9/10. Bocha (26 points)
SOUNDS LIKE: Every rap battle you've probably lost.
NOTABLE VOTES: Mic Capes, DJ Klyph, the Thesis co-founder DJ Verbz, Rasheed Jamal.
For many of us, heartbreak comes at the hands of a lover. For William Bocha Hayes, it came at the hands of a loved one.
"I've never been hurt by a woman in a relationship sense, but I've gotten my heart broken by the most important woman in my life, and that's my mom," says Hayes, who delivers booming tracks and sharp-tongued, witty lines about life under his middle name, Bocha. "It kinda messed me up."
At 23 years old, Hayes was forced to mature quickly. Initially, that was due to witnessing and defending his mother in situations with men, taking care of his younger siblings and long bouts of homelessness. Then, it came from navigating life in Portland and his own romantic relationships.
"My whole experience being [in Portland] is what influenced me to even make music," says Hayes. "It was a way to escape what I was going through in my environment."
On his latest record, M.A.A.N., or Maturing as a Nigga, Hayes' smooth flow, on top of bass-heavy rhythms and banging beats, outlines personal circumstances, realizations, and how he attempted to overcome difficult circumstances at a young age. On the album's title track, Hayes shares a bit about a time when he was houselessness with the line, "Showed up to the block/Took me in as an orphan." On "Day Come," he nods to struggling to express his emotions: "Hold back your tears/At least, that's what my mom told me."
While he once felt bitterness toward his mother, Hayes says he's ultimately come to terms with it all. And despite what he's gone through, Hayes is finding his way. "I'm becoming a 'm.a.a.n,' but at the end of the day, I'm still gonna do nigga shit and I'm still going to be looked at as a nigga," says Hayes. "But I'm doing the best I can."
NEXT SHOW: July 20 at Bossanova Ballroom.