By Marc N. Johnson ©2013
Kevin “Big Rap” Brinson has the blueprint. No, not the Jay-Z album, but the actual blueprint. To what, you ask? Well, he has the blueprint to success in the rap music industry. Period.
After more than twenty years of executive management for hit makers like Twista and Do or Die for Creator’s Way Associated Labels (CWAL), Big Rap is on the scene with his debut album, Long Time Coming.
I had the opportunity to interview Big Rap. I was a little apprehensive at first because Big Rap has been interviewed before and placed on the cover of some exclusive magazines like “Mandatory Business” and “24/7” so I wanted to give the best interview possible. He was also a little leery because he was looking to get the right message out from his perspective about who he is and his plans in life, not just the music game. I promised to be completely objective and ask some honest questions. He agreed and we proceeded.
I started by asking Rap what made him start rapping.
He had this to say, “It’s a funny story, because it wasn’t a rap song or rap group that got me started. It was in 1979 when I was listening to the radio and heard this group called Lakeside and their song, ‘Fantastic Voyage’. I liked that beat a lot and every time I heard that song I tried to rap to it. After I heard that song, I started writing rhymes to every song I liked.”
What else inspired you?
“After the Legendary Traxster (Samuel Lindley) and Lucky (Leroy Burton) and I started Creator’s Way and made major deals with Atlantic Records before they had an urban marketing department, I was inspired to connect with executives at the label like Phil Anderson and presented the ‘blueprint’ to them. We used the ‘blueprint’ to organize and run our small independent label like it was a major label and their executives were impressed. They were even more impressed when we sold a million copies of Twista’s album ‘Adrenaline Rush’.”
Who were your influences?
“KRS ONE and Boogie Down Productions, Chuck D and Public Enemy, and above all Rakim.” After mentioning Rakim, Big Rap starts singing one of Rakim’s classics titled “The Ghetto”. He says, “Rakim has lyrics from twenty years ago that are still relevant now. I love Rakim.”
There are other CEO’s who have come out as rappers, how do you compare to them?
“If you mean compared to people such as Jay Z, Master P, and Birdman, I think my rap presence is on another level from them. I mean I respect their business acumen, but I believe being from Chicago I have an advantage over them. Chicago is the third largest market in America and we have the most untapped region for talent. I am on top of the most up and coming city in the world.
This is your first album. How does your album compare to other first album classics, like Jay Z’s ‘Reasonable Doubt’ and 50 Cent’s ‘Get Rich or Die Trying’?
“My album, ‘Long Time Coming’, is like no other whereas each song touches different individuals. I reach the romantic players with ‘I’ll Take Care of You’. I got the street hustlers and thugs with ‘Ain’t No Game’ and ‘Gangsta Love’. And I touch the realities of society with my single ‘I Wonder’ featuring Slique aka Jay Adams, which I have a video for on YouTube.”
We started the interview at MacArthur’s Soul Food Restaurant on Madison. It was closing time so we went across the street to Mac’s Records and stopped in to see Eddie Mister. The Blackhawks game was on and they were playing the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Playoffs.
When we walked in, Eddie gave us a warm welcome. He directed our attention to Big Rap’s album already in stock on the shelf.
“Mac’s is one of the last local record retailers standing,” he said, “We did in-store appearances here with Do or Die (Po Pimp) and Twista (Emotions). I am glad to be here and I thank him (Eddie Mister) for his support throughout the years.”
You mentioned the ‘blueprint’ before, what is it? When did you first use it? Can any one use it?
“It is the plan we used to start running our label like it was a Fortune 500 business. I started using the ‘blueprint’ when we released Do or Die’s single ‘Po’ Pimp’. We sold 46,000 copies of that product with little to no radio play except for 950 AM. Those were the days of Pink House, may he rest in peace. The closest thing we have to that today is Power 92 and Sean Dale. We put our promotion displays in every retailer from Gramaphone and George’s (North and West Side) to Fletcher’s and Track One (South Side). We piggy backed and one stopped our distribution and got our music out there. That is the first example of our using the ‘blueprint’. If you follow this plan and strategy, yeah, anyone can use it.”
