Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several months ago, while looking for rock samples utilized to make rap beats for no real reason at all because that's the type of shit you do when you've really won at life, we happened across a video by Bobby Earth, a tiny Asian kid auspicious enough to rap over an "Iron Man" redub. He was good and confident and almost glowing. We were immediately impressed, if not altogether dumbfounded.
This past weekend, Earth was a contestant in the latest edition of the highly acclaimed Space City Beat Battle. We did not know he was from Houston, so there was lots of OMGOMGOMGIT'SBOBBYEARTHOMG-guffaw. We spoke with him for a few minutes after he was eliminated. Turns out in addition to rapping, he also sings, produces, works on a hip-hop TV show and is just generally a better human than you or us. Oh, and he'll be a junior this year at HSPVA*.
So we secured an interview with him. In it, there is talk of "the human condition," mammoth facial hair and swagging out at SCBB. Keep it moving.
Rocks Off: Opener: Tell everyone everything they need to about Bobby Earth in exactly six words?
Bobby Earth: Youthfulness is a force in art.
RO: Why Bobby Earth? Why not Bobby Jupiter (way bigger) or Bobby Saturn (it already has jewelry) or Bobby Mercury (mercilessly hot)? Also, are you in any way related to Bruno Mars?
BE: Well, my real name is Robert Claveria. Robert. Bobby. Nickname. That's where "Bobby" comes from. I coined the name "Bobby Earth" two years ago because of what I stand for ultimately as an artist. I know it's a clichéd idea and all, but the era of music we live in today is just so entirely commercial. Don't get me wrong; I like a lot of the stuff that's going on today, but most of it is manufactured conformism for record sales.
True art is a reflection of life and the human condition. I wanna show people it's okay again as a music artist to be an actual human being and not a stereotypical puppet of Hollywood. Everything I say in my music is genuinely a glimpse into who I am as a person, from my youthfulness to my swag-full-ness.
Folks don't really just wanna make music for the love of making good "down to earth" music anymore, and that's what I'm here for. And I'm not on any "real hip-hop stuff" either, dawg; I'm on some genuine self-expression stuff, you feel me? That's what "Bobby Earth" is. I didn't just pick a cool planet out of the solar system to make a catchy name [laughs].
And no, I am not related to Bruno Mars. He has cool hats though.
RO: The first tell we saw you, you were rapping over an "Iron Man" beat in that mysterious YouTube video. Can you provide some context for that, please?
BE: "Iron Man" is a Bobby Earth X STEEZiLLa** (the producer/DJ formerly known as DJ Steez) X Asa Davis collaboration. I directed and edited the whole video with a Flip cam and Sony Vegas video editing software. I was initially looking through my brother Steez's beats one day, and I came across a joint called "FOR IRON MEN ONLY," which had a swagged-out Black Sabbath sample. Immediately, I hit him up asking how I could hop on the banger; he had emailed me the track and told me, "Kill this. Peace."
So then I just got to writing and eventually brainstormed a hook about comparing myself to "Iron Man" in terms of how I "go hard" and "shine without trying." It's really just a stunting track about things like gear, lyrical ability, music's current state, and pop-culture references. The last thing I did was reach out to one of my peers in the game, Asa Davis, to bless the third verse with some more lyrical stunt-i-cism [laughs]. It's really just a fun track for people to swag out to. Nothing too serious. Definitely one of my favorite tracks I've done though.
RO: You participated in the Space City Beat Battle recently. You're only 16. What was that like? Were you overwhelmed? Terrified of Tony Dark's beard? Intimidated by the statuesque Y Phoenix?
BE: It was definitely a dope experience. I wasn't really overwhelmed by the age group over there. I was just psyched to showcase my production amongst a large group of people whether they were adults or kids my age.
A crowd is a crowd, and I came there to move the crowd and make 'em clap like Rakim! I was super-hyped and in my zone. The event was full of energy; I loved it. And I am very jealous of Tony Dark's beard. And Y Phoenix went hard in the paint! Me and him gotta collab sometime. Where you at, Y?
RO: Also, were you drunk? Because you kind of looked that way. It's okay. You can tell us (and the hundreds of thousands of people that will eventually read it).
BE: No, I wasn't drunk [laughs], just swagged-out. You saw me cooking? I don't drink or smoke. I have no personal biases or criticism towards people who do those things. A lot of my favorite rappers smoke and drink.
However, personally, I prefer to have a clear state of mind when I sit down and write music, because I would never want the thoughts and messages I put forth in my songs to be misconstrued by an altered state of mind due to foreign substances.
RO: Talk a bit about the other music ventures you have going on; you're a fairly busy kid.
BE: Aside from my recording artist/producer stuff, I host and co-produce a local Houston TV show called The Hip-Hop Shop. The show airs every Friday late nights at 1 a.m. on Houston's Channel 55 (KTBU). It's a show for the youth and hip-hop culture enthusiasts. The main focuses of the show are music, fashion, art, and dance.
Segments include interviews, live performances, rap cyphers, b-boy and popping dance battles, and other dope stuff like that. The slogan of the show is, "Express to be fresh". I'm also currently working on a really dope side project with The True Value's*** Hayden Hamilton. It's gonna be some dope indie hip-hop jazz experimental swag-type stuff.
*This is the second time we've tapped HSPVA for an Artist of the Week.
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**DJ Steez placed second in the last Space City Beat Battle.
***The True Value is also a former Artist of the Week.