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Inside Hannibal Buress’ Pivot from Comedy to Music

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Hannibal Buress has carved a name for himself in comedy over the past two decades. But now he’s foregoing that part of his career for a fresh identity — Eshu Tune, his rap alter-ego. The name pays homage to a “trickster god” in Nigerian mythology.

 

A rap career has been in the back of Hannibal’s mind but the career pivot wasn’t seriously put into motion until 2020. Earlier that year, he put out a comedy special, “Miami Nights.” While promoting it at home during lockdowns, Hannibal felt a spark missing. That, plus the added alone time from not performing at comedy clubs, finally pushed Hannibal into the studio. 

 

Since then, Hannibal has largely dedicated himself to rap and rap only. His eight-track, self-titled EP dropped earlier this year. Live rap show performances followed that. An agency deal was inked with UTA this summer. And soon, Hannibal will hit the studio to prepare for his debut album, which he plans to drop on his 40th birthday next April.

Hannibal took me through his comedy-to-rap journey over the past two years on the show.

 

All-in on comedy

Hannibal certainly has the name value and reputation to keep cashing checks for comedy — but that’s not in his near-term plans. He plans on fully dedicating himself to his new career.

 

“The grind of what it takes to stay sharp as a standup, I don’t feel like doing that anymore. I just find music to be more enjoyable.”

 

He enjoys the different directions his music can take. It’s no longer just about evoking one emotion, laughter. The only occasion Hannibal can see himself doing comedy in the immediate future is to help fund a last-minute music expense. That’s it.  

 

“Every day I’m lit up, just excited. There’s so much to do and so many different ideas. I’m fully locked in [to music].”

 

Creating a new fanbase

There is a precedent for comedians turned musicians. Successful crossover examples include Jamie Foxx and Childish Gambino, among others. Hannibal thinks the timing of his career change, which came much later than those two entertainers,) makes his situation different.  

 

To successfully crossover, Hannibal can’t just count on converting his existing fanbase from comedy to hip-hop. He’ll have to build a new audience, which will take time.

 

“It will be [a different audience]. Right now it’s a lot of overlap.”

 

Hannibal is already putting in the work to build that fanbase. Starting in October, he’ll have a six-week residency at the Grand Star Jazz Club in Los Angeles. Eshu Tune is on the lineup every Monday, which is an opportunity to do research on his music fans. 

 

Can a record label advantages moot:

The advantage of signing to a record label for new artists is the platform, distribution, and money it provides. But Hannibal isn’t your typical artist. Thanks to a wide-spanning and lucrative career, Hannibal already has visibility and cash that most new artists rarely have.

 

Hel isn’t chasing a deal. Eshu Tune will listen if an opportunity arises, but his near-term goal is to operate fully independent through 2023. After a year of running full speed, with internal infrastructure, staff, merchandise, he’ll re-evaluate the situation. 

 

“Since I am independent, I do what feels right. That feels nice just to have no pressure. It’s like ‘do I truly want to do this?’”

 

Here’s what we covered in our interview:

[2:54] Introducing Eshu Tune the rapper

[4:17] What led Hannibal to the career pivot

[6:53] Goals of debut EP 

[10:11] Benefits of being independent artist

[14:34] Following Too $hort at a Bay Area show

[19:52] Getting a performing residency in LA

[21:29] Challenging himself with music

[26:52] Difference between Hannibal’s comedy and rap fanbase

[29:08] Will Hannibal still do comedy?

[31:36] Has the changing climate of comedy impacted Hannibal?

[34:01] Previous comedians that went into music

[37:50] Response from rap community to Hannibal’s career pivot

[38:52] Eshu Tune’s next album drop

Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSS

 

Host: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.co

 

Guests: Hannibal Buress, @hannibalburess

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Transcription

[00:00:00] Hannibal Buress: I got some stuff, I got ’em locked and loaded, just, you know, got to go get ’em out. That’s one thing too, is since I am independent, I don’t feel, I just kind of do it when it feels right, when it genuinely feels right to do. It’s no pressure. It’s just like, okay, do I truly want to do this? Ain’t no exec, hey, you got to do, there’s nobody doing that, so I have to make that decision, which is a gift. I wouldn’t say it’s a curse, but it forces that accountability.

[00:00:35] Dan Runcie: Hey, welcome to The Trapital podcast. I’m your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from executives in music, media, entertainment, and more, who are taking hip-hop culture to the next level. 