You sound like you are an educated brother. So it is not just street smarts with you?
“No sir. I have an Associate’s Degree in Computer Networking from DeVry and will have my Bachelor’s this November. I come from off of California Avenue and it was rough and real over there but I came up and succeeded against the odds.”
So what are some of your other goals? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
“I wish to expand my presence in the entertainment industry. I had a small part in an independent movie made here in Chicago called ‘Trust None’ and I would like to get other roles in movies and television. I plan to drop another three or four more albums. I already have my next album done called ‘Street Politics’. I have production from the Legendary Traxster and features from Ang 13 on it. I also have a banger called ‘Do The Math’ featuring Aaron Levi and Aniba Hotep that is really going to tear the radio and streets up. It is in its’ mastering and finishing stages now. See, the way I work, I plan to be way ahead of the game. One day, with my expertise in music and my knowledge of computers, I expect to be an IT / music mogul billionaire.”
Before the end of the Blackhawks game we went next door to In The Cut Beauty and Barber Salon to talk to Terrance “T – Hyphen” Stanley. I have known him for years, but Big Rap first met him at a performance on May 9th of this year for Twista’s listening party for his new album “Dark Horse”. T – Hyphen hosts open mic nights on Wednesdays at In The Cut so Big Rap made it his business to stop in.
We met up with T – Hyphen (who was laying low in the back of the shop) and he coolly apologized. He said, “Our camera man couldn’t make it tonight for the open mic so we rescheduled.”
“You are a legend in the game Big Rap”, he continued. “I remember Creator’s Way being the top label in the city! Y’all had Do or Die, D to the S, Twista, and the Snypaz!”
Big Rap’s legendary status is confirmed by Twista’s manager Rawl at the listening party with a shout out to “Triple O.G. Big Rap…” This is also supported by his performance at the Power 92 (92.3 FM) Anniversary Party where he gave an outstanding performance.
What are your greatest successes and accomplishments, Big Rap?
“Achieving my degree is one. Being the CEO of Creator’s Way Associated Labels and walking our two premier artists to gold and platinum status is another. When we got Do or Die’s album ‘Picture This’ and Twista’s album ‘Adrenaline Rush’ to platinum status, I felt very accomplished. Doing shows all over the city in classic venues like the Riviera and the Regal, those are some of my greatest successes.”
“We need more venues for hip hop.” Says Big Rap, “We have San Marcos out west and Adrianna’s in the south suburbs, Reggie’s and the Shrine downtown, but it is not enough. Getting our music heard is already a struggle. Having a place to express our talents is an even greater struggle.”
With that being said, what are your greatest struggles?
“My greatest struggle is to make my own music go gold and platinum. It may seem impossible, but I have done it before and it will take a lot of work, but it will be worth the struggle.”
After kicking it a while in the barbershop, we found out the Blackhawks won (and would eventually go on to the Stanley Cup finals and become NHL Champions for 2013). We closed the interview next door to the shop at Chloe’s Restaurant with Red, the manager of the restaurant. Big Rap ordered a jerk chicken dinner to go.
What is your legacy to leave behind? What do you want to be remembered for?
“I believe you have to be proactive. I believe people need to respect life. All life. Animals and trees, too. If you don’t have respect for life, you can lose your own. That is why I am going to start a non – profit foundation called the Board Youth Interaction Foundation. It is to give violence intervention and also training and skills in computer graphics and sound engineering for the youth. This is the dream I am beginning to have that legacy to leave behind.”
While waiting on the food, Red made a comment about his restaurant that I think kind of really sums up Big Rap and his past, present and future –
“Once you had the real thing it is hard to fool you”.