For the premiere I.V. First Friday event of the 2018-19 school year, up-and-coming Compton rapper Buddy graced the People’s Park stage in I.V. on October 5. A.S. Program Board hosted the free concert with help from sponsors Yerba Mate and KIND Bar.
The 25-year-old artist has defied music genre boundaries since producer Pharrell Williams first discovered him at age 15. Williams spotted his freestyle then signed him to his personal record label, i am OTHER, at age 18. Since the beginning of his career, Buddy has been lucky enough to collaborate with big names in the industry, including Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, and Kaytranada. He has already released one mixtape, two EPs, and his debut album, “Harlan and Alondra,” this past July.
In an interview with The Bottom Line, Buddy claimed that one of his biggest influences was growing up in the church, stating, “I grew up in church and lived in the hood so my parents kept me away from all the bad shit that was going on.”
In addition to keeping him out of trouble, his roots in the church choir influenced him musically. He said, “It prepared me to be saying a message rather than saying nothing. My upbringing, I feel like, makes [my music] feel like more of a sermon.” Buddy lastly attributed his entertainment skills to a conservatory he attended growing up, which he says accustomed him to being in front of an audience.
Buddy’s talent for entertaining was apparent from the moment he stepped on stage — even after discouraging technical difficulties between the opening act Odie and the main show delayed his performance. He joked with the crowd, danced in between hyping the crowd up, and at times even joined in on the fun, performing right at the barrier and even entering the mosh pit.
Second year Jackie Flores and third year Itzayana Lopez appreciated his energy and inclusivity. Flores said, “He wanted to get all of us into the zone,” and Lopez added that she admired that he wasn’t afraid to get right into the crowd, exclaiming, “When do you ever see people do that?”
While at the beginning of the set the energy in the crowd was reserved, the more spirit and personality Buddy put in, the more the crowd returned it. About halfway through the set, the whole crowd was dancing and vibing with the music, matching the increased energy of the songs he performed.
Although it seemed like many students had just been introduced to Buddy’s music, by the end of the show the mood was energetic and the crowd seemed sad that the show was ending. Flores and Lopez, for example, said that they did not know of Buddy before attending the concert, but by the end of the show, they felt pumped and happy, a sentiment that seemed echoed in the moods of other attendees.
In his newest project, “Harlan and Alondra” — which features songs like “The Blue,” featuring Snoop Dogg, and “Trouble on Central” — Buddy continues his pattern of infectious grooves, blending a mix of chill odes to Los Angeles with fast-paced crowd-pleasers. Throughout the album, he alternates effortlessly between a carefree, nostalgic tone, and more serious topics such as oppression, the current political atmosphere, and newfound love.
He said about “Harlan and Alondra,” which is named after the cross-streets of his childhood home, “I was really trying to depict more of the positive side of Compton — the cool things that go down — rather than what people are expecting to hear from a Compton artist.”
Earlier in 2018, Buddy went on tour with Joey Bada$$, and he will continue life on the road, touring with Aminé from November through December. When asked what his plans are for recording music in the future, he said that he is full of ideas and energy for new projects, stating, “I’m in the process of finishing a lot of songs, so I’m cool on time. I don’t feel rushed or pressured to put music out.”
Buddy added that he is working on a deluxe version of “Harlan and Alondra,” so fans should expect a few more songs in the upcoming months. Once the project is complete, he hopes to begin working on new projects with a variety of producers. He even hinted at more collaboration with Kaytranada in the near future. Though Buddy will not be stopping in Santa Barbara while on tour with Aminé, his new fans made at I.V. First Friday may give him a reason to return again soon.