[00:00:] Dan Runcie: Today’s guest is Hannibal Buress. You likely know his name from his comedy and his acting, but this episode is all about his music. Hannibal Buress has released an eight-track EP under the name Eshu Tune, and that is his artist that is creating hip-hop music. And we talked all about why he chose to start this new chapter in his career, why music was important to him, and how he sees things moving forward. Hannibal had had a career of dabbling in music every now and then. He actually had beaten Open Mike Eagle in a rap battle a couple of years back. And it’s something that he had tapped into, but it really wasn’t until the pandemic, and a lot of us had the time to really think and tap into what was most important to us. And he was able to take this on not only as a new challenge for his career, but as a new opportunity to do something that he always wanted to do, but knowing that he could both continue to leverage the platform that he has as a comedian and as an actor, both from a financial perspective, but also from an exposure perspective. We also talked about his upcoming residency, how he’s been positioning himself to get booked on shows and other things, and how important this is for him right now. So it was great to tap in. This was also the first episode recorded in Trapital’s new home. I have a new office and studio here, and it’s been great to get everything set up, and it’s been great to record these in person, too, because, listen, it’s great to do things remotely. A lot of them have been that way, but it’s just a different chemistry that you get when you can do them in person. So it was great that Hannibal and I could connect while he was in town. Here’s our conversation. Hope you enjoy it. All right. Today we got the one and only Hannibal Buress.

[00:02:41] Hannibal Buress: What’s up, man? 

[00:02:41] Dan Runcie: Mr. Eshu Tune now, though. 

[00:02:43] Hannibal Buress: Eshu Tune, yeah, yeah. 

[00:02:44] Dan Runcie: Last we talked, it was all about comedy. We’re getting ready for a special that you had Miami Nights, but now we’re about to talk about your music career, man. 

[00:02:52] Hannibal Buress: Yeah, for sure, man. 

[00:02:53] Dan Runcie: So who is Eshu Tune? 

[00:02:54] Hannibal Buress: Eshu Tune is my musical alter ego. Eshu is from Yoruban mythology, Nigerian mythology, the trickster God. I was looking for a stage name there, so I just looked up African mythology and I just connected with that description. It kind of felt like me and some of the things I’ve done and, yeah, it just felt right. It really was a big help to kind of separate the worlds a little bit just ’cause now I look at, you know, Eshu as, okay, we can build them together ’cause now, I can if I want to do a little bit of comedy on this shows, it’s like, Hey, yeah, they’ll both be there.

[00:03:34] Dan Runcie: Right, right, right. 

[00:03:35] Hannibal Buress: I changed shirts. You know, I can think of you like, you know, Hannibal’s t-shirts. Eshu’s in a red shirt or something, you know? So it’s been fun. And so I’m excited for the growth, and performing has been really exciting, and a lot of dope stuff coming up.

[00:03:53] Dan Runcie: So talk to me through the journey a bit because I know this is something that you spent a lot of time on in the pandemic. And last time we talked about it, you were getting ready to release Miami Nights, and this was around the same time that you had started working on music. So what was your mindset at that time? You got this big comedy special coming out, but you also are thinking about this new career opportunity.

[00:04:17] Hannibal Buress: My mindset? 2020, putting out the special during that time was hella weird just because it wasn’t the usual motions and movements that you have with putting out a special, doing events, doing press in person. You know, I did The Daily Show, but it was on Skype. And it just felt weird doing television from my place ’cause you still get wired kind of, but then you’re just wired at the crib. It’s like, man, oh, I’m not getting in the car to go somewhere else, you just there like, oh.

[00:04:54] Dan Runcie: Right, right. 

[00:04:55] Hannibal Buress: I remember doing, I did First Take with Stephen A. Smith. Something for Last Dance, just talking about Last Dance. And I remember just, I kept messing with them changing jackets. 

[00:05:08] Dan Runcie: Oh, I remember that.

[00:05:13] Hannibal Buress: Molly was giving me sass. Oh, thanks for being so professional. I’m trying to, like, you want me to make a great statement about Last Dance? Look, oh, yeah, Last Dance. What’s up with that? I’m trying to have some fun, make some real memories here. Nobody will care about my take on… 

[00:05:30] Dan Runcie: It’s a documentary, right? It’s not like it’s an event that happened last night. 

[00:05:35] Hannibal Buress: Yeah. If I make a great point about the ’96 Bulls, ’98 Bulls in 10 years, but people don’t care if I’m was chaotic as hell. I need to put that clip back up actually. That was really fun. I was sweating and shit. Yeah, it was a good time. But, yeah, putting out the special then, it was weird, man. And I wanted the music, I started really diving in in November of ’20 when I was out in Hawaii. I kind of, it was nice to be able to lock in, focus. I’ve always wanted to do it and would finally find the time. And the time was always there, honestly, but I wasn’t as good as maneuvering time as I am now. ‘Cause looking back, I could have been on the road after gigs, instead of going to the club, could have been booking studio time, that type of thing, or, you know, I’m glad it happened when it happened. 

[00:06:31] Dan Runcie: Yeah, that makes sense. I think, too, I’ve looked a lot about how you chose to roll this out, right? It’s not like you just did one single, let me drop in and see what happens. You had an eight-track LP, oh, EP that you put out specifically for it. What was your goal in terms of the release? Was there a certain response that you wanted to have or a certain emphasis you wanted to have with how you chose to put it out as an EP?

