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​Photo illustration by Kaushik Kalidindi for Okayplayer.
Photo illustration by Kaushik Kalidindi for Okayplayer.

Bart Oatmeal is Baron Davis 2.0

The former NBA All-Star turned rapper is embracing his new digital phase.

Who the heck is Bart Oatmeal? You may have seen the name popping up randomly on underground tracklists and heard his verses alongside the new crop of bubbling West Coast emcees: Jay Worthy, T.F., ICECOLDBISHOP, etc. But if you’d had the urge to dig further into this elusive artist’s catalog, you probably wouldn’t have found much.

Well, lucky for you, we’re here to solve that mystery. Bart Oatmeal is actually the alter-ego of three-time NBA All-Star, Baron Davis. He’s since retired and is embracing his next phase with the same passion, creativity, and dedication he applied to his pro basketball days. The Oatmeal character first started as a Metaverse/NFT play, but has since evolved into so much more; a standalone music-making entity and a catchall platform for Davis’s innovative business and entertainment ventures. The latest Oatmeal EP titled, Steel Cut, dropped last month, and along with some choice West Coast guest spots (Mistah F.A.B., Bad Lucc), it also showed a definite growth in his rhyming ability.

We caught up with Davis to discuss the return of lyric-driven rap, the current state of underground hip-hop, his Teflon work ethic, and lots more.

Baron Davis, aka Bart Oatmeal holds a mic and wears a dodgers jersey in a black and white photo. Baron Davis, aka Bart Oatmeal. Photo credit Sydney D.

The interview below has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

Okayplayer: What was the recording process like for the new Steel Cut EP?

Bart Oatmeal: I do most of my recording at my creative complex SLIC Studios in Los Angeles. The recording process is always a vibe with different creators, artists, and producers. Each session was different and had its own mood to it. One day working with my Badlucc, and Mistah Fab, then another day with Local Astronauts and ICECOLDBISHOP. We all have our own musical energy.

Bart Oatmeal started off as a NFT project — can you tell us what it represents now? Is it a Baron Davis alter-ego or a metaverse character?

It is a little bit of both. Although I do make music under the moniker, the “Bart Oatmeal” brand symbolizes the idea of Black culture being influential in tech, business, and creative space. We have a Bart Oatmeal NFT, digital coin, digital merch, network activations, etc. and a lot more is coming. When you think about Bart Oatmeal, you think about the future of Afro tech.

Who are your major inspirations in the rap game right now and what excites you the most about the current state of the culture?

I get inspired by the creators I work with often. As far as artists, I rock with Roc Marci, T.F., Jay Worthy, Planet Asia, J Stone (I got a record on his new album called “Showtime”). For producers, Mike and Keys, Local Astronauts, that's my guys (Badru and Poly Rob), No I.D., Alchemist. My boy Dough Networkz — shout out to Dough, he’s an A&R and he linked me with a lot of these creators and got a lot of records done.

I am just excited about real hip-hop being promoted again. The underground scene is getting more light. Cats like Griselda are helping to bring the true sound back. We’re really rapping again.

Bart Oatmeal in the metaverse. Image credit Sydney D.

What are your favorite cuts on the new Steel Cut EP?

Usually, I have a different favorite on different days. Right now it has to be “Clint Capela” with my guy DaBixGod and Jay Nice. I love rapping my verse to “Politicn” with ICECOLDBISHOP. Also the record with Jay Worthy, man I like them all. Play them all!

What are the similarities between the rap game and the professional basketball league you excelled in for so many years?

The constant work. Working on your craft I should say. Learning new ways to create. And the competition. You gotta be ready to spit the best verse, make the best song, and all that. I feel like I can compete with anybody.

Lastly, what surprises and treats can we expect from Bart Oatmeal in 2024?

We got Oatmeal Radio Cafe, an internet radio station and cafe together. Where music meets coffee. More Bart Oatmeal music and collaboration albums on the way. I can’t talk about it all right now but just know we’ve got huge plans for next year!!! Get a bowl.

To keep up with everything in the Bart Oatmeal universe, follow @bartoatmeal