Hi Baloo, thank you for your willingness to answer some questions for our magazine. Your raw, authentic style and your attitude immediately impressed us. You can also count on the support of realities such as Stirpe Nova and one of the best Italian rappers of the last 20 years, that is Ntò. In short, a certificate of solidity and authenticity.
Therefore, first of all, we therefore wanted to ask you to tell us better about yourself, what area of Naples do you come from, what is your background and how did you come into contact with Hip-Hop culture initially?
BALOO: “Thanks to you for the opportunity and the words for me, and above all for the STIRPENOVA and NTÒ. I am a proud son of West Naples! Fuorigrotta district. I don’t remember having approached music or at least it’s like remembering when I took my first steps, I have no memory of it! It has accompanied me throughout my life until today and I believe it will remain a faithful companion of mine. A strong passion for the genre born on the street, it made me approach the world of music records, let’s say that I started playing good music at parties, when I was about 13/14 years old”.
When did you decide you wanted to make music more professionally and what was the path that led you to get in touch with one of the most important underground realities in Campania and Italy, that is StirpeNova and how did you know Ntò?
BALOO: “Inside of me I felt I wanted to do something big from a very young age but life is not always what we dreamed of as children, right? After having lost my way for a long time, I found myself free after a detention in which I had naturally reconnected with music. I met some old friends down at the 4RawCitySound in Fuorigrotta.
I was free for 3/4 days and still had no real contact with life so Marco on that occasion said to me “Do you know that Ntò is having birthday this evening? Do you want to come? So you get distracted a little!”. I already knew Antonio from the period of Co’Sang, we had met in some live shows in the early 2000s. Without hesitation I accepted the invitation and we went to celebrate. I remember that evening I spent most of the time in silence, there were other artists on the scene but my head was elsewhere! Antonio (Ntò), however, invited me that evening to participate in one of his live shows a few days later at the Partenope Club in Naples. It was 2018 and it was on that occasion backstage that he and I talked eye to eye.
Ntò felt my situation, he patted me on the back and told me that I shouldn’t worry and that I should go back to making music if it made me feel good! He made the audience raise their hands in the hall for me, for my freedom and that’s where something really serious snapped inside me.
Where and how did your name Baloo come from?
BALOO: “Baloo was born from the Book of the Jungle because it is in the jungle that I was born, the character had the same ambitions as me to educate the kids to survival and difficulties! I wanted to do the same, perhaps also with myself!”
Cell 9 is your first official project. Can you tell us how this work was born and the meaning of its title? How long did it take you to write it and how was the registration process?
BALOO: “Yes Cella 9 is my first official project! The idea of making my own Ep was born immediately after the approach with Ntò of which I have just told you, but this thing did not go to the end because in October 2020 I was reached by a precautionary custody order in prison and the case has I wanted me to be placed in cell number 9. Hence the title, many pieces like “15 ann” I never even wrote it, it was born entirely in the studio from prod to rec! With Emanuele and Reynar Blume”.
Who supported you in the realization of this Cell 9 and how did the featurings and productions within it come about?
BALOO: “As I told you, Reynar Blume and Emanuele Scudo, then also Blocka, the Dizzines, Fusco. In the prod. it all started gradually, working pulled by Rey for the most part. The featurings instead are people with whom there is a friendship in the first place, they all came in a natural way in which, given my release, many were happy to take part in the project. Ntò, Saint, Murzett and b are guys like many others with whom I talk every day and have always exchanged music and ideas”.
As can be seen from the title and the themes of your songs, you have gone through and are still facing various legal problems today. How do you think that Hip-Hop and music in general can represent an opportunity for redemption for you and many other kids who live or have a difficult situation behind them?
BALOO: “Yes, my life is still a great storm and I often feel very tired of continuing to walk the long road that awaits me, still two degrees of judgment await me in this new trial (which led me to imprisonment in prison 2020 / 21), in which I am accused of various art.416 crimes (“criminal association” italian law), in short, there are many years of my existence on the scale (more than 10 yet)
I don’t think music saves people and all those things there, passion for something can change yourself, an outstretched hand can change a person. In music I have found alternative ways and I try to do the same with those who are in the same condition or perhaps in a less serious way, because as they say “prevention is better than cure!”. Here you are”.
Did your musical career often occupy your thoughts when you were in prison? Did Rap give you a goal and did it represent hope for the future? Have you written a lot and reflected on your next moves and strategies for building a future once you’re out?
BALOO: “In prison I did nothing but write, talk about music and lend records to the whole section. Ntò often also sent STIRPENOVA t-shirts for the boys, it was my constant thought! Even in the jail interviews I never asked what the lawyer had said, but if the projects were moving forward and that people were not forgetting me.
During my last detention he was very close to me and released 3 songs where he talked about me and what was happening, from “ANGELI” with other artists and a refrain by Gianni Celeste, to the track “SUDDITALIA” ft. L’Elfo, and there is also a reference in the track with Marco Calone “Senza e’ te” in the verses “Comm’e frate ca nun vir chiù, purtat int a na machina blu”. All these things helped me not to give up, to always look at the dream! I imagined this EP a thousand times on my cot with headphones ”
Do you have a message to give to the kids and the people you see yourself in and who may be making the same mistakes of your youth or those young people who may idolize attitudes that ultimately lead only to pain and suffering? Let’s leave aside those on social networks who wish their peers in jail (we have seen your critical messages to these guys …)
BALOO: “Yes, that life is a wonderful journey and that the real men are the humble ones, the ones who help and dedicate themselves. That the road does more harm than good and there are no-return points! And even when you can return, as in my case, it will cost you fatigue, years of loneliness and suffering. It is never worth it!
Those who think they are being tough and send stupid messages are perhaps one of those who need more help , they are not examples to follow but to heal. To your last statement, on the other hand, I reply that prison does not wish even the worst enemy”.
Who are your artistic reference points today and who have you been inspired by over the years? Who are the strongest names in your neighborhood or city in your opinion currently?
BALOO: “I don’t think I have to answer this question! The answer is unique and obvious and I don’t like to express judgments on the more or less dope artists because it is a “politics” of music that I don’t like, indeed maybe that’s what I want to eliminate. There are guys who intrigue, people whose path you can appreciate and many others whose path you cannot appreciate! But I always explain these stories face to face”.
What are your aspirations, your goals and future projects musically speaking?
BALOO: “Right now I’m super focused on the Mixtape Stirpenova Vol. 2, we started working on it for a while at the same time as my EP! So I’m still in the studio / rec / prod vortex. and without it I wouldn’t know how to live!”