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Secure the BaG: Get to know Blimes and Gab, the newest musical duo to feature on HBO’s ‘Insecure’ (Interview)

Photos: The Orchard

That’s one thing about Blimes and I: Everything we do is just natural as hell. Nothing is forced. Nothing’s contrived. We don’t pay under the table for shit. Everything is just off the strength of us being cool as fuck.

If ever you needed one sentence to describe the Rap duo of Blimes and Gab (BaG), it’d be this one. On first glance, maybe you wouldn’t peg these two women to become the next Rap group to pop. The first time I had heard of them, I was taking a ‘Women In Hip-Hop’ course my junior year of undergrad—shoutout Oneka LaBennett!—and I thought one was featuring the other. It wasn’t until towards the end of the video that I realized they actually go together; this fashionably dressed hipster White girl with a beanie and cut off wide-leg pants and this Black girl with a cap and Seattle street swag were trading bars as a team, not at each other. And ever since then, Blimes & Gab have steadily risen. Each track they drop showcases the lyrical skill and sheer talent both women possess. Whether they’re giving listeners a “sixteen” or hitting harmonies, these two are ready to take the rest of 2020 by storm. We spoke about one of their songs being featured in Issa Rae’s fourth season of ‘Insecure’, Twitter beefs, writing their own TV show, and their upcoming album. Get to know Blimes & Gab through an interview with GRUNGECAKE CEO and Editor Richardine Bartee below.


GRUNGECAKE:Your debut album ‘Talk About It’… I had the pleasure of listening to the tracks in advance and to kind of get the vibe of what you guys are going for. I also saw one of my favourite songs, ‘Hot Damn’, was on there and has like a remix to it. I remember the video release. It was one of my favourite videos that Blimes released, so I was excited to see that on there. So, I just wanted to get the inspiration behind the album and why you guys called it ‘Talk About It’?

Gab: Well, this album is obviously Blimes and I’s first collaborative project, so it was definitely—this whole project and experience—has been a learning experience as well as just, you know, honing each others’ skills, learning about each other. The big takeaway from this album, I’d say is, I guess, camaraderie? Maybe that’s not the best word, but like… Really it’s just two dope ass people coming together and making dope ass art! Two ladies from two different walks of life. Like, when we first put out ‘Come Correct’, the song and the video are dope, but I personally think the reason why it blew up was because of imagery; seeing a Black girl and a White girl rapping together, it just made people talk. So, that’s why we named it that. We make people talk, whether it’s about how we look or how we rap, people are gonna talk.

Blimes: Yeah, I agree with Gab. Definitely, the catalyst for the album was ‘Come Correct’. It’s what made people go “I love seeing them together and I want more of it.” And all of the opportunities that we’ve seen because of ‘Come Correct’ have been a direct response to people seeing us together and wanting us to be together. Our agent started booking us together from that. We got a manager from that. The team was built around the two of us working as a unit instead of separately and it was very organic. And, like Gab said, seeing us together made people talk; whether it was about politics, lifestyle choices, whether it was about good weed, comparisons, old heads who were skeptical, but are gonna turn to believers when they hear this album, whether it was people commenting on “where female rap is right now”; whatever it is, we made people talk. And that’s what made us make this album, and that’s what gonna make this album successful—is that when Gab and I get together because we are Yin and Yang because we are different but able to come together in harmony and make something beautiful with those differences. It’s gonna make people talk. And we welcome those conversations because they’re important in pushing any culture forward, but especially this one. This album has got R&B songs, Funk and Soul-inspired songs, you’ve got Dance, you’ve got old school Hip-Hop shit—so with this album, we were like y’all wanted to talk about something well here, here’s something to talk about.

GRUNGECAKE: So when you say old heads don’t understand it, where does that come from specifically? Because I thought that an older audience, or the people that consider themselves “mature Hip-Hop listeners” from the Golden Era, I thought that they’d appreciate you guys’ skill because you guys are actually rapping and there’s lyricism. Is that not the case?

