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The Bul Bey: The Essence of Philly.

January 5, 2015

TheBulBeyOnline05Text by Lissa Alicia. Images by Jason Melcher.

At one point or another, Philly MC The Bul Bey has called many areas of Philadelphia home. Over the years, he has lived in Southwest, West Girard and Germantown neighborhoods. Currently the artist, also known as Amir Richardson, is coming up with feel-good rhymes in his apartment that is only a hop, skip and a jump away from the 52nd Street El station in West Philadelphia.

After releasing singles ‘Where I’m From’ and ‘On,’ 26-year-old Bey is getting significant buzz from fans who are awaiting his upcoming project, Shaking Hands And Kissing Babies.

Bey looks nothing like a stereotypical Philly rapper – no beard, no visible tattoos and a smile. His charming demeanor and positive attitude allow him to serve up unexpected crafty bars and a playfulness that is comparable to Will Smith.

The Bul Bey began rapping at the age of 7 while growing up in the Kingsessing neighborhood of Southwest Philadelphia. Much of his inspiration came from his older brothers after seeing them rhyming.

“One of my brothers was really into Tupac, so he would really try to sound like a thug,” says Bey. “I would just try my best. I don’t even know what he used to rap about actually, now that I think about it. I think I used to rap about the park – Myers Playground.”

Bey is currently signed with Illvibe Media, created by the DJ and production crew Illvibe Collective. Illvibe DJ Matthew Law, formerly known as DJ PHSH, has been friends with Richardson for a few years.

“With the push that we are trying to give this project and the shows that will come out of it, I think it’s going to be a solid introduction” says Law when speaking about the upcoming album. “And a solid reintroduction to people who already know.”

The first single, “Where I’m From,” isn’t just an ode to cheesesteaks and the Wu-Tang dance. It offers a glimpse into the rougher side of Philly that many try to ignore. A feature by Camden MC Davon gives the track a more relatable quality. The entire song brings back memories of kicking back on a West Philly porch with a few brews.

“I realized that when I was writing it, I didn’t want it to be bound,” says Bey. “I wanted it to have the elements of growing up in Philadelphia – the block party, the SEPTA bus, the unpaved pavements, the really sweet and wonderful, incredible women. I wanted to have all those elements in there but I didn’t want to be handcuffed to just my city. I wanted anybody to connect with it.”

The Bul Bey is straight-up Philly, down to his name. Although his music is getting mad buzz from all stretches of the city, his heart resides in West.

“What I love about West Philly is the eclectic essence of this neighborhood,” he says. “I feel like there is no place in Philadelphia where you have Ethiopians, Hispanics, Central Asians. Philadelphia is very historic. I live around the corner from the Paul Robeson House. I get kind of geeked out when I get off the 21 bus at 50th and Walnut and I am in front of the hose that Paul Robeson lived at. I think that its dope and very neighborhood-ish.”

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