Brad Real has been making a lot of noise around the Circle City. Brad is a local rap artist that spits some of the most honest and meaningful lyrics of any rapper I know. I have said it before, and I will say it again… the thing that impresses me most about Brad is that he doesn’t use profanity in his lyrics. Rap music and profanity usually go hand in hand, and even when I was listening to this album for the first time I was waiting for it. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few thrown in here and there… but not enough to constitute a warning on the front of the disc.
Speaking of the disc, I LOVE the artwork. The album is called “letters.to.the.editor” and the cover is a letter on fire with some lyrics on the front. Without asking Brad, I have no idea what the meaning behind these lyrics are… so maybe I will just ask him. Below you will find some interview questions I did with Brad as he prepares to release the new album.
1. His Airness (Intro)
One thing I like about this album is the interludes and the intros to some of these tracks. Brad takes some VERY popular and sometimes controversial movies and finds some memorable and meaningful clips to help the album speak volumes. The intro for the album is His Airness, and is a clip of Michael Jordan from “Michael Jordan’s Playground”. I remember that clip from WAY back, but it sets the tone for this album right out of the gate.
“He was the last guy to make my high school basketball team. It really helped my confidence and my determination.”
2. Hands Up (produced by Monty Vortex)
I don’t know who Morty Vortex is, but I know Brad wouldn’t work with anyone that wasn’t qualified.
The track kicks off with Brad spitting rhymes left and right. I am really digging the music on this one too. I listen to a lot of electronic dance music, but the beat here matches his vocals perfectly. This is the first time Brad mentions the words “rock star”. He is a rap artist, but a rock star. That will make a lot of sense later on in this album. The song tells me to put my hands up… and I tell you what… I do!
“Silence if deafening like living in a ghost town.”
3. Watch The Plot Thicken (produced by LONEgevity)
I wonder why there are so many featured producers on this album. I know Brad is good friends with Nick J, and he did produce some of these songs… but I wonder why Brad chose to work with so many different producers.
The song is deep, dark, and makes me think of dungeons and wet cellars. But then the lyrics start, and Brad tells a story. That is another thing I like about Brad. He tells stories with his lyrics.
There are also some guest vocals here. Not sure who that is, but it sounds like Ice Cube. How sick would that be… Brad Real featuring Ice Cube. It can happen. Brad is that good and he has a bright future ahead of him.
“I’d rather see a microphone than false pretenses that will have me living life alone.”
4. Independent Rockstars (featuring The Holland Account)
I knew Nick J came up on this album… this is the first track on the release that he produced. I have become Facebook friends with Nick over the last few months, and was excited when he told me that he was working with Brad on this new album. I have also become friends with The Holland Account.
I asked The Holland Account to appear on the March rickyleepotts.com presents six bands for six bucks, and they blew me away with their attention to detail, promotions, and selling tickets. They played after midnight and managed to draw over 60 people. In Indianapolis, that is a great draw no matter what time of night you play.
Nick Ramey, from The Holland Account, spits some rhymes in there too. Nick is just a good dude… that is all there is to it. They also throw some love to Indianapolis (and Nap Town) in the middle of the track.
Oh, and Pinky & The Brain kick this track off. Memories of that show…
“Want to be a new sensation, MTV is their motivation. Easy Street is their new location, making music is a vacation.”
5. Yesterday (produced by Ed Trauma)
This is a “love” song. But the backing beat makes me want to get up and dance. The backing vocals help too. I will admit, a disc with 17 songs of the same dude rapping could/would gets boring. But this doesn’t. Brad is always featuring new acts and a guest producer that helps each song start off fresh and provides the listener something new.
“Anything that I can do to make you smile at me.”
6. Easy (produced by Joe Harvey)
Here Brad uses yet another producer… but the entire album (I have listened to it three times now) sounds the same. Now, I don’t mean the same as in the songs SOUND the same, but they have the same feeling. They flow the same and from one song to the next, if you didn’t know there was a different producer, you would never know. It’s a unique touch that I wish more guys explored.
