Boog Brown

The music of Detroit born/raised, Atlanta based Boog Brown is notable for its manipulation and evocation of moods; moving easily between the straight-up delivery, in tracks such as UPS - this is the Dunc of DTMD remix - and more pensive, imaginative work, where the interplay between descriptions of a time, a feeling, or place appears to be the goal.

Boog Brown's work is personal, in the best sense, avoiding the classic pose you find with (too) many rappers, eager to stake out territory.  

Lots of rap fans and hip-hop devotees say how they appreciate an MC's story-telling gifts - this is rarely something of interest for me. Perhaps there's something essentially anarchic in my spirit, which makes me get impatient when I feel like someone is telling me something, whether it's a story or anything else, whatever the genre of music (with one exception, I can think of immediately, mainly because it's funny and so artful). 

What automatically hits me in terms of lyricism is counterpoint - of ideas and experiences - and those moments where the MC makes a brief reference to something unexpected, maybe through some sort of wordplay or rhyme.  

A lot of hip-hop lyricism covers familiar territory: autobiographical, or theoretical, taking a stance against police violence, for example and/or boasting about prowess. It's relatively rare (note the modifier relatively, here) to find tracks that engage with strong emotion as the primary goal, as might be the case in a classic love song in pop or rock music.

(This might be why so many people, from all backgrounds, connected with the work of Mos Def/Yasiin Bey and his various collaborations back in the 90s - as his trademark during that era was a take on feeling and mood, a lot of the time ...

while, carrying the imprint of the artist: thereby elevating the work above 'mere' prettiness, I mean there needs to be a kind of edge to any kind of artwork to give it form, otherwise it risks becoming background, elevator music).  

Consider this then as an example of a powerful emotion-driven track, 'Runaway Bride' from Boog Brown's most recent, and great record The Late Bloom from 2013.   

Against the quizzical, questioning tone of the backing-track, Boog Brown sets the scene in a fairly conventional way - stating her desire to love somebody - to then at one point describe her lover, shifting the perspective (she describes them as if they are in the room with her). 

There's real, evident talent here: both in Boog Brown's almost-shy, sleepy delivery and the way it flows so well, with such a constant mood. There's no need for her to get dramatic, she just continues to express how she feels and what she wants from this absent person (as if it were a monologue, or a very laidback confession), while trying to capture their attention.  

Are you listenin’?
If you listenin’
Are you listenin’?
Are you listenin’?
Are you listenin’?

Inhale/exhale ... 

''Cause I just want to love you,' Boog Brown adds: thereby linking her very gentle, if resigned, expression of love with an earlier classic by Betty Davis - 'Anti Love Song' from 1973, which is one of the best, most urgent, funkiest examples of self-deception ever released in popular music.

Another supremely beautiful evocation of place/feeling is Boog Brown's 'Detroit' (this is the remix released in 2011) that displays the trademark sound of frequent collaborator, the producer and fellow Detroit native, Apollo Brown: 

[Verse 1]
Detroit’s so immaculate, you only seen the half of it
Trying to dismantle it in memories
Ill streets with poison, boys posted on the block
Trying to get with what they got, but misdirect obviously
Privatizing hoods
Knocking down everything good about its history
Riddle me with sentiment
Intimate and distant, the place I hate to visit
When it’s cold so much more than just the snow and the ice
Started life here
Pride, fear and anger make emotions tangle
If I stayed and rose above would it prove I love it?
Look, our life does it, look at the price of it
Detroit daughter so far beyond the border so close
Heed the orders that’s the path I set before it and move
Pay dues, bring it back and make it new
Make it feel like it used to
Home is where the heart is, regardless of how dark it is
I represent

Here's a nice interview with Boog Brown on the release of the Brown Study record (from 2010) where she says of the album 'don’t expect a lot of brag raps, this album is very introspective. I get loose on a few songs but this is definitely its own chamber.' Pretty much sums it up.