[00:06:53] Hannibal Buress: Yeah. And initially, I was going to do singles, the single strategy, but then I had a bunch of songs and I said, let me just get these out and see how I want to do it. Like, if I want to do videos for stuff, which I am still going to do the visuals on things and get ’em out. But it was just after a while. It was just, let me just do it. And I didn’t follow the proper practices of, you know, get it to the DSPs with this much time, to the best time, like, all the stuff that I know you’re supposed to do to give your release the best chance. But I just feel like it’ll get its due when it’s due, you know what I mean, whether it is when I put out videos later this month or next month or down the line. It’s my first project. So whether it’s crazy now or crazy in five years, it’s always my first project. So it’ll be there and it just felt good to get it out and have it out ‘ cause then the music got better afterwards, the stuff I started recording. And I still like the song, like 1-3 Pocket. I like 1-3 Pocket. And that was 1-3 Pocket, that’s the motherfucker hit. Like when we made it, yeah, this bowling song’s going to go crazy. Hell yeah, we made a bowling banger, but now I got other songs. I’m like, okay, I was wrong. Well, maybe I wasn’t wrong, but it’s just, the music is getting better. And so it’s nice to feel that and feel that improvement and the progression. And so that’ll keep on happening indefinitely. You know, if you keep on working on it, keep on releasing, keep performing, it’s going to get better. So it’s nice to have that feeling and, and hear that in the music and like even hearing how the music sounds. If I record the day after a show, that music sounds good ’cause you can kind of hear the clarity, you know, you already got the energy. So it’s been exciting, man.

[00:08:50] Dan Runcie: Yeah. I get the feeling that 1-3 Pocket was a song you thought was going to be the one and that’s a one, but I feel like Veneers is the one that I feel is your anthem. 

[00:08:57] Hannibal Buress: Veneers worked before I even put it out, and I performed it ’cause the hook is slower and the beat is chill. It feels, yeah, Veneers is the one I think people like more than the song that has really inside bowling terminology in it. Surprise the song about teeth is more accessible than the song about the bowling pins. Like, even people that love bowling have said to me, what is the 1-3 Pocket? 

[00:09:33] Dan Runcie: ‘Cause some people would think you’re talking about like billiards or like, you know, like shooting pool or something like that.

[00:09:37] Hannibal Buress: Nah, it’s just a, yeah, it’s the headpin and the pin to the right. I got to put out a video for 1-3 Pocket. I got the lyric video out. I got to get the official video out, a couple of them. I might, you know, we’ll see if I get on stubborn mode and start putting out three, four videos for a song. That’s when I really, I’ll start really lighting up, just going crazy with the visuals. Yeah. I was waiting to see the music videos. I’m glad you mentioned that you got the lyric video up. 

[00:10:02] Dan Runcie: Yeah. And of course, you know, like that’s a great way to get the views and engagement up, but yeah, seeing the Eshu Tune visual character, I feel like that is, you know, the next piece of this.

[00:10:11] Hannibal Buress: Yeah, I’ve been holding off a bit on the music videos ’cause I know when I got to know, when I do officials, that’s when things are really shifting in a way. And so I don’t want to rush it, but, you know, they come in over the next month or so, is when the visuals start. I got some recorded already. I got some for Back In The City. I recorded in Thailand actually. When I was in Thailand and I looked on Eventbrite and it was a restaurant packaging conference at the convention center. I was like, let’s just go here. And I went and it was all this interesting, just different machinery and robotics. Me and my lady just walked through, something just to, you know, just a different environment. I said, man, well, I’m over here. What else am I going to do in Thailand and it’s a convention? I have to shoot a music video. So I came back two days later, shot the video there. And so I got that. We got one for Closed Mouths. We got a Pocket video, got a version of the Veneers video, but I want to do a story version. So, yeah, I got some stuff, I got ’em locked and loaded, just, you know, got to go get ’em out. That’s one thing too, is since I am independent, I don’t feel, I just kind of do it when it feels right, when it genuinely feels right to do. It’s no pressure. It’s just like, okay, do I truly want to do this? Ain’t no exec, hey, you got to do, there’s nobody doing that, so I have to make that decision, which is a gift. I wouldn’t say it’s a curse, but it forces that accountability.

[00:11:44] Dan Runcie: Yeah, with that, too, I feel like, with you, you’re an independent artist who also has the luxury of this platform of your comedy that has given you not just the resources, but the platform to be able to get booked on shows or to be able to get at festivals or other things like that. How do you look overall in terms of how you view your career as an independent artist and wanting to see that through? Do you see a major label in the future? Do you see building what you have clearly with the resources that you have from your comedy and acting to be able to push off for that? 

[00:12:19] Hannibal Buress: I think the major label thing isn’t something I’m chasing. I would hear them out, you know what I mean? I would take a meeting or a call just to hear the right pitch and see. But before I even would do that, I would have to give myself at least a year or so of operating full speed. 

[00:12:42] Dan Runcie: Right.