“Feel the funk as it moves through your brain waves.”
7. 44 (The Winged Reality) (Produced by El Carnicero)
The meaning behind this song is explained in the sound bite… you can thank the Yellow Submarine for that one. Anyway, this track is a little more low key, and Brad gets a little emotional on this one. His voice lends for that, too. This isn’t rap. This is passion.
“Walk the city streets, barefoot, on the hottest day.”
8. Rise Above (featuring Jason Firebaugh) (Produced by Nick J)
This was the first single to drop for this album. Here Brad works with another close friend of mine, Jason Firebaugh. Jason Firebaugh was actually the guy that gave me the idea for rickyleepotts.com presents six bands for six bucks. He was the first act to perform on the first one. That night he met Brad Real. The rest is history!
Anyway, this track is great. I love how Brad is able to take rock stars and mix them with rap artists. It’s something very unique, and while David Correy calls his work “urban rock”, I would say THIS is urban rock.
By the way, Jason sounds great here.
“Now I sleep through the night.”
9. Saint Peace (Interlude)
This album has 17 tracks. When you have an album packed with that much music, you have to have an interlude here and there. This one is a poem and I can close my eyes, see myself in a coffee shop, and picture the guy in the corner spitting these rhymes into the microphone.
“Holding your mother come Mother’s Day does not excuse the knots in her veins for worrying the rest of the year.”
10. Don’t (Produced by Po’ Safe Beats)
I love this track. It starts out with some tribal beats and then Brad kicks in the rhymes. The beat continues and his voice just flows from one beat to the next. I can’t help but bob my head as the track progresses.
When the chorus kicks in, the song goes from good to great. The words, “life comes quick” fit his story. When I first met Brad, he was just a white kid trying to rap. Now he is working with the biggest and best producers in the Midwest and out came this album.
“We all want someone to say I love you.”
11. Redheaded Stepchild (Produced by Feeray)
This one also stars off with a clip. This is a clip from “Pulp Fiction” where they mention the metric system. You know…the “royale with cheese”. Anyway, the beat starts followed by some chanting that gets me on my feet. If there is any one track on this album that I can hear on the album, it’s this one. It has the “hands up” sort of feel, and I can see flocks of people just tossing their hands in the air when Brad does this live.
“I formed a presence online and brought it to the streets.”
12. Clichés (Produced by Michael Bennett aka “Dusty Fingertips”)
Anyone that has a nickname “Dusty Fingerprints” must be good. I love that name. Maybe I can get my friends to start calling ME that!
I don’t want to say this song doesn’t fit… but I keep going back to the 17 tracks. A lot of bands are releasing an EP over a full-length disc… and I am not saying Brad should have done that, but if he did this song would have to go. It’s not a bad song, it just doesn’t fit the flow of this release.
“Clichés make way; got something to say.”
13. Blind Side (featuring Stacy Basner) (Produced by Nick J)
I love it when a band features another artist on a track. Look at the new Lionel Richie album… every song has a featured artist. It’s country too. Imagine that… Lionel Richie singing country music. Anyway, this is another track produced by Nick J. I would like to see Nick produce an entire album with Brad. More for the flow than anything.
This track has an epic sound… something that is hard to accomplish on a rap album. If you are familiar with Muse, they have an epic sound… a sound fit for an amphitheater, every song. Then Stacy starts singing. Her voice compliments Brad, and she is a nice touch. I want to hear more from her.
“Shake a hand with the mirror, say, “hi”.”
14. People at the Station (Produced by Mr. Kinetik)
This starts with a clip about… you guessed it, a train! Then the music starts and you are pretty much taken on a journey. Like a train… see what he does there?
This track is more upbeat, and the lyrics are kind of cheesy. But it works. I sometimes feel like rap artists just make things make sense. I can close my eyes and see myself riding on this train, staring out the window looking at the mountains pass.
