ANN ARBOR, Mich. –
Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti-based artists Jamall Bufford and DaG will play a free concert at 7 p.m. this Friday in the multipurpose room of the Ann Arbor District Library downtown branch.
Both artists have gained national recognition for their talents and have collaborated or performed with artists like Eminem, Supakaine and Mos Def, to name a few.
Locally, Bufford has rhymed with the Athletic Mic League and The Black Opera. He has been heard by audiences all over the area from the Ann Arbor Art Center to Top of the Park to the Blind Pig. Numerous issues and topics show up in his music, such as social media culture, behavior and beauty standards.
DaG, who calls himself the 734 Savior, has also performed locally as an emcee, DJ, producer and more. He has worked with and produced artists like Young RJ, Willie the Kid, Nolan the Ninja and more, as well as made his own music.
We managed to get a quick conversation in with both artists before Friday’s concert.
A4: Was there something about AADL that pulled you toward performing there?
Bufford: “It was really just the opportunity to perform alongside my homie DaG. I’m a fan of his music, we’re both from the east near Ypsi, we’ve recorded together, but this will be the first time we’ve performed together. And the money is cool too.”
DaG: “I’ve been going to the Ann Arbor Library since I was young. That was our main library so when initially the opportunity came for me, it was a no-brainer...Absolutely. I dig the place, the environment there - it kind of gave me a, I don’t know if you’re familiar with a platform called Tiny Desk - it kinda [AADL] gives me those types of vibes…”
And it’s true, this is the first time both artists will perform together on the same stage. They’ve worked together but, surprisingly, haven’t performed together. Bufford and DaG both have a lot of history with Washtenaw Country -- it’s had an impact on their music and the region.
A4: Do you think it's influenced or inspired your music? How?
Bufford: “Yeah, I’m sure it has somewhat. It’s pretty chill here, not rural or farmland chill, but there’s space to breathe, trees, so my music isn’t always really super aggressive all the time. I’m sure growing up here has something to do with that aspect of my music. Other than that, the people I grew up with around here have influenced me as well.”
DaG: “... The first thing I’ll say - the area influenced me a lot. In general, coming up just because we’re a small, compressed, secluded area so, you know, besides outside of the University of Michigan there’s not really, I would say, enlightening as far art, as far as the true culture. I feel like the University of Michigan overshadows a lot over the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti culture that is installed in the area. So, just those little things, like music circles that used to be very, very relevant back then. There was a lot of us coming up back then and I see now that it’s very open. The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti music world is completely well - I would say - well-known. Now, very, very well-known but as far as it has a life of its own now. When I was coming up, there wasn't that much opportunity."
DaG told us about how when he was coming up in the music scene, and not being a part of the U-M music culture, he, and a lot of the musicians, were secluded in the term “local.” They had their own world and culture which is something he wants to leave for new artists. He didn’t have examples to go off of. Now, he gets to be that example.
It’s also about leaving a legacy. He reminisced about when he was younger and working in a store with Julian [Foster] (his manager at Village Tales) and how they knew they needed to leave something behind for younger people that represented the area.
We also took the opportunity to ask each artist a more personalized question:
A4: You've spent a lot of time performing and have covered a lot of topics within your own music, and your music with The Black Opera. Is there a particular topic or issue that you'd like to cover more or feel compelled to write more about?
Bufford: "I was asked this question recently and the election that just passed was on my mind, so I mentioned maybe being more specific with my political opinions since there were a lot of important issues being addressed in this election. But now that the election has passed I’m not really sure. Politics possibly, but I really feel like I talk about everything I want to talk about."
A4: Your music is so versatile and seems to pull from vintage soul, funk, hip-hop, R&B and a ton of different genres. Do you start your music process with a particular genre in mind or does it develop?
DaG: "You know what, it used to be that way - like, being younger I used to go 'OK, I’m gonna make some house music today, I'm gonna make some trap music today or I’m gonna make some hip-hop today or I’ll make some alternative today, or some jazz or whatever the case may be..' But now, the way that I think and process, you know, my melodies, and just my creative process in general. I don’t want to put a label on anything. Just because of how open creating is today. There’s just so many ways and so many influences just coming out of everywhere…"
DaG told us how some videos and TV shows, like "Westworld," can have an influence on the sounds he makes. He has a lot of influences now and can't really label it. This is also something that influences what will happen next in his imprint, Village Tales, which he and Julian plan to take to a national scale -- possibly through going into sports agency, video games, fashion. Maybe even an RPG that uses Michigan as a backdrop!
For Friday, both artists agree that audiences should expect energy and fun. They should anticipate lots of colors, sound and artists who take their craft seriously.
This article is a condensed combination of email and phone interviews with Jamall Bufford and DaG.
For more information about the event, check out the AADL's event page.
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