[00:12:42] Hannibal Buress: ‘Cause now I’m in the coast, I’m doing a good amount of shows and having fun, done a couple of festivals this year with, you know, no visuals out. So I would have to give myself all of 23 of like going, you know, with a full staff, you know what I mean? My whole infrastructure, putting out everything, like really, really going crazy merch, all the whole thing, and then see how I like that. And then see what we could do from there. But for now I kind of got an idea of how I want to do it. And a lot of the things that a label can provide, I’ve been to some of these spots before while I promoting standup or touring or different things, I’ve been around. I’m sure there’s other things or different cracks and crevices they can operate in, but there’s a lot of things that, you know, I’m able to pull off ’cause I’m independent, but it’s not a true, like in the same kind of thing. ’cause I’ve got the visibility. So it’s a good help. The music still has to be good, too, and I’m cognizant of that, where I want to be, you know, I don’t want to just be in the spots to be in them. 

[00:13:52] Dan Runcie: Right. 

[00:13:52] Hannibal Buress: I want to be in the spots and really doing my thing and having a dope show and, you know, justifying the spot.

[00:13:59] Dan Runcie: Yeah. 

[00:14:00] Hannibal Buress: Yeah. 

[00:14:00] Dan Runcie: Because I think the thing that works out for you with it well is so many folks signed with the record label because they want to be able to get the distribution that can at least get them some global recognition in reach. But then that also gives them to being able to do shows, right? And you are able to get a lot of these shows on your own, just given the connections and the influence that you have. What has that process been like specifically with you getting out? ‘Cause I know that you were up in San Francisco a couple of months ago. You did, you know, we had the 420 thing up here. What has that process been? 

[00:14:34] Hannibal Buress: That’s through friends, you know, old friends that I’ve worked with before or talk with and people that, yeah, my homie Normani helped put that together, the 420. So it’s just people that believe in what I’m doing, that I have a history with, that, you know, see some opportunities. So Too $hort went on, I forget who the DJ from the Bay was, but Too $hort went on and I was like, oh man, I’m going on after Too $hort in the Bay? With friends? 

[00:15:07] Dan Runcie: Blow the whistle finishes and now… 

[00:15:10] Hannibal Buress: It was crazy and I got brand new music. Brand new. That was two days after the project dropped. But it was a fun time. I enjoy it so much, man. Even that show didn’t go how I thought it was going to go, but it still was fun, you know? 

[00:15:34] Dan Runcie: Wait, how did you think that show was going to go?

[00:15:36] Hannibal Buress: How did I think it was? I thought it was going to, in my mind, and it’s the blessing of being mostly optimistic on the performance side might just drop the project, it’s circulated, two days after, it’s the Bay. I’m going to hit the stage going Veneers. Yeah, get out there, and then, you know, they didn’t, they was listening, but it just wasn’t, you know, it’s just new rap sometimes it’s tough. And so also then I still, my music performance chops are a bit more developed now, too. It’s been some time, so I’m better at engaging the crowd, even if they don’t know the music ’cause I think, at first, bringing a lot of standup energy into it, meaning, you know, you get the, Hey, yeah, say, yeah, but, you know, you got to, and so getting used to just monologue and even just the body language, too, microphone holding, body language, like, you know, that whole thing. Still a bit rusty now. And there’s a lot of room to grow. I like coming back to spots, too, after you did, so it will be some folks, they had a good time there, too. It was dope. Had another show that night too. I did LA later that night with the full band. So it was just a dope experience to have two shows in the Bay, LA, same night, 420. I’ll never forget that at all. 

[00:17:04] Dan Runcie: Yeah. It’s an interesting crowd too, because their crowd is high as hell, and it is a midweek thing, too. So it’s not the same way of, let’s say a music festival where it’s like, oh, three o’clock at the East stage, Eshu Tune is going to be there, right, so that’s definitely a little bit of a different vibe than I feel like what that event is. 

[00:17:21] Hannibal Buress: Yeah, it was. But the one good thing, another good thing about is that I rehearsed right before. Like I landed, went to a rehearsal space, and then I ran through it. So when I got on stage, I felt good ’cause I was freshly rehearsed. So even though I wasn’t rocking out, I kind of was in the zone, in a good space. But when I had a show in Philly for Adult Swim Fest, that one we were tapped in, had the band. I love having the band up there just because I feel like, you know, when you got the band, that’s just a lot of energy on stage and you got to, I feel like, giving them a reason to be like, okay, why are we playing for this motherfucker? So then you got to bring the energy up even more to justify the band, you know, so that’s always fun.

[00:18:13] Dan Runcie: Yeah. So how often are you doing shows right now? 

[00:18:15] Hannibal Buress: My last show was I popped out at this open mic in LA a couple of days ago, then before that was, what? 

[00:18:24] Dan Runcie: An open mic for music, to clarify.

