(AllHipHop Features) Rene Brown’s journey to becoming a buzzing emcee started 7,000 miles away. While serving in Afghanistan, she used a pair of headphones and a computer software program to record her first song – a track called “Home.”
Brown decided to upload “Home” to Myspace, and the positive feedback pushed her to continue writing and recording more music. Once she finished her four-year commitment to the military, the Mississippi native moved to Los Angeles, studied audio engineering, and dived head first into her career as a rapper.
That drive eventually led to an opening slot on Schoolboy Q’s “Oxymoron World Tour,” sharing a bill with the Black Hippy member, Isaiah Rashad, Vince Staples, and Audio Push. She was the only unsigned artist featured on her leg of the tour.
Brown has complimented that accomplishment with the release of her debut EP Keep To Myself. The 7-track project was produced entirely by Atlanta’s Tommy Ross and displays the young rapper’s ability to translate her personal reflections into lyrical expression.
AllHipHop.com caught up with Rene Brown to discuss her new project, working with Ross, and what dreams she hopes to live out.
What attracted you to the art of rap? What made you decide this was something you wanted to pursue professionally?
It didn’t start off wanting a career in rap music. I just started writing poetry when I was 10 – just writing everything I was going through. I grew up in Jackson. I was a mixed kid. I went through a lot of racism, so I was kind of angry growing up.
I would listen to 2Pac, Eminem, and DMX. Then when I got to junior high and high school I would freestyle in the cafeteria. I never actually recorded anything. It was just writing and rapping.
Then when I went to Afghanistan – obviously I was there for a long ass time – I realized I could record on my Hype headset. Someone taught me how to use this program called ACID Pro to do beats. I just started recording tracks there. It’s kind of been like a built love.
I don’t think I consciously said, “I want to be a rapper.” It just happened like that. I just think in the last year I said, “I want to be a rapper.” But I’ve always loved music and rapping.
Did your experience in the military affect you as an artist?
I think it definitely did. If you listen to my music, I have military references. They’re not too heavy, but I think it influences me a lot. I think it made me the artist that I am today. It played a very big part in it.
You have a close working relationship with producer Tommy Ross. How did that connection happen?
I met him in Atlanta late last year. I flew out there to meet with a publishing company, and I hooked up with a group called ILLClinton. We knocked out a track with Tommy Ross, and then I started working on the EP when I got back from the U.K. part of the tour.
I had been working on it for about a month. I had different producers on it, but the sound wasn’t coming together for me. It didn’t sound cohesive. So I hit up Tommy, and he said he was down to knock it out. I took a last minute flight to his place. We worked for about two days straight. We started over and knocked out the whole EP in two days. It all came together really dope.
Your EP is titled “Keep To Myself.” What inspired that title? Do you consider yourself to be an introvert?
I definitely do. I think just in the past year getting out there with my music has made me a little bit more social. The military kind of made me a little anti-social. So in my personal life I definitely keep to myself.
I felt [the title] summed me up as a person, as an artist even. You see my EP, there’s only one producer on there. It’s like I keep to myself, and I only mess with a couple of people here and there.
There was one particular track on the project that stood out for me. That was “Chasing Dreams.” What would you say is the biggest dream you have for your career and your life in general?
I guess as a whole my dreams consist of a lot of components. But I would say being signed is part of my dream. Bigger picture – winning a Grammy. Just taking care of my family honestly. You know, retire my mom and just basically being successful.
Keep To Myself is available for purchase on iTunes.
Stream Rene Brown’s Keep To Myself EP below.