Kay B Brown returns with a powerful, flawless new hip hop single
Chattanooga may not have the reputation of being a music city (we could certainly use a few more performance venues) but reputation be damned, Chattanooga is a music city. The quality and quantity of music being created here is simply astounding though I have to admit, doing what I do, I am in a unique position to hear more of it than most.
That’s the motivation behind this column in the first place. Every week I sit down to tell you about an artist, band, album or show that you need to know about but, unless you’re already in the particular loop, might never appear on your radar otherwise. This week’s column is about a rising star in the Chattanooga Hip-Hop scene. His name is Kay B Brown and his music represents some of the best the genre has to offer.
Fresh off the heels of a very well-received performance at Hip-Hop CHA’s After Holiday Party at the Revelry Room, Brown went back to the studio to put the finishing touches on a new single scheduled for release later this month. We’ll get to that, but first a little more about the man and his music.
In 2016 Brown released Story 2 Tell, a nine track autobiographical album. At least I assume it’s autobiographical given its intensity and realism, and without going a step further, there is the first and most obvious quality that puts Brown a step ahead of the rest.
Too often young artists release albums that are little more than imitations of their heroes. This is true in every musical genre, but in rap music is it is especially ironic given that authenticity is the cornerstone of the genre. Some do a better job than others, but at the end of the day they’ve mastered imitation, contributing nothing particularly new or meaningful.
Brown is the opposite of that; the first thing that screams out from his music is its authenticity. No doubt, he had his own influences and it’s possible or even likely that his earliest music had some hint of that, but not now. The man’s music is purely his own and the Chattanooga native’s lyrics speak to a life actually lived rather than one gleaned from movies, TV and pop culture.
“Travel,” like so many of the tunes on that album, is a beautiful yet harsh reprimand of exactly the sort of pop culture other young rappers seem to emulate. The line, “Be the person you needed when you were growing up,” describes much of the tone of the album, eschewing the all-too-common infatuation with the “thug life” for a positive message while acknowledging the circumstances that wrongfully make “thug life” seem attractive to young men and women who don’t know any better.
The pinnacle of this message, from where I stand anyway, is the spoken word track, “Let Me Talk to ‘Em.” This is no half-assed attempt from a disconnected person to “rap with the kids.” It is instead a sincere open message from a person who’s seen firsthand the dead-end path being sold to young people and had the intelligence and drive to rise above it and now wants to share that truth. It’s powerful stuff.
The new track from his upcoming album is “My Life,” and as brilliant as his earlier work has been, it is clear that it was merely the precursor to this, Kay B Brown perfected. The lyrics are flawless and the backing tracks are musically solid and masterfully executed.
Here again, Brown expands on the theme from his earlier work, speaking truthfully about despair and brutality without succumbing to it. Instead, Brown speaks to the power of the individual to rise above it. No weapon is so potent as the mind, and the person who wields it effewctively cannot be defeated by people or circumstance.
Brown has the heart of a poet and brings its full force to bear on “My Life” (produced by Q-Bosilini whose talent rivals and complements Brown’s.) The track will be premiered at the HipHopCHA Monday Listening Party on Jan. 23rd at the Edney Innovation Building, Floor Five, 1100 Market Street at 6:30 p.m.
If you want to see some of the best of what Chattanooga has to offer these days, be there.