Arizona-bred G-house producer Bijou is one of the genre’s most prolific artists.
While others were sulking or trying to fill their time during the quarantine, Bijou got down to business. He started an online music academy and brainstormed a clothing line called MTS, which introduced the first T-shirt last month.
Following a year of studio grind, coupled with the release of his album “Diamond City,” the man otherwise known as Ben Dorman created the EP “Street Knowledge.” The collection combines a rhythmic bass with guests like Rick Hyde, Tony Watts, Youngworld, Chase Fetti and ElCamino.
“The lead record and title track is about a year and a half old now,” Dorman says. “We had different release plans for it in the past that fell through. We thought we would just sit on this and wait until it falls into place naturally.”
With “Code Blue,” “Rockstar” and “Curses” already streaming, the introspective project has already amassed hundreds of thousands of plays on Spotify. “Street Knowledge” is Bijou’s second EP of the year, following “187 Proof.”
The guests are primarily based in Buffalo. He focused on B-Lo in honor of his father, who grew up an hour outside of the city.
“It’s another piece of me and an extension of me, not only personally but musically,” says Dorman, who recently moved to Marina Del Rey.
“The album came together during COVID. I wasn’t traveling at the time, but I was going around the country meeting rappers, going in the studio, figuring out what works best conceptually for the track listing. If you break down ‘Street Knowledge’ and where it comes from, it’s about someone who has grown up and learned a lot of things that happened in the streets.”
He’s not saying he grew up in the streets, but he has a “strong idea” about it and has experienced the activities in some sense.
“I wanted to work with guys who also come from that type of thing and can understand it. In a lot of ways, I wanted to take it back to my roots. I’ve done the Phoenix thing with ‘Diamond City.’ That’s where I’m really from. ‘Street Knowledge’ is unequivocally every piece of me, what I’ve been through, and where I am now.”
The fun cover art, which shows Dorman and his guest artists sitting in a classroom, was created by Phoenix artist Antoinette Cauley.
“I discovered her a couple years ago,” Dorman says. “We’ve become friends over time. We spoke and she wanted to do cover art for me. We just needed to find the right project. We went over it, and it took about six to eight weeks from start to finish.
“She’s sending me the actual canvas so I can get it framed. It’s pretty amazing.”
A ‘hip-hop head’
The Marcos de Niza High School graduate grew up in Tempe, near ASU.
“I was supposed to go to Tempe or McClintock, but my dad was a teacher at the middle school that fed into Marcos de Niza. I was a tad bit of a troublemaker. He wanted to keep an eye on me.”
A fan of Roberto Clemente, Dorman played baseball growing up. Left handed, Dorman didn’t find many positions he could play. He opted for pitcher and right fielder.
From there, he played ball at community colleges, Northwestern Oklahoma State and Missouri Baptist, the latter of which he says had a “great program and it was a blast.”
After playing indie pro ball in Scottsdale, he hung up his cleats to pursue music.
“The summer of 2013, I was finally like, ‘I don’t love this anymore,’” he recalls. “My last game was my only professional win. I got a job at Jersey Mike’s and basically told myself I would do that as long as I had to.
“A year and a half later, I had the opportunity to produce Kevin Federline, and that was interesting. He’s a super nice guy. It took me to a different realm. I went between Phoenix and LA for eight months.”
Thanks to his talent and his management at Relentless Beats, Dorman has made a name for himself in G-house, which fuses elements of house and rap.
Before the pandemic, he was slated to head out on a major world tour. Instead, he’s promoting “Diamond City” with merchandise and a possible deluxe album. He’s continuing to promote the collabs on the album.
“I’m a huge hip-hop head, and some of my favorite rappers are on here. I’m a massive Denzel Curry fan, and I was fanboying over him. I met him through Instagram. He said, ‘What’s up?’ and I said, ‘Oh (crap). Denzel’s talking to me.’ Chetta, I discovered just very organically through his association with $uicideboy$. Willie Northpole is an Arizona legend. He performed with G-Unit and had that hit ‘Body Marked Up.’”
And Bijou has more tricks up his sleeve.
“I want to give people something to do to get out of their house,” he says coyly. “It’s not going to conflict with the pandemic restrictions or cause any problems. You have to get creative these days or else things flop. I have faith in my work, though.”
‘Street Knowledge’ track listing
“Curses” featuring Rick Hyde
“Rockstar” featuring Tony Watts
“Code Blue” featuring ElCamino
“Hit Boys” featuring Youngworld
“Quick Draw” featuring Chase Fetti