Blimes: So let me clarify, and thank you for asking for clarity on that because it didn’t come off the way I intended. So, the majority of people who’ve been championing us are fans of the old school who love the lyricism, and I’m really grateful for that. And I’m especially grateful for the young’uns who weren’t around for that era who are listening and still appreciate it. But what I meant was, the skeptics who believe that nothing good can come of this younger generation of artists. The skeptics who are stuck on “no one’s doing it like Wu, no one’s doing it like Lady of Rage, no one’s doing it like they used to.” I just meant that there’s kind of an answer (in this album) for everybody, the people who say “the younger generation isn’t doing shit, the younger generation isn’t really about it, isn’t really lyrical, has no good content”. We’re the answer to that.

Gab: I think that our main fanbase [is] definitely either old heads or lovers of old-school Hip-Hop. But they’re also still the most, like, apprehensive, especially towards a new artist. And then we’re female (rappers), so I know for a lot of ‘em, they kinda already have a preconceived notion of what we’re gonna sound like and what we’re gonna talk about. So it’s one of those things where, once they get past their preconceived perceptions, then they fuckin’ love us and they’re our biggest champions. But it usually takes a little bit of pushing; and that’s why it helps to have those cosigns like Method Man, Slug, and Bahamadia, and people like that, so that at least they can be like “Oh! If they fuck with them, then obviously we should, too.”

GRUNGECAKE: Okay! I totally understand. Thank you for clearing that up for me, that’s wonderful. So—

Blimes: I appreciate you asking because truly, a lot of folks will think they know what you meant and just go a different direction, so right on!

GRUNGECAKE: Nah, we’re trying to do responsible reporting here.

Blimes: Our whole fanbase was about to be like “Wow, really?! Fuck them! Alright, bet! Wait hold up, we been holding you down!”

Gab: We love the old heads! I love old niggas, personally, so…

Everyone laughs.

GRUNGECAKE: So you guys have an awesome video for ‘Feelin It’. People that we’ve covered in the past, like the young lady formerly from THEESatisfaction, and a few other Seattle artists — I saw some of them were in there. Was their placement intentional? How did that come about? What was the creative concept behind the video? How difficult was it to pull off?

Gab: This video was shot by Andrew Imanaka, who did the ‘Come Correct’ video and he’s been shooting videos for me for years. He’s a fellow Seattleite. It was kind of a no-brainer for him to shoot it. He understands our aesthetic and what we’re looking for. As far as getting people for the video, I just wanted to get everybody there – and you know, obviously there were plenty of people that couldn’t make it, or whatever the case was – but for the most part, I think we got a great group of folks that represent Seattle and the culture. So you seen Cat in there. You also seen Antoine Vincent, who’s been my producer since the beginning. He’s like my right-hand man. You also see Jarv Dee. And it was like a party vibe, so as you can see in the video, it’s a party but it actually was hella lit. Like, niggas was in there drinking and smoking. We were cracking up, music was playing and stuff, so it was all very natural and organic the way it all came about.

Blimes: Well, she covered that one! Haha!

GRUNGECAKE: And so that song, it’s going to be featured on ‘Insecure’?

Gab sings: That’s the plaaannn!

Blimes: Gabby, and our management would tell you, when it comes to sync, nothing is final until the episode airs. So, I’m sure by the time this interview comes out, we’ll know… But as of right now, all systems are a go for this to air in the new season!

GRUNGECAKE: Okay good! We’ll put those positive vibes out there and hopefully, that happens like it should!

Blimes: I’ve been such a fan of this show since its inception as a short-form web series on YouTube, ‘The Awkward Black Girl’. Me and my roommate, Darby, who is also a Black woman filmmaker, we’d watch it obsessively and I could relate, cause she was rapping in her head all the time, and that’s how I would go through life, you know?! It was such a refreshing piece of content, to see like how real she was; and it’s a lot like this new wave of Hip-Hop, where people are being honest about their insecurities, like when Kendrick (Lamar) blew up and he was just so honest, and it was really, really new for mainstream music. And I felt that way about ‘Awkward Black Girl’, and to see it upstream and become ‘Insecure’ for HBO, I’ve been so thrilled for Issa and the whole team—and to have one of our songs featured on it? It’s the biggest deal for me. It’s probably one of the most important achievements of ours, in terms of what it means to me.