[00:18:26] Hannibal Buress: Open mic for music. Yeah, open mic for music, did a few songs. And doing Wild ‘N Out next week in Atlanta and probably do a popup or something in Atlanta, maybe. And then I’m starting up a residency in LA, six weeks at Grand Star Jazz Bar. That’s going to start on September 26th, every Monday until October 31st ’cause I wanted to get that structure in. And then, you know, I used to host at Knitting Factory in Brooklyn and that kind of, like, having that consistency of doing a regular spot. I hadn’t done that in a minute. And so when I did the last show at Knitting Factory, that location closed down, I did and so it reminded me of that energy and just of that, you know, having that regular spot where people know they can see me ’cause you can’t always link up with friends or grab lunch and all of that. So you can kinda have the residency, people know where to find you. So I want to do that. I’m excited about doing that ’cause I think that’ll help the writing ’cause it’ll be like, okay, I got this show. I definitely have this show on Monday. Maybe I’ll try this new song there. And then the rest of the week can kind of flow off of that. So I’m super excited about these six shows. I put ’em all on sale at once and it’s nice to see they’re flowing, you know? And so it is going to be, it’s going to be a good time and then we’ll see how we want to operate from there. But definitely doing those six in a row, man. 

[00:19:47] Dan Runcie: What was it like to get that process going for the residency specifically?

[00:19:52] Hannibal Buress: It was, you know, I went to the spot at Grand Star. I saw something there I’ve been there twice. It is really close to my spot. And then I just reached out to the owner online, walked over there, talked to him, told him what I was trying to do, told him I wanted Mondays. He was like, all right, you take the door, I’ll take the bar. I ain’t dealing with your ticketing, like this it. And then I was like, all right, let’s get it. It was pretty straightforward and simple, you know. ‘ Cause I realized I wasn’t, something about LA, it was making me stagnant on a live performance side and I was doing more gigs out of town. And I’ve done some stuff, but I wasn’t really consistent locally. And so I just realized I had to create that. I couldn’t be, you know, annoyed with the nightlife or performing if I wasn’t really trying to do something about it. 

[00:20:45] Dan Runcie: Right, right. 

[00:20:46] Hannibal Buress: When I have that ability, it’s not that tough to like, Hey, this is the place I do a show, you know? So I’m really hyped ’cause they’ll be, you know, have a comedian or two and two or three music acts and get the book stuff that I’m a fan of and tape ’em. And the excitement of doing a show, like putting on a regular show after doing it for a while and doing it now with knowledge and knowing how to build the vibe and promote and all those things. It’s going to be a blast. 

[00:21:14] Dan Runcie: Yeah. With that type of show specifically, you are also staying in the same spot. And I know that probably helps from a lifestyle perspective too. You have a young daughter, you know, you’re not trying to, you know, be on the road, maybe, to the same extent.

[00:21:29] Hannibal Buress: Yeah, just the consistency of this is what, you know, for everybody, for the team, for the camera people, by the third show’s, like, okay, this is my spots right here. Everybody being, you know, the timing of it, and it’s just, I got to create that consistency for myself and that external pressure to do ’cause they’re not all like everything else. ‘Cause then once like, okay, Monday, this is what Mondays are no matter what. So then it’s like, okay, well, it’s Tuesday now since we only got six others. So like, okay, one of those has to be a studio day or this type of day or that. Or, you know, it forces the structure for the rest of it. So it’s something I haven’t had in a while like that consistency. So, you know, when I did have it in New York, it kind of led to the most productive times in my career and, yeah, the most profitable. 

[00:22:24] Dan Runcie: Yeah. That makes sense. Yeah, I feel like I’m seeing, hearing more artists talk about that, especially, we’re seeing what’s happening in Vegas. So many more artists, especially while they’re still in their prime, taking the residencies there, too. And you’re starting to see them more in different cities. And I like how you did where you’re like, yeah, you essentially created your own opportunity where you’re at. So and I feel like we’re going to start to see more of that as I’m just seeing trends of how artists are thinking about doing things and where it makes sense to monetize in and where it doesn’t.

[00:22:50] Hannibal Buress: Yeah. Just, you know, it’s like, Hey, I booked myself for six, you know, I’m here. But even, you know, with that, it’s a bunch of different things. And look, you could change up the core each week, you know what I mean? Change up the merch or change up the drinks or change, you know, all these different elements to keep it fresh since you learn in the space and learning the crowd. And you get to know the fans ’cause I’m sure, you know, folks go return, you know? So and having that data, too, of seeing that, you know, yeah, who you see exactly who I’m seeing, who’s buying the tickets and blah, blah, blah, and so can reach out direct. Thank you for your time, who are you listening to, you know? now it’s like a kind of, It’s going to be a new phase, man. And that’s one thing, too, with the music is that younger hunger, ’cause it’s a newer thing. It still has that feeling of I don’t know what’s going to happen. Right. You know, I could try to make things or put things, but the other parts of it, when you do that, make other things happen when you just, you know, action cause reaction. Even going to that open mic that I did the other night and ask this other person, Hey, come to this show, you know, shows beget shows. And so it’s nice to have that momentum and that feel because the comedy side, I don’t want to say it’s predictable, but the goals kind of are, you could change up your special and, and different things, but the goals like, oh, blah, blah, blah, special, blah, blah, blah, move and you do this, too, but it feels super blank canvas a little bit.

