"I once traded my car with a fan for a weapon. I don't wanna give too many details, but I thought someone wanted to kill me. So I traded a vehicle for a weapon with a super-fan."
BABY GRAVY must be the most idiosyncratic super-duo in contemporary hip-hop — their brand cheeky rap.
But, despite being viral superstars and accumulating billions of streams, Yung Gravy and bbno$ (baby no money) are inherently traditionalists. Indeed, they aspire to have a legacy.
Now, BABY GRAVY have dropped their third mixtape, Baby Gravy 3 – the twangy lead single Goodness Gracious evokes Vampire Weekend.
"I think this one is just the GOAT," Gravy proclaims. "It's the most fire of all of our shit."
BABY GRAVY have a global stance. Both Gravy and bbno$ have toured Australia as solo artists — Gravy first playing clubs here in April 2019. And, following an exclusive media playback of Baby Gravy 3 over Zoom, they're conducting interviews at a time when specifically American rappers rarely commit to promo outside of the US.
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"Why won't they do interviews?," probes bbno$, who even eccentrically covered Right Said Fred's '90s I'm Too Sexy for Like A Version during Groovin The Moo season. "Yeah, why not?," Gravy echoes. "I like you guys… I feel like we do more Australian press than anything else."
The pair are playful – the always entertaining Gravy, moving between kitchen and lounge as he multi-tasks, occasionally going off-script.
The Minnesotan laughs at this journalist's lamentations about the Melbourne winter. "I love when Australians say it's freezing," he drawls, automatically converting the temperature to Fahrenheit.
By contrast, the Canadian bbno$, his persona usually flamboyant, is quiet in person, peering intently down the camera through glasses.
Gravy and bbno$ are more than collaborators – they consider themselves best friends. Yet they have divergent backgrounds.
Gravy, aka Matthew Hauri, was born to an immigrant Swiss father – Peter Hauri a renowned psychologist who passed in 2013. "My dad studied sleep and came to the US at the age of 22 and worked at a few colleges before ending up at the Mayo Clinic – which is in Rochester, Minnesota, where I grew up."
Gravy notes the irony of grinding in an industry where sleep is a scarce commodity. "It's funny 'cause my dad studied insomnia – and I have it," he divulges. "Yeah, I deal with it a lot, but I make it work, you know?" The wry bbno$ frequently quotes Nas' line "Sleep is the cousin of death" from NY State Of Mind.
The charismatic Gravy started rapping while studying marketing at college in Wisconsin – and soon joined the SoundCloud wave. Initially cultivating mystique, Gravy modelled himself as a comic rake (and lover of MILFs), combining vintage samples and throwback musical influences with bouncy trap – cue his cult breakthrough Mr Clean, borrowing from Mr Sandman. Gravy signed to Republic Records, debuting with 2019's Sensational.
In 2022 Gravy enjoyed a mega-hit with Betty (Get Money), the lead single from his third album Marvelous dedicated to the late Betty White and co-produced by Dillon Francis. Alas, its interpolation of Rick Astley's '80s evergreen Never Gonna Give You Up is currently the subject of a lawsuit – Gravy unable to discuss it. At any rate, Gravy's bio positions him as a post-Drake Barry White.
In the interim, bbno$ (aka Alexander Gumuchian) was raised in Vancouver, his family belonging to the Armenian diaspora.
After a back injury compelled him to abandon hopes of becoming a professional swimmer, bbno$ completed a degree in kinesiology. He also discovered a new passion in rap, developing an irreverently ridiculous style. Staunchly independent, bbno$ released a debut album, bb steps, in 2018. However, he blew up the following year – his Latin-flavoured single Lalala alongside DJ/producer Y2K hailed an early TikTok sensation. Bbno$ unleashed his sixth album, bag or die, last October.
Today bbno$ is among few prominent Armenian MCs – a revelation to him. "I never really thought about that, to be honest," he says. "I mean, you have [the Armenian-American heavy metal band] System Of A Down, which is arguably one of the biggest bands ever. They're fucking incredible."
Notably, bbno$ collaborated with Indonesian hip-hopper Rich Brian from 88rising on 2021's hooky edamame. He's considered exploring his own heritage. "I was contemplating reaching out to a bunch of big Armenian pop artists, but I just haven't done it yet. I really don't know too much about the Armenian music scene. I did some research and I found these two women that were, like, Dua Lipa-esque – and that was pretty much it."
But Gravy and bbno$ connected formatively via SoundCloud, their premiere project 2017's Baby Gravy EP. (They'd later have a hit with Whip A Tesla off Gravy's Sensational.) "We just are idiots," bbno$ says of their bond. "I remember the first time I met him and I was like, 'Okay, if I was in high school with him, I would probably be friends with him.'"
And Gravy stresses their commonalities, suggesting that they "both come from, I'd like to say, happy families – didn't grow up rich, but happy and friendly people."
They have similar values, too, Gravy likening MidWesterners' humility to that of Vancouverites. "I grew up being nice – and it was like, if you're a dick, no one likes you. So, compared to the average rapper, and the average person who ends up in our position, I think we're both a lot more friendly and we get along really well because of that."
Curiously, while Gravy's father was Swiss, so is bbno$'s mother – and the performers having dual citizenship is an advantage for European tours.