“Take a seat, may I get your coat sir, or a drink to fit the coaster?”
15. Let Me Know Now (Produced by El Carnicero)
This is the best clip of them all. It’s a clip from “White Men Can’t Jump”. That was one of the first rated R movies I saw and I will forever consider it one of the best movies ever made. The cast was great, and the storyline was incredible. Don’t be a chump!
The track repeats the words, “Let me know now…” which makes sense… that’s the name of the song. Brad also raps harder and faster than on any other song on this album. I can barely listen as fast as he is rapping.
“What do you think about tours, bright lights, big stage?”
16. Just Can’t Understand (featuring Son of Thought) (Produced by Son of Thought)
I guess Son of Thought is both a performer AND a producer. Son of Thought produced this track and is also a featured performer. I wonder when Brad tours (because you know it will happen one of these days) how he will handle all of these guest performers. Will the go on the road with him?
I am not getting sick of the songs, but I think this album would have been better with 14 or so tracks. This one seems forced, and I hate it when that happens. Brad is not the only one to force tracks on an album. Just listen to anything from Linkin Park. They force songs left and right.
“You could never do something wrong, but now I have to change the station every time her song comes on.”
17. Great Depression (featuring alpha.live, Rusty Redenbacher, TJ Reynolds, Eratic, WhoisLouis) (Produced by WhoisLouis)
This track has a TON of names associated with it. This is also a GREAT way to end this album. It is loaded with energy, some horns (which don’t make it on a lot of rap albums) and some sick rapping. The lyrics are intense, and there is some profanity on this track… but it fades in with the rest of the release.
Rusty has been making his name in the Indianapolis music scene as well, and he drops it ‘like it’s hot” on this one. Do people still say that?
This album couldn’t have ended better than this.
“Reach for the sky. Live til you die.”
I hope Brad is proud of this album… because I am proud of him. I have known Brad for a few years, and have watched him grow from the sidelines. I can’t wait to see what is next for him. He is reaching for the sky, and I hope he gets it… because he deserves it.
Brad Real Q&A
On the blog, I have a personal rule about interviewing the same artist twice. But when Brad asked me to review this album, I figured I could bend the rules a little bit. The album was so good, and it had been a long time since Brad and I talked… I just had to ask him more about the album.
You used several guest producers on this album. You worked with guys like Monty Vortex, Nick J, Son of Thought… why did you choose to work with so many different producers? Did working with several producers change the way a track turned out?
That was my focus from the beginning. I’m surrounded every single day by some of the most talented musical ears that I know. In Indianapolis alone, we have some of the best music producers in the country. I needed to showcase that. All of the producers on the album have not only blessed me with the opportunity to work with them on the record, but they have influenced me and guided me from day one. I’ve learned something from all of them. They all have their own unique sounds and it helped shape the album into the artistic form I believe it is. Different vibes, feelings, emotions and lyrics come out based upon that individual producer’s style. It’s like they were the waves in the ocean and I’m in a boat with no motor. Their music guides me on the right way to go.
There are a lot of great bands in the Indianapolis area. Who are some of your favorites acts to see live?
Oh man… there is no possible way I could ever name them all. I know I will leave some out. The most entertaining live shows I can remember were from The Holland Account, FINER, s.a.i.n.t. RECON, TJ Reynolds and The Freehand Orchestra… I’m leaving a bunch out.
You used several sound bites from popular movies such as White Men Can’t Jump. To use these sound bites, do you need to get permission? What is that process like?
Yes, we absolutely do. It’s not as bad as you think. You basically just need proof that you asked for the permission, in most cases. I’ve always said if Paramount, Interscope or someone likes that wants to come at me for using their clips, that would be a great problem to have.
What are your plans to promote this album? Is a tour possible this summer?
