If '90s Teen Angst Was Dating Today's Rap: A Night with BELAGANAS

BY REGAN MCCROSKEY

Look out BROCKHAMPTON, there’s a trio in town that’s breaking every rule in music. BELAGANAS is labeled as a bedroom pop/alternative hip-hop group, but there are really no rules when it comes to their music. With a mix of rock, rap, pop and R&B, it’s an organized chaos that has a little something for everyone.

PHOTO: Derek Rinsema /  Instagram  ($NOT and BELAGANAS at S.O.B.’s)

PHOTO: Derek Rinsema / Instagram ($NOT and BELAGANAS at S.O.B.’s)

It’s loud at S.O.B.’s. The bass is shaking the glasses on rickety bar tops and giving the crowd’s vocal chords a run for their money. There’s already a small mosh pit forming. Some are just here for $NOT, but are soon to be converted to BELAGANAS’ fans. BELAGANAS wastes no time, as they all jump onto the stage and — quite literally — jump into their 2017 single “Punks.” It’s angry, and the atmosphere switches over to a punk rock vibe. Joey J and Shanker, both phenomenal vocalists and rappers, switch off verses like it’s a game, using each ending as a way to one up each other. The friendly competition is amazing to watch.

BELAGANAS was formed in 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona, but they’ve been writing songs since they were fifteen. When asked about the origin of their band name, Shanker explained, “I’m native indigenous, and Belaganas means ‘silly white guy’ in Navajo.” The name couldn’t fit this group better.

It’s important to have a unique stage presence in the music industry today and BELAGANAS knows how to keep it interesting. “I grew up listening to a mix of hip-hop and metal. Something about the energy that they have, like the stories of their songs…I wanted to understand what was going on. And it all mixed together into our songs and we brought that energy in,” says Nick Willie, the drummer and third member of BELAGANAS. Joey J adds, “We (Joey J and Shanker) both come from a theatrical background. It’s about making it an experience and bringing them into our world.”

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Not only did they release new single “Moneyman,” they dropped their music video the same day they played live. “Moneyman” has badass, Eminem vibes with a hint of Kanye West. It’s an ode to the music industries’ tendency to be deceitful and promise young bands the world, but BELAGANAS won’t be falling for it.

“‘Moneyman’ is about when you’re breaking into this industry as young as we are, people will perceive you to be naïve and take advantage of you and it pisses you off…it’s such an angry song, you know?” says Shanker. Joey J sings his parts of “Moneyman,” the moneyman himself seems to take over his body and mind. “It’s the idea of finances just driving you crazy and tearing you apart, but you need money to survive. You hate him, but you need him,” explains Joey J.

Moving forward, BELAGANAS will be playing more shows this year and monitoring the response to “Moneyman” as they make decisions on how they want to move forward. Taking things one step at a time, they have a lot coming, and hope to release some more singles (and maybe even an album) this year.

Keep up with BELAGANAS now on Spotify and other streaming platforms.

Lead Image Credit: Eric Daniels / Instagram