Dating back to at least 2011, teenage rapper Bones has released hundreds of songs, fifty plus music videos, and a handful of mixtapes. Where in his early work, under the “Th@ Kid” moniker, it may have been easier to pinpoint his influences, the lines are completely blurred at this point.
When diving into cloud-rap, you'll find that fans of artists like Yung Lean or Lil B enjoy the experience of "being in on an inside-joke" as much as the music itself. Bones is the exception to that rule, simply enough because he's not a cloud rapper. His sound can't be pinned down to a single genre, let alone a sub-genre. Bones provides his own experience, one that at times is painfully introspective.
Sifting through the hundreds of songs over the years, his earlier work could be compared to SpaceGhostPurrp and his Raider Klan cohorts. But even at that, it seems to be more of a happy-coincidence as the teen rapper grew up listening to the likes of Three-6 Mafia and early Cash Money.
Nearly all of Bones songs barely stretch past the two minute mark. With many of them accompanied by a music video he's directed, shot, and edited himself. Just like his music, his visuals are incredibly distinctive. Years ago he was one of the first rappers, if not the first, to use an actual VHS camera to film his visuals. Once again just like his music, you can't pigeon-hole his visual art into one category, it's not just VHS. He utilizes glitches, green-screens, and a handful of other methods which have grown to be just as much of a part of his image as his songs are.
After spending years growing and finding his creative voice and vision, Bones has managed to build up a mini-cult following. 25,000 Facebook fans, 10,000 Twitter followers, 11,000 YouTube subscribers. But once again, unlike his contemporaries, this cult following has a real life presence. This past summer Bones, and way too many of his friends, piled into a van for his own small nationwide tour. In each state he managed to pack a few hundred kids into small venues.
Earlier this month we called Bones for a quick interview to go along with his RECRUITED feature, which you can read below.
How old are you?
Where are you form?
I was born in Northern California and when i was 7 i moved to Michigan, so I grew up there.
So you’re back in California now?
Yeah, I left school at 16 and came out here.
What exactly got you into rapping? Why'd you start?
My first CD was Block Is Hot, when I was 5. I listen to all music, but there was something about rap that made me want to do it.
At what age did you start actually writing & recording music?
How old were you when you started uploading music videos to YouTube under the "Th@ Kid" moniker?
I was 16, right when i came out to California.
What exactly led to that… to dropping out of high school, moving to California, & starting to publish your music?
I hated Michigan, I grew up in Howell. One of the most racist towns in Michigan. Rebel flags and lifted trucks. All kids say they didn’t want to go to school, but I actually didn’t.
Were you looked at differently growing up because you were into rap?
Of course, the only white kid with FUBU Velour and Ice Creams in the 6th grade.
You mentioned you listen to all music, what sort of music are you into these days?
Marvin Gaye, City and Colour, Right Away Great Captain, Balance and Composure, Xavier Wulf, Chris Travis, Eddy Baker, Na$ty Matt, and Dylan Ross.
Yeah, I think that really shines through in your more recent music. Are you looking to continue singing/ screaming in future releases?
At what point did you start filming/ editing videos? Where does your inspiration for the low-fi, VHS, look come from?
I have been shooting with the same camcorder since I was 7, I’ve always liked the way it looked.
You were easily one of the first, if not the first, rapper we saw using VHS. What’re your thoughts on everyone using it now?
You put out a considerable amount of music for free, would you ever considering selling your music or down the line singing to a record label?
Right now I don’t want a record deal, I’d rather focus on the music.
Bones has spent the last three years growing up, finding his voice, and collecting fans along the way. He's managed to do all of this without the backing of a label, management team, or PR rep. Just his older brother helping out where he can, making sure everyone is taken care of along the way.
Bones will never be an XXL Freshman. He may never be on the radio. But don't be surprised if you see him on the cover of FADER sometime soon.