Barasubiye’s comedic rap takes aim at reliability, overcrowding, suburban commutes
Nearly everyone can find a few faults with OC Transpo — critiquing our public transit system is an Ottawa pastime. But one University of Ottawa student, inspired by her commute from the suburbs, wrote her complaints down as lyrics, set them to “Bodak Yellow,” and graced Ottawa with “Bodak Transpo.”
Claire Barasubiye, aka Lil’ Claire, wrote the lyrics for “Bodak Transpo” two years ago when she started regularly commuting to the U of O from the Ottawa suburbs. The litany of complaints is familiar to any OC Transpo rider — issues with reliability and delays, overcrowded buses, park-and-rides, and drivers pulling away even though they definitely saw you sprinting for the bus.
“I started the lyrics two years ago back when I was commuting to school every single day and venting all my frustrations into this song because what else will you do on the bus,” said Barasubiye, a third-year nursing student at the U of O. She set the lyrics to an instrumental of “Bodak Yellow” and let the track simmer for a while before showing it to her colleagues at a Campus Vibes uOttawa social event where they decided to make a video.
To say “Bodak Transpo” hits upon a bit of an Ottawa moment isn’t an overstatement. The track dropped the day before the opening of the LRT, when both anticipation and frustrations in the city were high.
As for parodying “Bodak Yellow,” Barasubiye said that the song was just a good fit with high energy.
“I just like the energy of the song,” said Barasubiye. “It fit my frustrations well.” The biggest complaint in “Bodak Transpo” is about reliability. Barasubiye frequently takes the 94 and devotes a couple of lyrics to that particular route, but it’s not a flattering portrait. The lines “But where them 94s/ Missed two buses, half an hour/ What b**** waiting as long as me?” perfectly sums up the unreliability of the route.
“Reliability is one thing,” “In theory, a lot of the bus routes are really nice, like the 94 is supposed to run every 15 minutes but then it just doesn’t show up for an hour and you’re late for everything.” As for the new LRT, Barasubiye says that she likes it so far, although she isn’t looking forward to the changes coming to the existing bus routes. As a suburban commuter, she’ll have to transfer at Tunney’s Pasture and join the rush of commuters boarding the train, and she’s not yet sure if that will be a smooth transition.
Barasubiye also takes aim at some issues specific to U of O like perennial problems with the quality of the U-Pass photo. The line “U-Pass look bunk look like Slenderman” isn’t an exaggeration—she’s barely visible in her own photo.
She also gives a few lines to Uber and Lyft, which might at first seem like better options, but Lil’ Claire isn’t afraid to let us know that “their customer service is fake.”
Barasubiye does devote a few lines to one positive thing though — her dad, “the only one who’s never late” picking her up from the late-night bus stop.
As for future parodies, Barasubiye is considering it. “Bodak Transpo” is getting more views than she anticipated, and she says there’s an appeal to tackling more issues through comedic raps.
“There are so many issues I want to talk about, and even if it is a parody style it’s a good platform,” she said.