UTG INTERVIEW: Broderick Batts talks living in L.A. and challenging listeners

broderick batts

Musicians in the 21st century are afforded the ability to hurdle their region’s perceived shortcomings, broadcast their artistic vision to the world, and stake their claim in the industry from there. That’s the reason Broderick Batts, a Tampa Bay native, has lived in L.A. for two years after his irresistible fusion of hip-hop, R&B, and soul (referred to as “NuuSoul”) rapidly connected with audiences across the internet.

The Floridian’s newest single, “Pink Empty Promises,” does well to affirm the buzz surrounding him as a beat that sits somewhere between pop and trap paves the way for his melodic vocals to croon a seriously infectious hook; “ain’t no lovey dovey, ain’t no cuddle buddy, you just fucking with a real nigga.” Thus, while Broderick was back home in Florida putting the finishing touches on a yet-to-be-announced mixtape, we were ecstatic to have a candid conversation with him over the phone about “Pink Empty Promises,” how he vibes creatively with his most trusted producers, and the occasional need to leave behind the bright city lights in exchange for home.

UTG: How’s L.A. treated you so far?

Broderick Batts: The move for me was a culture shock ’cause it was so different—it was almost like a new world—but I adjusted very well because I felt like I was born a long way from home. Florida is my home, but I was always kinda weird so when I got to L.A. it was a perfect fit for me.

I feel you on that. Being from the south, even outside of an aristic hub like Atlanta, it feels like you’re not really in the industry till you’re in L.A.

BB: Yeah, man, it almost feels like they’re kinda doing it, but it’s just not all the way there…like it’s missing something. Like Florida, St. Pete is getting a little better with the art scene, but it’s not fully there; it’s just missing something…

Has moving to L.A. changed or expanded your artistic process at all?

BB: People say L.A. is beautiful and it motivates you, [but] not really. I’m used to like, nice scenery and stuff going to Miami, but the actual people that I meet are so hungry that they change my mind-frame. It’s almost like it’s an oversaturated market ’cause there’s so many people that have this, like, “I gotta get it, I gotta grind,” ’cause there’s some little kid out there ’cause of this new technological world that we live in, there’s some little nine-year-old in his room that’s out-doing me right now! So I’m like I gotta learn, I gotta constantly be working ’cause there’s so many good people out there. So that’s a way it’s changed me, it’s made me go and get it. It’s a dog eat dog world.

Is there anyone you’ve met with out here in L.A. that you’re clicking with musically?

BB: My homie Erik Hassle, a label-mate of mine, me and him…it’s kinda weird, like I don’t saying this cheesy “we are one,” but when me and him link up…the areas he lacks in are my strengths and the areas I lack in are his strengths, so when we get together, we just make masterpieces. Me and him have been writing together [and] I really believe we’re gonna be a super-crazy writing team. Other than him, my producer Tizhimself is another one that me and him make some crazy fucking shit together. It’s natural. Since day one, we instantly clicked. So probably those two guys.

So you’ve recently released a string of dope singles between “Kate Moss,” “SheDGAF,” and “Pink Empty Promises.” Are you preparing a full-length release or just getting in an experimental groove?

BB: I’m actually preparing to release a project…I was in the experimental phase for a while. I thought I was really good, I made some really good songs, but they’re all kinda different and it was hard for me ’cause they were like “you’ve gotta pick a line,” but I was like I just wanted to put them out in the atmosphere and just see how they do…if they gravitate toward the people. And what’s ended up happening is, when blogs write about me, they’ll say “he’s one of the most versatile and diverse artists we’ve seen,” so I’m kinda rolling with it right now. I wanna see how far I can actually take it.

The newest joint, “Pink Empty Promises,” is fantastic. Could you talk a bit about the creative process behind it?

BB: First off, I get a lot of…I don’t wanna say crazy as in…every girl is crazy—I gotta put that out there, that’s how I feel [laughs]. Like if you put them in a certain situation they’re gonna show you that they have a crazy side; it could be a good crazy, it could be a crazy crazy, but I have some girls I used to deal with and they’d call me private. I’ll pick up the phone and they won’t say anything, they just wanna hear what’s going on in the background, so that’s kinda crazy to me [laughs]. I’m like, what do you think you’re gonna hear by getting me on the phone?

So I was at this studio and a private number called, I picked up, and they’re just sitting on the phone; I know it’s one my ex-girls from Tampa! So I start the song off, “I know you called me private that’s why I didn’t answer.” That was the first thing that came to my mind and me and Tommy Trillfiger were going through beats, and he just played me that beat, and it just matched perfectly. I did that song bar by bar; I stood in the booth and basically thought of everything in my mind at that moment just from that phone call, so that was a crazy moment for me.

So all of that channeled into a song from one ex-girlfriend’s phone call?

BB: [laughs] That channeled a song, yes.

I’m also glad you touched on that ’cause I was curious if the romantic themes of your lyrics stemmed from general feelings or specific situations.