[00:24:24] Dan Runcie: Yeah. And I get the impression from you that there’s part of that that is enjoyable. It’s that challenge. It’s like what keeps it fresh in a way, because, at least for comedy, you mentioned the predictability of it. Like, you knew what would work, you’re getting the calls. Like, you know, you’re still getting them up to this point. So this is an opportunity to be like, no, this is something I’ve always wanted to do. Let me tap in here and explore the unknown because, at least from the comedy side, even though that could be unknown to someone else, but you’ve been in this for decades now, you know? 

[00:24:50] Hannibal Buress: Yeah. At the open mic, it was a bunch of other artists, that was having the same conversations. Like, I didn’t know you rapped, I didn’t know you rapped, I didn’t know you rapped. Like, yeah, I guess that’s why I’m here. So now you know I rapped. And so to have, you know, it’s still building that, you know, through word of mouth, through performing and, you know, a solid amount of time, but it’s happening piece by piece where I’m, you know, seeing folks in public. Oh, I see you doing the music, yeah, keep doing, you know. Yeah, it feels good, man. It feels exciting. And it is just going to get better and keep learning and, you know, I got my drum set, you know, practice more, got keys, got to, you know, I want to in five years be full on musician be able to move around the whole kit, the whole, you know, all the instruments and, and really do a show show, you know?

[00:25:44] Dan Runcie: Yeah. By show show. What do you mean? 

[00:25:47] Hannibal Buress: Like, being able to, you know, like even have a band, like this one, I’m on keys, for this one…

[00:25:52] Dan Runcie: Yeah, yeah. 

[00:25:52] Hannibal Buress: But not fucking around on keys. Like, actually killing that shit. This one I’m hopping on the kit and like, not bullshit. I don’t want to, you know, half-ass it like, oh yeah, he’s up there. He’s having fun. Then get the picture. No, I wanted to, you know, actually, be technically proficient at it. And I’m willing to work to get to that spot too. You know, but you got to lock in for that. So that’s the real, real goal is to be able to even, in seven years, pop in on somebody’s set only for drums and, like, nail it, you know what I mean? Like, okay, like he playing on somebody else’s music, you know, and it like, yeah, that’s the goal. Even if I’m 47, 50 when I’m able to do it, that’s what I want to do. 

[00:26:37] Dan Runcie: Yeah. And I feel like with you, too, you talked a little bit about the fan base piece of it, and you be able to see who’s coming to the shows and seeing who the fans are. Do you feel like the fan base is slightly different in any way from your comedy fan base? 

[00:26:52] Hannibal Buress: It will be. It will be. Right now, there’s a lot of overlap ’cause people that might be thinking, they’re getting the comedy show and show up for the music and then they like, oh, okay, that was better than that. I didn’t know that was happening. But there’ll be some folks that weren’t into my comedy at all that was like, okay, I like this I’m seeing some folks, I did Sway In The Morning, the freestyle, some people are like, I like this better than his comedy. And now I’m thinking me too. I do too, yeah. And then there’ll be people that never knew I did comedy once, then when the music is discovered, if they find it through the algorithm or something, they’ll be some folks like, what? This guy got four comedy specials, you know, especially when things start tapping on an international scale. If When I started touring in Asia, going over, you know, folks that they just find the music through the promoter or whoever, and then they like, what? You do music? So I’m excited for that part of it too, man. It’s nice to, you know, and then I might rerelease Miami Nights, but just put music videos in between that shit.

[00:28:05] Dan Runcie: Yeah. 

[00:28:05] Hannibal Buress: Like, oh, y’all want Miami Nights? Well, here. And it’ll be like, and so, and then I said 2Chainz and like Veneers, Veeners, 1-3 Pocket, you know. There’s a lot of moves to, you know, that just because I have that this older stuff and this older material to be able to maneuver and, you know, run ads against and all these different things, man. So it’s just a lot of possibilities and ideas. It is fun, it’s a fun time. Every day, I’m lit up, like excited, just because, you know, there’s so much to do and so many different ideas. I’m and so it’s just, I’m fully locked in, yeah. 

[00:28:45] Dan Runcie: Yeah. Where do you feel like your comedy itself fits within your career? ‘Cause I know I’ve listened to past interviews you’ve done and you’ve said that, nope, I’m locked in on music right now. But I also know that you had said in other interviews that okay, maybe in three years, if I do another comedy special or make it all even stronger. So where does your comedy fit in for you right now? 

