Steven Gerald Baumgardner II was born on Valentine’s Day 1979. He’s lived in Savannah since age 20. Under the stage name Basik Lee, he’s the most prominent and consistent figure on the local hip hop scene. This award-winning DJ and break dancing instructor (he currently teaches kids at the Maxine Patterson School of Dance) helped found pioneering area music collective Dope Sandwich and worked for half a decade with at-risk inner-city youth through A.W.O.L. Inc.
He DJs up to five nights a week at a variety of venues, performs hip hop concerts up to five times a month and — as frontman and guitarist for local band Ambrose — occasionally plays soul-oriented rock. That’s in addition to his regular Tuesday night gig as MC and Host of Hip Hop Night at Congress Street music venue The Jinx — a popular showcase for local and touring talent that’s taken place weekly for the past 15 years.
Steve is one of the hardest-working and most multifaceted performers and promoters in the area. He’s made — and continues to make — a massive contribution to both the diversity and the viability of Savannah’s underground music and culture scenes. He’s also a stand-up guy. Steve encourages folks to find his many albums at Basiklee.bandcamp.com and to keep up with his live performance schedule at Facebook.com/Mr.basiklee.
First record you bought with your own money? “18th Letter” by Rakim.
First concert you bought a ticket to with your own money? Still haven't! Weirdly enough, I just keep getting lucky and either winning tickets or having some six-degrees-of-separation hook-up…
One record you will never tire of hearing? Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life.”
One song that always gets the crowd going when you spin vinyl? DJ Kool’s “Let Me Clear My Throat.”
Worst injury you ever got break dancing? I threw out my right knee and had to use crutches for two weeks.
Weirdest DJ gig you ever did? I once DJ'd for two rival parties in the same night.
Worst straight job you’ve ever had? Cleaning out a house after an eviction. There was a clothes dryer on the second floor that the tenants had decided to use as a bathroom.
One straight job you loved? Working at the old Precinct Deli on Bull Street.
Biggest misconception people seem to have about you? That I'm Jamaican or Rasta. I am neither.
One musical artist who’s inspired you more than any other? Nina Simone.
One famous band or group you wish you’d been a member of? The Roots.
Most overrated hip hop artist? Cardi B.
Most expensive article of clothing you’ve ever bought? A $125 pair of Jordans when I was in high school. I don't like to shop.
One talent you wish you had? Parkour, because I'm afraid of heights.
One food you’ll always try at a restaurant? Chicken… Yup.
Nicest gift anyone ever gave you? A friend surprised me by making a shirt featuring a saying I yell out at Hip Hop Night. That was dope!
Ms. Pac-Man or Galaga? Ms. Pac-Man.
De La Soul or A Tribe Called Quest? A Tribe Called Quest.
Michael Jackson or Bill Cosby? Michael Jackson.
First thing you’d do as mayor of Savannah? Change parking rules to function better for locals working downtown. The increase in tourist parking has become much more of a hassle for those in the service industry. If you want tourists to be happy, then the folks serving the tourists should be happy, as well. I would also create clearer zoning laws regarding noise levels in the downtown area. I believe we have one of the greatest music communities in the country, and if the city would be willing to truly work more with the arts and music community — besides just SCAD — it would only get better.