GRUNGECAKE: Beautifully said! I can’t wait to watch the episode. And then in the same vein, you guys have a TV show coming! Talk to me about that. How did that come to be? Is it based on the relationship that you two have? What are some things you can share about the show?

Gab: So, we had a show sometime last year, and our manager at the time invited Nelson George to come to the show. He (Nelson George) is an amazing screenwriter, author, and Hip-Hop culture historian. Like, he’s one of those people. You don’t know him, but you know him at the same time. Like, if you see his name, you’ll be like “Oh, I see this nigga in everything!” He’s one of those people. But anyway, he came to the show and I remember—I’m laughing because I be thinking “Damn, that’s crazy! That really was him!”—the venue, Gold—Diggers. It’s like a small, intimate venue. And I remember, I was performing and there’s some old guy sitting there just having the time of his life, and I remember thinking “Damn, this nigga close as fuck!” And then, come to find out, that was Nelson laughs. So we end up having a meeting with him shortly after the show, and we’re choppin’ it up and that’s where he told us who he was and how he used to write with Chris Rock and everything. And I’m such a comedy movie buff, so we immediately clicked, and I’m just like asking him questions and he’s disclosing all the shit. So, halfway through the meeting, he’s like “Your music? Tight. It’s cool and everything, but your personalities? I like your personalities. Y’all charismatic as fuck. We should think about a show.” And that was crazy for me. In this industry, you don’t really hear that. Somebody being like “Yeah, the music is aight, but I like y’all for y’all”, like, what?! I’ve never heard that before. So, that kind of started everything and we ended up linking with some folks over at, where was it again, Blimes?

Blimes: It’s a very interconnected team. It’s Focused Noise, Adler Music Group, and Foundation Media. It’s a music booking agency, a film production company, and a couple other avenues, but they all work closely together.

Gab: Yes! So, we ended up linking with them, and they’re the ones helping us write the show. It’s just been so crazy how it all came together like that. When I moved to LA to do music, it’s not like I never thought that something else would happen, or that I’d never dabble in other areas, but just the way it came about and how we’re really in the process. Like, it’s not “I’m thinking about writing a show”. No, niggas are really writing a show to be produced. It’s just crazy! Like, I have friends who want to pursue this. They went to school for that and moved to other countries to study or moved to LA to do film and show-writing and TV, and then there’s me. “Hey guys, I’m writing a show!” That’s just hella fucking crazy to me. But it’s really dope. Like, I said, that’s one thing about Blimes and I: everything we do is just natural as hell. Nothing is forced. Nothing’s contrived. We don’t pay under the table for shit. Everything is just off the strength of us being cool as fuck! And being good at what we do, and having good personalities. Talent is really just half the battle.

GRUNGECAKE: That’s what I wanted to say when you mentioned having friends who’ve travelled and relocated, and studied things like this, but they always say it’s all about the opportunity and when it presents itself. Like, he (Nelson) didn’t know whether you went to school for it or not. He just knew you guys had something.

Gab: Right, and we really could’ve just brushed it off and been like “That’s tight, but we’re focusing on the music.” But it’s like, what?! To have someone like Nelson George believe in us and actually want to work, and then, actually keep his word and everything? I can’t think of a better way for this to have panned out.

Blimes: And just to touch on a little bit of the content, it’s funny that Gab mentions her friends who went to school for it. They’re probably like “Oh okay, I see you, out here just writing a show”; like, it’s kind of like when you start dating somebody and they’re like “I could be a rapper” and they just start rapping off the cuff. Like, they get comfortable and you’re like “No, no, you don’t know what I’ve done or what I’ve gone through to be here”, right?! So, I tread lightly with my friends who have studied this and who are very passionate about this, just because I know that it has come out of nowhere for us and it really is about right time, right place. As well as charisma and networking and all that. So, what we’re writing about? It’s who we are: this unlikely best friend duo, and in a bigger picture, it’s about what we go through as individuals and as a Rap group in the music game. On the more micro scale, it’s about everyday shit that everybody deals with. Relationships, money, housing, the gay thing, the not gay thing, online dating, how to be genuine in this day and age with social media. It’s gonna be a lot like a ‘Broad City’ meets ‘Atlanta’. It’s scripted comedy based on actual events in our life.

