Brian Brown Links Up with Carmine Prophets for an Explorative Display of his Range as a Rapper and Vocalist
Evan Dale // Dec 4, 2023
‘It ain’t like it’s impossible to make something of here, from here,’ Brian Brown philosophizes at the tail end of his musing intro to new project, BBGonProfit. The Nashville native – rare as that is in an era that’s seen the Tennessee capital explode as one of the fastest growing cities in the United States – is made rarer still not only as a figurehead of Nashville’s renaissance-esque music and arts rise in defiance of the city’s shifting, oft-plastic cultural identity, but as simply one of the more aesthetically unique, storytelling endowed rappers in all of modern music. His 2020 debut album, Journey saw him elevate his anecdotal styling into a space of new and necessary Southern hip-hop that felt every bit as lyrically organic in its emotional roll as it was held true to the instrumentally founded, still hard-hitting nature of Tennessee that has long made it an unsung capital of the space at large. A mosaic of singles, features, and mixtapes in the time since have kept sharp his intangibles. But now, with his latest, it feels as though he’s truly taking his next stylistically key step as an artist still very much on the journey that’s beginning was earmarked with the namesake LP more than three years ago.
BBGonProfit is drawn collaboratively through-lined, albeit creatively meandering, by way of producer, Carmine Prophets, whose own additions to the half-hour delivery expand much wider than only in its expectedly clever title. The Dallas-rooted, Southern-true composer has a storied track-record of solo and collaborative exploits including the beat of Clarksvillian, Case Arnold’s Flowers and Jah Frida’s 2019 album, It’s All Good. With Brian Brown, two artists – a rapper and a producer – already paving a new, inventive, and home-cooked road forward for the South, kick it up a collaborative notch.
As a whole, BBGonProfit expands on a directional change from Brian Brown who has been methodically evolving from a more downtempo, jazz-rooted, backpack aesthetic that defined his early canon at large to one bouncing with more bass, more boss, more braggadocio, and ultimately, more creative risks well taken. And he’s making all those shifts without forgoing any of the lyrical dynamism, anecdotal gait, or melodic willingness that has long made him one of the more adept storytellers and emotionally intuitive lyricists anywhere across the modern rapscape.
He and Carmine Prophets’s creative relationship seems form-fit to make that evolution seamless. Scattered with spacey synth strokes, and oft-underlined with trunk-rattling basslines, the producer’s beat pack for BBGonProfit is at once definitive of Brian Brown’s roots as an eclectic, enigmatic force of poetic immersion and mellow experimentation, while simultaneously proving his punch as a capable, calculated torchbearer of Tennessee hip-hop’s hard-hitting history.
After his monologuing intro, Revenue, where Brian Brown dissects emotions and opinions of his city tending to forget its people as parts of it grow and evolve deeper into a pocket of pop-culture clichés, Frankenstein starts, the bass hits, and the monster emerges. It’s not without a lot of careful and studied listening that the early Wayne comparisons come into play, but BBGonProfit’s balanced merging between the trunk-rattling and the thought-provoking, melded all together with a particularly keen sense of keeping the rhyme going even after the track seems to end, sees him step into a creative space, fluidly lyrical, and anthemically riddled with energy, where the comparison rings especially true.
Another dub in my books
Shout to Carmine, good look
BB get profit, got ‘em shook
Simple is as simple does
And what it is is what it was
Do as you does,
Brown rattles off half subconsciously as Carmine Prophets’s Frankenstein beat disappears into the fade. Kurt Wagner – brimming with another retro-cyber key-laden foundation – sees Brown again attacking with a quickfire, creatively woven flow before doing the same across its head-nodding hook. But then, without abandoning any of his lyrical propensity or anthemic chorus, he gets even more creative with his craft. RIP Big Pokey, which features a verse and hook from 30 $ALE$, slows everything down a touch, expanding the space to begin melding his craft into a stylistic shift that continues unpredictably throughout the rest of the project. A few more pockets of melody, a bit more reprieve from relentless bars, and yet still the constant underline of the South, bleed through, transitioning into the next track, on and on.
Visions begins with BB Gump maneuvering through carefully curated bars on shellfish and clever, consistent references to the NBA, before slowing down the tempo again and melodizing his signature draw into a softer transition of the EP. And that same mellow melody, experimental push with his vocals, and change of pace continues forward. Free, Talk, and Ring! all shine an exceptionally bright light on Brian Brown’s ability and confidence as a vocalist, every bit as they do continue to reenforce his established knack for lyricism and building an addicting track at alrge. And through the three-track run of particularly melodic productions, Carmine Prophets’s pace slows, his keys expand, further instrumentals are woven in, and he opens the space necessary for Brown to navigate his most unique moments, not only on the project, but anywhere across his canon to date.
BBGonProfit begins big, bass-heavy, and functionally, historically tethered to the roots of Tennessee hip-hop. But as it pushes forward, both Brian Brown and Carmine Prophets push the boundaries and expectations not only for the South, but for the game at large. Confidently expanding his own skillset into more melody and transcendent stylistic grey areas that he’s explored with his past, but never so fully given himself to, Brian Brown ultimately publishes the EP as an exhibition of his range that, with the help of Carmine Prophets and his fluidly adaptable beats, is materializing more in every direction of his artistry – as a rapper and a vocalist, as a curator of hard-hitting anthems and of emotionally charged ballads.