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Catching Up With Better Taste Bureau

2014's Rap Group of the Year set themselves apart with devotion to the art of hip-hop



On "Outliers," from their debut full-length album of the same name, Better Taste Bureau spit the lyrics, "Anything worth having isn't just gonna happen/ I see you sit down on your couch/ hope it falls in your lap/ and while you're nappin' I'm on the track/ rappin' lyrically lapping." For emcees Shaun Bussard and Ben Harris and producer Mason Brewer of Better Taste Bureau, that line could serve as a mission statement.

Since they were named as City Weekly's first-ever Rap Group of the Year after winning the City Weekly Music Awards (now known as Best of Utah Music) in February 2014, Better Taste Bureau have only stepped up their hustle, perfecting their already high-energy live shows. Participating in the CWMAs, Bussard says, helped them learn how to turn Better Taste Bureau "into a well-oiled machine."

Only a few months after their CWMA showcase at The Complex, the trio hit the ground running with the release of Outliers, their first album to feature beats and lyrics crafted solely by Better Taste Bureau. Prior to Brewer officially joining the crew full time, Harris and Bussard (previously known as Hurris & Gig) had needed to fill out some of their tracks with beats created by out-of-state producers.

But Outliers is all Better Taste Bureau from corner to corner, and an example of the way the three minds in the group seem to work as one when writing music. On Outliers, "you can hear the camaraderie," Bussard says. "Having [Brewer's] input on everything made it a really cohesive project." And now, the songwriting process is "much more collaborative," Brewer adds.

These days, Better Taste Bureau are not only more collaborative but more intense, in a good way—the trio practice frequently in order to keep improving themselves and what they're giving fans. And they've been able to give fans a lot this year.

Better Taste Bureau took "Rise (Noose II)"—which was featured in a Mountain Dew commercial—"Lookin' Back" and other highlights from Outliers to numerous stages over the summer, including the Twilight Concert Series, where they opened for De La Soul and Rapsody & 9th Wonder.

"It's still crazy to think that it happened," Harris says.

And De La Soul was just one of the big names Better Taste Bureau shared stages with this summer—they also opened for SonReal, Ab-Soul, Juicy J, Biz Markie and Tyga.

These shows—in addition to an appearance at the Utah Arts Fest—brought Better Taste Bureau a lot of recognition, but it was at the University of Utah's Redfest in September that the group saw another effect of their practice regimen come into play. At that show, Bussard says, "I realized that we were a well-oiled machine, because I lost my voice and Ben was able to just keep going while I didn't have a voice. ... It's just the little things that you pick up after so much practice."

Looking forward, the members of Better Taste Bureau are bringing that work ethic to several new projects, including Brewer's upcoming collaboration with Luna Lune's Tessa Barton, a new Better Taste Bureau EP, and a solo EP from Bussard.

For the next Better Taste Bureau album, they plan to continue to push the envelope and "expand on what we did with Outliers, but I think that there's going to be more depth" as far as subject matter, Bussard says. Better Taste Bureau want the new album to have plenty of their signature jump-jump-jump energy, but they also hope to "diversify how we present that energy," Brewer says.

As a rap crew that devotes their time to mastering the parts of their work that maybe aren't as sexy as spotlights and fame, they have some simple advice for the next Rapper or Rap Group of the Year. "Practice," Bussard says. Once you've put in the hours polishing your craft, he says, getting onstage and performing is "the easy stuff, and you can go on autopilot, and when you can go on autopilot you can realize, 'How can I spice this show up?' ... My mouth is just moving when I'm on autopilot up on stage because I've practiced so much that I can do other things, and so can Ben. Practice is really what will pay off."