GRUNGECAKE: I like that! And that’s going to do really well cause it’s current, it’s right now. That’s perfect!

Blimes: Thank you! I can’t wait for folks like you to see it. Especially folks who have been following for so long, who are gonna know some of these stories as they’ve happened on the Internet.

GRUNGECAKE: Word. Y’all tweets are wild!

Gab laughs: You know, I just be thinkin’ shit!

Blimes laughs: I think it’s pretty PG. Gabby’s the one that covers the wild end of the spectrum and I’m proud of her for it.

Gab: And that’s still very much tame. Like, in this climate I can’t even really get it off how I get it off, but I say what I can.

GRUNGECAKE: I think there were some tweets about how people hold microphones… It was hysterical.

Gab: I’m just very much an observational motherfucker. It’s all I do, whether it’s in my lyrics or my comedy or the shit I like. It’s very much all observational. So usually, if I say some wild shit, it’s probably some shit that other people are thinking, but don’t wanna say. Like, we’re all seeing it, but who’s gonna talk about it?!

Blimes: I want to hear this story. I must’ve missed this Twitter showdown.

Gab: Well the meat of it is very much just the mismanaging or mishandling of the microphone. Like how some people just completely cup the microphone? It’s just a whole thing, from it just looking wild – like the main dispute from the people in the comments was that “well it looks cool” and I’m like well it doesn’t look as cool as you think it does because it’s wrong – to them just fucking up a very basic thing. How’s somebody gon’ hear you and you cupping the mic? It’s just science man. The sound cannot project if you’re covering the part that is designed for it to project your voice, like c’mon. Like I get it, maybe the way I say some shit comes off harsh or very matter-of-factly, but I get it like they all just watched rappers and people in TV do it but that doesn’t necessarily make it right!

 

Blimes: Wait, so there were really people arguing “but it looks good”?

Gab: Yeah, the main arguments were that it looks cool or that they’ve been doing it their whole life and nobody said anything. And it’s like, again, that don’t make it right! And that don’t mean shit because you probably just been around motherfuckers who don’t know, just like you, your whole life, so how they gon’ tell you? I don’t know why people try to play the game of wits with me.

Blimes laughs: Gabby can get interaction out of any conversation. She just knows how to ignite the people. And that is something that I have looked up to since we met and became a group.

Gab: Thank you for spinning that into a positive light, Blimes!

Blimes: It’s a gift, man. Blimes sings: Da da da da-da-da-da-da.

GRUNGECAKE: Can you guys just talk a little about the Shelly’s video? It’s my favorite.

Gab: “Shelly’s” is what we like to call our secret weapon. It’s very much different from everything that you’ve heard from us. At the same time, though, for the people that know Blimes and myself’s catalogue, I think it’ll be something that’s not necessarily expected, but still like an “I knew y’all could pull something like this off.” I’d compare it to almost like a roller rink type of anthem, get you up and dancing. The kids is gon’ love it, and your grandma’s gon’ love it. It’s one of those “for everybody” songs. I’m not doing any rapping. I’m singing the whole time, and Blimes is rapping as well as doing vocals. I’m very excited about this. It’s my favorite one to perform. And for the video, we used green screen. I’ve never used green screen before, so I was very excited about that. It’s dope. It’s a throwback 80s type video and it’s got like the old Kid Pix-type graphics.

GRUNGECAKE: I love Kid Pix, man! Laughs

Gab: You remember Kid Pix?! What a throwback! But yeah, it’s hella reminiscent. Kind of hard to explain it without just playing the song, but it’s very much a throwback feel but still for the modern-day.

Blimes: I never expected that we’d have to hone our pantomiming skills, but it’s definitely something we had to do throughout this process of creating this video and… It’s gonna hit them over the head. It’s different from anything you’ve seen from us, different from anything you’ve heard from us, and Gab nailed it when she said this one’s for everybody. You can’t really show ‘Come Correct’ to your grandma, although I did – she didn’t quite understand it very much – but you could definitely show, depending on your grandma, the video for ‘Shelly’s’. Some grandmas are with the shits, and I respect them for that. The average grandma will slide into the 2-step for ‘Shelly’s’ real quick. And I’m excited for that.

