Brian Brown talks Chattanooga, Nashville Roots, Roshe Runs, and his New Project.

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We’re back baby, this time with one of the most talented lyricists not only in Nashville, but all of America. Sit back, learn something, and enjoy some insight into the life and career of Brian Brown.

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Nashville has always had an incredibly nostalgic feel to me, and I have never truly known why, but that feeling has always been there. Having grown up here my entire life, I have seen so many changes in scenery, people, sounds, ideas, demographics, names, and ideologies, but there’s still a particular image of Nashville burned into my brain from my younger years that will always be what I picture when I imagine this city.

When I picture downtown excursions and spectacles, my mind doesn’t go to our shiny new convention center, but instead I am always drawn back to vague memories of Nashville Kats games at Municipal, or I think of our once barren skyline, and our attraction-less cityscape before Starwood fell down and Ascend, well, ascended.

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I think about Greer Stadium’s grossly uncomfortable seats and grimy concrete floors that played host to catching my first foul ball and inevitably spilling Dippin’ Dots on my nine-year-old self. First Tennessee Park is marvelous and a damn near perfect backdrop to a baseball game,  but in my mind, that will always be the Sound’s .

Losing Greer marked a kind of divorce between the Nashville of old and the new Nashville, equipped with a glistening skyline, saturated with lavish new penthouses and transients overtaking a metropolitan zone viewed as a blank canvas, not a land of our town’s history and vibrant culture.

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As I said, Brown’s songs always revolve around his words first and foremost, and thematically his music tends to center around the spiritual at its core. Brown wrestles with the almighty on one of his earliest tracks “Newport,” about life’s most difficult question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” This set the tone for his music from that point forward, as Brian became Nashville’s intellectual voice and a musical older brother to the trap scene that emerged around the same time as he did.

Aside from Brown’s spiritual wrestlings, he also tends to focus on his family and his friends. He keeps things remarkably real on typically sampled lo-fi or Southern jazz-rap instrumentals, and seems to thrive in this wheelhouse.

Lyrically, Brian Brown is a master of simile, creating clever and vivid imagery with his distinct ability to bring a grin to your face because of his gentle wit. He serves as an approachable figure who makes music to smile with during the good times and emote over during tribulations.

To me, Nashville will always be the town that often saw Lendale White buy one-hundred Patron shots at a TGI Friday’s. Childhood memories like watching Vince Young drive a Cadillac onto the floor of the Gentry Center will forever be burrowed into the back of my mind when I think of the Titans players antics, and the cold day where that same Patron sipping maniac stomped the Terrible Towel was just about the pinnacle of athletics in the Music City.

The gentrified, capitalist, and face-lifted product our tourism board markets to bridesmaids and alcoholics will never be my Nashville.

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Brian Brown is my Nashville. Brown’s tales of adolescence in our city and references to things that are distinctly native to the Music City, even though they aren’t always explicitly mentioned are the ideal score to my maturation in this now shimmering land.

His music is remarkably honest and secure. He has never felt the urge to “stunt” like other rappers, as his notable early work was his track “Dollar Menu Ballad,” effectively served as a tribute to everyone working twice as hard for half as much, as well as pushing people to embrace the struggle of being young with no money, rather than trying to hide it. This initial taste of commercial success is what set the tone for Brown’s music for years to come.

Sonically, Brown is reminiscent to the Top Dawg Ent roster, specifically Isaiah and early-Kendrick. At times, he is eerily similar to the deep cuts off of Section.80 and Overly Dedicated, as the words and stories served as the main vessel of expression, as opposed to current Kendrick music that is revolved around production and at times flamboyant hooks and melodies.

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As I said, Brown’s songs always revolve around his words first and foremost, and thematically his music tends to center around the spiritual at its core. Brown wrestles with the almighty on one of his earliest tracks “Newport,” about life’s most difficult question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” This set the tone for his music from that point forward, as Brian became Nashville’s intellectual voice and a musical older brother to the trap scene that emerged around the same time as he did.

Aside from Brown’s spiritual wrestlings, he also tends to focus on his family and his friends. He keeps things remarkably real on typically sampled lo-fi or Southern jazz-rap instrumentals, and seems to thrive in this wheelhouse.

Lyrically, Brian Brown is a master of simile, creating clever and vivid imagery with his distinct ability to bring a grin to your face because of his gentle wit. He serves as an approachable figure who makes music to smile with during the good times and emote over during tribulations.

Brown stepped aside from the trap, but always remains adjacent, as its friendly neighbor and a synecdoche for Nashville’s socially conscious youth and dreamers alike, as his lyrics speak life intro the mellow or downtrodden.