We will obviously be hitting Indianapolis hard this summer. Our official release date of the album is Tuesday, April 10th. It will be available at all of the online retailers (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) and will also be in the local music stores in Broad Ripple such as LUNA Music, Indy CD & Vinyl and VIBES. We will be having a release and listening party at Fox and Hound in Castleton on Friday, April 6th from 7-10 PM. It’s free, open to the public and we’ll have free appetizers for everyone. It will give our friends, family and fans a chance to hear the album and purchase it before it is officially released. It will be a great time.
We are working on setting our out of town dates for this summer as well and are planning a little Midwest tour. Details to come on that, but we are trying to hit every major city surrounding Indiana. Time to take the show on the road.
You have worked with several performers here in the Circle City. You did a track with Jason Firebaugh, a singer/songwriter. How did that come about? You also worked with The Holland Account. Those guys are rock… and you are rap. Care to elaborate?
I think in both cases what drew us to each other was not only our love for music, but our passion for working hard and not just taking it as a hobby. We all live for music. We are able to bring our different backgrounds together and all of those guys are extremely talented people. You put guys like that together in a room and magic just happens. Hip-hop has to spread its wings to be heard. If we don’t, we are stuck in the same little niche that we pride ourselves to be disassociated from. I wanted to show people that there are no boundaries or limits when it comes to music. I also wanted to showcase some of my favorite musicians in the city and give them a chance to reach a different audience the way they have helped me reach theirs.
You are very loyal to the city of Indianapolis. Do you think that if you moved to either coast you would have a better chance of being discovered? Any thoughts of moving in the near future?
No. No thoughts on moving. There is absolutely no reason that Indianapolis can’t blow up in the music scene. We have just as much, if not more, talent in this city than any of the other cities that have seen the spotlight. I’m loyal because this is my city. I believe in it, love it and want to take care of it like it was my child. The way that digital and the Internet have taken over music, location has begun to mean less and less in the music industry. We need ears. People turn on the radio and think Rick Ross and Lil Wayne are all there is, when in their own backyard, for FIVE BUCKS they can see artists up close who have just as much talent as those guys. There is no reason that Hinx Jones, Grey Granite, Sleeper Cell, Brad Real… there is no reason we can’t be on the national stage. The only thing holding us back is the barrier we have to break through that it’s “not cool” to like the unpopular. But the unpopular can only become popular with ears. Good music is good music. People are far too swayed by the opinion of others and wanting to fit in. You can catch me this summer, driving my car with the windows down blasting the new Blake Allee record because it is GOOD MUSIC. Yeah this topic gets me goin’… (Laughs.)
You just said it… your CD release party is coming up. It’s going to be at the Fox and Hound. What can fans expect from this release party?
Oh, I’m glad you asked! I know I mentioned it already but I’m really excited for this night. It will be the first chance that people have to hear the record. It’s more of an open house of sorts. We wanted to create a relaxed and fun environment for people to come, hang out and hear the new stuff. Fox and Hound is gracious enough to provide free appetizers for everyone. We aren’t charging a cover. It will be from 7-10 PM in Castleton. I also wanted to be able to thank and recognize all of the artists and producers that worked so hard to make this record what it has become. People can also purchase the record before it hits stores and we have some brand new merchandise that will be available. Our good friends of No Bad Ideas Clothing Company will also be on hand to showcase some of their brand new gear. They are huge supporters of the local music scene and we are honored that they are going to be a part of the event. Come hang for a few minutes or stay the whole time… whatever you feel like doing. It’s a celebration.
Thanks for taking the time to sit with me Brad. I know you are a busy guy. Since you have already been interviewed on the blog, you know the routine… but I always give the artist the last word. Go.
I can’t thank you enough for giving me the opportunity to talk about the record with you. You have been a huge supporter of my music and a huge help in many different ways. A huge shout out to my man Big Tid for going through this process with me, always being there and pushing me to make this album what it has become. I’m extremely excited to share it with the world. We hope you will join us Friday, April 6th at Fox and Hound from 7-10 PM for the listening party. Please check out www.bradreal.com as we have a lot going on and we would love everyone to go on the journey with us. As always, it’s Indianapolis.