Geographically speaking, it is a city in the state of California. However, for hip-hop fans, it is a mecca — home to some of the most talented artists in the genre. Compton has given us Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, NWA, and more recently, Kendrick Lamar. It owes us nothing. Yet, it has produced another.


The rapper is no stranger to the entertainment game and has the receipts to prove it. Early on in his career, he caught the attention of Pharrell Williams. He has gone on to work with the likes of A$AP Ferg, Miley Cyrus, Kendrick Lamar, Freddie Gibbs, Robin Thicke, Wiz Khalifa, Chance the Rapper, Joey Bada$$ and Kaytranada. Following the release of his critically-acclaimed debut project in 2018, Harlan & Alondra, Buddy joined Vince Staples on tour and performed at NPR’s Tiny Desk, The Late Late Show with James Corden, and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Most recently he put out the first song off his upcoming album expected in the spring of 2020, “Hollyhood”, which features fellow LA-native Kent Jamz.

What is also noteworthy to mention is his confidence. Buddy, born Simmie Sims III, says he is focused on being able to create and tell his story, and less concerned with making it as soon as possible. 

Let’s start at the beginning. How did you go from acting to doing music?

I was in this conservatory called Amazing Grace Conservatory and we did theatre plays, so we had fundraisers, talent shows to raise money for like stage design, costume design. And I ended up in some rap group for the talent show and we made a song. I really enjoyed rapping and I kind of just kept at it after that on the low-low.  

With music it’s more of an opportunity to just be myself…

How was acting a stepping stone for music?

I always loved music, but performing, it was just different because I was like always performing in the theatre thing doing quick little lines. When I was in the talent show and I had my own verse for myself and getting to perform the song with the music was just a different feeling that I really enjoyed. And at the time it was like, ‘keep going.’

Because you know acting is always just like make-believe. You gotta be somebody else. Like with music it’s more of an opportunity to just be myself, you know? And just voice my own opinion and just say what I wanna say, rather than what’s on a script.

What is something that you learned from Pharrell?

A music supervisor introduced me to him. He supervises a bunch of TV shows and he was one of my friends through one of my old managers and he introduced me to Pharrell. Pharrell heard a couple of songs and when he flew me out to Miami, when we started working together, it was amazing. I learned so much and I met so many amazing people from just being in the room and just watching how things get done, the whole operation, which gave me a lot of ammo to do my own album.

He always just tells me to be myself – unapologetically … how to move business-wise, about money. Money shit, real Black shit, dealing with different energies, like not being in control of everything, but taking control. He just really leads by example you know. True role model.

I feel like my overall goal when I go to the studio is to just express myself fully, openly and honestly.

Your sound has remained consistent in a climate where people jump on trends to appeal to what’s hot now. What pressures have you experienced in terms of changing or adapting your sound throughout your career so far?

I don’t feel no pressure at all. I kinda just do my own thing. I really don’t even pay attention to what’s trending that much. The songs that pop that I like, I play, and the songs that I don’t like I don’t play. And when I make my music, I’m just trying to make it my music. It was never really a goal of mine to do a certain thing to get to a certain point. I feel like my overall goal when I go to the studio is to just express myself fully, openly and honestly as possible in that present moment. What I’ve been through that day, that week. Overall ideas I have for the future. Rather than a certain sound, or a certain producer.

Your music and the accompanying visuals – for example your vertical “Black” or your “Shine” video – often touch on important issues like oppression, the killing of young, Black people like Trayvon Martin and the daily experience of being a Black man in America. Some people opt not to speak out on these issues in their music. Why have you decided to do this? 

The homie was playing beats on the aux, and I had the engineer recording. I had this little handheld mic that I was freestyling on and as soon as the beat came on, I was like, ‘BLACK, BLACK!’ you know what I mean? It wasn’t like a thought-out thing. I didn’t go to the studio like, ‘oh, I’m gonna speak about Black oppression and all this shit.’ I didn’t just go there like that; it came out like that. The sound was tight, I laid the hook.

But the fact that it was called “Black” … at the time it was only right for me to just like talk about it. Because it would’ve just been stupid for me to just say some regular black midnight shit and not really just hit points that really hit home. It’s getting rough. It’s getting crazy out here in the world for Black people. 

How do you think today’s social/political climate has impacted how people receive and engage with your music?

I wrote the first verse and it was cool, but for the second verse, I really had to like watch documentaries, talk to a bunch of older Black people I know. Really research Black historians and get more information my damn self because I’m not like some activist. I’m just some regular dude. I had to study up to get that second verse out! I just hope it inspires everybody to just gain more information about what’s going on in the world currently, what’s happened in the past and how we can work towards getting the future we all want.

It took me a while … I learned a lot. I have a whole other outlook on the world right now. This shit is serious, it’s crazy. Children growing up, and just how much we don’t know. I’d rather be aware than oblivious.

Finally, you’ve collaborated with an impressive list of artists. Pharrell, A$AP Ferg, Wiz Khalifa, for example. Who is on the list of artists you’d like to work with — your wish list so to speak — and why?

This question is too hard because there’s just too many and I don’t really know how to answer this.

Top 5 – no specific order.

Beyoncé, Beyoncé, Beyoncé, Beyoncé, Beyoncé. Is that five? She hard. She a Virgo, I’m a Virgo. We never met in person, but I feel like we would just be the best of friends and we just make the best songs, so probably Beyoncé.

Photos courtesy of Sony Music Canada

Vanessa Campbell is a Toronto-based "storyteller" with a passion for travel, stand-up, music (disco, in particular, these days) and well-thought-out questions. Hobbies include napping and baking.

Comments are closed.