Kev Brown has been holding it down for the district for years. He’s the unofficial leader of DCs Low Budget Crew, and has worked with big names such as De La Soul, Jazzy Jeff, Biz Markie, and Bahamadia, just to name a few. He’s also been producing most of the Low Budget solo albums, so he’s definitely got some great production credits under his belt. Oh yeah, he’s a dope rapper as well. Check out the interview, and keep an eye on the site for some Kev Brown downloads.
Judge Mental: What’s up?
Kev Brown: Not much man, just the usual. That’s about it.
JM: Recently you announced that you’re doing the $200 beats again. Can you tell me a little bit about that, and why you’ve decided to do it.
Kev Brown: Ummm, basically just times are hard right now. That’s basically all it is. Like I’m just trying to make some money. And I’m just trying to hustle my talent, rather than doing something illegal, or something that’s not cool. Just trying to do something positive, rather than do something crazy to make some money. Like some other crazy scheme I could come up with to make some money. So that’s all it is.
I wonder what a lot of other people think about it. A lot of people might be selling drugs or something. Just some other crazy weird stuff that people come up with. But it’s just husslin. That’s all. But I did it like, a year ago. And it went well, so why not do it again. It’s not throw-away beats. It’s just more like exercise beats really. I try to make beats like every day. And every beat, I don’t let everybody hear. So then I had a collection of beats that I had never let anybody hear. So I was like let me make a little cash real quick.
JM: Last time you did it, did this open up the door for any unexpected collaborations?
Kev Brown: I did work with a lot of people. A lot of people overseas and what not. It’s mainly over the internet. So there’s a lot of opportunities like that. Just from people that are out of the country, that usually couldn’t afford it. My usual beats are not $200. The same beats I’m sending these cats are not the same beats I’m sending to Busta Rhymes or De La Soul. It’s just an opportunity to branch out. To speak to people who want a beat, but can’t usually afford a beat. So it’s good for them. Which means its good for both of us.
JM: You touched on the internet, and I know you run your own blog. How important is it for you to stay in touch with your fans and being personable there. And also networking with artists over the internet. How important is that to you in this day and age?
Kev Brown: I’m not the most computer handy dude out there. Like, everybody’s on facebook, and I’m still on myspace. It’s too much. There’s just too much of the matrix to get into. And like, I don’t get twitter. I don’t want everybody to know what I’m up to 24 hours a day. I want my privacy as long as I can keep it. But with the blog, it’s cool cause, in your so-called “downtime” when you’re not dropping albums, or doing projects or whatever, it’s cool to keep people updated, and tell people what you’re working on. Just letting them know what you got going on, and future projects, and random thoughts you’re having, or what shows are coming up. Just to keep people in contact. Cause being an “underground” artist, you don’t get the publicity a guy like Lil’ Wayne might get.
You gotta kind of generate that publicity yourself. So places like myspace, and the blog help. Youtube helps. You do a video, cause you’re video won’t get played on BET or MTV. Not at first at least, unless you got a major label backing you. But you can do your own independent stuff, put it up on youtube, and BOOM. Just maintain your own little cult following before you blow up on another level.
JM: I know you also use it as an outlet to express your feelings towards the industry. Like yesterday I saw the video you did with Soulja Boy. And I wanted to talk about your thoughts there a little bit. What are your thoughts on this new generation of artists where there’s very little attention to the production value behind the music as long as you can just get it done and get it out there. He talked about making it in 10 minutes.
Kev Brown: I’m not trying to diss Soulja Boy or nobody. But if I don’t like it, I just don’t like it. Like, if someone’s gonna brag about making a beat in 10 minutes… if that beat was dope, I would be like, yo, that’s what’s up! Like I’ve heard stories of Pete Rock, J-Dilla, whoever, making beats in 10 minutes, and it’ll be classic, crazy layered, melodic, crazy stuff. So it’s all good. But if you made a beat in 10 minutes, it’s not supposed to sound like you made it in 10 minutes. And you’re not supposed to brag about how you made it in 10 minutes. But I guess he can, cause he, well he says, he made all this money from it. I guess that’s the whole point that Soulja Boy’s trying to make. For me, there’s more of a craft, or an art to it. But, it is what it is.
It’s for me also, you gotta love it. But there’s gotta be some craft to it. Like my beats don’t sound like Soulja Boy’s. But if I did do stuff like that, it would be dope. Cause I would inject some soul in it. It would be some 808 down south stuff, but it would be some type of hybrid of it. Like mixed into samples. Or even if it wasn’t samples, it would still have more soul to it. But that’s all it was. Cause the day before that, I put the $200 beats joint. And the next day, I saw that on the king crates blogspot I think. And I looked at it and I was just like, wow. So I copied it, put it up on my joint, like yo, you can’t be serious. It was funny, and it was sad at the same time, you know.
JM: You’re both a producer and a rapper, but you’re more known for your production. What do you consider your strongest suit, and what did you get into first.
