Editor: Tef Poe is an artist from St. Louis City. Through powerful imagery and complicated honesty, he has earned a reputation as one of the best rappers telling the story of St. Louis, which is about much more than one place. Poe has been featured in music publications such as XXL and Urb Magazine. His next project War Machine 2 was released this Tuesday, June 5th and will be followed up by a full-length with DJ Burn One entitled Cheer For The Villain. Follow him on twitter @tefpoe. Get War Machine 2 here.
Every week in I'm Just A Rapper Tef discusses modern life, hip-hop, and the deep connection between them.
I've always been a fan of County Brown. He's been very consistent with his presence in the hip-hop scene. He has worn multiple hats as an artist, DJ promoter, you name it. His company Addicted Dopeness is a household name in the underground St. Louis hip-hop scene.
Recently, he presented a project with a young artist by the name of T. Scales that caught the ears of my manager Jay Stretch. I decided to give Scales a listen after Stretch played me a few tracks and I'm happy to say I was far from disappointed. County Brown also recently released a collaborative mixtape with DJ Fu Nasty featuring some of the most buzz heavy local rappers in the scene. I decided to interview him about the 3,000 things going on at this point in his career. St. Louis hip-hop is in good hands and it's only right for us each to do our part to spread the word about the culture as a whole.
I started following County Brown Mane's movement after I realized he was the gasoline behind one of my favorite local acts (Twinn and Presto). County's Twitter feed is filled with knowledgeable tweets and industry advice anyone can learn from. I believe County is unique because he has made his mark independently without any major backing. His name rings bells in Atlanta and St. Louis alike. He also affiliated with some of the strongest independent movements in the city.
As the column progresses and grows I will do my best to present interviews of this nature that introduce the public to underground icons such as County Brown Mane. St. Louis hip-hop has a history that is rich and creative. We have DJs who specialize in breaking artists and exposing new talent to the city and region. I am proud to announce we are witnessing the dawn of a new day. This is a conversation between Tef Poe and County Brown being presented by the RFT Music blog. I asked the questions and County Brown answered. I myself didn't even see this one coming. I hope the readers enjoy it. There are a trillion different forms of St. Louis hip-hop and all of them have something to say.
I am simply a rap artist trying to find his way but I am doing my best to raise awareness of St. Louis as a whole. I hope we all read this and learn something or find some type of entertainment value in County Brown's story. In the following interview County is sharing his creation process and business philosophy with the general public. In the current climate of St. Louis hip-hop so many people are dropping mixtapes left and right. County Brown is at the top of his game in the mixtape arena and we decided to use this interview as a platform to answer a few questions concerning mixtape production and assembly. We briefly touch on the subject of beat selection and the role of the mixtape DJ. For any indie hip-hop artist hoping to use this platform to launch his career this is a must read.
Tef Poe: Let's start with a brief introduction. Who is County Brown, and what do you do?
County Brown: I am a music mogul in the making, limitlessly creative and can see the future for myself and many artists. I've almost held every industry job behind scenes and have experience being a producer, promoter, DJ and artist in front of the scenes. I am a 360 contract deal, I do it all.
The most recent mixtapes you released are T. Scales "BMW Mafia" and a collaborative effort with DJ Fu Nasty called Blocc Bangaz. Let's discuss these projects and what makes them unique. Why should the general public take time to give these projects an honest listen?
Well let's start with T. Scales. I get calls from a lot of independent artist about hosting their mixtape. I'm honored to just get the call but when I got the call from Scales, I knew it was gonna be a special project just because I like his music personally and knew my city rap community was familiar with him or would like him. T. Scales has one of the best cool, calm and collective flow and his punch lines are serious and entertaining and also has that ladies man music without it being too goo goo ga ga.
Blocc Bangaz is DJ Fu Nasty's mixtape series and I brought Fu Nasty into the Addicted Dopeness company to handle our mixtape department, while I focus on other things in the company. Blocc Bangaz is a collective of underground or party hits before it hits radio or mainstream media but this series I co-hosted to show me and Fu Nasty branded as Addicted Dopeness and I secretly made it all STL artists without labeling it that because I feel when you label something local it stays local.
The T. Scales mixtape is probably one of the most solid lyrical efforts from a St. Louis rapper I've heard this year. The production is also solid from front to back.
You're also known for your trunk rattling production skills. What advice would you give up and coming rappers about the beat selection process and the importance of quality production?
