November 27, 2018
IMERALD BROWN & REIGN OMEGA: A Satellite Sit Down Q&A
Since this is an entirely new experience for me, a lot of things may not come across the way I intend, so allow me to apologize in advance. Here goes. As you may already know Hip-Hop is a huge part of my life and has been for 25 years give or take. In that time I’ve been an active fan, participant, and practitioner of the culture and genuinely love and am thankful for everything it’s given to me. With that being said I have also noticed my jaded attitude towards new music, and stereotypical preconceptions towards things without genuinely giving them a shot. In an effort to open my mind and become an overall better person, I’ve been stepping outside of my comfort zone of old records and music and have been accepting all recommendations and have honestly been introduced to some great new stuff. In that lane, I got put on to Imerald Brown, who just dropped her latest album “Enigma”. Once again I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised.
As is the way with social media, through six degrees of separation that I no longer remember I came across her Instagram and interacted with her as you usually do, likes and whatnot. Eventually, she dropped her single “Good Juju” and reached out to get my feedback, which I have no idea why, but here we are. I put it off for way too long but when I sat down to listen to the track I was definitely caught off guard, the overall production and aesthetic of the song were hella dope, but she also managed to squeeze out a message without it coming across corny. No small feat, if you ask me. So that prompted me to sit down with the whole project and it’s really...actually...fresh. A bit of info also about me, one of my jaded preconceptions which I am at this point ashamed to admit is that I rarely, if ever, bump female Hip-Hop, I could write a page or two about why, but there is no logical reason. Chalk it up to close-minded ignorance. I respect and admire/appreciate Ladies of Hip-hop, but have always undervalued them and their contributions to the culture which I am admitting now to whoever may read. That’s why this is so refreshing to me, not only am I getting new music, it’s from a source I would ordinarily have callously dismissed, so there’s that. Luckily she is cooler than a polar bear and has agreed to answer a series of questions for me to shed some light on who she is, where she came from, and how she made it to this point, as well as give some insight on the project. Strap yourselves in folks… Dis go be GUD.
1. This is a first for me so bear with me, could you start by telling the people a bit about yourself, basic getting to know you facts to get them up to speed?
Well first off I'm a creative and have had the realization that everything is rooted in creativity. Everything we see. It's a beautiful thing. I'm more than just a creative as well. I'm spirit existing from the inside out.
2. What got you into Hip-Hop and made you pursue it as a career/lifestyle?
My older brother got me into Hip-Hop. He used to rap and my older cousin was an influence as well. I used to go to my brother's house and record there, but I was hella sloppy.
3. Who would you say has inspired you, influenced you and motivated you up until this point?
Life and the people I have come across. People are so inspirational. They teach you valuable lessons without them even knowing it. There is a lot of power in observing. My struggles and my pain has definitely motivated me.
4. Describe your vibe to me if you can, This was originally going to be a review and I was all set to explain how I hear you but I’ll let you break that down lol.
I'm all over the place. I go with the inspiration. Inspiration is divine. It's fucking magical. I get tingles when I write and my heart rate increases. I feel connected to something greater than me. So writing is very spiritual. Like really. I trip off that all the time especially when I'm writing a song for a singer. The lyrics don't come from me, but they come from me. I pull those lyrics from a divine place somewhere in a magical field.
5. Have you had any significant issues/struggles with being a woman coming up? Do you feel like it’s still hard to carve out a slice of the pie with people taking you seriously from the jump?
I honestly just do me. People don't take me seriously from the jump though and that's okay. Humans are naturally skeptical. I try to have fun with my life. My continuous goal is to overcome obstacles head-on. So if folks aren't taking me seriously I guess that's their issue until they become receptive to this delicious dopeness. On occasion, people assume my gender and just because I'm a Hip-Hop artist they expect me to be male. Often times when I say I do music people assume I'm a soulful singer. But what is gender? We're all spiritual beings with masculine and feminine energies.
6. The last half of the album gets pretty personal and on specific issues, I heard a lot of underlying messages in the beginning but by the end of the album, you were just flat out speaking your mind I felt, anything you want to say about what made you open up about those issues?
