Saturday, July 9, 2011
Chicago's Bruh Luuh on DaSouth.com, the life of a producer, and whether or not he would have voted for Rhymefest
I recently caught up with Bruh Luuh via e-mail to discuss his DaSouth.com connection, his music, and his thoughts on Muslim rapper Rhymefest running for office in his Chicago hometown.
Sketch: Your connection to DaSouth.com goes back to founder Richie “s/ave” Douglas and ONEMIND Magazine/om95.com. How’d a Chicago-based MC like yourself get hooked up with s/ave and his media endeavors?
Bruh Luuh: First of all, rest in peace to my big homie, Richie a.k.a. "Slavey-Gravy Train" b.k.a. "s/ave" Douglas and my prayers are forever with his wife "Tee."
I've been accepted as a "Chicago-based MC" as of late, but a lot of people don't know that I'm from Foley/Mobile, Alabama but I was born in Pascagoula/Gautier, Mississippi.
I hooked up with s/ave back in 1999/2000-ish when I got saved and was keystyling and battling MCs on the net. It was awesome and divine intervention because he was doing all things Christian hip hop at the time. He reached out and told me, with brutal honesty, everything that he loved and hated about the music that I was putting out. I loved and appreciated that and we became instant friends.
I have a lot of respect for s/ave's vision because he wanted all Christian MCs to be of "One Mind." That's what the "O.M." stood for in "om95.com." I remember when I asked him what the name “s/ave” meant. He told me that the empathy that he had for us as black people during the period of slavery and the civil rights movement drove him to take the name, plus the fact that ALL humans are slaves to sin and only Christ makes us free. As you can see today, he was a true servant to God.
I watched the om95.com message board evolve into a place where you could get good advice, beats, or music. Before the secular industry had caught on to mp3 technology (Napster was a free song file sharing site and there was no such thing as iTunes), he and James "BL" Parry were showing me how to tag my songs with metadata. BL ran the production section of the site and had a Christian channel on mp3.com called the “Bru HA.” Those two were a dynamite team. I remember s/ave being excited about getting the Corey Red cover/interview for the magazine and 4th Avenue Jones to cover the DaSouth.com debut. I still have my OM media in mint condition. I miss my homie.
Years before s/ave’s homegoing, his obedience to God led him to a school for the deaf. He told me that a close friend of his, Bobby "Tre9" Herring, had a dope vision for DaSouth.com. Tre9 deserves a lot of credit for what he has done with the site and in the industry period. He kept the culture of the site edgy, high-tech, and competitive with any hip-hop site that you can name on the internet.
Sketch: You’ve been grinding in the Christian rap game for quite a while as both a rapper and producer. Which artistic outlet have you found most challenging? Most rewarding?
Bruh Luuh: Selling beats is rewarding. Hmmm... I've been spitting for a long time too, but I find both equally rewarding because of the final product. I love coming up with new rhyme patterns and flows in the studio, but I was forced to learn production because the price of beats were insane. Add studio rates on top of that…
There weren't any of these beat licensing sites that we have today where you can license a track for $11.00. I got serious about production and copped my first keyboard in 2002. Production was the most challenging because I actually made myself sit down and read each manual in its entirety when I bought a new piece of gear before I even turned it on.
Making beats is easy if you have the basic concept of sequencing music, but then you need to learn to track it out, mix, and then master. Learning to mix and master was a beast, but here I am.
The “producer” title also has a dual meaning in my eyes. Anybody can rap and there are a million beat makers on this planet. I can honestly say that I can take an artist and a budget from lyrics on paper to a captured sound on a professionally mastered CD in a jewel case with shrink-wrap and a barcode. That's rewarding.
Sketch: Where does your latest release, Pen to the Paper, rank in the Bruh Luuh catalog?
Bruh Luuh: I wrote, produced, mixed, mastered & released Pen to the Paper underground in 2002. This is a re-release for my new album. It's timeless in a sense. I rank it pretty high because cats are just now catching up. I'm like that cartoon kid "Dexter" formulating my next invention in my secret lab.
When you say the name Bruh Luuh, it's like you're talking about and speaking to a new artist. I have people in my fan base that have been following my music since I dropped my first project, Fresh Manna, in 2001 then The Maxi-Single then Spiritual Advisory under the handle "Brother Love." If you dig, you can find all of my underground releases. I stopped writing to learn production and now that I'm a beast on the beats, I'm back. Automaticity is the name of my next album. That’s an exclusive for you, Sketch.
Sketch: Mainstream rapper Rhymefest (a professing Muslim who won a Grammy for co-authoring Kanye West’s hit record “Jesus Walks”) recently ran for an alderman position in Chicago. As a member of both the hip hop and Christian communities in that city, what was your take on his campaign? Would you have voted for him if given the chance?
Bruh Luuh: I'm familiar. I met Rhymefest through a company here in Chicago called MidwestLive.com. He was about to go on stage for a charity benefit for the Haiti tragedy called "Every Drop Counts" when he made time for me. That was brief, but I got a chance to see 'Fest move a crowd live from behind the stage.
Outside of the music arena though, I try to govern myself as Dr. Martin Luther King did and judge people by the content of their character. As a member of the hip hop community and being a Chicago resident, yes... I would vote for Fest 100%.
Unfortunately, I don't live in the ward that he ran in so I couldn't vote for him and although I received some invites, my schedule was in conflict with his campaign outreach dates. He got a lot of media coverage, although I wish there was more.
When you live here and when you've been shot at by these little gang-bangers like I have, you realize that they need to see an ex gang-banger in a respectable position of authority. So many small children and random people here in Chicago die every year as a result of gang violence. He would have been the voice that could have changed that, but he was robbed of that chance by shady politics. He should run for office again.
Being a part of the Christian community, I must say that I try my best to pick the best candidates when dealing with politics.
Sketch: What’s your take on the current Christian hip hop scene? Does anything in particular excite or disappoint you?
I'm overwhelmed by the leaps and bounds that I've seen Christian rappers take in the last 10 years. Most Christian rappers' production is sounding better than the secular ones and that's what is needed in these last days.
The only things that disappoint me are when I see or hear a carbon copy of Lil' Wayne, Jay-Z, Rick Ross, etc. I call them "Gospel Groupies."
I love the fact that God's MCs are becoming more and more commercialized. But at the same time, I hope that "newly converted" or born-again believers get our messages in the midst of our popularity, profiles, and budgets.