Rapper Bread Doe: “Certain Tracks Just Won’t Fly in Certain Neighborhoods.”
I already had a sense of the vibes to come before I got on the phone with Bread Doe, a raw talent in rapping and producing from North Chicago and member of the Remix Project, Mountain Dew’s local partner to support emerging artists in Chicago.
It was just from listening to his music.“Real” and “honest” are words that are thrown out a lot in rap but only few can actually lay claim to them. His story and the wisdom he’s acquired along the way are laid out on wax for you to hear. Just as life has its tangents, so do the stories that Bread Doe weaves into his music (or will tell you over the phone).
How did you get started with the Remix Project?
Gavin [Sheppard], one of the creators of the Remix program, was in town along with two of who are now my close friends, Hagler and Pusha Boy. Producer Hagler helped produce on “Furthest Thing” for Drake and a couple of other tracks he did, so they were in town, and Gavin said, “Hey, we should meet and chat for a minute,” to kind of feel the vibe and see where it goes from there.
So we all linked up and the crazy thing about it is that we all hit it off, hard. It actually turned out to be one of the longest nights we’ve all had together because once we got into the studio, the energy was crazy, man. We ended up making one of the most powerful songs a lot of us have ever made together. The song still hasn’t been released but I feel like it’s going to pop out soon. That’s how I ended up linking with Gavin. He basically was like, “This is what we have going on. This is what’s getting ready to happen. I would love for you to be a part of it.” I was actually one of the first artists to be a part of Remix Chicago.
There’s a quote I always remind myself of: “At some point in life, we all need mentors and at another point, we need to be mentors.” Who was the first person you got to play a record in front of that really geeked you out?
Being from Chicago, King Louie was a guy I would always listen to. Listening to him, I didn’t even know that some of my older brothers actually knew him, so one day I ended up in his mom’s basement. We’re sitting there chillin’, and there’s folks playing beats. My brother said, “Hey, man. Turn those wack beats off.” Now he’s talking to me. “Hey little bro. Play him a beat. Let him hear what you got.” That’s actually how I got a track on Drilluminati called “Remember.” It was one of the tracks that stood out on the project. It was a blessing to sit there and hang out with King Louie. It changes your perspective. Like, everybody’s a person, and no one’s ever too far from one another.
What’s different about Chicago from every other big city? What makes artists from Chicago stand out from the rest of the crowd?
From the city, to the rappers, to the producers, Chicago’s filled with real people. It’s no exaggeration. I know you can understand that, being from New York. Someone I listened to a lot before, and still today, is Max Biggaveli, Max B. That was a real dude. He made great music. When you listen to some of his songs, he gives such a good vibe. You know what I’m saying? [In Max B’s voice]: Chicka-oww, chicka-oww oww…
It’s that wavy vibe. He’s so Harlem!
At the same time, you don’t want to get on his wrong side. That’s really a characteristic of, I can honestly say, 85 percent of Chicago. There’s a grittiness and realness here that the rest of the world loves. That’s why when Chief Keef took off, they loved it. What they don’t understand is that gangbanging is a religion in Chicago. These guys are saying things in songs and everything, but there are people in the streets dying for the words they are saying, their homies are dying for the words they are saying. It’s music that says truth and gives a perspective of Chicago. To the average person, they hear good music: “No doubt. Yeah, that’s cool.” [But] to those of us who are here and have to deal with the consequences of everyday life, it doesn’t work like that. Yeah, you can enjoy the music, but certain things people say on certain tracks just won’t fly in certain neighborhoods.
I’m glad you shed light on that. If you could work with anyone in the industry, fellow artists or producers, who would it be?
Bro, what I would do to free Max B and make that mixtape or album because he was that influential, he was that wavy. Talk about the East Coast God—dude was wild! Everyone who got their swag, it was probably from Max B. That smooth in their voice, it was Max B. For him to get put up, or “go to hell” like we say in Jamaican culture, to not let some of his life shine out on more people… they didn’t love him while he was out here. Just being in unseemly situations, it never really works like that when you reflect like, “Man. I have this great career going for me. I’m doing these good things with music.”
Reality in music is really big for me. I don’t respect artists who haven’t lived what they talked about.
You don’t even have to be a gritty rapper to know that. Sade was quoted as saying “You can talk about stuff and sing about stuff but if you don’t live it in the end then it’s all fake.” Listening to your music, you can definitely feel that sense of real. Chicago is a city that knows a lot of unrest; it’s never really quiet and when it’s quiet, it’s alarming in a sense.
That’s exactly true. You said it right there. There’s always a lot going on and when you get outside and there ain’t anything going on, you have to wait and see what’s going to happen. We live off energy out here so if you don’t catch the vibe, you definitely miss the beat.
Were you ever at a point you nearly gave up or was music always your escape?
That’s a crazy question actually. I started making music in the sixth grade with my cousin Marcus. I started making beats when I was eight. I had the Compaq Presario, the first version of Fruity Loops ever. I used that to make beats and every version after that. Before the end of our sixth-grade year, we made our first mixtape. We were taking them to school and hawking them for a dollar. My family will tell you. We’d come home with the fattest pockets and that was just off the mixtape.
I always have had a love for music. Even playing drums in church and different youth organizations, I came to realize music is my savior. No matter what was going on in my life, when things were cool, I made music. When things weren’t, I made music. I could play those songs from the sixth grade and everything till now and it will literally tell the story of my life. There was no point in my life where I was ever like, “I ain’t gonna make music.” I’ve discontinued a lot of activities, but music has never been one of them. Music is a spiritual activity for me; it could change you subconsciously without you really wanting it to.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My pops told me years ago, “I know you’re doing things your mother and I don’t approve of. All I ask is that you be careful, you be vigilant and you do it by yourself.”