FROM STUDIO TO STAGE: THE JOURNEY OF BOBBY BRACKINS
More than happy to introduce you to songwriter, producer and up and coming rap artist going by the name of Bobby Brackins.
Let’s go straight to the story behind the Polaroid.
I ended up in LA a few months ago, after I received a mail from the management behind Bobby Brackins, Jeremih and YG. They contacted me directly to ask me if I would be down to work out something with A Polaroid Story and a few of their artists. Apparently they stumbled over my story with Goldlink and really liked A Polaroid Story so they simply hit me up.
Now, logistically this promised to be very challenging from the get go. A Polaroid Story is situated in the land of Waffles, Beer and Margiela aka Belgium and it wasn’t likely that the management of the artists mentioned here above would fly me out to Los Angeles. I know what you are logically thinking; the above artists have chains around their neck the net worth of my entire year in rent (and more) but I wasn’t expecting them to fly me over. I’m all about seizing the moment so I figured that the quickest, productive and most cost balanced way to get in LA was to hop on a flight with my friend Aicha who is a KLM flight attendant and being an employee of this giant airliner company comes with a few perks. That is, if you are comfortable with standing at the Amsterdam airport gate and up for a few nail-biting moments. It’s certainly a bit nerve-wracking when you are standing at that gate to board a plane you really want to be on and your presence totally lays in the hands of the KLM crew who eventually decides depending on few factors if you can embark on your journey or not, but…destiny was working in my favor and I landed myself a comfortable economy seat that was left over. Landing where you want to be in life comes with a few risks here and there but the possible outcome is always worth the shot.
Due to the flight schedule, my time in Los Angeles was limited to exactly 72 hours on location. This meant that I had to plan in my time very productively. Los Angeles is a huge city and considering I had the opportunity to eventually portray five very different artists, this evidently came with getting myself to very different locations in Los Angeles. My first encounter was planned with Bobby Brackins, who invited me to come over to his freshly bought house in the LA hills. After some obligatory cruising we arrived on location and rang the doorbell. Bobby opened the door, welcomed me in his house and suggested to hang on his rooftop and do the interview there. And so it happened.
Happy to share this interview I did with Bobby, which gives a more than intricate introduction of what Bobby is all about as an artist, his current body of work and his very bright looking future.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time, since 2006 and a lot of people get inspiration from what I’m doing. I don’t necessarily get as much credit as I deserve but it’s ok cause you either let that eat you up, or you just keep working.”
How would you introduce yourself to me and my readers.
My name is Bobby Brackins, I’m from the Bay Area, Oakland, California, and I’ve been making music since I was in high school, since I was about 15. I was in this group called GO DAV and we had this big song called ‘Ride Or Die Chick’. It was one of the biggest songs on MySpace. MySpace was big at the time.
How did you start out writing?
I just started writing songs when I was in elementary school. Those little stupid songs about playing basketball and stuff. But I always liked to write and express myself. And then in high school I got into poetry, I liked to write. Then I started going to the studio and it made sense. When we started putting out my songs, like my first shows and all, I was like: “This could be something I could end up doing”. It’s cool like, I got a house right now in the Hills in LA, I’m able to eat off of doing what I love to do. I’m blessed. I’m happy.
How did your musical journey start out exactly.
Since my first managers were located in LA, I came to LA as well. The first big song I had out here was called ‘143’ featuring RayJ and it did really good. After that I just kept on working and working and kept on writing songs for other people too, so I ended up writing a bunch of songs for different people’s albums. The biggest songs that I wrote in the past year was ‘Loyal’ for Chris Brown and ‘2 On’ for Tinashe. After those songs came out a lot of people started paying more attention. I dropped a song with G-Eazy and Mila J last year called ‘Hot Box’ and the song did really good. Soon after I released a song called ‘My Jam’ with Zendaya and Jeremih which is getting plays on the radio right now and is doing really good.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m working on becoming the best artists possible. Marvin Gaye was writing songs for a lot of people on Motown before he really got to do his own stuff. I just like to make music, whether it’s for myself or whether it is for other people.
Do you think that its essential to write your own lyrics as an artist, or…?
No, because then, I’ll be out of one of my jobs. Some people are just good at going to the studio and taking a songwriters vision and putting their twist on it. Like, I can’t dance but I can sing. Some people can dance ànd sing. Some people can rap ànd write music. I think there’s no shame in having someone else writing your own song, if that’s not what you’re best at… But if you’re a really good singer, why try to write your own song, if that’s not what you’re really good at doing? Might as well have someone else capture your vision.