Baby Gravy 3 delivers on BABY GRAVY's expectations of themselves as much as their audience's, launching with the jazzy No Way Jose. They have the sole feature – Canadian Freddie Dredd on Nightmare On Peachtree Street, a horrorcore parody.
“Baby Gravy 1, we made as both purely SoundCloud rappers – starting from nothing and teaching ourselves how to make music," Gravy ponders. "I still love that project – I think we both have really good taste and had it back then – but we have both gotten much more skilled at the logistics and the technical parts of music. So [2020's] Baby Gravy 2 was a nice follow-up where we put a lot more time and thought into it. But it's been a couple of years now that were sort of the biggest years [professionally] for both of us. So we're both a lot more experienced now than we were [with] Baby Gravy 2."
Bbno$ agrees. "Baby Gravy 1 had such like, not an innocent perspective, but just this weird world where nothing really mattered that much and we didn't need to make music. We still don't need to make music. But it just felt so purely authentic to both of us."
"It didn't feel like work at all," recalls Gravy. "It was us just purely trying to have a good time."
Bbno$ chimes in, "Now it's like, yeah, there's obviously things contextually – like we have to make music to stay relevant, in a sense. There is this weird little pressure that we didn't have on the first [Baby Gravy]. But I do think that the fundamentals of our project are just infinitely better, like the music itself."
Even individually, BABY GRAVY know the importance of switching things up. Though acknowledging his inspirations, particularly in terms of flow, Gravy prides himself as a distinctive lyricist.
"I want it to be unique enough where we're saying something that no one else is saying," he asserts. "I like to make every line a punchline. I think both of us are good at that. Sometimes it almost can be an issue, because there are times when I'll show someone a song for the first time and they'll hear a line and they'll laugh and then they'll miss the song. So it's like, you gotta listen a couple of times, I guess, to really get the music."
For bbno$, it's about bringing a different "vibe" to a song – after all, he teamed with Rebecca Black on the disco bop yoga.
"I try to change my style up quite often and just try new things – 'cause I feel like a lot of my fans are just like, when a bbno$ song's dropping, it's kind of like roulette. No one really knows what's coming – which has probably done me a disservice because, if someone's like, 'Hey, let's go listen to bbno$,' [then] they're like, 'What type of a song, though?'" With a Yeat, "you know exactly what you're gonna get," he continues. "But, if you listen to me, you might listen to like a ballad or an alternative rock song or an EDM song – it's kind of just all over the fucking place."
Gravy applies the same principle. "When I make an album, I listen to everything and, if anything sounds too similar, I try to cut it out. We both have our own sort of styles of beats that we like, but everything has to be really unique."
Gravy has acquired celebrity status – Addison Rae's mother, Sheri Easterling, his red carpet date at 2022's MTV Video Music Awards. He's charmed Martha Stewart – the lifestyle entrepreneur using his hip-hop homage to her in an ad campaign. Could Gravy solicit her for a BABY GRAVY video? "I could!," he enthuses. "If she likes you, she is down. She's a ride-or-die. She was very cool in person, and very down-to-earth, for how insanely famous and rich she is. I probably could get her in a video. The last two times I FaceTimed her randomly without talking for months, she answered. So I think, if we wanna get her in a music video, we'd lock her down – it's a good idea. Thank you for that!"
BABY GRAVY have a recognisable fanbase. "I feel like I can look at a person, I can be [like], 'Oh, this guy probably knows me,'" bbno$ admits. "Especially with Gravy's fans too – like I can look at a group of broskis…"
Gravy interjects, "If we're in public and we don't wanna start having to take pictures, you can usually tell from far away whether they're gonna know who we are or not."
Still, Gravy has an outlandish story. "There's been a lot of definitely weird experiences over the years," he reveals. "I once traded my car with a fan for a weapon. I don't wanna give too many details, but I thought someone wanted to kill me. So I traded a vehicle for a weapon with a super-fan… We met in a field and he brought his son, who was, like, three."
The workaholics are each prepping solo LPs. Bbno$ is progressing on "a ballad project." "I'm really gonna try to focus in on making the best product I've ever made and take my sweet fucking time on it."
Unpredictable, Gravy, who supported the nu-metal Limp Bizkit on a North American arena run, hints at a country excursion. "I've listened back to some of the ideas I have starting to be cooked up right now and it's just classic Gravy-style stuff," he flexes. "I've also been spending more time in Nashville and trying out some country stuff – I made some friends in that industry. So there might be some little side-projects that are a little country. [But] I really just like my style. You're gonna get more Gravy. I'll keep on surprising people with the same shit!"
The duo may have fulfilled a mixtape trilogy, but they're open to more volumes. "I don't see why not," bbno$ offers. "I'm not gonna stop making music. There might be a point where I'm gonna be bored of just making music – 'cause after my two next projects, I'll hit 10 projects. So I don't know if it's doing me a favour making that much music – but I don't see why not. It's just fun."
"Yeah, I think I'll eventually stop making music," Gravy responds. "But I don't see that happening for a while. And I feel like I have the most fun making music with Alex." He reckons that BABY GRAVY will cut "at least another two… if not more."
BABY GRAVY headlined a North American tour in late 2022. Is there any prospect of them reuniting for an Australian leg? "We do plan to come back together," Gravy assures. "We both toured [there] this year. But I think, once it gets cold for us and hot for you, we're looking at some data on that window."