Braille (of Lightheaded) has been working a lot with his label HiphopIsMusic and his new album release. Here is a nice long interview with him.
What do you want to accomplish with your new album "Box of Rhymes?"
At this point in my life I just want to share the album with as many people as possible. If people can buy the album then that's great. If they download the album, that's fine as well. So far the feedback from this record has been really strong, from a music perspective but also from a life perspective. I don't think I'm the best artist out or anything, but I know God can use me so I'm just making myself available and offering what I do to anyone who wants it.
Why the title Box of Rhymes?
I've been writing rhymes for 12 years now. When you start writing you have a notebook, a rhyme book or book of rhymes. As I've continued writing, I now have a "Box" of rhymes (actually boxes) that represent different stages in my life. The "Box of Rhymes" represents my history as a writer, which actually represents my history as a person because I've been documenting my thoughts, emotions and daily life through rhymes since I started. Everything I say today is rooted in that history. So this new record represents where I'm at RIGHT NOW in my life but the title also acknowledges that I had to walk a pathway in order to get here.
How come the album was first released in Japan?
My first intention was to release the album worldwide at the same time. My schedule was crazy though. 2006 has been a very busy year. Me and my wife bought our first home in February. Later that month we found out we were expecting our first child. I was trying to finish the record during all that, plus I was touring all over the world. The studio I was recording at was an hour away and I actually finished the Japan Version of the album one day before Easter. The day after Easter I left on a tour through Europe with Ohmega. By the time I got back home the album was scheduled to release in Japan but I didn't feel I was ready to release it worldwide. I almost decided to scrap the worldwide release completely, but a few fans and friends encouraged me to push forward. I built a home studio in September, recorded some new songs and the rest is history.
What inspired you writing the songs?
I've learned that I can't force songs. They just come out. For example, I was laying in bed one night and I had all these images in my head. I was telling my wife about them and I was feeling really inspired. I wrote down some of the key images on a piece of paper before I went to sleep. When I woke up the next morning I read over my thoughts and wrote the song "Pour It Out". For the song "Enter-Gritty" I was on tour in Denmark. Some local producers Kontant and Exampler played me the beat and I wrote and recorded the whole song in less then two hours. Every song has it's own story. There are a few occasions where I write songs on the spot when I hear a new beat but in most situations concepts brew in my head for months (sometimes years) before I find the right beat and piece together the words.
Which song speaks tuo you the most and why?
"Everything Changed", "Humility", "This Year", "Together Not Alone" and "Leave Behind" are all really personal songs for me. Most of the record is personal and speaks to me in different ways. The last two songs I finished for the record were "Everything Changed" and "Leave Behind". I was all alone in my brand new home studio recording there for the first time. I felt like I was rapping directly to God because I was so filled with praises during that moment. Just recording a song at my own studio in my own home was a reminder that God had taken me so far. In my heart I just wanted to do my best to glorify him with my talents, resources and time. Songs like "Humility" and "This Year" have been in my head forever. I've even recorded other versions of both the songs. At the start of a new year people often get motivated to make changes in their life. I want to approach every day, every song, every moment like a new year. Reflecting on the past, working towards the future and ready to make any necessary changes.
Do you enjoy touring outside the US?
I love exploring the world. I was never good with geography growing up but my eyes have been opened over the last couple years. I love soaking in new things, seeing new places and meeting new people. I spent a lot of time on the greyhound bus growing up and I think that was my training ground for my future in travling.
Is there a difference with the crowd, while performing internationally?
Every crowd is unique, no matter where you are. So many factors come into play with every show. The sound system makes a difference, the opening act or headliner makes a difference, my energy level makes a difference, the stage set up, the size of the crowd and so much more. I walk into every show ready for a new experience.
If you had to change msic style, what would it be?
I would just sing songs to God. When I'm not making hiphop, I usually listen to soft rock praise music. David Crowder, Rock and Roll Worship Circus and stuff like that.
What are you currently playing in your mp3 player?
I'm always listening to new beats for myself and for artists on Hiphop IS Music. I think I listen to beats more then anything else. I don't actually have an mp3 player that I carry around. I'm not the type of guy to listen to the same songs over and over again. I have a few worship CDs that stay in heavy rotation but in terms of hiphop, I mainly listen to whatever I'm focussed on at the time. I'll be bumping the new Theory Hazit record "Extra Credit" or the new Sharlok Poems album "Blooming Sounds" for Hiphop IS Music but then I'll take a break because I don't want to burn out before the release dates. At the end of a work day (working on music) I usually just want to take a break from it, relax and do whatever my wife is doing.
What artists and producers do you want to collab with?
Two of my favorite producers to work with are Tony Stone and Ohmega Watts. I've worked with nearly 100 producers in my life, so I'm very flexible. If someone has a good track, or is willing to make a track that is built for my style then I'm ready to get down. An artist I really want to colab with is Al Green.
How were you born again?
I was first told about Christ through hiphop. I was at a gym where I played basketball called the Lents boys and girls club. There was a guy who noticed I was rocking an Echo shirt. At the time, you were only rocking Echo if you were a hiphop head. We started talking about hiphop, I kicked some rhymes that I had folded up in my pocket and he told me about Christ. A year later, I became a Christian around the age 14 or 15.
Any great testimony (miracle, ...) you want to share?
I've seen God do some incredible things but during my quiet times I realize that the simple things God does are incredible as well. The birth of my daughter was incredible. Watching life form in my wifes womb and then enter into this world. I think the greatest testimony I can share is that God saved me. I wasn't born a Christian and I wasn't born a saint. I didn't grow up in a Christian family but when the word of God hit my heart, it made a huge impact. I can't live in ignorance anymore. I am aware of God, I'm aware of the truth and I'm aware of his standards. I know when I'm doing something wrong, and when I don't know, he eventually shows me as I continue to grow. My testimony is that God could take a normal person and use them. I wasn't a top student, I wasn't a top athelete. I was just an average dude who was very shy. When i started rapping, I was terrible. I didn't know who I was or what I wanted to do, but I loved rapping. God took that love, showed me his love through it and then encouraged me to keep working towards my passion. If God didn't become a part of my life I probably would have quit rapping and spent my energy on something else.
What's your favorite:
- Country: No country is perfect. My family is in the U.S. so right now that's my favorite place. I got love for everywhere though.
- Food: I enjoy Thai Food.
- Movie: Don't watch a whole lot
- TV Show: sometimes I'll watch things like "the incredible race" and stuff. I can't stand "reality TV' based on strangers living in a home together and acting wild. On the flipside, "reality tv" with families and stuff is interesting to me.
- Bible Verse: Different ones hit me at different times. I'm not big into "favorites" usually. haha. There are many verses that I appreciate.
- Book of the Bible: Ephesians has been a big book for me.
- Music style: I like all styles of music but passion is important to me. Sincerity.
- Producer: There are so many. Tony Stone and Ohmega Watts are towards the top of the list.
- Rapper: The guys on Hiphop IS Music are some of my personal favorites but again, I don't really like playing favorites. I respect everyone doing their thing and being themselves.
Last but not least, one answer I always wanted to know, why the name Braille? How did you come up with it?
Braille by definition is text for the blind. Using music to help people understand the things they can't see. Expressing things of a personal, spiritual or emotinal nature.
Any final words?