Unassuming university student by day, savage trap rapper and producer by night: meet Alex Gumuchian, or bbno$ (bee-bee-no-money), Vancouver’s rap renaissance man who you might not have heard of, but definitely have heard. With a fast-growing following, a seemingly endless supply of tracks and a bonafide love for his craft, bbno$ is lighting it up.
Alex: So how do you want to start this?
RENDRD: Well, if you’re okay with being narcissistic for a couple of minutes, tell me what you’ve been up to.
Haha, okay I’ll try. I’m 3rd year at UBCO taking Human Kinetics, which should be Kinesiology but UBCO is special like that. I’m looking to go into Sports Nutrition, but rapping is what I really want to do.
Do you produce all your own beats?
I do produce, but I believe my rap skills are ahead of my production game right now. In a year though I'll be producing all my beats myself. I’ve been working with some big, talented producers that have been teaching me tips and tricks along the way. And I also make beats for friends and other rappers who reach out. The more practice you get, the more you learn.
What’s your rate?
I’ve just given beats away to friends, but the past 3 tracks I’ve sold for $20 to guys critiquing my music. That’s straight pizza money man! Haha. I actually did a verse for $100 - USD - for a guy down in Miami. The verse ended up taking me 14 minutes, so the hourly wage there is insane. I called my mom after and said ‘I just made a verse for $550/hour - that’s more than some lawyers!
What do your parents think of you music?
Oh, I was way more vulgar with BBG [Broke Boy Gang] at first. If you listen to some of that stuff, we were just flying off the handle in those songs. My mom came to one of my early sets and heard what I was saying and just looked sad, then she left. But now I think she’s realised that this is what I want to do, and she’s learning to accept it.
When did rapping come along?
I started rapping with my boys early 2015 - we called ourselves BBG for Broke Boy Gang.
I remember my homie calling me up asking if I wanted to...chill…*laughs* so I rolled through. We were just downloading some drill rap, hard-ass Chief Keef beats and spitting over top of them. Doing that with those guys, I laughed so much and had so much fun - that’s when I realised that this, rapping, is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
What’s the process?
I’m at the point where I can knock out a beat in like 5-10 minutes - finished instrumental. It’ll take a bit longer to put the vocals over top, but the process is so quick. And for tracks from other producers, if it’s dope, the lyrics will just flow. My song ‘Run It Up,’ probably my biggest track, I made in less than half an hour. I texted my friend (S/O Rachel) saying that I’m gonna go make a song. And 23 minutes later, I texted her back with the full song, verses and all. And for ‘Pay Attention’, I made that in about 30 minutes too. I don’t know, like every couple of weeks I’ll just have this burst of creativity and it all just flows out seamlessly. That’s a great feeling. Right now, I have about 25 songs just sitting, waiting to be dropped. I’m planning to drop them all this year, hit you all hard one after the other relentlessly.
Where’d that kind of workforce come from?
I used to be a hardcore gamer, like spend a full 12 hours a day on World Of Warcraft, so I think that developed my patience to sit at a computer all day and pump through monotonous tasks to reach the end goal. I’ve come to learn that it’s not all about the end game - whatever you want, if it’s the car, or the house, or the girl. It’s all about enjoying the journey getting there, doing what you love with who you love.
Are you going to go big?
100% I see it happening. In the past 4 months, my tracks have gone from 10k plays in a month to 25k plays in 2 weeks - I’m gaining traction. And with the co-sign with SO LOKI, they’ve been seen as Vancouver’s rap scene for a while now. Getting put on their level, I started seeing things like ‘SO LOKI and bbno$ are Vancouver’s rap scene’ and I was like ‘oh shit.’ My track Holy Fuck is an absolute BANGER. It has real potential to really blow up. I was performing at the Well, the student pub at UBCO. Everyone was doing their thing through my other tracks, but as soon as Holy Fuck came on, everyone in the place turned their head when they heard it. I don’t know man, it has the ability to make you feel the sweat on your skin shake from the bass in it. It’s going to be hot.
Advice for other artists?
Share your art. Man, as long as you put it out, there’s going to always be someone that will say ‘this is my favourite song from you.’ I’ve made some shit songs, and still put them out, and I’ll get messages from 2, 3, 4 guys saying that was my best track yet. And I’ll reply ‘are you LOONY?’ haha
That, and just keep working. I try to make 7 dank songs a week. I’ll usually come away with 2 dank tracks a week, unless I devote the whole day and pump them out. I had a Friday a couple weeks ago (I don’t have classes on Fridays) where I woke up at 4am, went until 6pm, and came away with 6 finished tracks. It’s all about are you willing to work for it, and put it into action.
What’s your favourite track that you’ve made?
‘Damn’ - After searching around on Soundcloud, no one I’ve heard does flow like what I did on that track. I like to jump off of the 808 or kick, and it gives off this sort of wobbly flow. When I started making beats this track was exactly how I wanted my beats to sound, not serious at all and so much fun.
What’s your favourite track of others?
Well you told me to be narcissistic, sooo...I mostly just listen to my own music. It’s all about trying to improve and hone in on my sound every day. When I do listen to other music, I’d say anything by ‘Lil Pump.’ When I came down to Van for reading break, he had like 50k SC followers, and now he has 104k - he’s blowing up. And his main producer, RonnyJ, is like the Metro Boomin’ of Soundcloud. I’m trying to emulate his production style, it’s so distorted but so clean at the same time.
Favourite Comfort Food?
So I used to be a competitive swimmer in high school, and I think that boosted my metabolism to ungodly levels, I’m always hungry and can eat like crazy and still look like I do. The go-to’s are definitely Cinnamon & French Toast Crunch, or Pizza with a ton of BBQ Sauce on it.
What would you say is the sound of Vancouver?
I started hearing a lot of Asian-type Trap beats from guys like Juelz and Ekali. I wouldn’t describe the current sound as Asian influenced - it’s more like melodic, electronic, bass...
I was talking to my brother and apparently Vancouver is also one of the biggest Mo-town, old-school vinyl Meccas in the world next to Berlin. And there’s a prominent punk rock scene in Vancouver too. I just think that the city is still trying to find it’s sound.
Best Pizza Place?
Don’t Argue Pizza on Main and 16th is absolute fire. I think it’s called Don’t Argue because you come in asking ‘is this the best pizza in the city?’, and they’re like ‘Don’t Argue.’ And the cold chicken sandwich from NAT’s Pizzeria on Broadway & Trutch - not a pizza per say but still
Writing these raps, it’s so fun for me. Everything I make, even if you think it sounds serious, I’m not serious about it. I take my rap career seriously but I don’t take myself seriously at all. I know that I’m not the hardest rapper out there. Like when I talk about guns, I’m talking about Nerf; when I say popping pills, I mean fish oil pills. But if you like the beat, you like the flow, then how ‘hard’ the artist is shouldn’t make a difference if you’ll listen to them or not.
If anyone from Vancouver is listening to me, thank you - I have the smallest following in Vancouver, and very few people that aren’t ‘in the know’ for music have heard of me. I am apparently famous in China though -my track Yo-Yo Tokyo has like 40,000 COMMENTS - not likes, comments - on it, and it’s still growing, which is crazy. I’m going to get a t-shirt made that says I’m famous in China.
That’s like the new ‘I’m Big in Japan’ slogan - ‘Famous in China’
Haha, true. I’m also going to keep putting tracks out pretty much until I die, so keep watching for the next drop.