Interview: Kev Brown — Good Like Hearing Marvin Gaye For The First Time

Feature, Interview, Music
Kev Brown1

Photo courtesy of Rebekah Chong.

Think of the most relaxed guy you know. Multiply his chill level by 10, and you will have all you need to imagine a 40 minute chat with Kev Brown. All the way from Landover, Maryland (20 minutes outside of Washington) we sit down to chat in Wellington at his sound check. It is the last show of his AU/NZ tour; he explains that the previous show at Rakinos in Auckland, turned out massively. Hip Hop heads and fans made him feel: “If I had to pick a show so far, I guess I would say last night, was crazy”. The producer/emcee gained major recognition in music after remixing Jay Z’s ‘The Black Album’ to ‘The Brown Album in 2004. Prior to that though, he’d contributed seven tracks to Jazzy Jeff’s ‘The Magnificent’. He remembers in the interview below, had it not been for his friend and fellow producer, Grap Luva, he wouldn’t be in NZ talking to me now. Grateful he’s able to have time in other countries to relax and look around, he recaps his experience in Aotearoa: “We went to the Arcade joint, you know, they hooked me up with some clothes and I hung out with the Base FM cats. We did a radio show, hung out with DJ Lo Key and his brother, it was nice. We went to Eden’s something… The volcano thing [Mount Eden] and saw the big crater for the volcano. It’s just really beautiful out there. What else. You know, other than just mingling with the people, I hung out at Rakinos a lot. They were hosting me there and they have events every night, so I would just go there… Whendidyoufallinlovewithhiphop would like to shout out Marek, Taran, Sam and Jono for hosting us and Kev Brown in Welly. Also mad love to Mazdef Productions, Base FM, Rakinos and Dopamine. The extended audio of the interview is linked to our SoundCloud below. Peace and love to Reggie D for hooking up the Bread&Butta Kev Brown special mix available for download HERE.

HH: What’s your impression of Kiwis and our music scene?  

K: It’s great, I mean from the show last night in Auckland, you know, I kind of wanna say that was the best show but all of them have been really good. But, if I had to pick a show so far I guess I would say last night was crazy.

HH: What is the Hip Hop scene like in Landover? 

K: Well Landover, I’ll just give it a general, metro area, Washington, Maryland, Virgina [rundown]. It’s a tight scene out there, it’s a really good scene. You probably know, a bunch of cats out there. It’s always been a rich scene, the Maryland metropolitan area. They call it the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia), I don’t really call it that, that’s like a cliché kind of thing. Growing up we used to call it the Metro Area, because you could take the Metro to Virgina, Maryland and DC like all in one day. But yeah it’s a happening scene, it reminds me of places round here like Cuba St where it’s like bars and clubs and you know it’s a lot of venues to perform at. They just opened the Howard Theatre, it’s like a classic theatre, they been having a lot of shows there. There’s a lot of venues in DC that host soul music, Hip Hop events, you know, like real stuff.

HH: That’s the thing, I kind of feel like the music that comes out of Washington, from an international perspective, like Low Budget and Mello Music it’s um, got a certain substance to it…Would you say so? 

K: I think it’s… I mean you got your whack people everywhere. You know, but the people that are standing out I think, there is a difference because it’s a whole different area to New York or whatever, Cali. We’re still on the East Coast, but we’re like in the middle of everything. So we’re not down in Atlanta, we’re not up in New York, we’re like kinda just right in the middle. I guess you could say we get influenced by everything, and even now with the internet, everybody’s influenced by everything. But DC really used to have its own super style. You know, Go-go music, I don’t know if you know about the Go-go music and stuff but that’s the hometown music of Washington, DC. But I’m from Landover, Maryland which is like 20 minutes from DC so it’s all kind of blended together.

“To me all the good music is soul music. What ever genre of music. That ‘thing’ that grabs you is the soul of it. “

HH: What, to you, defines a good beat? 

K: [Laughs]. A good beat, is a beat that’s not bad. It’s just, you know, when you hear something – whatever like when you see a movie or like when you hear something special, you get the little magic feeling you get; like when you was a little kid and you saw Superman on the movie flying, you get that magic, you know that inspirational feeling like ‘wooow’. That same feeling you hear, you know, like when you hear Marvin Gaye for the first time or whatever.

HH: So it gives you that [thing]?

K: Yeah definitely. And I also try to give people that feeling too, hopefully they have that feeling too when they hear my stuff. Like, I want it to have that magic feeling, that undescribable…You know when you like something and it’s something that’s classic. It stands out and you know you’re going to listen to it over and over again or watch it over and over.

HH: So sonically there’s no kind of technicalities for you? 

K: No, not really. It is a feeling. I can’t really describe it. Because I like all types of beats so I can’t really narrow it down. I like all types of beats for certain reasons like say DJ Premier, his stuff is real choppy. He chops records but in the sense that they’re choppy, choppy.  He uses like what you call stabs. Where a person like Pete Rock is more fluid and the way he chops samples, it’s seamless. You can’t tell where the chops are. I like both styles. They’re both dope. And even stuff like, what, I can’t think of any mainstream stuff right now, but it doesn’t have to be underground beats, it could be like cleaner sounding beats too. It’s basically when you feel the soul. To me all the good music is soul music. What ever genre of music. That thing that grabs you is the soul of it.

HH: When did you fall in love with Hip Hop? 

K: I guess I fell in love with hip hop like, as a little kid man, just, first time I heard it. Like Rappers Delight, Run DMC.

HH: Okay I got quick fire questions for ya. Boomerang or Do the Right Thing? 

K:  I got to say Boomerang. I’m a comedy person. Comedy, super heroes, I like Spike Lee movies though. But I’m not super into drama.

HH: Beat Street or Wild Style? 

K: DAMN! That’s a hard one! Wild Style was tight! It had Zoro in it… Fab 5 Freddy. Dammmn, yo, Beat Street was tight, but I might have to say Wild Style cause they had the basketball scene, they had the, ‘here’s a little story that must be told’. The steps, like there’s a lot of super classic Hip Hop stuff that people have taken. But. Oh my. Beat Street is sad cause Ramo got killed, like that’s sad man. But yo, I think I like Wild Style better. Shout out to Fab Five Freddy.

HH: And Clark Wallabees or Timberland’s? 

K: Wow… I’ve never owned a pair of Clark’s but they look awesome. Ah, I always wanted like the Wu-Tang ones. God, them joints were tight. But I’ve definitely owned a pair of Timberland’s in my life before. Growing up in Maryland, snow and…like back in the day cats used to wear Timberland’s with shorts. It’s hard. [Laughs]. You have a T-Shirt, shorts and some Timberland’s on —  it’s crazy. But I guess I got to say Timberland’s cause I never owned a pair of Clark’s but Slick Rick and Ghostface be killing the Clark’s though. 

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