Kev Brown: Well, I started off rhyming first. This was years ago, back when I was in highschool. My man Early Reed was making my beats. Big up to Early Reed. He was doing my beats, and we were basically a group. He basically just showed me how to do beats, cause I always wanted to have original stuff when I went to an open mic. I didn’t wanna just have like Black Moon’s instrumental and rhyme over it. I wanted original joints. So that’s pretty much where it all stemmed from.
So I saw how he did it. This was back when he was doing pause beats like off the tapedecks. Like using 2 tapedecks and breaking them in the process. So that’s pretty much where it came from. And like I said, I always wanted original stuff to rhyme on. From that point on, it was just a matter of getting better equipment. And you know what? I don’t even really consider myself an MC. Like, I used to, you know. In highschool, and in my 20s. But once I got more into the beats, it was way more fun for me to make beats than it was to rhyme. I still rhyme, and it’s still fun, but, it’s more fun creatively to me to make a beat. I do both, but beats is the main thing now.
JM: When you’re rapping, do you find it more challenging going off somebody else’s beat because you’re not as familiar with the intricacies.
Kev Brown: Not really. Sometimes it even feels even a little easier cause you feel like you can be a little more free. Depending on the beat though. Sometimes somebody will send you a joint, and it’s not really crazy or whatever. It’s pretty much the same, but at the same time, it seems like I can be a little more free. I can ask the other producer “what do you hear in this beat, or what idea do you have for the subject of the song?” So I take the artist side of it, instead of being a producer all the time.
JM: Ok, well let’s talk about the record you did with LMNO. First of all, I gotta say that I really like the record. But how did that all come together? I know you were sending beats for the group, what’s the story there?
Kev Brown: Yeah, this was a couple of years ago. The Visionaries were working on a new album. Key from The Visionaries had just sent me some beats, so I sent them some beats. And then LMNO hit me up… well you know what. We were all on the same label. My first album, I Do What I Do was on Up Above. And the Visionaries are on Up Above. And LMNO is part of the Visionaries, and he’s also a solo artist on Up Above Records. Was, I should say. But basically they all hit me up to send them some beats. So I sent Visionaries 10 beats, and I sent LMNO like 10 other beats. When I make a beat tape, I usually put about 10 beats. And cat’s are usually like, “Yo, I like track number 2.” Alright, we move from there. And that’s what happened with Visionaries, they picked 1 beat, and that was cool. But then LMNO hit me up after we did the tracks, and was like, “yo, ummmm…I just wanna do a whole album with you. I like all of these beats.”
And that was it. I had never had anybody really be like let’s just do a whole album. I never sent anybody a beat tape and they was like “yo I want all of these.” All I had sent him was the snippets, and it had all the Kev Brown drops in it still. But he and LD, the DJ who did all the cuts on the album, sent me back basically the whole album within a month. 10 songs, all written out, scratches and everything. But still with the Kev Brown drops on it. He had taken them, 2-tracked them and looped ‘em, and said, yo, here’s the parts where you rhyme at. I was like, “wow, are you serious!?” Nobody had ever done that before. So at that point, I was like, ok, let’s go. I was ready to get it poppin. A lot of people think it was an unlikely combination.
But it worked out. That’s the good thing about music, you can mix different people together, and you never know what’s gonna come out. That’s basically what hip hop is. Like human samples almost. Like, mix me with LMNO. The same way I would sample John Coltrane, and mix it with a Sly Stone joint. It’s just the combination of different areas coming together. And it came out dope, we did some shows, went on tour with Oddisee back in last November. We did some shows out in Cali. We working on the new one now, so it’s been a good experience.
JM: What can you tell me about the new one?
Kev Brown: The new one is called James Brown. Because his first name is James, and my last name is Brown. So we’re doing the James Brown project. I’m sampling all James Brown samples. I know you hear that and go “oh great. Hip hop, doing James Brown samples again.” But it’s not gonna be just straight looping joints, or like Funky Drummer. It’s not gonna be joints like that. It’s gonna be chopped up samples, and flipping it in a way you’ve never heard it before. If you know the Kev Brown style by now, you know I don’t just loop stuff. I take different pieces from records and piece them together like a puzzle almost. And just make it go the way I want it to go. And I’m probably gonna rhyme a little more on this one. I didn’t really rhyme a lot on the first LMNO joint. We’re gonna try and have more EPMD or like Rae and Ghost joints. Like back and forth joints.
Also, I’m trying to be more in Cali. Cause the last album we did was almost all over the internet. Sendspace, Megaupload or whatever. And this time, for the first two songs I was actually in the studio making the beat. And then we were writing to it, and working on it. And that’s way more fun than working on it at home, and sending it their way, and having them send it back. It’s more fun. Well, with some artists. With some people, you don’t wanna be in the studio with them. But with certain people it’s cool. So hopefully, for this project we can be more personal with it. And it will come across better in the music also.