Alcoholism has been largely a huge part of my entire life. I come from a very addictive family. Both of my parents were alcoholics. My father was on crack too but still was able to be there for me on a somewhat emotional level. At first, writing was my way of coping with life at home when I was a youngin but that eventually changed as I started going to Cal Berkeley parties at 15 and playing too much beer pong. Partying became what I did damn near daily. Clubs, house parties, just chillin with nothing to do at the house. Then I started drinking when no one was around. I was in a dark place and I'm happy to be fucking sober now. I write about my truth, the beauty, and the pain.
7. We’ve talked a couple times before about sobriety, and its place in Hip-Hop culture, could you shed some light on your decision to get sober, and how it has impacted your journey to now or any positive /negative changes you’ve felt?
I was living in LA when I got the call that my Mom died of a heart attack. 2 years prior to my Mom passing away my Pops died of a heart attack. So I was out in LA going crazy not really processing my Father's death and then out of nowhere my cousin called and the first thing he asked was “are you sitting down?” I hate that fucking question. He told me the news and next thing you know I'm on a flight back to the Bay. I was in East Oakland dealing with my Mom's death, father's death, and my Grandma having Alzheimer's. My Grandma thought my dad was still alive so that was a constant reminder of his death. I was drinking all the time. I was on the block drinking with people I didn't even know that well. I didn't care about shit. I really lost myself, but I came to a point when I knew that I couldn't stay in that mental space. I was suffering. I was crying out for help but nobody heard me. I had to listen to my cries by myself. I got feed up and said you know what I want to be healthy. I want to be sober. I went to a rehab for 3 months to get away from being in East Oakland because I would literally walk down the street and see somebody I knew and then would just go drink and shit. I don't credit rehab for my sobriety though. I was internally ready. It was a process for sure. Years of thinking about quitting. It was the right time when I quit. Life is better, but dealing with past traumas is a daily struggle. Writing is my therapy. Life is good and it keeps getting better.
8. Tell me a bit about your creative process, like I said the overall puzzle of the album is a tight fit. The sound, the vibe, and production all mesh well with your style and the HOOKS!!! Oh man, the hook game is Lethal…. Mike Tyson.
You funny! I'm glad you are vibing with it. I listen to the instrumentals and words just flow when I'm connected. Sometimes I hit those blocks, but once that inspiration is there, it's hard to shut my mind off. Sometimes it could be annoying… Not really. When I'm in that zone I forget to eat. I become obsessed with what I'm working on. It consumes me.
9. Any advice you have for artists trying to get leverage as well as get themselves out to a broader audience? I have been noticing the trend of people doing “Social media first” campaigns, building a following and then trying to follow up with a product, whether it be music or whatever they do, and I don’t think I agree with that approach.
An artist should create what they are passionate about. I love writing. I love music. I love all genres of music. I even was writing a country song not too long ago. Music is my child. My baby. I love music so much. I love the process. I love the ideas. An artist should do what they feel. Go with the intuition. Chant, pray, meditate, intend and pay attention to the signs. Ask the universe or Goddess/God for guidance. Ask your departed relatives for guidance. I'm serious.
10. Lastly, thanks so much for giving the opportunity to speak with you and pick your brain, any parting words for the world before we close up?
Love is important. Self-love is so important. Relationships are important. Self-improvement is important. Focus on winning your inner battles.
I must admit I'm very happy to have had this opportunity. I want to close this out by saying a few things about the project, and then You’ll all go check it out I’m sure. Like I said before her sound is vibrant, upbeat, raw and truthful. The hooks are catchy, and somehow all of it manages to mesh and not be preachy or corny. If I had to say it’s got a lifetime of experience, wrapped in that Bay Area cool, and with a lil bit of the Nu-School polish and it works. It. WORKS. I went in on quite a few tracks, “0100 1100”, and “The Power” get open...and really got my listen on during “Too Long Ago”(Fellas/ladies take note), “Annoyed” and DEFINITELY “Can’t Relate”. In an age where basically ANYbody can put out music, and most people do..., It’s nice that I keep bumping into people who get it, and prove me cynical all over again. Go peep out ENIGMA by Imerald Brown now available every fuckin where.
By Reign Omega
For more by Reign Omega, check out his podcast, Fashionably Late.