Tell me about your writing process.
When I write people their songs, I try to put myself in their shoes… I try to always have my style on it, but I keep in mind what this artist their fans might appreciate. Then again, for myself, I just have fun with my own music. I just get to be myself and do whatever I want to do. But I like putting myself in other people’s shoes. It’s like being a good author, trying to make a movie or just tryin to paint a picture. And I just really like being in the studio….
Your voice has a very specific, recognisable sound to it.
Nobody sounds like me. I think that I have a gift with my voice as in … as soon as I’m on a song, people who know me, recognize it’s me, so I think that’s a great quality. I also think that – no cockiness, trying to be humble – I know I’m one of the best contemporary songwriters doing it right now in the industry. I’m not trying to be cocky or anything, there’s nobody who intimidates me because I know I’m that good. I make hit records. That’s what I do. ‘Loyal’ and ‘2 on’ were good platforms for people to see my songwriting for other people. And now it’s time…I’m just gonna keep putting out my own new music and let people see, that a lot of the music, a lot of trends and other stuff that are happening in music, I’m doing them behind the scenes. So now it is time to step away from the back and come up front.
Who are your musical influences from back in the day?
I love Marvin Gaye , I love Stevie Wonder, I love Sam Cook. I love Whitney Houston….The list goes on, there are so many… I love Earth, Wind & Fire. Those are my old-school inspirations. Right now, I would say, I like what Pharrell is doing. I want to see myself reaching that level. Pharrell has artists signed to him, he is putting out his own music, he is producing for other people. I just want to be versatile… This road is for the taking. I feel like the more you can put your hands on, the more likely you are to have a legacy. At the end of the day, anybody can die any minute, so what are you gonna be remembered by?
How do you want to be remembered by?
I wanna be remembered like on a Marvin Gaye level. I wrote dope songs for other people and I wrote dope songs for myself. I feel like right now, I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs…
Because I’ve already been signed to major record label. I’ve already had some of the biggest managers in the world, but the thing is all about restructuring, because you have to make yourself the priority, and when you’re dealing with this music industry everything is so finicky. Meaning, everyone wants to be attached to something that is already doing good. You can’t depend on people to do too much for you, unless you give them something to work with. I just want to be known as somebody who went out there and wanted to make it happen. The more you make stuff happen the more people want to help make stuff happen for you. I just wanna be remembered as… my generation is being a major factor of the music scene of 2015 and beyond and ever since before that… I’ve been doing this for a long time, since like 2006 and a lot of people get inspiration from what I’m doing and I don’t necessarily get as much credit as I deserve but it’s ok cause you either let that eat you up, or you just keep working.
The thing that really interests me, is that you currently have two huge hits written to your name, even in Belgium where the market for this genre is really small, but when ‘Loyal’ or ‘2 on’ drops in the club éverybody knows it word by word. You might not receive that instant recognition or fame right now, but at the end of the day you can say to yourself: “I have two songs that probably everybody linked to my culture knows.”
It’s crazy! I don’t really care about being famous though. I just want to be successful and I want to be able to be in a position to make my friends even more successful and I just want to be happy. Being famous isn’t all as cracked up to be, but with recognition comes more opportunity. That’s why I do need the recognition, because then who knows, Beyoncé could be like: “I wanna song from Bobby!” So that’s why the recognition is cool for me, but I really don’t care at all about being famous. I just want people to know that I’m one of the best at what I do.
When you write songs like ‘Loyal’ is that something you do together with the artist, or is that already pre-written and ready to go?
Me and my producer friend Nic Nac started that one from scratch and it was supposed to be originally my song with a Ty Dolla Sign feature, but Chris Brown his manager ended up hearing the track. At first we didn’t really feel like giving the song away, but we decided: “Let’s see what Chris does with it.” It’s not hard for us to make a song, but when Chris puts out a song because of his platform and his fans are so big and so wide-spread, if hé puts out a track and it’s a great song, it can literally catch on over night. I quit being stubborn and it was cool. I ended up doing another song on his album called ‘Came To Do’ and then we worked on even another song with him. So it’s cool, I’m glad I have that relationship.
How did ‘2 On’ come together?
I have known Tinashe for a while, we were both signed at Universal Republic at the same time, then she ended up getting a deal with RCA. I called her cause I knew she was working on her album so I asked her what she has been up to, so she was like : “I’m still working on my album, still tryin to figure out the single.” so I was like “Cool, come over!” She came over and together with my friend and producer RedWine (who produced the beat) we just made it. She e-mailed me the next day and told me: My A&R loves the track, it’s a dope song.” and then shortly after she put it up as her single. It was already doing its thing and then Drake hopped on it which helped spread it even more. It’s cool when stuff happens naturally because people really wànt Drake on their songs. People are calling him, e-mailing him non-stop, trying to figure out how to get a Drake verse. He did it cause he likes the song and he just wanted to do it.
