Ft. Lauderdale rapper Bleubird climbed up out of the same "disgusting, culture-less void" as Astronautalis. However, unlike his scene sibling, the real-life Jacques Bruna never permanently left the wilds of south Florida, instead choosing to become something of its reluctant champion. His latest album — September's Lauderdale — is both a love letter to and a cautionary tale of the city that raised him into the swagger-racked fool he is today.
With Bleubird coming through Minnesota twice this week (Thursday in Duluth at Red Herring and Saturday at the Triple Rock), City Pages spoke to the Florida rapper about his new hometown-focused album and how that balances his fraternal love for the Twin Cities.
City Pages: You're starting your tour with Ecid in Minnesota. That's a long way from south Florida. How did you hook up with him and put the tour together?
B: Ecid and I have been friends for a minute. We met through mutual friends and just playing shows in Minneapolis. But it was him who put the idea to me many moons ago. We kept kicking around the idea of doing a song together, and that never happened until recently.
But we put the idea to a mutual friend, Nick Oliver of Oliver Booking Co., and we put the idea that we'd like to do a tour together out there, and we got a lot of positive feedback, so we put it together. And we just recorded a song together last week, and it should be dropping just before the tour.
CP: You also have a really good friendship with Astronautalis.
B: I've never heard of him. Say that name again?
CP: As-tro-naut-a-lis. You might know him as "Andrew Bothwell."
B: Ohhhh, that dude! He's really good-lookin' right?
CP: Yeah, that's the one.
B: Andy and I were grinding it out in the Florida scene in the early 2000s. We'd just been playing shows in and around Florida, always playing the same venues and always hearing each other's name. Nobody could keep our names out their mouth.
We ended up playing a show in Gainesville together at this spot called the Common Grounds. We were fast friends, and we started freestyling about how we've known each other for 10 years, and everybody believed it to be true. So we just continued with that lie. We just lived it. We lived that lie together forever.
I wanna say that was like 2005. From there, we started touring together, and we just did many tours in Harpoon Larry's Honda Element playing all the little dive bars for $0. One show we got paid like $7 or $8 for the two of us, and we were so sick, we spent it on a bottle of Nyquil and split it so we could go to sleep. I could prattle on forever about that dude.
CP: You have him on the the new record on "FLA and FUH." On that song it sounds like the two of you are rekindling some of those memories from before he moved up here.
B: The album before, he co-produced the entire thing. We've done a bunch of songs together, a bunch of tours together, traveled in Europe together a lot, so I wanted to get him on this "FLA as FUH" song because it's basically the story of just the two of us running rogue around the European Union, specifically around Fusion Festival. We got way lost in this old abandoned Russian air force base/techno music festival, and we found each other the next morning, and then the stories in the song ensue.
CP: Will you two be performing the song together at the Triple Rock?
B: I have no idea if he's gonna be there Saturday. I think he's in Germany taking a break before he starts his world tour. I forgot to ask. But I can tell you he gave me a flash drive with his WAV files. We have this really nice Max Headroom projection we're gonna play. Digital Andy will definitely be there, but I dunno about flesh Andy. I really can't afford flesh Andy.
CP: The last time I talked to Andy, he told me that Lauderdale was the album you were born to make. Do you agree with that?
B: Fuck yeah. I absolutely agree with that. I was born and raised in south Florida, and I spent the majority of my years trying to run away from here and everything that came along with it. Not until I had crashed and burned back here and finally embraced that did everything come full circle.
I made all these weird records — I made Triune Gods in Japan and the Les Swashbuckling Napoleons in Canada and Pilgrim of St. Zot in Germany — everything from noise rock to bilingual indie-rap soundtracks. I came back to Florida and kinda got stuck here, and it took me a minute to see through the darkness and embrace that.
So I started making Miami bass as Death Jam, which was way overboard, but I just wanted to make something to get me out of the rut I was in. For a second, I thought I might hate myself for doing it, but the second we started, it was so much fun, and I found it was closer to my heart than anything I'd ever done before.
I just embraced it. With Lauderdale, I wanted to find a happy medium between the shit I was doing with Death Jam as Young Lauderdale and the path I'd started out on 15 years ago as Bleubird. I didn't know how I was gonna put all that together in one package, though.
CP: It's definitely a departure from your last solo record, CANNONBALL!!!. It's not nearly as earnest, but it does have some earnest moments. But it still has the style and swagger of the Young Lauderdale stuff.
B: I've been told in the past that I'm too earnest. Nobody wants to listen to earnest unless you're singling beautiful, and I can't fucking sing. I make up for the lack of it in my live show. Once you see me live, it all makes sense, and it clicks. You can see that it's still me under there, just with some gloss on top of it. I think I'm even more focused than ever.
CP: Speaking of being earnest, you call out Immortal Technique on "Fake Cats" with the line "The motherfuckin' prince of pussy rap / Fuck Immortal Tech, I'm bringing pussy back and pettin' pussy cats." Wanna tell us the story behind that beef?
B: Ha! I was playing Warped Tour. I was doing three or four of the Florida shows. On the first day, everyone played, me and Andy played, and just destroyed this little tent full of kids, and up comes Immortal Technique, and the first thing he says is, "Yo, no more pussy rap on this fuckin' stage."
All these 16-year-old kids stood up and started leaving, and he was yelling at them saying, "I hope someone in your family dies." That's what he was telling these kids. "I hope someone you love dies." We continued to play the tour, and for the rest of the shows, I'd start off by proclaiming that I was the king of pussy rap. Then, I would play my set. That's what that line comes from.
CP: You just got off tour opening for Doomtree, right?
B: I've been going since the album came out pretty strong. Ecid and I are actually going out on another run and doing three weeks on the Northeast.
CP: It seems like you have a lot of love for Minneapolis.
B: Hell yeah. I love it. I'm trying to get on Soundset. I haven't played there in five or six years, but I've always loved Minneapolis. The city has always welcomed me with open arms, and the support has been awesome. Doomtree taking me on the road was just amazing, I can't thank them enough. Same with Andy, and same with Ecid. I'm jazzed to come and kick the tour off up there. Worst Dressed 3. I'll be dressed horribly. I shine in that.