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In other words, Brian Brown’s music is something like this.

It’s a Sunday in November and the whole family is at the house after church one day. All morning, your mother slapped your father on the arm, futilely attempting to wake him for the whole duration of the sermon. Your grandparents had driven over for the service and then lunch after. Everybody sits around a table of grandma’s cooking and reminisces on days of old, as the kids talk about their present realities, sparking a nostalgia fest that you can’t help but admire. You sit and watch Vince Young lead the Titans past the Colts, while grandpa is asleep next to you on the couch. You’re sixteen, maybe a little older, maybe a little younger, depending on your circumstance, but two nights before you went to a house party after the football game and stayed out all night with your friends, and you feel all kinds of grown for the first time. Everything is as perfect as it will ever be, but you’re still yearning for the freedom of growing up. But one day you’ll realize how good these days really were.

His music will always remind me of my childhood and my family. The good and the bad. The church and the newly discovered wild.

Here’s our conversation with Brian Brown:

MCU: You shot much of the “Desires” video in front of MLK. Is that where you went to school?

BB: I did go to MLK, yes indeed. C/o 2011. Interesting place. Learned a lot there, especially with all the different ethnicities, ideals & beliefs, etc. A blessing in disguise, even though i hated it.

MCU: What are some particular scenes of adolescence you remember from being a kid in Nashville?
BB: Particular scenes? Mhmmm. Definitely my childhood home. S/o Meridian Court. Would definitely have to say Bellshire & Harding Place too. My guys Dope & Tru, respectively, stayed in those areas. Used to crash at their spots when i first started rapping. They actually were the ones i started that shit with. Forever in debt to them boys.
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MCU: You seem to have a particular affinity for Roshe Runs, as seen in numerous photos and your more recent videos. Are those your favorite sneakers?
BB: Oh hell yeah. Roshes are the greatest. Super comfy. Look decent on my feet. Lmao. Been working developing the shoe game though. I just don’t be wanting to spend that money on shoes like that.
MCU: So much of your music brings about a particular nostalgia. How important is it to you that your music brings about those particular emotions?
BB:  Um. I wouldn’t say that i try to do it on purpose. I honestly just try to make shit that makes me feel like the first time I heard rap & started enjoying it. Give people some shit to get ‘em through ya day. Just trying to be everlasting out here. Like when i’m long gone, they’re playing my shit in museums or sum’n. Lol.
MCU: So what’s your official rap name? I have seen your music tagged as Brian Brown, worldofbrown, and even, simply, Brown.
BB:  Brian Brown. Was going by Brown at first but we came to the conclusion that it would be kind of hard to look that up on the internet all the time. And with worldofbrown, Brian Brown is a pretty common name & I ain’t famous enough just to get the simple @brianbrown yet so we had to find sum’n uniform yet unique to me & what/how i do & that’s what we ran with.
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MCU: Who are some of your bigger musical inspirations?
In terms of musical influences, I have so many. OutKast, ATCQ, Hov, UGK, Sly & the Family Stone, Parliament, D’Angelo, Ye, Wayne, etc. I just try to take what made them & the countless others great in my eyes & apply it to my own style & music.
MCU: You have a pretty strong tie to several Chattanooga artists. How did those come about?
BB: Well, back in 2014, my current manager Lucas was doing his own merch & was doing stuff with Tut as well, the Purrp Purrp collection. He brought my old manager & myself through the crib they had on Duncan before we slid to the A for A3C. Never had i been in a house that felt so magical besides my own. Lol. met Tiggi, they were finishing up Preacher’s Son at the time. told myself, “I gotta get back in here.” Wound up going back & forth between there & the Ville for a sec, i’d say right after SXSW ‘15, working on music & then an opportunity came up to move in that fall. had to take it. Rest is history.
MCU: How is your new album going to be different from your previous projects?
BB: Well being that I’ve only got one tape, the only thing i hope for is that people see/hear the growth & respect it as much as they could love the music, if not more. It was a fun record to make. It was all worth it no matter what happens when it’s out to the world. Just glad people are along for the ride.
MCU: After the album drops, what’s coming next from Brian Brown?
BB: Hopefully i fall in love with whatever shawty that wanna love me for me & stay low as fuck. Lol. Nah, hit this road. tour. Enjoy the work that we put into this. Whatever is next, i’m thankful for it all regardless. Shit could be worse but. it ain’t so i can’t complain.
Do yourself a favor and check out Brian Brown’s Elevator premiered video for “The Dreamer’s Anthem” below:

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