Doing big things

Minneapolis hip-hop duo Big Quarters are earning popularity, respect

Local hip-hoppers Big Quarters' eagerly anticipated sophomore LP is set to drop May 5

Jules Ameel

Local hip-hoppers Big Quarters’ eagerly anticipated sophomore LP is set to drop May 5

Local hip-hop duo Big Quarters are right where they want to be. Current underground king and local hero P.O.S. calls them his favorite rap group. TheyâÄôre releasing an EPâÄôs worth of material every month with their innovative and ambitious âÄúBQ DirectâÄù subscription service. And, their sophomore LP âÄúFrom the Home of Brown Babies & White MothersâÄù is stirring up much anticipation leading up to its early-May release. Consisting of Latin-American brothers Brandon and Zach Baggason, Big Quarters spawned from rather unlikely origins. Originally from the Chicago suburbs, the brothers Baggason moved to the diminutive northern Minnesota town of Clearbrook , population 551, before they were even teens. From an early age they were keen on rap, but given the sometimes suggestive nature of the rhymes they were mimicking, their mother suggested they start making their own rhymes. In 2000, Brandon and Zach migrated to Minneapolis, where they attended the U of M and Perpich Center for Arts Education, respectively. Once immersed in the then burgeoning Twin Cities scene, the brothers took quickly to hip-hip under the tutelage of more established local acts like I Self Devine and Kanser. Then, in 2007, their debut LP âÄúCost of LivingâÄù was released and immediately garnered attention. Now, both still in their mid-twenties, Zach, the obsessive beat-maker/emcee, and Brandon, the possessor of a flow so low it competes with the bass line, are set to release their latest LP and it wonâÄôt disappoint. Boasting old-school beats with added complexity and depth, naturally adept flows and trade-off verses that focus on culture, family, city life and the rap game, âÄúFrom the Home of Brown Babies & White MothersâÄù takes the promising formula employed on Big QuarterâÄôs first record and betters it across the board. A&E got to the opportunity to chat with Brandon about the new record, the Twin CitiesâÄô scene and tacos. Glorious, glorious tacos. What inspired you and your brother to first get into hip-hop? As far back as I remember, IâÄôve been listening to hip-hop, rap and R&B. The first thing that made me consider actually rapping and contributing to hip-hop as a whole was when I heard B Real and Cyprus Hill. They were talking about Latin lingo, and IâÄôm Mexican , so, that was the first time. I was about twelve years old and thought, âÄòI can write a rap.âÄô Tell me about the new record. Are you happy with the finished product? This is the first record that we produced, wrote, recorded, mixed and mastered start to finish. We do it all ourselves. IâÄôm real happy with it. If you heard our last record, âÄúCost of Living,âÄù itâÄôs a natural progression. We didnâÄôt have a lot of singing on our last record, and thatâÄôs not something we set out to do. For the album, but we wanted each song to be more melodic and force ourselves to grow and develop as artists. Explain the title of âÄúFrom the Home of Brown Babies and White MothersâÄù? ItâÄôs from a line in the song âÄúEverydayâÄù on our last record. ItâÄôs a line I wrote, and I wrote it as an observation, something I feel. But a lot of my friends identified with it. Most of my family is made up of brown babies with white mothers. People just connected to it because being multi racial, multi cultural âĦ thereâÄôs not a lot of that identity portrayed in media. So when there are little pieces out there, we just gravitate towards it and grab on to it. ItâÄôs something that needs to be represented, and weâÄôre just representing ourselves. WhatâÄôs the most encouraging aspect of the Twin CitiesâÄô hip-hop scene? One thing I appreciate and I think we contribute to, is giving back to younger artists that are coming up. In the same way Heiruspecs , Lost Nativos , I Self Devine and Kanser have all helped us as Big Quarters get our name out, weâÄôre doing that now. Especially through the programs weâÄôre working at at Hope Community , weâÄôre also working at a school âÄì Anne Sullivan âÄì a middle school where we do song writing and recording with kids. ThatâÄôs something IâÄôm proud of, that we can give back like artists whoâÄôve helped us. What could be better? One thing thatâÄôs a challenge, and a challenge that weâÄôre meeting, is just getting our music out. We donâÄôt have a lot of outlets. ThereâÄôs not hip-hop TV shows or channels âÄì or even many hip-hop radio shows that are covering what we have going on. So itâÄôs up to us to promote ourselves and make our own outlets, whether itâÄôs a show or a podcast or, ya know, a blog. ThatâÄôs something thatâÄôs always growing and people are supporting it. WhoâÄôs a younger emcee or group who hasnâÄôt got much exposure, but who you see a future in? ThereâÄôs a crew called Shelf Life; itâÄôs a lot of south-side kids. ThereâÄôs a group called Fresh Squeeze and a group called AP Classes thatâÄôs a handful of N.E. kids. The Org, Fly Jungle âĦ I know IâÄôm gonna forget one. These are young people who IâÄôve known since they were 15 and theyâÄôre 18 now and doing shows. ThatâÄôs some of âÄôem. You invited me out for burritos to do this interview âÄì whereâÄôs your favorite Mexican food in Minneapolis? Other than my GrandmaâÄôs spot, itâÄôs Tacos Pineda on Lake and Hiawatha. What kind of future do you see for Big Quarters? In the last eight months, weâÄôve put out 40 songs, five songs a month through our subscription service BQ direct. Now, with the album, weâÄôre just gonna attract more people and gain their confidence. People are gonna see what weâÄôre doing and say, âÄúOk, this is something I can get with.âÄù WeâÄôre totally self-sufficient and thatâÄôs something weâÄôre gonna keep doing.