Good production has to sound good on big professional speakers and small shitty speakers at the same damn time. I tell artists to pick beats that sound good in any setting, doesn't matter who made it or how it was made. Great production should give you that feeling instantly as it comes on or either it assist your lyrics playing a background role for your vocabulary to stick out & be memorized by the consumer.
What made you decide to work with T. Scales? Can you elaborate with us about the process behind selecting the artists you've chose to stamp?
Well T. Scales choose me and I accepted, same goes for every other artist I've worked with. I feel the artist should choose the DJ they feel will relate to their project best...I'm here to help artists but I don't advertise about callin' me to host tapes or havin' mixtape specials to get business. The process is a relationship process, if I smell the hunger, feel and hear that their ready, then I'm ready. I monitor almost every artist in my region work ethic, I know what's a fake statistic and real, I know who is the people's champ and who's not, so when I get the call, most of the time I'm already hip to the artist and their good or bad ways. It's not about the quantity of my mixtapes -- it's the quality and distribution
What was your train of thought while working on "BMW Mafia" with T. Scales?
My thought was to inspire T. Scales...I feel it starts with the artist first because if they quit everybody else on the team quits. As an artist releasing a new mixtape it's a fresh breath of air and motivation for you and your team. I wanted to make T. Scales mixtape street and radio, so I mix and blended most of the party and girl songs and slam & chopped most of the heavy bass street music so he could capture both sides of consumers & fans. Most of our readers are not familiar with hip-hop and the work that takes place behind the scenes. Can you explain to us the role a mixtape DJ of your caliber plays during the creative process?
For those that don't know a Mixtape DJ is like the Executive Producer of the project, when a artist project is finished, it's like turning in the project to a record label if you were a signed artist except its a DJ that has music industry & marketing experience to Launch the project.
My process is to present a project like it's Thanksgiving dinner, where I cut off the fat -- meaning shorten the songs or rearrange the music -- I glaze the music -- meaning process the music where its more presentable and exciting with hosting, drops or pitching -- ask who's allergic to what -- meaning I pick the artist mind to put out the right vision and image of the tape -- then I cook it and send invitations for people to eat . . . . . but in other terms my role is like a substitute CEO for the artist & label, I try to ease the confusion that's going on for the artist to exceed & help them see their vision easier.
Your company Addicted Dopeness has been around for awhile. How do you maintain relevancy in a genre that is constantly shape shifting?
Staying relevant is hardest thing every artist & company will learn; I keep young people around me not for me to act like I'm young but to understand the new movements, music and production that people like. The young are the consumers of the music industry and arguing on what use to be cool won't help you stay relevant. Technology is also a tool you have to keep constantly updating yourself on to stay relevant also
What exactly motivates County Brown?
The results of seeing my work travel to other states and countries, feeling the energy of motivating others & anything Addicted Dopeness related.
You've done quite a few mixtapes. Which one is your personal favorite and why?
Shoutout to Luey V. , Presto & Twinn, Ray Goss, Rell Flexin, Richie Stacks, Tez Banga, Strap & Jay, BoatShoe Holly, Deala-T, Young Grip, One 3 Five, Y-Esha, STL & ATL artist & more. My favorite tape would be the TOP TEN TUESDAY mixtape series. It's a collective of artist from my club night I use to host in the city at Viva and the vibes and genre of artist coming out was great doing that era and reminds me all the time of when I did this for fun and it was the first time I got to see people I didn't know embrace the Addicted Dopeness movement.
How would you define the legacy of County Brown?
Unstoppable, Changeable at any moment, the credit of my work will be celebrated with roses, tears and loud music once I'm done.
Your web site is growing in popularity daily. What made you step into this arena?
I realize as many web sites with my work & mixtapes on it, none of them made you understand my brand and movement, I couldn't control or add what I want or help or support others work through my networks. I love having AddictedDopeness.com as my hub now, CountyBrown.com or CountyBrownMane.com is another link too but the same site.
Give us one word that describes yourself.
Okay we're going to come to a close here, tell us where we can find the most recent projects your affiliated with?
You can find me on CountyBrown.com AddictedDopeness.com, Hittmennmidwest.com, midwestmixtapes.com or Livemixtapes.com . . . I'm currently in mixtape DJ mode until the fall and gradually going back to my production as a music producer and plans of being a artist in 2013 again full time! I thank everybody for supporting any questions email addicteddopeness at gmail dot com or call 404-387-8126. If you Google me don't forget the Mane: it's County Brown Mane.