[00:29:08] Hannibal Buress: I could still do it. Because I did it last night at this private gig. And I did it when we did the last night at Knitting Factory, I planned on doing 10 minutes and I ended up going on a couple of tangents, did it in 20, 30. That was partially ’cause of the history of the room and that energy there and that’s where I built that soul. And I still can write, you know, I do banter in between. I just don’t think I foresee just me kind of grinding out in the clubs or, you know, trying to do for weekends for a while, unless it’s just purely to pay for some last-minute music expense. It would be just purely that, if I’m at an improv or doing it if I’m billed as a standup publicly, that’s where it’s at right now. Even I did for the gig last night, I brought a keys player, Preach Balfour, he plays for my show sometimes, but it was just, I didn’t feel like having the emptiness of just pure waiting for laughs. It’s not going to be with a keys players the whole time and I’m telling these stories, these jokes, but it’s not going to be dead in the room just because. It’s like, I’m not giving y’all that as an audience. I’m not giving you the ability to have this shit be silent at the very least after I say something, it’s going to be beautiful keys planted as motherfucker. So it’s just that exercise of just the grind of what it takes to stay sharp as a standup, I don’t feel like doing that anymore. I just find the music to be more enjoyable. And just, it has more, yeah, you just can go into a different direction, like everything don’t have to be funny or everything don’t have to be one level, you know what I mean? And so maybe down the line now, another one or, but as far as like working, working, I don’t see it happening, yeah. 

[00:31:15] Dan Runcie: Has any of the reaction to how comedians have either been perceived or how they’re being called upon to respond to particular things, especially in the past few years with how things happening on Twitter, has any of that impacted how you feel are your relationship to comedy or making it at all?

[00:31:36] Hannibal Buress: No, man. ’cause you just have to, you don’t have to do anything out here unless you’re on a show where you do that and you’re contractually obligated. But even that is still a choice, you know what I’m saying? Everything is a choice. We could live in the woods, man, with no electricity if we choose to. We choose to be out here and perform, play video games, move about, you know, born into this, but you don’t have to do none of the shit, all of it, all of it’s made up. 

[00:32:11] Dan Runcie: Right. 

[00:32:12] Hannibal Buress: Yeah. 

[00:32:13] Dan Runcie: Yeah, because I feel like as you mentioned, yeah, a lot of it being made up probably makes people almost forget that they do have a choice in a lot of this because I feel like what I’ve seen or what I’ve heard from other comics sometimes is that just because of how things are with the climate or how people feel like they need to respond to particular things that there are comics that feel different, especially how things have happened, post-pandemic. But I feel like your mentality is a bit more like, Hey, we really don’t have to like, just like whether it’s people being canceled or people having backlash for things they say like, comics don’t need to fit into fall into that.

[00:32:51] Hannibal Buress: You can just do what you want, you know? And that’s one thing. And it’s not to judge or say, oh, it’s wrong. I see why people would feel pressure. And I get that, too, but it’s, after a while you just really like, oh, it’s now that I know exactly what I enjoy, and I know the spots where I am truly having fun and losing track of time and enjoying life. And so I just try to spend as much time in those spots and spaces as I can and leave the other shit alone. It takes practice. It’s a great theory. It ain’t fully perfect, but it’s a solid system for me. 

[00:33:37] Dan Runcie: Yeah, yeah. Has there been a bit of a connection to other comedians that have went into music? Thinking about something like a Jamie Foxx or someone like that, that, you know, someone else like yourself, multi-talented and has, you know, had success in both areas. Is there kind of like a, okay, you know, you see that others have done this, or do you really feel like, no, this is even more unique thing? 

[00:34:01] Hannibal Buress: I respect, definitely respect what they’ve done. The timing is different for how I’m doing it. So that’s why it’s kind of, it’s tough to compare a little bit the approach because it is been a minute. But it makes it interesting for me just from having stuff to talk about, too, for doing it so long ’cause sometimes I’m like, maybe I should have started when I was 23, but I think it happened when it was supposed to happen, and it happened when I was ready for it to really happen. But yeah, I watched, you know, like Jamie is amazing, you know? What Gambino’s done, it’s really dope. I saw Lil Duval write his Living My Best Life, was popping. I saw him. 

[00:34:42] Dan Runcie: That was a good song. 

[00:34:43] Hannibal Buress: He did good with that one. He was at the Stress Factory in Jersey as the song was peaking, and he was definitely too big for that room, but it made the energy…

[00:34:54] Dan Runcie: Yeah.

