The Rundown Podcast - PM Show Tile
Stay in the loop with the Windy City’s biggest news. WBEZ Chicago
The Rundown Podcast - PM Show Tile
Stay in the loop with the Windy City’s biggest news. WBEZ Chicago

You may know Hannibal Buress as a stand-up comedian and actor from shows like Broad City. But he also happens to be a rapper. He just dropped a new single called “Knee Brace” under the moniker Eshu Tune. We asked him, why music? And why now?

The Rundown Podcast - PM Show Tile
Stay in the loop with the Windy City’s biggest news. WBEZ Chicago
The Rundown Podcast - PM Show Tile
Stay in the loop with the Windy City’s biggest news. WBEZ Chicago

You may know Hannibal Buress as a stand-up comedian and actor from shows like Broad City. But he also happens to be a rapper. He just dropped a new single called “Knee Brace” under the moniker Eshu Tune. We asked him, why music? And why now?

Erin Allen: Good afternoon. I'm Erin Allen, and this is The Rundown. So last Friday, I'm sitting at my desk and I start to hear whispers that Hannibal Buress is in the building. This is the type of thing that happens at a radio station where your favorite celebrity shows up for an interview with someone. In this case, it was a couple of hosts at our sister station Vocalo. And you have a decision to make: say something or don't. For me, with Hannibal, it was obviously yes. You may know Hannibal Buress as an actor and stand up comedian. I first came across him on one of my favorite shows, Broad City. But when I talked to Hannibal for The Rundown, I found out he's also a rapper, and he just dropped a new single called Knee Brace under the moniker Eshu Tune.

Hannibal Buress: Hit it from the back with my knee brace on, the velcro part keep catching the thong. Shorty acting all...

Erin Allen: He told Vocalo that the name was inspired by the benevolent Yoruba trickster god, Eshu. Appropriately, you'll hear him playing tricks on me later in the conversation. But first I asked him about recording Knee Brace, which he did right here in his hometown.

Hannibal Buress: We recorded, it was the Monday after Pitchfork Festival. So I just got through doing a bunch of shows. It's always fun to record the day after doing a lot of shows because you already kind of comfortable and loose. And so yeah, went in. We did it at Classic Studios, and Haile Supreme who's a frequent collaborator of mine, he produced the track. The stuff that was... I started writing in my brain felt, it didn't feel that interesting. So I wanted to challenge that a little bit. And I just looked up weird words. And then... let me just look at weird words. And then let me just start writing around this. And it was just fun writing around them, you know, because I hadn't used these words in conversation or a song before. And so it kind of was an exercise to string them together in a way that makes sense. And not just say it.


Hannibal Buress: And the first time I recorded it, I couldn't... because I wasn't used to saying it yet, I just broke up laughing. But I still got them out. But at the end it broke up laughing, but and that gave it a better feel. So I just wanted it to be silly, but still have a dope flow to it. So recorded it that day and then listened to it in the car, got more comfortable with the words and then came back in a couple days later to finish the track. 

Erin Allen: Okay. 

Hannibal Buress: Yeah. It's catchy, I like it. 

Erin Allen: Yeah. 

Hannibal Buress: It's fun. And I, also I was just able to... we had fun making it and I had fun recording it. And so it was just a good time. So it's a time capsule for for just that day, those couple of days.

Erin Allen: So most people I think are like me in that they know you for your comedy. How long have you been making music?

Hannibal Buress: I made music before I ever did stand up comedy. 

Erin Allen: When? When did you start?

Hannibal Buress: I started doing stand up comedy in 2002. And I probably recorded my first songs in the year 2000 or 2001. At my friend David's house and he had a beat machine. So I freestyled some songs.

Erin Allen: So this is your friend, your friend Dave from what, high school?

Hannibal Buress: Grade school. 

Erin Allen: Grade school.

Hannibal Buress: Yeah, yeah, we ended up going to the same high school. Yeah, from probably 1990-91. He was my neighbor, yeah.

Erin Allen: And so you're making music as a youngin'. Are you funny, too at that time, like. Are you the class clown? Or is that something that kind of came later?

Hannibal Buress: I think I was, I was always a funny kid and have my moments I wouldn't say full on class clown. It's just depending on the class, you know? I pick my spots, I think.

Erin Allen: You were at Steinmetz?

Hannibal Buress: I was at Steinmetz for high school. And Whitney Young for seventh and eighth grade, I was probably more the class clown at Whitney Young because I was, I was in an academic center, which is you got to test into that. So I tested in there for sixth grade. And so I went from a very small school, St. Paul Lutheran School, which was a school that had first and second grade in the same classroom, third and fourth grade, same classroom, fifth and sixth grade. 

Erin Allen: Interesting.

Hannibal Buress: And I went from going from there into Whitney Young. Now I'm changing classes in seventh grade after being at a place where I just sat in the same room all day. Looking back, I don't think I reacted well to the shift and the change because it was a pretty drastic environmental shift. Nobody pinpointed it at the time.

Erin Allen: Nobody like prepared you, and said this is going to be...

Hannibal Buress: And when I started struggling nobody really figured that that's what it was. 

Erin Allen: Yeah.

Hannibal Buress: So, yeah. So then I started kind of acting out and my grades dipped and getting in trouble and all these other things just because of that, that environmental shift.

