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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 - Brown Bag AllStars
Monday, November 23, 2009

Everyone involved in NYC’s underground hip-hop scene has, at one point in time, rubbed shoulders with at least one of the members of the Brown Bag AllStars. The seven man crew consisting of (back row) KONCEPT, Deejay Element, J57, (front row) DJ E-Holla, Soul Khan, The Audible Doctor, and (not pictured) DJ Goo, have a huge bi-weekly showcase, Brown Bag Thursdays, and they’ve all worked at Fat Beats at some point in time. It was a host of after hours 40 oz. fueled rhyming sessions at the store that led the seven of them to decide to collaborate and form a group. Now that group they formed is one of the most respected in the scene and this week I caught up with all seven members of the Brown Bag AllStars to find out more about their music, the harsh realities of their responsibilities at Fat Beats, and how even being lost in the woods would be a musical experience for them.

Adam Bernard: Why are you brown baggin it?  What does the brown bag represent to you?
DJ E-Holla: We brown bag it because we are everyday people. The brown bag is a quality that everyone is comfortable with and can relate to. When you shop at Bloomingdale's, what do people walk out and around Lexington Avenue in New York City with? When you go to the liquor store, inside that black bag is a brown bag. The brown bag brings a balance and holds everything together. Did we say "bag" enough?

Adam Bernard: Yes, just barely! Musically, how do you all differ as individual emcees and why do you feel you work so well together as a group?
KONCEPT: Being that we’re all from different parts of the country our styles, as well as our personalities and influences, differ. Soul Khan most likely saw more of artists such as Ras Kass and Xzibit in Los Angeles, while myself and J57, being from NY, might have seen more artists from the Def Jux roster, or Non Phixion. The Audible Doctor being from the Midwest might have been more exposed to artists like Atmosphere, etc. Our sounds aren’t bound to those artists, but being that such sounds were more prominent in our lives they could have an impact on our styles. I believe our differences are an advantage, though, and make our music more intriguing to the listener. It's not the same repetitive voice, style, or rhyme structure over and over again. Also, a powerful tool that we have is the fact that not only are The Audible Doctor and Soul Khan emcees, but they are also talented singers. Last but not least, due to the fact that we all work at Fat Beats NY, on a daily basis we see what the fans like, and most importantly, we see what they don’t!

Adam Bernard: Being that you all work at Fat Beats I'm sure you've seen the divide between the underground that has their work sold there and the underground that doesn't.  What are your thoughts on that divide and where do you feel you fit into it?
The Audible Doctor: That's something that I'm blessed and cursed with dealing with, and that's also a major part of being at Fat Beats, having the ability to give an underground artist an outlet to sell their music. We actually have a lot of records in the store that are consignment direct from the artist. It's hard sometimes because you have to separate friendships and relationships from business and break it down like "is this record actually going to sell out of the store, or am I just doing this artist a favor by taking it in?" The bottom line is there's a certain level, or quality, that something needs to exceed in order to make it on the Fat Beats shelves, I just happen to be in the position of making the decision of whether or not it's good enough. I've definitely gotten some crazy responses when rejecting an artist's record.

Adam Bernard: What are Brown Bag Thursdays? It seems like everyone’s been talking about these events as of late.
J57: Brown Bag Thursdays is a bi-weekly show that we throw in the Lower East Side at the Voodoo Lounge. Deejay Element came up with the idea of having a party where he, E-Holla, and DJ Ready Cee would spin hip-hop and maybe have Brown Bag perform a song or two. We later decided to make it into an all-out event that showcases our respected peers in the scene and gives shine to the lesser-known acts that we think are dope. We've been doing this for six months now and we respect the hell out of every single artist that has performed on our stage. We especially owe a lot to OISD's J.Monopoly for doing a great job as our head of promotions.

Adam Bernard: What are your most, and least, favorite trends in hip-hop?
Soul Khan: Right now we like the fact that a lot of the best emcees are collaborating more frequently again. When dudes like Royce da 5’9’’ and Busta Rhymes combine forces, you can’t go wrong. We're also digging that emcees are renewing their emphasis on the live show. You can’t sit at home and collect rap money anymore, so everybody has to earn their stripes on stage again, no matter how big you are. It also shows who can stand among the Brother Alis and who just falls on their face among the Drakes. Speaking of Drake, the "swag" attitude of rappers these days is generally our least favorite thing in hip-hop. Trying to sound cool is a little lame, especially now that rap is over three decades old and if we want to mature as an audience and an artistic community there's little to be gained by acting like this is a fashion accessory instead of a serious craft. That isn't to say that you can’t be confident or stylish as a person while emceeing, but bring that Lupe Fiasco knockoff shit around us and we'll make you look stupider than you already do.

Adam Bernard: If the Brown Bag AllStars could affect one change in hip-hop what would you want it to be and why?
DJ Goo: Probably the sound of hip-hop. We feel that hip-hop is at a standstill of people not thinking outside the box. Nowadays you have people just trying to copy everybody else. We are not scared to take risks, which is why our music has no limits. That’s how people are remembered in this industry, by bringing something new and creative but still putting out good quality music that is respected.

Adam Bernard: Finally, if you were all lost in the woods, who would be most likely to find their way home, and who would be most likely to get eaten by a bear?
DeeJay Element: Chances are that all seven of us wouldn’t be stranded somewhere at the same time because either The Audible Doctor or J57 would be holding down Fat Beats, but If BBAS were lost in the woods hopefully there would be enough booze for us to get twisted and come up with a plan of escape. I’m not saying we need alcohol to form a plan, but it helps. And while we were lost in the woods, I can guarantee we would come up with at least three bangin songs and a remix about our experience.

Related Links

Blog: brownbagallstars.blogspot.com
MySpace: myspace.com/brownbagallstars
Twitter: twitter.com/brownbagallstar


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:12 AM  
  • At 9:38 AM, Blogger J. said…

    Wow man, you're truly killing the game (as J57 would say) with the interviews. These guys are dope. Not only that, they're family! Dope piece. Also everybody come out to BROWN BAG THURSDAYS ON DECEMBER 3RD AND DEC. 10TH at Voodoo Lounge 24 1st Ave. and 1st St. in NYC. My group and I, O.I.S.D, will be rocking on the 10th (Yep I had to include a shameless plug).

  • At 4:47 PM, Blogger Jonathan said…

    Cool interview Adam! BBAS have def found there way into my favorite artists to listen too/watch on stage. 1st time seeing them rip a stage def had me hype! It was also the 1st time me and the crew (O.I.S.D.) rocked Brown Bag Thursday,so we knew we had to come with it. Definetly an inspiring,balanced and dope group. Keep it moving fellas!

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