BB: I can’t think it! People who know me, they love to be around [me] cause a simple moment that means nothing to the average person means so much to me, and I’ll take it…I’m a Libra so I overthink and I harvest everything and I can literally just write a song off of one little moment, just like that phone call! So every one of my songs is based off a real occurrence.

Rewinding a bit to the producers you work with, I noticed Tizhimself has done a lot of your beats. How’d you two link up?

BB: One of the songs on 2001, “Diggin to China”—when I first came out to L.A., I was pretty much lost…doing my thing, making music, but that was the first song I made when I came out to L.A. My manager was doing an open mic night at a club, people would come in and sing, and Tizhimself’s girlfriend came in and fucking rocked this show—like she’s an amazing singer. He ended up wanting to do business with her so she invited him over for dinner and whatnot and he played that song. Jerry heard it from the other room and he’s like a cool, hipster, in-tune with the universe who doesn’t like “suits” at all, so he was very distant, but when he heard the song he was like, “Who in the fuck is that and how can I meet him?”

My manager, when he came back to the house around 1, he was like, “I just met a guy that you don’t have to hear his stuff but you’re gonna love him.” I was like, “shut the fuck up, you been telling me that all this time,” but when I got with him we instantly clicked and now we’re homies; we hang out, fuckin’ go drink, do everything together, so it’s a nice little squad. It’s good to have someone who doesn’t make it feel like it’s work—we just get together, we’ll hang out and we’ll end up making a fucking smash banger.

With all of these producers you’ve been collabing with, are there any new sounds or lanes you’ve been trying out lately?

BB: I’ll get with a producer and show them my style, but instead of just going with a hip-hop producer, I’ll go with a producer who only does EDM and be like, “this is my style, try to make me something that fits in this.” No one can ever replicate it, they’re always gonna do it their own way, so it makes it where my stuff always comes out sounding a little different.

People like what they’re accustomed to, but for me, I like to challenge the listener, that’s what I’m about: always challenging the listener. Even if I make some shit and it’s like Kanye when he did his Yeezus album and you listen and you’re like, “what the fuck is this?” But in 20 years, you’ll be like, “Oh damn, this shit was futuristic music.” Other than that, the craziest thing I’d say I did (that’s not crazy at all) is I did something with one of Skrillex’s [label’s] producers. One of his producers, I did some EDM shit.

After looking at the ‘Rough Plates‘ playlist on your SoundCloud and seeing Kodak Black and KUCKA, your approach to music makes a lot of sense…

BB: It’s insane, right? That’s how my brain works honestly. Not that I’m all over the place, but just like I said with my moments, I can take a small moment and make a whole song, I can literally hear something from the weirdest song or something and it makes me think about thirty different things to write a song about…I’m always chasing new ideas and new music. I listen to anything.

That makes it a lot less surprising to see Lil Aaron hopped on the “SheDGAF” remix, even with his music being on a more trap-like wave; how’d you two end up collaborating?

BB: He actually was in the studio writing a track for an artist at the studio I record at; he was in there and I think next door, I wasn’t there, but they were mixing “sheDGAF” and he came out and was like, “What the fuck is this?” They told him and he was like, “Man, I wanna get on it,” so we linked up and he was like, “I wanna try something on it, see if you like it,” and he did it right there in the studio, laid it down really quick. It’s different, but at the same time like I said, I always wanna challenge. Instead of getting someone you’d expect to be on that type of song, I got someone that kinda catches you off guard, but you’re like, “Damn, it works.” It definitely works at the end of the day, you know?

Anything else you’re working on that you’d like to talk about?

BB: I’m currently working on a project right now. That’s why I came out to Florida; I had to get away from L.A. When you’re there for too long, it’s almost like you forget where you came from ’cause life is so good there. So I had to break out and come back to the real world for a little while; I just wanna see what’s going on. I’ve just been documenting, writing everything down, and I’m gonna use that inspiration. I’ve already started my tape, but to pretty much finish it off, I wanted it to have a Florida summer vibe, so that’s pretty much what I’m working on as we speak.

The people I’ve met—the majority but not all—they come from good families and their problems are just not problems I’m used to, so it’s too perfect of a world to me. I need to go home and hear real people’s struggles and I need to know what real people are talking about. I go home and go to my grandma’s—my grandma lives in what’s considered our hood and I just sit out there watching my uncle’s barbecue and all my little cousins and my grandma sitting there talking to me about everything that’s going on ’cause she’s very nosy and knows everyone’s business [laughs]. Before I used to be like, “Fuck, I don’t wanna hear about this grandma,” and now I’m like, “Fuck yeah, give me this.” It fuels me to be creative.

Mike Giegerich

Mike Giegerich is a freelance journalist with an affinity for the hip-hop scene. His top-five favorite records of all time are Future's last five releases. Feel free to blow up his mentions on Twitter.
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