BoomBaptist and the Art of Crafty Self Promotion Schemes: The mastermind of instrumental hip-hop sells us its universe – Music


DJ PR-emier: Andrew Thaggard (aka BoomBaptist) shows off some of his promotional loot (Photo by John Anderson)

With his hair slicked back into a Macklemorian undercut, a camera flash reflected in every wide, sparkling smile (teeth visibly intact by the frozen donuts placed in front of him on the table), Andrew Thaggard appeared to everyone as l very picture of the cool press conference. But when a pointed question put the CEO of Komfort Food under a heat lamp, all that frosting melted in an instant. Journalists wanted to know: Did his sugar-filled candies give Americans diabetes?

“THIS IS ONLY A CONSPIRACY AGAINST SMALL BUSINESS,” Thaggard roared, pushing aside the cup of coffee he had drunk moments earlier, revealing that it was as empty as the calories in his product. Rather than giving up his corporate credibility, the CEO doubled down with the charm of a malicious salesman: “There is is something about these donuts … the love we put in them. “

When Thaggard released the satirical video on his social media in February, viewers could be forgiven for not catching the real capitalist magic trick on display – a trick that had less to do with putting up books than with the moving discs.

Although technically CEO – overseeing the deliciously named Cream Dream Records – Thaggard is no pastry impresario. He’s BoomBaptist: an independent hip-hop producer, occasional MC, half of the synthwave duo the Vapor Caves (the other member is his fiancée), and some sort of agent of chaos in music marketing. Besides the fake donut franchise – insolently linked to a beat-tape tribute to J Dilla – it has promoted records with a fake real estate company, a fake mail order cannabis hub and a NBA Jam game so intricately wrong that it is in fact real.

“He’s developing so much more elaborate release strategies than ‘Hey, new single Friday,'” said Ben Webster, founder of (iN) Sect Records – which released the sold-out 2020 albums. Boumshakalaka on a basketball vinyl record and cassette resembling a Super Nintendo cartridge. “He throws up a huge network, bringing in people who would never buy instrumental hip-hop, and I’m not sure everyone is ready.”

Indeed, despite the many Austinites who have learned the BoomBaptist name over a decade of consistent performances and soon (Thaggard hopes) less constant wedding DJ gigs, the recent spate of wacky PR gambits from the musician has baffled many people, even closely related ones. industry buddies.

“Every time he talks about something that’s going on with him now, I’m like, ‘I don’t know if I believe you?'” Local promoter Avi Minkoff laughs. “Am I happy for you? Am I upset? Or am I just waiting to get hit by a punchline?”

So what is Thaggard’s program? Is he just a bad faith opportunist playing cynically on the Internet?

“Yes, I’m going to have press, I’m going to have new fans, but I’m also going to lose people who thought I really wanted to join the NBA or who were duped by my fake real estate,” admits Thaggard – a knot tight of exhaustion frustration caught in his serious puppy voice: “It’s hard to handle a prank if you feel like there’s no reason he’s a troll to get attention.”

To be fair, BoomBaptist’s albums invite initial skepticism; separated from the thematic context, their conceptual framing can appear sonorously imperceptible. 2020 collection COVID Earth, swept away by topical titles such as “Social Distance Dance” and “Superspreader Superbowl”, alongside Thaggard’s other retro chill-out jams: crisp drums, swaying synths, playful sequencing – the breezy sound of 16-bit summer , with nary a sample Fauci to suggest last year’s hellish landscape.

Photo by John Anderson

But ask Thaggard to break down each project and he can justify his intentions right down to coloring the vinyl. To call it a “packing skill” would miss the point. What he really does is unify, frequently creating an album launch to address a serious concern – regarding gentrification, consumerism, global health – that will reframe his carefree product as a sarcastic counterpoint. The luxury soundtrack of a world gone mad.

“He’s never going to say, ‘Oh, haha, wouldn’t that be a fluke,’” says Yadira Brown, Thaggard’s partner – musical and otherwise – since 2013. “He’ll dissect his songs, find this concept and think about millions of people. ways in which meaning can be disseminated. “

“Being independent – and someone who makes instrumental music – is a constant struggle to represent myself properly,” Thaggard insists. “Learning to create characters, to create the world of the album, it gave me that control.”

Perhaps the first of these characters is BoomBaptist himself. Thaggard sums up his DJ / marketman persona as “sheer bravado”, but that’s a far cry from the humble truth of the man himself – a 36-year-old real estate agent with “chains hidden beneath.” [his] collared shirts, “which spent most of the 2010s setting up arcade games.

“Every dollar he earns, it all goes back to the next project,” explains Minkoff, who also took the time of our interview to ask Thaggard to return the turntables he borrowed ten years ago. “I literally just bought your record, and because you have my decks, I have no way of listening to it.”

True to his frugal form, less than 20 minutes after being interviewed, Thaggard was sharing stories of paid DJ sets in cheeseburgers and sheepishly confessing his predilection for cheap bootleg sneakers.

“You go to this guy’s website, and so the authorities don’t catch him when he goes through customs, you technically buy a bra,” Thaggard details, “but I get some of the highest quality Jordans. , completely wrong. “

Not only is Thaggard a true hip-hop con artist, he plays the part. It took a long time to learn.

Son of a classical pianist mother, born among the cuatro strings of Venezuela on his way to a funk education in Miami, Thaggard is described by all his associates as an innate musical “prodigy”. Although shaped by explorations in jazz and salsa groups, his talents were called to hip-hop by the youthful wonder he felt at the “world-building” abilities of his classic beatmakers.

But when Thaggard began to develop his own production prowess, it was always with the intention of serving his personal rhyming book (MC sleeve: Thesaurus Rex). Sadly, despite years of jostling each other on the Boulder and Denver circuits, the rap superstar perpetually lingered out of reach of Thesaurus’ pathetically tiny T. rex arms. Business rhythms haven’t been a safer bet – his efforts hit a particularly humiliating low when Thaggard found himself cheated by a fake MF Doom connection.

“I had delusions of grandeur, thinking that a song placement or a feature film would save me,” says Thaggard. “Burning myself over and over has taught me self-reliance.”

Rick James “Fuck Your Couch” action figure

Thaggard cites legendary Gang Starr affiliate Bumpy Knuckles as the first person to tell him that his beats could be full-fledged projects and, shortly after moving to Austin in 2009, he received similar encouragement ( and label support) from Webster. Yet it wasn’t until 2019, when conceptualizing Vapor Caves’ debut LP with Brown, which first activated his marketing talent, that Thaggard truly believed it for himself. Almost all of the material the musician has produced since is work he’s sat on for much of the decade – including Lakim’s all-new split “I’m Rick James, Bitch” https: // www.”Jerry Mane “, for which they have previously sold custom Rick James” Fuck Your Couch “action figures – their exit being attributed to a last-minute creative boom that shows no signs of slowing down.

“He just gets the farther from here, the more he has faith in those crazy plans. BoomBaptist is a character in his own right now and you value marketing just like music,” says Minkoff. “He’s going to rob your house, sell you stuff, and then you tip him anyway because you’re like, ‘Oh, man, that guy is great.'”


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