Brilliant comedian, FADER cover alum, and seasoned gibberish rapper Hannibal Buress appears on Chance The Rapper and Jeremih’s new surprise mixtape, Merry Christmas Lil' Mama. On Thursday morning, he spoke about his standout cameo, when the project was made, moving back to his native Chicago, and what it’s been like to watch Chance — with whom he’s collaborated since 2013 — grow up over the years.
How did you get on this tape?
I was in New York last week for a gig with Rockstar Games. I performed with Nas there. So I was gonna leave town after — I moved back to Chicago, actually. But it was super cold in Chicago. The uncomfortable cold. I’m a punk now, so about 25 to 30 degrees is my threshold. I was following the weather report and it was mostly 5 degrees and 0 degrees in Chicago. So New york wasn’t amazing, but it was more bearable than that. So I stayed and just hung out in my place in New York and played video games. And Chance was in town for SNL.
Chance hit me up like, “Come through the studio to track some vocals.” I’m like, “Does that mean rap?” Because, I mean. He’s like, “Whatever, come through.” So he’s working on this Christmas project with Jeremih and he asked me to talk about Christmas at the end of this track. He loops it up and I just go in and talk for a few minutes. On my podcast lately I’ve been really obsessing with Auto-Tune. A title too late, but I’m really getting into it. So I jokingly just tell them to Auto-Tune my shit and put Travis Scott vocals on my shit. And they cut it up and that’s that. I’m back in Chicago now and I stopped through the studio last night to hear the rest of the tape, and Chance and I recorded an interview for my podcast.
I actually had a verse for the title track, “Merry Christmas Lil' Mama,” that I started working on too. I had some bars for that, but they didn’t wanna make space for it. I might just have to take the beat and put out my own remix of it and ride the wave. I love juke tracks! I’m a Chicago dude, so whenever you make the song with the juke backbeat, it reminds me of being a teenager and shit.
Jeremih was on tour until recently. Did he and Chance just make this tape in the last couple of days, since Jeremih finished that tour?
Yeah, it’s been a short amount of time. It’s just been over the past couple weeks or so.
You made a video with Chance in 2013, before his tape Acid Rap came out. You’ve stayed in touch since — how’s it been to watch him grow up?
In comedy, I’ve seen a lot my peers, and people that were younger than me or started after me — I’ve seen them go from new acts to being national acts, having TV shows, and getting in movies. But as far as seeing that close up with Chance, it’s been pretty crazy. I met him in 2013 for that video. Then at SXSW that year performed at some place called Karma for like 80 people. I mean, after Acid Rap shit got pretty crazy, but to see the level now is wild. The dude did US Cellular Field, where the White Sox play! His kid is like 1 now. I mean, I meant to ask him when I was talking to him for the podcast, like, “Is shit weird, man?”
Chance strikes me as a talented comic. His timing is good, he’s clever, and he seems to enjoy fucking with people a bit. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become a movie star in the next couple of years.
Chance can do what he wants, man. He’s a solid actor. He did the movie Slice, I think that’s supposed to come out next year. Next year’s very soon, but later in next year. Austin Vesely — who co-directed with me the “NaNa” video and does a lot of Chance videos that are way more focused visually — Slice is Austin’s first feature thing. I did a quick thing for that too.
As a rap fan, did you listen to a lot of Chance this year? Are you a fan of Travis Scott?
Chicago music has been great this year: Chance, Vic’s project, Noname, Saba. There’s a lot of great music coming out of the Chi right now. But mostly it’s just little moments in music that I’ll listen to over and over. I forget what the song is before “Pick Up The Phone” on Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight. I don’t even know who’s on it singing. Is that Bryson Tiller? [It is.] He sings “I want you to pick up the phone…” and then the song transitions into “Pick Up The Phone.” That was great! Those songs went together. Birds In The Trap is a cohesive album. NxWorries Yes Lawd is a well-made project. It’s an album where the songs are made together. I was playing it a couple days ago and accidentally it was on shuffle. It doesn’t work on shuffle, because you’re used to hearing stuff flow.