There was a point in time where Beejus, host of the DIY podcast Awkward Convos with Beejus, didn't think he could carry a conversation. A bit of a surprising reveal, considering his easy-going personality and storytelling abilities as a rapper. But in an act of self-improvement, Beejus decided to put those growing pains on tape and started a podcast. It was a challenge that he didn't know would turn into anything, really — like most handmade projects, Beejus just wanted to try something different.

Fours years and over 200 episodes later, Beejus' pod has rendered him just as much popularity as his music (his latest album, Beautiful was released earlier this summer). Listeners are flies-on-the-wall to some of the most humorous, yet thought-provoking, heart-to-hearts with local creatives in and out of music, like Caleborate, Cal-A and even graduate of the 2017 class of Chronicle Rising Star Chefs and Top Chef competitor, Tu David Phu. His latest episode featuring the Portland transplant Tope is out today, the first of many Bay Bridged-supported convos to come.

We spoke with Beejus (and it wasn't awkward at all!) on his early podcast beginnings, the longevity of his project and some of the greatest stories he's unearthed so far.

The Bay Bridged: Beejus, you’ve been doing this podcast, Awkward Conversations with Beejus, for a while now — you’re at 219 episodes. What do you remember about recording that very first one?

Beejus: I was extremely nervous. I didn’t know where it was going to go. The reason I even wanted to do a podcast was because I was listening to the Joe Rogan podcast and other podcasts where it felt like it was just a hangout. They were just with their friends, getting drunk, having fun. I never really prided myself on someone that could curate and keep a conversation going. I’d be comfortable around my friends and could open up with them, but at the time I didn’t think I could do that especially with a mic in my hand and being forced to keep it going. It was just one of those things where I wanted to recreate that [hangout] experience. If nobody ever listens to it at least I’ll have fun with my friends. I just wanted to capture those moments.

TBB: Within the podcast world, it’s said that once you hit 50 episodes then you know your idea has legs. When did you know you had a good thing going with your pod?

B: Pretty much straight from the gate. I was in a unique position because the timing of me putting a podcast out was just great because my music was also growing legs, I started getting a following behind my music and collecting a network of friends [and] colleagues that helped out. The first episode I released was a two-in-one; The first episode all my guests, who were my friends, were Black. The second was still my friends, but two guys were white so we just talked about different subject matters and that was the introduction of me doing a podcast. The third episode was with a childhood friend of mine named Daghe. His name is big out here and me and him go way back.

Putting those three episodes out, the people that were involved and me just having a fan base already, it was a perfect timing for everything. Like I said, I was extremely nervous and I knew that people loved me rapping, but can they sit and hear me talk for two hours? And the feedback was amazing. And that’s what motivated me to keep it going.

TBB: Do you have a strategy or schedule you abide by when it comes to who you want to feature on the next episode?

B: It’s really random and that’s where my brand, The Free Spirit, comes from. I’ve been fortunate enough to ride a wave that the universe has put me on, so through my podcast, conversation is key. It doesn’t really matter what someone does as long as they can have an interesting conversation with me for over an hour. There will be times I’ll meet someone at a party and we strike up a conversation — those have turned into podcasts. There will be times I’ll be on Instagram and notice a local artist is dropping a new album — that could be a podcast. So it really just depends. I don’t research people beforehand either. I want a genuine conversation and you should be able to get that info while we’re sitting there talking. My strategy usually at the beginning is to intro them with who they are and what they do and then we just take it from there. It’s also the easiest way to get people comfortable, to get them to talk about themselves.

TBB: Are there any episodes that mean a lot to you, whether it was the conversation had or it made you learn something important about podcasting?

B: There are three episodes in particular. I’ll always credit Daghe because he did a lot in that third episode. When people get to talk about themselves freely and not constrained to certain questions or points, they’ll do a lot to promote it because they can promote themselves. It’s a mutual favor; That was the one that got the podcast a little bit of legs through his huge following.

Episode 100 is the one with Anthony Dragons and Moe Green — they’re my unofficial co-hosts. Whenever I do a special episode, I bring them on because the chemistry between us three is fuckin’ hilarious. But Episode 100 really sparked a friendship between me and Moe that made us brothers for life.

My third favorite is my recap of a solo trip I did to Thailand. That was a huge moment in my life because a big scary dream I had was to go to a foreign country, where I didn’t speak the language, completely by myself and just make it happen. That trip and that moment in my life, I hold that two weeks in my life very dear. And so I came back and recorded a five-hour podcast by myself, recapping everything I did in those two weeks.

TBB: Your subjects are so far and wide. You talk with so many different types of folks in and out of music — rappers, producers, but even A&R folks, photographers. What do you think your pod reveals about the creative community out here?

B: To tell you the truth, I don’t think my podcast [does] anything new that others haven't done before, interviewing the same type of people. What I can say is that I think it sheds a light on this generation of artists in the Bay Area. I’m proud that not only am a part of this generation that is blowing up and getting all this shine, but my podcast is chronologizing it all, gathering all these stories and connecting these timelines together, all these connections of how people meet each other and what has sprung from that. I feel like I’m writing the history books of a time and place right now.

TBB: What do you think podcast Beejus would want to know about rapper Beejus?

B: Damn, that's a good question! I think I’d want to ask myself the first question I ask most artists: Give me the story from the beginning up until right now. I love to tell that shit, I love to talk about myself and say what inspires me. If I love it, then I know other artists love to tell that shit. We could make this shit five hours, tell your story as much as you want. But the other thing I’d want to know is to go back to all of my albums, every song and go down the list and be like, ‘Song #1: Where was your mind at, what was the motivation, what comes to mind?”. I’d just go through the stories because there’s meaning behind each one. All those little lines I put out and waiting for someone to ask me about it and no one ever did, I’d definitely ask those questions!

TBB: Moving forward, Awkward Convos with Beejus will be hosted on The Bay Bridged. What do you hope this does for the pod?

B: I’ve been doing this by myself for so long, I think it’d help out a lot to get some support so I can work on both music and the podcast easier.

Stay tuned every Wednesday for the next Awkward Convos with Beejus episode.

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