About Me

Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week - Braille
Monday, April 16, 2007

Most rappers have opened for, or performed with, a litany of other artists, but Braille is one of the few who can say he toured with the one and only James Brown. The Hip-Hop Is Music CEO and MC calls it the highlight of his touring experience as he opened 20 shows for the Godfather of Soul between 2005 and 2006. Braille toured as a solo artist at the time, though he also has a crew, Lightheaded, where he’s joined by Ohmega Watts and Othello. Late last year Braille hit listeners with his third solo effort, Box Of Rhymes, and today I’m sitting down with him to talk about his work, both as an artist and as a CEO, his use of faith and religion in his rhymes, and what his goals are as an artist and a label owner.

Adam Bernard: I love your label's name, Hip-Hop Is Music, how did you come up with it and what does it mean to you?
Braille: The label name is one of those things that just hit me over the head during a road trip. I was sitting in the backseat during a tour and it all just connected. I've always appreciated Hip-Hop as an art form. I appreciate the talent, creativity, musicianship, the poetic nature of the lyrics, hearing how MCs use their voice, and much more. Hip-Hop has been a big part of my life for a long time. A lot of people try to box Hip-Hop in. They hear some songs on the radio and assume that's all there is to it. I just wanted to make a statement that this is music and that every artist is different. I didn't start this label to put out some cookie cutter copies of what everyone else is doing. We are trying to add our own flavor, express our true hearts, push the boundaries of our own creative expressions and, essentially, make good music.

Adam Bernard: With that in mind, what qualities do you look for in an artist?
Braille: I never really went through an "accepting demos" process. My desire was to partner with artists who were already polished as MCs, but needed more resources in order to keep pushing their records further and by the time I was ready to start the label I already had a list of artists that I was building with. Most of the artists on the label are married and many of them have kids. All of them have been rapping for over ten years now and most of them work regular jobs. I've really grown close to these artists and I want to see them all succeed in life beyond music. As musicians, I think they have a lot to offer, but I also believe in these guys as people. I believe in them as husbands, fathers, members of their community and so forth. It's an honor to be working together with everyone and I'm confident that they will all be on their A game for a while. That's the artistic goal with the label. Just working together with incredible like-minded artists and putting out the best records we can.

Adam Bernard: Your work can oftentimes be described as Christian Rap. Why have you decided to voice your beliefs in your music and do you feel your inclusion of God and religion in your rhymes limits your audience?
Braille: Every honest artist limits their audience to some extent. Not everyone wants to hear songs about drug money and stuff, but people still talk about it on records. Not everyone who listens to drug money raps actually lives that lifestyle. My favorite music has always been honest music. I don't want to listen to rappers fake who they are in order to get approval. What makes Hip-Hop so raw is that an artist can present themselves to the listener at face value. Religion has influenced many great artists in their career. Rakim is a legendary Hip-Hop artist and he's open about his faith and beliefs. I've never felt weird about it at all. My faith isn't a gimmick for me, it's my real life. When I turn off the mic and sit at home with my wife and my daughter my faith is what pushes me there, as well. On and off the mic, it's who I am. I think it would be wack if I didn't share the real me on record.

Adam Bernard: You released your third solo album, Box Of Rhymes, in 2006. Tell me what your goals were going in and some of the ways you went about promoting the album.
Braille: Box of Rhymes is my third official solo album. It's a really personal record. My wife was pregnant with our first child, I was really busy running the record label, I was touring a lot, with a lot of it being international and I had just bought my first home. It was a monumental time in my life, I was physically tired and I was rushed due to my schedule, so I was just trying to capture the moment. That's what the record was all about, capturing where I was at, remembering how I got there and thinking about where I want to go next. The record came out in Japan before it hit the States. Another company handled the Japan release. By the time I was ready to put out the U.S. version my daughter was born and I had entered a new stage of life. Now that everything is settled, I plan to drop another new record in 2007 and push it with a lot more strategy behind it. The next album will be called The IV Edition.

Adam Bernard: So you already have the next album in the works. That shouldn’t surprise anybody. Final question of the day; what kind of impact are you hoping to make with both your music and your label?
Braille: To be honest, I'm just taking this all one step at a time. I'm not trying to build the biggest label, I'm just trying to be faithful over the place God has me at. My motto is; if I'm faithful over the territory God has placed me in then it will lead me into new territory. I hope the music and the label impact people’s lives, that the music enriches them with audio enjoyment and edification. I hope the label can keep up a high level of quality and consistency, and that ultimately we just keep putting out records that reflect who we are as people and where we are as artists.

For more Braille check out hiphopismusic.com, braillehiphop.com, myspace.com/hhismusic and myspace.com/braillebrizzy.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:58 AM  
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