Is Drake someone you want to work with?
I respect his music, I think he is talented and I respect the fact that he has the game on lock right now. You can’t take the credit from him. I would definitively work on records with Drake.
When it comes to artists you really feeling working with…
Beyoncé has been Queen B since I was in elementary school, so it would be cool to do something with Beyoncé.
What kind of song would that be?
I would just make something that I thought would be hella cool. A real fun, turnt up record. Something dope, I don’t know. I just have in my head that I want to make a hit for Beyoncé. If I got the Beyoncé phone call, I’d pretty much drop whatever I was doing and go to the studio.
When it comes to producers who do you consider your peers and/or competition?
I respect a lot of people’s work, but… My friend Ty Dolla Sign is really good at writing songs for himself and other people…. I guess just my peers I work on my music with. My favorite producers are friends like Red Wine and Nic Nac. As far as the competition, we have none. We can go toe for toe with anybody making music, easily.
How important is the internet when it comes to your music?
The internet is how you can touch people without even being in the same country as them. You can touch people overseas, just by putting something online that takes five minutes to do. Internet is a gift and a curse because so many artists are getting discovered off the internet, but a lot of artists aren’t doing as good of record sales as they would have done because it’s so easy to download music for free. You can develop your own fan base without a major record label, without a hot-powered manager and have people come to your shows and make a lot of revenue through those streams.
What did you do with your first big check? How did that make you feel?
I went out a bought a Benz. It felt good! I did typical rapper shit when I got my first check. I went and bought my first Rolex. And I bought a Benz and I was just doing stupid rapper stuff. Now I’m a little… I wouldn’t say ‘conservative’ with my money, but just smarter with it. I don’t need to spend money to try to impress people. I like to travel. If I’m gonna spend my money, I want to go on some cool vacations or I wanna just help my family out, do something like that. The older you get, the wiser you get with your money .
How old are you?
I’m 26 now.
So when it comes to the future. What’s the goal?
I want Grammy’s. I want a bookshelf full of them things. I want the MTV Award, the BMI Award. I want everything.
Any last words you want to share with my readers?
If you haven’t heard of me take a listen to what I’m working on and if you like it cool and if you don’t…then maybe you should re-listen again.
I’m from Belgium and the following question is something I always finish my interviews with . If I say Belgium what three words pop immediately in your head?
Waffles, beer…and fashion?
Since I met Bobby last summer, man kept things moving. Bobby is ready to release a track called ‘Faithful’ featuring long time friend and co-writer Ty Dolla Sign with a video shot in Oakland and San Francisco, coming out early 2016. ‘Faithful’ comes simultaneously around the same time as Bobby Brackins’ new project. (name TBD) but he plans on going on tour in the spring to support his new release. When it comes to the writing department, things are moving as well. Bobby is currently in Atlanta working next to huge names like Metro Boomin, London on da Track and Tinashe. Bobby currently has song contributions linked to Tinashe ‘s ‘Party Favors’, Ty Dolla Sign‘s ‘Saved’ and YellowClaw‘s ‘In My Room’.
Lastly, Bobby is also pushing his own artists. One of them goes by the name of Quiñ and is currently featured on G-Eazy’s album with her project ‘9 lives’ to be released soon. Raw new talent to look out for, signed, sealed and delivered by Bobby Brackins.
It’s never easy to manage the balance of being a succesful producer/songwriter and then stepping into the limelight as a legit record selling artist. Only the truly legendary profiles in music managed to juggle both and it always came with musical up and downs during an extended musical journey the likes of Timbaland, Diddy, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams all know a thing or two about. One thing is for sure, they all became a global standard for a unique sound or a specific sound momentum in their genre. Time will tell what the journey for Bobby Brackins will turn out to be, but never underestimate the power of determination and the art of writing a hit record and I’m guessing Bobby masters both of those skills.
Thank you for reading.
Ow, you were wondering what happened to the YG and Jeremih part of this Los Angeles trip? Right. Well, turned out both of these stories are not finished just yet but I’m pretty sure they will reveal themselves later in 2016, right….Brandon? 🙂
Special thanks to Aicha Candeesha for getting me into Los Angeles ànd for providing the additional imagery for this feature.