Music Interview - Brandon O-Soul Medlock

Please allow me to introduce you to Brandon O-Soul Medlock, a seasoned hip-hop/neo-soul fusion artist.  Below is an interview about his music and a very eye opening account about his take on mainstream music and hip-hop.  Read on to learn more from this creative artist and rediscover the true meaning of hip-hop. Brandon O-Soul Medlock, hip-hop/neo-soul fusion artist.

Describe your music.

My music is a mixture of hip-hop, neo-soul, and spokenword. My music comes from thought, and from the heart…from my surroundings…from reality. When I was growing up and understanding what the hip-hop genre was all about, I began to appreciate the message and how well one person could have influence on the masses. When I rhyme, I remember what hip-hop came from and what it truly means. I live the culture of hip-hop, which includes all of the elements of breakdancing, graffiti art, the deejay, and the words. As I evolve, my music has to evolve and sound mature. I call it ‘Grown Man Music’.

Who do you speak to with your music?

My music is geared towards those who still appreciate traditional hip-hop sounds. The mature audience. I would love for the younger audiences to really grasp how the older hip-hop heads do things, and to understand that real music comes from the soul and not from the almighty dollar.

What are your inspirations? What are your influences from the old school?

Since I do a lot of reality-based music, I like the artists that make you think. I like the artists that see the world and its surroundings for what it is. And it doesn’t just reach hip-hop. It’s global to me. I listen to a lot of music for ideas and just to feed my mind and my heart. I indulge in lots of ‘old school’ soul music and some classic rock. I appreciate traditional jazz. I listen to gospel quite a bit, because of the raw emotion and the power in the vocals. I love the wordsmiths such as Common, KRS-One, Talib Kweli, The Roots, Outkast…I love the true voices of R&B and I’m happy that many of the younger artists are going the extra mile to put that extra ‘uumph’ in their vocal and their writing. See, I remember how Earth, Wind, And Fire sounded back in the day and still sounds today. I remember WAR. I remember Maze. I remember Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Prince. My music has to have an adult sound to be believable.

Do you make your own beats?

I do make my own beats, and also have access to other artists who do production. I have been producing music since 1997, and everything is tailor made to fit the emotion of the song that the production will go with. There are no over-saturated, cookie-cutter sounding tracks. I do tend to use a simplistic, minimal approach to production, so the words get an equal amount of attention to the ear. If you’ve ever been to a hip-hop show and see the artists with very little to say or that can be heard, because the production stands out so much that you miss the point of what the artist says. There has to be balance. But, how can it be considered hip-hop if you miss the element of the word?

Which producer/beat maker today would you most like to spit rhymes over?

Kanye West, for all his rants and arrogance, can produce a song that embodies the words, while remaining true to what music is all about—entertaining. DJ Premier is the same way. The Soulquarians. I would also love to work with music legends Jam And Lewis as well.

What drives you as an artist?

I love music. I love words. I love to write. I’ve always wanted to share my talents with the masses. If I have a gift, I have to use it or risk losing it. I’ll never let the power of the word escape me.

What is your opinion about mainstream artists in your genre today?

Honestly, I hate listening to the radio in Dallas. But, I know that it’s a worldwide trend. Where back in the day, one could hear their favorite artist’s song on the radio once every three hours or more, it’s not like that today. One artist may have three or four songs played within the same hour, every hour. It’s as if the listening public is hit over the head with the same club until they are knocked unconscious. It’s really sad. There should not be a such thing as an ‘underground’ artist; it should all be equal and all artists should get some equal playing time. It’s an unrealistic approach, but it evens the playing field. If there was a more even playing field, then today’s youth would have more to choose from when it comes to music. The music industry has turned into a monopoly, with the most popular artist taking up most of the real estate of the industry. It’s as if the music industry professionals do not care about what the listener wants, and has made the assumption that if they play certain stuff numerous times, the listener has no choice but to love it. I feel it’s a sad ordeal because the legacy of the originators of the genre goes out the door. As an artist, I cannot lessen my style for a dollar. I do this for the love of the art. That’s where the heart comes in. That’s where it should be. I just don’t get that from many mainstream artists, even if that’s not the case.

What sets you apart from other artists?

I go against the grain. I’m different. I write different because I think different. If you’ve heard it before, what difference would I make if I did the exact same thing as everyone else? I pay attention to detail. I talk about what I see as opposed to telling you what I think you want to hear. Hip-hop is our voice; our way of getting a message to the people. I thrive off spokenword. When you speak from the heart, you never have to worry about if the listening public will like it. People don’t want to be lied to, but they want to be entertained. There is a place for all music, but I choose to speak on reality and stay a hip-hop purist.

What's the next big project you're working on?

I’ve just released my 12th studio album and making plans for the follow-up. My next major project though, is an artist development program which will be geared toward young aspiring artists, and will teach them how to become better writers. I will teach them how to produce tracks, how to create poetry, grammar and phonetics, basic studio techniques such as how to position yourself in front of a microphone, how to find shows, how to perform in front of an audience, and marketing techniques, as well as other aspects of the music business. I hope to give birth to better music and it has to start from the youth.

Big thanks to Brandon for his thoughtful and insightful answers.

Hear more from Brandon on his website: