Barf Troop is Rap Internet 3.0, Dunked in Girl Power and Sprinkled with Coyness
Meet Babeo Baggins, Babenstein, Baberella Fox, Babe Field, and Justin Baber.
Sometimes, I get really worried that kids are not doing anything creative or interesting anymore. I get worried that they're all just playing Candy Crush on their iPhones while they blast pro-ana cries out into the Tumblrverse. Then, every once in a while, I'll come across a young person doing something interesting and I heave a giant sigh of relief. This month, I found Barf Troop. They made me stop and breathe.
Barf Troop is a group of young girls who all met on Tumblr (because that’s how teenagers meet nowadays) and decided to start a rap group together. Think Kitty Pryde meets Pink Dollaz, but totally outside of the box. Barf Troop rap sweet little rhymes about sexual dominance over math rock tracks, ocean breezes and sometimes, just nothing but a weird, cheap beat. They are a pack of growing, interesting women who have embraced the punk attitude of doing-whatever-the-fuck-you-want and not really caring what people think about it. They are by no means professionals, but they getting there and doing something that takes guts, which I respect. I mean, they are actually making intelligent use of the Internet.
I decided to talk to Barf Troop’s founding member Babeo Baggins, about her girls, sexism in rap, dream riders, and how to handle cowards on the Internet.
Noisey: Who is all in the Barf Troop?
Babeo: All of our stage names have the word Babe in them. So, there is me Babeo Baggins (a play off of Frodo Baggins from Lord of the Rings), Babenstein, Baberella Fox, Babe Field, and Justin Baber.
Justin Baber. [Laughs]
Yeah, Justin Baber has a huge Justin Bieber obsession, so it's only right. She's out of Richmond, VA. Babenstein likes to keep her age unknown because she's constantly pretending she's a 40-year-old mom with a pool boy who drinks vodka nonstop. Babe Field is 19 years old from Chicago. She's seriously the deepest and most soulful person I know. Baberella Fox is 21 years old and she is in Atlanta and is in school for photography, and she is sassiest thing with the tiniest voice and the biggest talent. Oh, and then there is me, Babeo Baggins, and I'm 20 running on 11, and I'm from the part of VA that no one knows about because about 12 people live there. I'm currently staying in DC.
What are you guys trying to do with Barf Troop? It’s really cool that people can have access to make their own songs just by having a Macbook. What do you think?
I’d say what we're trying to do is support girls and show them that they can do anything they want to do. We're big on girl power and we all believe it's a girl’s world and boys just live in it. We're trying to help girls feel free to voice their sexual desires without feeling ashamed to do it. I'm the dorkiest thing with a voice that is too high, but I'm not scared to let someone know when I want something and how I want it. I want other girls to understand that you can be innocent and goofy and sexy at the same time. You don't have to choose between being a sexual being and being an innocent one. You can be both.
You can embody the dichotomy. What about respect?
Barf Troop is all about girls and not only boys respecting us but girls respecting each other. I want all the girls who are fans of my music to support each other and realize that all of us have the same struggles and we need the support of other women! Girl empowerment is where it’s at. Barf Troop is about girls having fun and doing what they want to do. I think it's amazingly rad that it's so simple not only to make music, but to get it out there to a wide range of people. I love when people I never thought would listen to my music are tweeting about it or posting on their blogs about the Troop. The Internet has helped me connect with people and make music I never would've been able to make otherwise.
No kidding. I wouldn't have a job without the Internet. I also have been thinking lately that rap and punk are the only progressive genres in music today because rules can still be broken—I mean, the attitudes of both those genres more so than the sonics. What attracted you to rapping in the first place and how do you try to bend the rules?
I totally agree! I think what made me want to rap in the first place is that hip hop as a genre is so free formed. You really can do whatever you want to do with it. There are no rules, you can say whatever, flow however you want to, and it still comes out in a way that is totally worthy. I like that about rap. I think it really is becoming one of the only truly free range genres, because there really is no limit to what you can do. I try everything, even things that I think might not even work. Like, for our mixtape Hallowcream, I did an entire song without a beat. I rapped over some wind blowing and cricket sounds and other sound effects. It came out so creepy and weird and I had never heard anything like it before. That's what I always try to do. I try to do things I don't think will work out and I try to make them work. Babe Field and myself just recently came out with a mixtape where we rapped over math rock songs, and it was extremely hard because the timing in math rock is really all over the place, but I'm super happy with it. Doing things no one else thinks to do is what makes it fun for us, I think.
What musicians do you guys all look up to?
Katie Got Bandz, Lil Kim, Trina, Travis Porter, MF DOOM, Sasha Go Hard, et cetera. Female rappers are life to us and we love them all. But we're all over the place musically, so we get inspiration from everywhere. For me, King Krule is a huge musical hero of mine, along with a ton of bluegrass artists, and Babenstien is a huge hardcore fan and math rock, as well. Babe Field and Justin Baber are huge old school soulful jam-type fans, and Justin Baber is the pop princess. We really pull from everything that we love.
What's the DIY rap scene like where you are?
There are tons of artistic people in DC, but it's pretty underground. Around here, I think it's super important to let the word of mouth do its work because it really is so hush-hush around here.
Totally. If you could tour with anyone, who would it be and what would you put on your rider?
I think it would be super fun to tour with Sasha Go Hard and Katie Got Bandz. That would be the most hype show in the world. I'd be on stage and in the crowd at the same damn time. Or King Krule, just because I have a huge obsession with him. Or Trina! Man, there are so many rad people that I'd love to put a show on with.
Do you feel sexism in rap culture, or do you feel kind of removed from it because Barf Troop can exist online in it's own kind of blog bubble?
I don’t feel like we are removed from it, because it's not like these things stop existing on the Internet. We all experience it in our own ways, and once we become more mainstream, we'll experience it in that way. It is different online though, because people feel they can say whatever they like to us and feel like they won't face any consequence because it's on the Internet and not direct face-to-face contact. People have this false armor. I have to deal with a lot of shit, but those people who leave nasty comments are cowards.
I agree. Say it to my face, motherfucker. Come to one of my shows when I'm on tour and say it to my face. They wouldn't dare. How do you feel about that kind of shit? Do you get angry or upset or just ignore it?
Obviously, it upsets us, but we can only do so much. If we show people that it gets the best of us, then they'll only continue to do it. Never show weakness I say.