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Artist Spotlight: John Brown

15 Apr, 2009 Musicians
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FROMAN: Most people would recognize you from ego trip’s (White) Rapper Show on VH1, how would you describe your overall experience?

JOHN BROWN: I wanted to be part of the show because of the respect I have for the ego trip collective and their contributions to this culture. The whole experience filming the show was totally surreal and stressful, and the producers put alot of emphasis on making sure we took everything extremely serious. It was a little suprising to see how comedic everything was portrayed once the show aired because there was major pressure to be respectful and serious for each situation we experienced. That’s why I focused on branding myself and advertising my company while I was filming the show. The editing process was out of my control so I knew it was important for me to infiltrate Viacom with this Revivalism and get it pimpulating.

FROMAN: You had to score more pussy after the show, right?

JB: I celebrated my appreciation for all the female love received on the song, “Lined Up”, from the mixtape “Hallelujah Holla Back”. If you haven’t heard that project, you need it in your life.

FROMAN: We saw you adapted the name John Brown after the 19th century abolitionist to advocate your own drive for change….what exactly are you talking about?

JB: I grew up in a progressive, politically-active family in the Bay Area and was influenced by social movements and their connection to music. I was involved in alot of different types of activism, such as anti-prison campaigns and workers rights organizations, etc. To me, John Brown, was America’s original crazy-ass whiteboy who stood up for his beliefs in the face of adversity from the greater society. As we, The Revival, progress as a company and co-opt these tools of capitalism to revive our communities, the larger vision will eventually unfold.

FROMAN: Do you think you could take MC Serch in a battle?

JB: I’ve never been much of a battle rapper. I don’t spend too much time writing poems about other men. I like making songs and classic projects that have true longevity. I don’t want my most memorable records to be ones where I’m trying to tear down another man. That’s not very revival minded.

FROMAN: You’re the self-proclaimed King of da ‘Burbz…what’s that entail? And what do you say to critics that rip on your street cred?

JB: Knowledge of self is the essence of hip-hop. This artform emerged as self-expression and a desire to find identity in an oppressive society. It comes from the slums. But over time, like rock n roll, it has spread to the suburbs. Kids with access to more resources have a greater ability to produce product and build a voice in this new-media age. I feel like alot of suburban white kids who started to rap began rejecting some of the traditional stories of struggle heard in urban hip-hop. There became a desire to do songs with “intellectual” concepts that have multi-syllabic words as a way to be accepted by their parents and peers in their educated middle class community. At the same time, suburban kids were apprehensive to embrace the burbs out of sheer embarassment or confused rebellion. For me, it wasn’t until I actually left the suburbs and got exposed to different cultures and experiences that I realized that my role in this culture is to embrace the burbs and express our cultural story and all of its contradictions and ironies. I am the first person in hip-hop to overtly rep the burbs in the way N.W.A. overtly represented Compton. You have to remember, people didn’t always embrace the hood. It wasn’t really until the Watts Riots in 1965 that there became a pride in being from the ghetto. And then I feel like when James Brown recorded “Say It Loud (I’m Black And I’m Proud)” it was a watershed moment for black self-empowerment. Now, I feel that me unapologetically repping the burbs can break down cultural barriers. It’s already having an effect as I see a sudden influx of suburban white rappers with a newfound identity. But they all know who the king of this burbs shit is. Even if they front like they don’t recognize. The people know.

FROMAN: Tell everyone why we should pick up the new album Suburban Empire?

JB: Suburban Empire is a classic must-have project for all hip-hop fans, lyricist fanatics and true Revivalists. To me, mixtapes have their own aesthetic medium that really focus on individual bars and verses as oppose to entire songs on albums. It includes some crazy original joints produced by our in-house production team - So Religious Productions - as well as some fire suburban renditions of major industry songs. There’s features from the whole Revival and Superstar Jay really disected the tracks to make this easily one of the hottest mixtapes of 2009. It’s bananaz. It also leads into my next project “Burb Life”, which is going to be even crazier.

FROMAN: Is it possible for rappers to not sample anymore or use a vocoder?

JB: I’m sure it’s possible, but I think sampling and the vocoder are two aspects of hip-hop music that will always be there. It’ll just come and go in cycles.

FROMAN: If your girl started reading your text messages from some skank ho who was hitting you up, would you pull a Chris Brown.

JB: I’m sure there’s a ridiculous level of pressure on someone like Chris Brown on a daily basis, and I’m not someone to totally pass judgment without knowing the facts. However, I don’t think it’s cool at all to ever resolve your differences with a woman by physical violence. Not very revival minded.

FROMAN: What population is growing fastest…white men in the NBA or white men in the rap game?

JB: Easily, white men in the rap game. Once I layed out the burbs lane and gave these labels a way to market their crackers it’s been nothing but watered-down burbology with artificial co-signs trying to get that money by any means necessary. Let’s see how it plays out. I’m curious what new type of music will emerge from the slums after the honkeys take over.

FROMAN: Asher Roth seems to be blowing up. What do you think of him? Any collabos in the future?

JB: He’s got a great machine and a well-connected manager behind him that really pushes him to mainstream media. I thought his team wisely used my whole “Keg Party” video for his college campaign to capitalize off the newfound suburban identity in hip hop that I created. He’s another one of these artists who just randomly plopped out of the burbs and started talking about keg parties and beer pong with eminem’s voice. The difference is that his movement scoffs at urban culture. Would I be down for a collab? It depends.

FROMAN: If you could take anybody out of the hip hop game, who would it be?

JB: There’s not really anyone I’d want to take out of the game because eveyone plays their role. But I’d definetely like to take out Miss Info on a date. Does that count?

FROMAN: The day you die, what would you like your epitaph to read?

JB: John Brown or Die

FROMAN: Thanks bro. I dont think we’ll see another king of da burbz for at least a hundred years….maybe not eva

“Another Day In The Burbz”


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