Train of Thought: Bas
Interview: Peter A. Berry
Editor’s Note: This story appears in the Winter 2023 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.
“She asked me, ‘Aren’t you exhausted?’ I said, ‘That’s what they make drugs for, isn’t it?/Please don’t judge, I need your love while I’m still in it/Vision blurrin’, that’s how I know that I’m feeling it/Are you hearing it?’/God whispers guide me to a higher plane how I came down back to Earth and got high again/ I done gained nothin’, but pain in this form/I could find warmth, but I stayed in the storm/Yeah, look in my eyes, viewer discretion is advised/Only time I feel alive when I’m on the s**t/ Standard of living, so high penthouse suite and we aligned/How the feeling so divine, it get hard to kick/Yeah, it’s lonely, I’m holdin’ strong, I keep it calm/’Cause they love me, I’m Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam/Oh, it’s lonely, I’m holdin’ strong, I keep it calm/’Cause they love me, I’m Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam/ Look, I’m in control, napalm in my soul/I bomb, let it burn/How long till my turn come/Who gon’ bleed wit’ me in a war of one/ Who my enemy? I’m the only one/Self-destruction is imminent, dimmin’ my light/I been livin’ my life like the cinemas/Picture me rollin, cue the seratonin/I been runnin’ low, but it keep me in the moment/Damn, it feel golden, neck and wrist golden/Beauty in the eye of the holder and, man, I been holdin’ and holdin’ and holdin’ and holdin’ on”
XXL: “Oh, it’s lonely, holdin’ strong, I keep it calm/’Cause they love me, I’m Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam.” What made you decide to reference Ho Chi Minh for this song?
Bas: When I was writing that, I was watching one of my favorite documentaries; it’s by Ken Burns. It’s called The Vietnam War. And there’s a whole episode about Ho Chi Minh, who’s kind of like the grandfather of Vietnam. He was just a self-less dude, essentially, who just wanted Vietnam to be free of colonial powers by any means, and pretty much dedicated his life to it. I think a lot of the song really kind of deals with a war of the self, in essence. It deals with escapism and drug abuse and a few things that are kind of sprinkled throughout. In some of my lines, I’m my only enemy in essence, so it is kind of like a war. I’m fighting within myself for liberation from certain things.
“I could find warmth, but I stayed in the storm.” What is it that makes you opt to stay in the storm rather than finding the warmth?
I think with us, our lifestyles, our pursuits, our career goals in the entertainment industry, it’s not necessarily the healthiest, the most wholesome or the best for you. But we kind of stay on this trail and we live in excess. We live in escapism. We undertake all these self-destructive kinds of nature, but it’s like a moth to the flame.
“Beauty in the eye of the holder and, man, I been holdin’ and holdin’ and holdin’ and holdin’ on.” What is this mirror that you’re holding up looking at?
I think it is really [looking] at myself. It’s in being able to see past these issues that I speak on, being able to see past my own shortcomings as a person or my perceived shortcomings. We don’t want to let other people down, but we don’t want to let ourselves down. And I think this song, in many ways, it speaks to that war. You’re not going to win every battle. There are times where you are going to lose yourself in this s**t. There are times where your better nature won’t prevail [or] you will give into the vices. And I think the beauty in it is fighting through.
Read Bas’ interview in the Winter 2023 issue of XXL Magazine, on newsstands now. The new issue also includes the cover story with Latto and conversations with Killer Mike, Flo Milli, DD Osama, Maiya The Don, Monaleo, Mello Buckzz, Sexyy Red, BigXThaPlug, plus more. Additionally, there’s an exclusive interview with Fetty Wap, Quality Control Music’s Coach K and P discuss 10 years into the label’s growth, in-depth stories on the popularity of sampling in hip-hop in 2023 and the state of hip-hop touring, and the best moments of hip-hop’s year-long 50th anniversary celebration.