November 24th, 2005 | Interviews

Busdriver is one of the most distinctive MCs in Los Angeles. He was described once as William Burroughs hopped up on meth—and described several times as having an AM-radio-announcer’s voice—though he starts off his album Fear Of A Black Tangent sounding more like a professor with a point to prove. He responds to the L.A. RECORD’s emails between continental tour dates.

Do you really sell more records in France?
I’m in France at this moment actually, eating crepes and burning American flags.
Which Ordre des Arts et des Lettres recipient do you relate to more: Jerry Lewis or Ornette Coleman?
The French are good to me and for this I am very thankful. I feel like an expatriate jazzman being fawned over and objectified by art aficionados. It’s great. I’ve become a negroid Jerry Lewis in the process, as embarrassing as that is.
What is the political climate like in France right now? How do people feel about the riots?
The French embrace the right to strike and riot. They act out a freedom here that is unparalleled in the states; our own convictions are muted because we are too complacent to protest what denies us our basic rights. Especially minorities, even now when we should be. But not in France: some insensitive comments made by a high-ranking politico is more than enough reason to torch this motherfucker.
What were your own expatriate years in France like? Were they as life-changing as Europe is supposed to be?
I was conceiving a child the whole time. That pretty much sums up my experience in Paris.
What kind of kid were you growing up? Did that ‘wormholes’ chorus come from a sci-fi background? Or maybe you just keep up on physics?
I aspire to be a hotch-potch of random factoids and terms. Most of my rhymes are fueled by this fact. The ‘wormholes’ chorus is rooted in my understated misunderstanding of existentialism. But I read a lot of comics as a kid as well.
What was it like going to the Good Life when you were so young? How did you get to know everyone there?
My best friend at the time lead me down to ‘Life one evening in late 1992. I didn’t really know what to expect—I had heard about Microphone Mike and strange tales of interpretive dancing in accord with freestyle rapping by the enigmatic Abstract Tribe Unique. But I had no idea what to expect. When I finally got to lay my eyes on these revered LA rap crews, I went slack-jawed. The talent level at that place surpassed any concept that I had of hip-hop. And yet it all seemed so intuitive and soulful. On my first night I think I saw Sesquibidilian, who rhymed in Spanish—backward—and Charlie Tunafish (J5) and maybe ATU. I never was the same again. My feeble efforts got me the opportunity to be adopted by the CVE—Good Life OGs—camp. I became one of their protegès, so to speak. I’ve been down with the Afterlife—CVE, Hip-Hop Kclan, Of Mexican Descent, etc.—ever since.
Is there anyone from that scene who sort of dropped out that you’d like to see performing again?
Yes. T-Spoon Iodine, Hymnal, Figures of Speech, Funky Trend—the list goes on and on.
What is the Corn Gangg and when might it be coming back to LA? And is there going to be a Corn Gangg album?
You already know more about the Corn Gangg than I do. The group is basically the brainchild of Nick and Jamie of the Islands—formerly from the Unicorns—and Subtitle. I have little to do with it. I just show up occasionally, rap, and hope that I don’t dishearten any hardcore pre-teen Unicorn fans. All our performances have been pretty much improv. Nick and Jamie craft loose templates for songs, Gino—Subtitle—manifests a silly hook from out of the darkness and then… kaos. I can’t promise much more than that in the future.
What local hip-hop/rock ‘n’ roll team-ups would you like to see? Blackbird and the Rolling Blackouts? 2MEX and the Alleged Gunmen?
2MEX and Ikey Owens—the keyboard player from Mars Volta—are finishing up an album. I think that they’re calling themselves the Look Daggers. Team-ups is what’s cracking right now. Get hip, people!
And do you consider yourself to have an AM radio- announcer voice?
I’m now looking for a job at Adult Swim because of this question.