To continue our VA wave Tau interviews Namebrand. Namebrand worked with Michael Millions on his recent album Hard To Be King. His beats on the project we excellent and inspiring. Linked up with the man to talk about how much he dealt with the album and his production.
TAU: State your name and where your from.
Namebrand: NameBrand, Im from Richmond, Virginia.
TAU: My first question is your name, NameBrand. I like and am curious about your name because I feel like you are making designer beats like designer clothes. How did your name come to be?
NB: There is a simple meaning and a deeper meaning. The simple meaning is my Name is Brandon. The deeper meaning is that I believe it is a sign of quality when people use their real name to stamp their work. When you buy a S63 Benz or Rolls Royce and look under the hood you will see the name of the engineer who built the engine. Imagine if everybody had to put their name on anything they produced, I bet you the quality of goods and service would improve. My Pops told me all you got is, your name and your word, and its up to you to make it mean something.
TAU: You work from VA, right? How is the culture there for growing and inspiring artist?
NB: The culture is beautiful. The art scene in general is booming. VCU is the number one art school in the country so you have tons of creatives that move here to go to school, and end up making Richmond their home. So there is a very rich art scene here.
TAU: You produced a few songs on Michael Millions newest album Hard To Be King. What creative space were you in making some of those beats?
NB: Yea I produced seven tracks on that project. That project was created over a 2 year time span, and some of those beats were created 3 years ago so the creative space varied. I just know that we wanted to play with injecting live instrumentation into our sound. So a lot of the beats I produced have that live element added to the overall production.
NB: Mike is my blood brother so creating music with him is a natural process. Its like when we were kids playing with GI Joes and Nintendo, the only difference is instead of toys it’s music.
TAU: From your point of view, did you think this album would be received this well? If I recall correctly XXL had it on their website give it love.
NB: This is all a blessing to be honest. And let me be clear we have never endorsed the “pay to play” model. The love we have received is genuine and it is based on our talent. Which makes the reception of this album even more special. I felt really good about releasing this project. As we were working on it I knew it was special, and I was excited to release it. We played it for a small group of friends and family to get their thoughts, and all the feedback was positive. However, as we all know once the fans get their hand on it, they are the ultimate judge, and for the response to be this great is amazing. Definitely validated my feelings about this album.
TAU: Who all have you worked with production wise?
NB: No major placements yet… I work with a lot of people locally and beyond via my production company Purple Republic. Over the past 7 years we’re responsible for producing, recording, mixing, and/or mastering nearly 40 projects by Virginia artist. We are in the process branding our sound, and creating a sound that is synonymous with quality and integrity.
TAU: Talking to Michael Millions I found out he was more than a rapper. He has contributed behind the scenes. What else do you do besides make beats?
NB: I’m an engineer. Not just music engineer, but a software engineer as well. I went to Norfolk State University where I got my bachelor in Computer Information Technology, and I have my Master Degree in Management Information System from Florida Tech. Im an advocate for higher education, and I believe that you don’t have to choose between your passion and education. I truly believe you can do both at a very high level, and I would like to be an example of that.
TAU: Apologize Less is one of my favorite songs on the album by the way. Just realized you made the beat for Thinking Of You. Amazing.
NB: Thank you!
TAU: What was the studio sessions like for this album?
NB: Well, Mike records himself a majority of the time. I think I only recorded Thinking Of You, because I made that beat while at his home studio and we recorded it straight into my laptop. Sometimes I miss recording him, but at the same time I feel like the music is better, because he can be more vulnerable when he records by himself. Hard To Be King is a very intimate album that I don’t think would have been possible if somebody else was there in the room while he was recording. I think when artists start to record themselves they take more chances, and put more effort into telling their truth.
TAU: What or who inspires you?
NB: God, My Wife, and my Family.
TAU: Who are your favorite producers?
NB: Dr. Dre, Quincy Jones, Neptunes, Timbaland, Bink, HiTek, Kanye.
TAU: Who do you work with out of VA and outside of your local circle?
NB: I’ve worked with a few outside of VA and my local circle, but my goal for this year is to expand that network a bit more. So if your reading this and you got dope rhymes hit me up! Serious inquires only lol.
TAU: What can we expect next from NameBrand?
NB: I have a few projects in the works including my own album where I’m teaming up with some dope artist from Richmond and beyond to create a project all over my production. Been working on it for a while, so hopefully it will be out soon. I’m also working on a project with Radio B, Cole Hicks, Millz and Easalio. I have a couple of R&B projects that I’m working. I’ve also been getting into movie scoring as well. In the mean time, follow me on IG @namebrand_music every Saturday Morning I post a beat to my timeline. I also just started doing this thing call the #LyricalFitnessTest where I post a beat on my timeline, and send the beat out to any artist who wants to write a verse to it, the only request is that they post a video rapping the verse within 48 hrs. The response was great the first time I did it so I might just keep it going.
I want to thank NameBrand for this interview as well. Was dope talking to him.