[00:34:55] Hannibal Buress: He was, like, crazy. He hit the stage to it. Like it was dope to see, man, like I was genuinely excited, and you could feel that he was hyped about it too, man. So it is dope to see when people just go for it in that way, and then we just making this shit, you can really do anything. I have to remind myself of that, too. Just really do anything, man. Just, you know, just go for this shit. I got this song, No Whip. It is a freestyle. It’s a 7-minute freestyle about how I was living in Hawaii last year. I bought a car there,, and then I took a trip and then we ended up moving, but I didn’t go back to like send the car and I’ve been planning to, but it’s just kind of one of them things where I just, out of sight out of mind. And it ain’t really, you know, causing a strain on my life, right? But it is, it’s kind of, I bought this whip left in Hawaii, blah blah. And it’s like, it’s a loose freestyle. And I’m like, you know what, man, I’m going to shoot this part here, part in Hawaii, and just keep it at seven minutes ’cause you can just do that. The instinct is like, oh no, maybe I need to, I’m being repetitive, so maybe I should cut. I’m like, no, shoot that shit rough. Like, make it look as dope as possible. Like, shoot it rough freestyle dope and have fun and then just let it fly and just don’t put the constraints on yourself unnecessarily. It’s easy to try to overedit sometimes or get it. And so it’s just, getting better at trusting myself, which was the initial hurdle It was just, okay, let me do this. There was nobody like, you can’t make music, man. What are you, like? It was kind of me battling initially. And then once I dropped it and then, you know, now, okay. And then just rewiring my brain to, okay, I am doing this and keep doing it. It’s like, okay, well, we are doing this for real, you know, no matter, no matter what. That’s why I find it, like, absurd when people reach out and like, stop. That’s weird. Like, you realize I’m a very, I’m a very stubborn person. Like, I’m not doing it to show you up. Like, this is like, I’m already way more locked in than you could ever imagine. So, you know, why you would ever tell me to stop. It’s weird. But then I know that that person’s not locked in on whatever they want to do if the time to tell me to stop. Yeah, but it’s that I don’t even get mad is just more like what, what? That’s a weird thing to like, why stop? You realize even if my music was completely trash, I would still be able to figure it out from a marketer standpoint. I’d still be able to work some angle in this shit. But it’s, you know, it’s exciting, man. 

[00:37:44] Dan Runcie: Yeah. It’s an exciting time, man. What has the response been like from the hip-hop community?

[00:37:50] Hannibal Buress: It’s been dope, man. Went on Sway In The Morning, did my written freestyle. I bothered Questlove when The Roots were performing at Pitchfork. They let me rock up there. So I got to rap with Black Thought, you know. It’s been good, man. The Sway, the Sway interview helped, you know, I got a bunch of friends that I’ve worked with that I send stuff to sometimes. So the people that really know me, like know me know me, know that I’ve been working on things for a while and been building. So they’ve been super supportive and especially the ones that know what the grind has been and know how I’ve been working. So it is been dope, man. I’m just, I’m excited to just keep pushing, putting together shows and it’s a fun time with just lots of possibilities and shit. 

[00:38:40] Dan Runcie: Exciting time, man. Exciting stuff. So before we close things out, what should the audience stay in tune for? What does the next year look like for Eshu Tune and what should they keep locked in for?

[00:38:52] Hannibal Buress: The plan is to drop the full album on my 40th birthday, February 4th, ’23. So I got a couple of songs done for it, going to start the sessions for it next month in November and December, hopefully, shoot videos, December. January, drop a single on New Year’s Eve. And then 40th birthday album, I don’t know what the title is going to be yet. 40-year-old freshman, 4 HB, 4 Eshu, 40, 244. I don’t know, something like that, but I feel like 40th birthday is a good, drop date. Yeah, so that’s the plan. And so I’ll use the time leading up, you know, to start purging old stuff, you know what I mean? Use that to kind of, you know, drop loosies and different things and even drop some of the older comedy stuff I got, I’ve been hoarding. And so I want to also, in addition to having the Mondays residency, use the Mondays as a drop date, you know, for new content, old content to start just really, really getting stuff out and start just to free my brain up, ’cause there’s a lot of, even though I’m making stuff and dropping stuff, there’s a lot of other stuff that I think needs to just be let go, let the birds fly and then it’ll help the creativity more.

[00:40:12] Dan Runcie: I hear that. In terms of other stuff too. I think I remember seeing you, you had a song called Numbers. Is that a kid song? Is that one of those things you’re going to be putting out there? 

[00:40:21] Hannibal Buress: I don’t know if I’m going to lean too heavily into the kid songs yet, or maybe under an alias. I might start dropping, but yeah. I’ve been seeing some of, who’s it, Gracie’s? 

[00:40:29] Dan Runcie: Gracie’s Corner? 

[00:40:30] Hannibal Buress: Gracie’s Corner and then another one where they got the trap kind of kid stuff. Maybe Numbers was fun to do. I did that, yeah. Shout out to Shaliek on the beat for Numbers. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. One robot, two robots. The robots is an ongoing theme in my music also. 

[00:40:51] Dan Runcie: Hey, man, we’re excited for all of it, man. 

[00:40:53] Hannibal Buress: Yeah. 

[00:40:54] Dan Runcie: Tons of respect for you, man. 

[00:40:55] Hannibal Buress: Hey, thank you, man. Thanks and good talking with you, Dan, for sure. 

[00:40:57] Dan Runcie: Always been. 

[00:40:58] Hannibal Buress: Yep.

[00:41:00] Dan Runcie: If you enjoyed this podcast, go ahead and share it with a friend. Copy the link, text it to a friend, post it in your group chat, post it in your Slack groups, wherever you and your people talk, spread the word. That’s how Trapital continues to grow and continues to reach the right people. And while you’re at it, if you use Apple podcast, go ahead, rate the podcast. Give it a high rating and leave a review. Tell people why you liked the podcast. That helps more people discover the show. Thank you in advance. Talk to you next week.

Dan Runcie

Dan Runcie

Founder of Trapital

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