Nah, despite the
title of his latest single, “Jumpin (Out the Window),”
Harlem’s Ron Browz isn’t trying to harm himself. With
an album due in March (Etherboy) via
Universal/Motown Records, and certifiable hit singles whether his own (“Pop
Champagne”) or thanks to his tracks (Busta Rhymes
“Arab Money” and all its remixes), the kid needs to be in the best of health to maximize that
While his use of
the Auto-Tune demon drew the ire of the robo-sound
weary, Browz’s track record proves he wasn’t a slouch
who lucked into
the game. A beat for a storied underground lyricist?
Check Big L’s “Ebonics.” Helping a wavering legend get his mojo
back? Check Nas’ “Ether.” Keeping the heat coming for
choosy artists? Pick one: 50 Cent (“I’ll Whip Your Head), N.O.R.E. (“Rotate”),
G-Unit (“Straight Outta Southside”), et al. But now
seeking to establish himself all over again—this time as an artist in his
own right—the exuberantly confident Ron Browz
insists he’s just trying to, “Make hot records that people will like.”
Fair enough. Here’s five, actually six, reasons why he may make it happen.
On working with the late, great Big L.
“Big L is my
first experience being able to work with a real artist, an artist that was
signed. ‘Ebonics,’ the song I produced for him was the first song I actually
produced that was played on the radio. It was the first time actually being in
the studio with an artist. This is my whole introduction to the game.
“I’m from Harlem
and Big L’s from Harlem. I was hanging out one day on my block and he just
happened to walk by. I told him I had some music and beats for sale and he came
by my house. I played him some music—no I played him one beat actually
and that was the ‘Ebonics’ beat and he didn’t even wanna hear nothing else, he just wanted to take that.
I was using the same [equipment] I use now; I had an Akai MP60 [and] a
keyboard, that’s pretty much what I had. It was an O1/W, a Korg.
“My name was
kind of underground. I did three other beats on that project [The Big Picture]. That
was my first plaque, it went Gold. When he
passed away I was trying to make up my mind if this is what I really wanted to
do. So I pursued it and my next placement after that was ‘Ether’ for Nas.”
On helping Nas
get his swagger back.
“I was still an
underground producer at that time. So any way to get to artists, I had to get
to artists. I actually went through his travel agent, and his travel agent
actually looked out and handed him a CD with my music on there. My manager at
the time, his name is Fuzz, he knew her, they were
friends and kinds she looked out. She passed him the CD.
“I didn’t know
what he was doing with it. Actually, he held it for a couple of months, like
three or four months. Then that month December 2000, he told me to come to the
studio and listen to what he had did to the track. When he played the track, my
mouth just dropped like, ‘Wow.’ I was thinking that being that I was a part of
the record that I wasn’t going to be able to work with no other artist in the
game because that was Jay-Z and he was on fire at the moment.
“I didn’t [feel
any backlash]. After that it was a domino effect. I started to work with all
the artists. All the artists wanted to know who produced that track for him, so
actually it catapulted my career.”
On going from emceeing to producing, and now
back to emceeing.
“When I was 12 an
artist. I was signed to an independent company called Big Boss Records out of
Harlem. The CEOs of the label had got incarcerated. So before they got
incarcerated they had brought the equipment. That’s when I took the equipment
when they got locked up and taught myself how to produce. I just started dabbling
into the production and just left the mic alone, but
I always…when I made tracks, would rap in my head to know if the tracks are
even good enough to rap on. Knowing the artist can say this on here and that
artist can do that on there, or like an artist can say a melody like this on
there for the chorus. I always had stuff like that in my head that helped me be
“I always had
the spirit and passion for rapping, but the production just took off, it took
me to another level. At the beginning of 2008 I started to be an independent
recording artist; put out songs on the Internet, shoot independent videos to
try to build my buzz, build my brand like that. I was like this year I’m going
to give it all I’ve got and I told myself, ‘Yo, I’m going
to get a deal this year.’
“I studied the
game, watched, I did a lot of homework on the industry. Online was really big,
I put out records on MySpace, YouTube, got feedback. I got a lot of good
feedback when I recorded the song ‘Pop Champagne,’ I got a good response online.
So I felt it was time to take that record to another level, you know, trying to
get in the clubs, put it in the DJ’s hands and get it in the right people’s
hands at radio.”
Ron Browz & Jim Jones f/ Juelz
Santana “Pop Champagne” Video
On “Pop Champagne” popping off.
“Just before I made
‘Pop Champagne,’ I had other records I was going to the labels with. They
wasn’t saying they were wack, but they was like, ‘Ehh, you know get it hot in the streets and we’ll see what’s
up.’ So by the time I recorded ‘Pop Champagne’ and got it buzzing, it was too
late to go back, I didn’t have to search for a deal, people started to reach
Motown, Asylum, Sony… I wanted an album deal and Universal was giving me an
opportunity. [Other labels] just wanted me to do single deals and stuff like
that. Universal was offering me an album deal. That’s
what I wanted, and I wasn’t going to take nothing less than that.
“‘Pop Champagne’ has a version by myself, and that was the version that was getting all the
buzz. So the DJ’s was playing it on the radio and I saw Jim Jones at this Pepsi
thing and he was just like, ‘Yo I heard your record
and I wanna be a part of it, let me get on it,’ and
the next day, he got on it. That’s how that version came about. It was a
license deal meaning he can put it on his [album]. But automatically it goes on
mines. So I’m kind of doing my own thing and he’s doing his own thing.”
Busta Rhymes f/ Ron Browz
“Arab Money” Video
On the vocoder/Auto-Tune
“When I feel
like using it, I’ma use it. My album, I’m going to
have records with it, I’m going to have records without it. I really know how
to use it without being annoying, so that’s what I’m going to do. People are
liking what I’m doing so I’m not going to switch up the formula too much if
people’s loving what I’m doing. It’s a computer program anybody can buy. You
know, just like a set of turntables, Pro Tools or a drum machine. I use it like
it’s an instrument.
“I just have fun
and I be creative with it. I just try to make hot records that people will
like, hot catchy records. Because at the end of the day,
that’s what it’s about. Cause I can have Auto-Tune, you can have it; you
can make wack records with it, and I can just be
making dope records with it. So it’s all in how you use it and how creative you
are. It’s not like I just jumped out the window like, ‘Yo
I’m here and doing this now.’ I was already an established producer.”
Ron Browz “Jumpin (Out the Window)”
What to expect from the album, Etherboy.
On Etherboy you’re going to party. I’m
just going to make creative music. I’m not just going
to pigeonhole myself into one particular sound, I’m
going to have fun with it. The records I’ve been putting out and producing like
“Arab Money,” “Pop Champagne,” “Jumpin (Out The
Window),” all [are] records that are catching, so people are gravitating to
what I’m doing.
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