In any creative medium there is the danger of simply finding out what works – what people are listening to – and copying it. While this method might be good for record sales, it’s terrible for innovation. All one has to do is turn on the radio and listen to the various pop, rock, hip hop and country performers that are basically derivatives of other artists. Caviar Brown – a young music artist from Orange County who’s opened for acts like Cassius and Ice Cube – is looking to revitalize innovation within the music industry with his own brand of hip hop, featuring fresh beats, dope lyrics and a spiritual flavor that will inspire as much as it surprises. Brown recently spoke with Working Author about his musical background, religious beliefs and his soon-to-be-released project Superdope.
Like many artists who are passionate about their work, Caviar Brown’s musical beginnings started with natural immersion and raw talent. “I grew up in a neighborhood where everybody was naturally into hip hop,” he says, “It was kind of a progressive thing. It wasn’t like one day I woke up and decided to do music. I always dug the music.” Growing up, listening to groups like Wu-Tang Clan, Brown quickly developed his ear and appreciation for rap and hip hop, but his path as a performer wasn’t clear until he was a teenager and tested his skills in MC battles, which typically pits rappers against each other to outdo each other’s rhymes. “It’s kind of a lost skill,” Brown says, “because you basically had to win the crowd. Every crowd’s different. You have to have style and you have to have actual content. Some people would get on [the stage] and they would just have lines for days…so if your content wasn’t up to par – it was like boxing – you had to figure out, ‘OK, he’s got better content than me, but maybe I can style on him a little bit better.’ More than anything it becomes a mind game.”
Impressively, Brown thrived in these high-pressure situations even at a young age, battling other rappers who were usually older with years more of experience. “What makes hip hop so special,” he says, “when it comes to song writing what does a fourteen- or fifteen-year-old know about life? Most…kids doing pop music get their songs written for them. The most successful acts [in hip hop]…there’s more in their life…there’s a lot more pain. So what they’re drawing from – even so young – they’re able to draw from a lot.”
This ability to draw from real-life experience and marry it to music in a meaningful way is ultimately what distinguishes Brown’s sound from most other hip hop artists. Listeners who pay attention to the lyrics may be surprised to hear the many Christian religious references that color most of the tracks. “I am Christian,” Brown declares evenly. “Obviously that’s going to reflect…in the music. I wouldn’t say that I’m trying to push the envelope on music and Christianity either, but I guess I’m very opinionated also on ‘Christian Music’.” Brown believes that the foundations of any person’s life are reflected in what they do. Ironically, he doesn’t brand himself as a Christian rapper. “In all honesty, which is probably bad in terms of marketing, I wouldn’t say I’m branding myself at all other than as an artist. I feel that God is an artist. If you look at the way Jesus taught…he had an art of storytelling. I always found it interesting how he could make a point by artistically painting you a picture. That’s always an inspiration to me.”
After years of writing music for and collaborating with other artists, Caviar Brown’s latest project is a solo effort called Superdope. Regarding the title, he explains, “It’s more an idea than anything. I think that anything that someone does creatively and well is superdope. You get up one morning, make music. It’s good music. Take it for what it is. Don’t over analyze it and it’s superdope.” Listeners should be aware, however, that Brown’s intention for Superdope wasn’t to make an overall statement as he would with a bona fide album. Instead, listeners should approach the project as an immersion into Caviar Brown’s music and lose themselves in the creative moment. “I created the project in three weeks, literally. Made the beats, wrote the music, put it together. Then a week after came up with the cover art. So it’s more of a spontaneous thing. I do want listeners to keep that in mind…. That’s the MC in me – that spontaneity that will never leave me.”
In a music industry and genre dominated by personalities and messages that push aggression and ego as a form of bravery, it’s refreshing to sit down with someone who’s humble and who shows true courage through integrity. Caviar Brown isn’t afraid to let his religious beliefs or eclectic musical taste be reflected in his work. “More than anything I want the listeners to understand what I’m talking about…sometimes it’s not so accepted in hip hop.”