B. Aull That
By: Sean Moore / Photos By: Kenneth Coles
When hip hop artist B. Aull strolls into a room it is hard not to immediately recognize him. Let’s talk about his hair, right off the bat. His hi-top fade style reminds onlookers of Kid (from the 1980s hip hop duo Kid ‘n Play), complete with comb strategically tucked into his hair just above his right ear and hidden beneath his visor. There, I mentioned it, although it does come up again when I reference his SoundCloud page and the interactions with his fans. But, it’s not all about the hair. It’s the youthful exuberance the 24 year old emits with his unfading smile and passion for his craft. You can tell this is a young man who, in his own words, is all about “good vibes” and “keeping it fun.” When we sat down to talk it did not take B. Aull long to get comfortable and start chatting about everything from his early days performing at the talent show at Thornton Academy, his influences, side jobs, to his musical experiences here in Maine and around the east coast. Chatting with B. Aull felt as comfortable as a conversation with a buddy over a drink. It just so happens that this “buddy” has opened for the likes of Sean Paul, Snoop Dogg, and Ja Rule.
“It’s not the coal you’re looking for. It’s the diamond.”
Fresh off a mini college tour that generated significant buzz, filling rooms with what he considers his “key demographic” at Goucher College (Maryland), Hamilton College (New York), Boston College, and USM, UNE, and UMO, here in Maine. He loved the college vibe at those shows, commenting how great everyone was to him, how accommodating they were, and how ready they were to party. He even dropped by a couple of dorm parties, which surprised a few partygoers.
B. Aull got his drive to start writing and recording music when he was in high school at Thornton Academy in Saco. He attributes his love for music and performing, to his cousin, Tyler who introduced him to all the key musically influences. Tyler has also started DJing for him at his shows, which B. Aull is extremely happy about, due to how close they are.
The moment that sparked B. Aull to write and perform music happened in 2010 when his mom and cousin brought him to see J. Cole at Port City Music Hall. He was 15 years old and he said, he knew he had “to be on stage.”
His influences include Drake (“a dream collaboration”), 50 Cent (“I just love his flow”), Kendrick Lamar, “early Kanye,” Gold Link, and Anderson.Paak, drawing inspiration from them in his development as an artist. When we moved from Local 188 to Sagamore Hill, B. Aull’s face lit up when a track by Gold Link came on the sound system, shouting over to the bartender that he’d “never heard Gold Link played at a bar” and that “he’d be stopping in again just because of the music”. Just listening to him talk about the music he loves, it’s clear that he’s an enthusiastic fan, as well.
When we discussed his songwriting process, he said that he “starts with a hook” or “the thesis statement” of a song. I loved that analogy! He likes to just sit down alone, write the lyrics down, and then take out the mic and record. Expanding on the process of making music, B. Aull said “it’s like working in a coal mine, where you’re working all day, down there, picking at that coal, but it’s not the coal you’re looking for. It’s the diamond. It’s about that mindset.” Such an insightful, philosophical young mind. He seems to know what he’s talking about, one of his tracks, “You Can Have It All,” appeared on Spotify’s Fresh Vines playlist a few months ago and has amassed over 330,000 streams so far, which he said was one of the best things that happened to him. That tracks popularity has helped put him on the radar of producers and record labels, a few of which he met with while on a trip to New York City. We talked about the importance of social media as a means to growing his fanbase and how he loves engaging with fans both on social media and in person, but definitely don’t be that person to ask to touch his hair, even though, he says it happens, it’s inevitable, and not just girls, but guys. “Don’t touch my hair,” he warns with a smile and a laugh.
"This is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life."
When he’s not writing or performing, he has a few gigs which keep him busy including MCing for the Maine Red Claws, DJing for his current job at Hot 104.7, which has really allowed him a variety of opportunities including working with his “on-air” voice, getting his name out there with airplay, making great connections in the industry, amongst other things. He speaks modestly about how the job seemed to just “fall in his lap” and how grateful he is for the opportunity to be immersed in the music industry, even though making music and performing is his “ultimate goal” for a “career. “This is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.”
He made it clear that music is his passion, that he feels “at home up on the stage,” and that he is “here for the long haul” and can feel good things are about to happen, including wrapping up his new EP, tentatively and unofficially titled, featuring the song West End Feels (an ode to the neighborhood in Portland) which he describes as the kind of music you can put on while floating down the Saco River, cracking open some beverages and hangin with your friends. The plan is to release it to the world in early summer, coinciding with a mid-summer headlining show in his home state, and another college tour, hopefully. Stay tuned!