Gab: And the name of this song actually has a whole other story to it; the name “Shelly’s” came from an actual experience Blimes and I had in the studio.

GRUNGECAKE: And what was that?

Gab: So, we’re literally recording one day, and the studio we record at is directly next door to a club. So, we go outside to have a smoke break and we’re just chillin’ and talkin’. It’s Blimes, myself and our producer Lou. And we’re smokin’ and choppin’ it up and Lou tells us about how this club gets wild on the weekend. It’s all these “Shellies and shit” be around. And we’re like “What are Shellies?” And he’s like, “You know, like, drunk bitches! You know the bitches that always be yelling. I can hear them from the studio and they’re always just fuckin’ screamin’, just drunk White girls.”

Blimes: Yes, it’s typically of the fair-skinned variety.

Gab: Right, like just hella jalopy. So basically to test his theory, I yell out “Ayo Shelly!” Like, I just call out Shelly because he’s like “I guarantee there’s a bitch here named Shelly, and that’s who I’m talking about.” So I’m like, “Yo, Shelly!” and no bullshit, literally right after I yell that, this car that’s driving by, this girl’s like hanging out the window and she goes, “I’m Shelly and it’s my birthday!” And we’re like, “Yo, what the fuck?!” We laughed at that shit for so long. I don’t even know if we finished recording that night.

Blimes: You can’t make this shit up. Couldn’t have spotted a better Shelly.

Gab: We even throw that kind of skit into the video to give some context to the name of the song. But that shit happened, like 1000% happened the way we said it did.

GRUNGECAKE: I’m excited to see that. I can’t wait! And so you ladies are friends with Chika right?

Gab: Oh yeah! I mean we haven’t met in real life or anything, just kind of an Internet relationship but yeah, that’s the homie!

Blimes: Yeah, we’re Internet cheerleaders of each others’ success.

GRUNGECAKE: Yes! I like her album a lot, she’s really cool. I’m looking at a list of other female artists that you guys are friends with, and just kind of like looking at their names like Awkwafina, Kehlani, Qveen Herby. I feel like all of you have something outside of music that you also do. Even Chika, she seems more politically-driven and active in being an activist. So I’m really excited, as a fellow woman, to see other women out here. Because it’s been a trying two decades –

Gab: I was gonna say, what a trying life?!

GRUNGECAKE laughs: We’ve come a long way since Kid Pix! It’s beautiful. So, I just wanted to congratulate you guys on just existing and doing what’s normal and organic for you. You guys aren’t amongst the women who have to compromise or belittle themselves or get naked – if they don’t want to – and so I think it’s beautiful, a beautiful space to be in and to be able to support.

Gab: Thank you. Thank you. We appreciate that. It’s definitely time for the men to like, you know, kinda relax. We’ve seen what y’all have done with it thus far, and I think y’all can just… Not, no more. Let’s try something different.

Blimes: Can I double down on that? Because yes.


Blimes and Gab have a contagious energy. The laughs and jokes were plentiful the whole interview. One of the most apparent things about them though is that these two are not messing around, and they didn’t team up just for fun. They’re not oblivious to what people’s initial perceptions of them may be, but they know they have the chops to destroy any appearance-based negativity. They’ve done their homework and can rap their asses off, constantly paying homage to the pioneers that paved the way while acknowledging that, as “new-school” artists, they’ve got something to say too – and it’s heat. Blimes and Gab haven’t missed since ‘Come Correct’ blew up in 2018. Later that year they dropped again, this time with the single ‘Nasty’. Gab opened the song with a skillful flip of the Ma$e classic ‘Feel So Good’. In 2019, they showcased their versatility with ‘Un Deux Trois’ and ‘Feelin It’, proving that they can give the old heads something to ride to with their top down and then turn around and give the kids a party anthem. The two also have a knack for making great music videos in an era where the art of the music video is a bit lost on artists, especially newer ones. There’s a reason why Blimes and Gab are in those credits we all look forward to as an ‘Insecure’ episode finishes; you know, where they show the artist and song name because Issa knows us viewers want the info on whatever song was playing when she and Molly were driving down Hollywood Blvd. Issa sees the vision. You should too. B.a.G knows what they’re doing, and they’re doing it well.