Erin Allen: So when you when you're doing your comedy now, I mean, is that something that you draw from right? Or is that something that you think about? Or is it, is it different?

Hannibal Buress: I think now its just thinking things are interesting and wanting people to understand my perspective and thinking I have a fun idea about something that I'd like to share. Or if I'm just, you know, talking in conversation with somebody, and they, and they laugh about it, then trying to communicate that to an audience. And I was able to channel that. In high school, I was on debate team. And so that was probably one of my early experiences with performing and presenting and preparing, and really thinking about ideas and angles and talking points, and being able to defend them too. Which you have to do in comedy. If you got hecklers. You got people that challenge you, either challenging the attention of room or challenging something you say. And so I think that kind of prepared me for dealing with crowds.

Erin Allen: So now you're getting back. Or maybe you've been even making music this whole time, but it's coming out. You know, you're putting it out, you're going around, you're doing your interviews, and why now? Why music and why now?

Hannibal Buress: I wanted to do it for a while, like it was, I think, once I started getting going with stand up and acting, probably around 2011, 2012, I started talking about doing a project. But never... I was so locked in on other stuff, and I wasn't able to manipulate time, as good. I wasn't able to okay, this is we're gonna take these days and lock in on this. It was, the time was there. I was partying and stuff I could have done, okay, I'm on the road. But after we finished this gig, we go into the studio. And I think it was just, I got caught up in the identity of it like, you know, it'd be a tough shift to do, because I've been so interested in this other world. But once the world slowed down, two years ago, I was able to really focus on it. Because I didn't really... there was some stand up gigs happening, but they were outside. I did a driving tour. That was terrible. You're performing for people that's in their cars, there's not... you didn't, there was no part of my training that was that, oh, here's how you work a parking lot. Or in a pandemic it's weird. And so doing that, music was the only, only process for me that wasn't really affected by that. So you just go to the studio and you just in the studio. The vibe you know, once you're in there, you can, and you get going... you forget about outside, it's treated, you'll hear you know, you're able to really lock in.

Erin Allen: Yeah, the studio is definitely more of a controlled environment.

Hannibal Buress: No matter what else is going on, the studio is the studio.

Erin Allen: Yes. So this song is one of many. We got more coming?

Hannibal Buress: Yeah, this is the first one that I'm really pushing. When I put out my project in April. There's eight tracks. But I didn't put out any videos, but I just kind of got it out to get it out. I didn't I didn't put any... This is my first song. I'm putting a little energy behind. And so then, and then I'll start working on the other ones too. And putting together visuals. I'm excited about that aspect of it because that's... I've already, you know, put together documentaries and specials of my own. So being able to take each piece of music and, and figure out how to elevate it is... I'm going to have a lot of fun with it.

Erin Allen: So, yeah, so your multi-hyphenate right. So this is just kind of like another, another layer that you're showing us. 

Hannibal Buress: Yeah, it's just, it's just something I've always done. I care about the live experience. And so being able to bring many elements to the, to the live concert experience is important to me. From being able to have elements of comedy, have elements of music, live instrumentation, to visuals and wanting to learn more instruments. I'm gonna pick up the saxophone again, learn drums, learn keys. And so I'm really excited about my show. My show now is cool, but I'm excited where my show is gonna be in five years.

Erin Allen: Yeah, that's a part of being a creative. The art inspires the art inspires the art. Yes, amazing. So, I'm from Detroit. 

Hannibal Buress: Okay.

Erin Allen: I lived here for about four years a few years ago, and I just moved back for this, for this! And, you know, as a native Chicagoan, where are your favorite places? Tell me where to go.

Hannibal Buress: My favorite places to go?

Erin Allen: Let's see. When you want to be entertained?

Hannibal Buress: When I want to be entertained? I go to Promontory. They always have some, some good, some good shows going. Some unexpected folks. I saw Bizzy Bone there. Seen some great open mics there. Uh, Subterranean I'll go to sometimes. I like the 606 Open Mic on Tuesdays.

Erin Allen: Tell me someplace I gotta go. I'm here for two weeks. I can spend my whole two weeks at this place maybe, or I gotta go there at some point before I leave.

Hannibal Buress: Okay, so somewhere you gotta go? You gotta hit up Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg.

Erin Allen: Thank you.

Hannibal Buress: Your gotta hit up... listen, they got the Bed, Bath and Beyond...

Erin Allen: Okay! All right. Anything else you would like to tell me about your song, about yourself?

Hannibal Buress: Well, the song, the song is my magnum opus. And I won't let anybody tell me otherwise. It's a beautiful piece of my brain and my heart. And I'm excited to have it out in the world. I'm excited to be here speaking about it, in the same city it was created in. I'm glad to be home. Thank you for having me.

Erin Allen: Yeah, full circle. Thank you for coming. 

Hannibal Buress: For sure.

Erin Allen: That was comedian, actor, rapper, multimedia artist Hannibal Buress, AKA Eshu Tune. You can find his new single Knee Brace wherever you listen to music. And for a longer conversation with Hannibal, head over to to see a video of his chat with my colleagues Bekoe and Nudia Hernandez. And that's it for week one of The Rundown. If you just found out about this podcast, we've been here all week. New episodes drop Monday through Friday and sometimes twice daily, wherever you get your podcasts. We'll be back bright and early, Monday morning. I'm Erin Allen. Talk to you then.

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