He had it, and I was so humble that he sent it to me, because he was like, ‘I got these joints, and I’m bout to write to these’, and I’m sitting in the car like, damn, this is mine, he just don’t know it yet. So I’m rapping to it, and I didn’t tell him I wrote to it. He somehow left in the crib, and I’m just listening to it; I wrote to that shit so fast, I finished the first verse, and I didn’t even have the “Woosah” yet. I just had the lyrics and I let him hear it. I was going through so much shit at the time, so when he heard it he was like, ‘Yea you can have it”. Once he let me have it, I went to my man’s studio and I finished the second verse there. I don’t know what clicked- maybe me being a movie buff I heard it somewhere or something, but I thought ‘Woosah”. I don’t know, and I’m not even gonna give you a fake story about how it came up, but I bet you a movie came on, and I was just “Woosah”. And we just stretched the whole thing. The homegirl Lea did Woosah also to soften it up. You know, the song is just about the shit I go through, you know. We all going through some shit. You going through it, I’m going through it, so just “Woosah” and relax.
Who do you think would win in a fight, a crocodile or a shark?
A shark, because would be more agile in the water. I could see him just chopping the shit out of the croc in the water.
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