Feature: Who the Fxck is Rene Brown?
Mon, 14 Jul 2014 09:09:02
Pretty soon music fans everywhere will be asking this question. Who the Fxck is Rene Brown?
Here's the short answer. Rene Brown is one of the most thrilling young rappers to emerge in quite some time. The Mississippi-born and Los Angeles-based MC spits with a tight, technical flow that's as impenetrable as it is infectious. Think the female Tech N9ne with a psychedelic groove and you're only halfway there...Brown supported ScHoolboy Q on tour, and she's in the process of preparing her forthcoming EP. Soon, she's going to be on top of the game. Mark our words. She's a hip-hop hero—that's who the fxck Rene Brown is.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Rene Brown talks her music, story, and so much more.
How did you first discover rap?
I've been writing poetry since I was like ten-years-old. I've been rapping for a while, but I hadn't started to make full songs until I was in Afghanistan. That's where I actually made my first recorded full song with a Skype headset. I had put it on MySpace, and I got a lot of love for it. When I got home, I started working on more full songs.
Where did you record in Afghanistan?
Well, I had my laptop and a Skype headset. When I could get internet, I would call back home. ACID Pro was my first program. It was easy to operate. The recordings were really shitty, and it would take days to upload. People liked it though. The first song was called "Home", and it was about being in Afghanistan and missing all of the holidays and birthdays. It had more of a poetry feel to it.
How long were you over there for?
I was there for fifteen months. It felt longer than it sounds if you can imagine that [Laughs].
Was there anything over in Afghanistan that made you want to record full songs or had that urge been dormant within you?
I think it was lying within me because I have notebooks and notebooks of my own personal songs. What you write for yourself is different from what people expect as a full song structure. I started writing my own songs over there. When I got back, I realized how competitive it was. It wasn't just me writing songs. If I was going to do it, I had to step up my game as far as writing full songs people would actually want to listen to—not just me doing poetry. When I got home from Afghanistan, I had a year left in the army. I was working on music in North Carolina. I moved out here to Los Angeles, and everything got more serious. I had saved up money in the army. I tried to do what I could do. I was doing like two or three shows a week to get my live performance experience before I actually got my recording experience. The project is really coming together now.
Where did you grow up? Was there a lot of hip-hop back home?
I grew up in Mississippi. I'd hear it on television and online. My mom is white, and my dad is black. I grew up with my mom. We listened to a lot of old country around the house like Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, and old shit. Since I was little, I've always been into Tupac Shakur and what my mother listened to. At ten-years-old, I started picking what I wanted to listen to around the house though. My stepdad had a little bit of an influence on me. He was around for a little while. He was black, and he listened to all of the shit I wanted to listened to.
What artists shaped you?
Nobody knows, but growing up my favorite genre was country. It's in me. I grew up with it. I love hip-hop and making hip-hop, but that's not my only influence. I listened to a lot of R&B growing up as well. I liked Jay-Z, Ludacris, 2Pac, Master P, The Notorious B.I.G., Lauryn Hill, and all of the Southern artists. Back in the day, I used to record videos from MTV on tapes and record songs from the radio on cassettes [Laughs]. I also used to listen to Blackstreet, Jodeci, and Marvin Gaye. My brothers were into alternative music and rock so they'd listen to Linkin Park and Creed around the house. I like a lot of different music. It's not just hip-hop.
Is storytelling an important part of rap for you?
Yeah, it's crazy. I started out more telling stories. Here and there, I would do a "turn up" track. People liked the fast rapping. Over the past year, I've been making upbeat tracks. I think with this project I'll get more into the storytelling because it's in me.
What's the story behind "Recognize (Get It Right)"?
I was in between the West Coast portion of the Oxymoron tour and the European portion. I had two days to get into the studio before I went over to Europe. I thought it would be cool to take a new track with me over there. We got in the studio one night and decided to just see what came out. At the time, I was feeling like it was me against the world. Not a lot of people were really believing in what I was doing until now.
You've got a vibe like a female Tech N9ne…
I love Tech N9ne! He's in my top three for sure. Thank you!
Where did "Bliss" come from?
That was one of the first tracks I did. I knew I could rap as well as other rappers. I was just talking about more conscious subject matter. I found that Mac Miller beat, and I really liked it. I wanted to do something different. I was in the living room, and I finished it in like an hour-and-a-half. I showed it to my friends, and they were like, "Yo, this is crazy!"
Do you dig L.A.?
I love L.A. I love everything about it. The people can be rude sometimes, but I love the freedom of it. Everybody's different. I love the weather. Home is Mississippi, but I'd never leave L.A. Everything is here.
How was touring with ScHoolboy Q?
It was great! The fans out in Europe were crazy. It was amazing. It was super dope. I can't wait to do it again. The plan right now is to drop the EP. Then, we're shooting to get back on a tour closer to the end of the year.
Have you heard Rene Brown?
Follow Rene on Twitter! Listen to her on Soundcloud!