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Interview: Brandon Lockheart

Detroit, MI hip hop artist Brandon Lockheart hails from a city known for being saturated with highly skilled emcees. Armed with his heart on his sleeve, a distinct production situation and determination to overcome his limitations, Lockheart finds his way to stand out through his new mixtape White Walls. Lockheart took the time to answer a few questions dealing with working with his father on the beats, becoming a future member of the US Air Force, collaborating with Royce da 5’9, Drake comparisons and more with TST correspondents Mark Noisiri and Travis Phillips.

Mark Noisiri: So we got a chance to listen to White Walls and there’s a lot of interesting things we can point out about the tape, but first of all, how did you end up with the name Brandon Lockheart?

Brandon Lockheart: Actually, I began rapping when I was about 17, and I was like fresh off breaking up with my first love and it was kinda derived from that cold-hearted feeling I got afterwards, man. Simply put.

“Love Don’t Love Nobody”

MN: That’s real. And that’s not your biological name or anything right?

BL: Not my biological name but I’m actually switching that to my biological name, so very very shortly that will be my biological name.

MN: You’re getting the papers done and everything?

BL: Yes sir. The real deal.

Travis Phillips: I’ll be changing my name to Yoh when I’m 60, just so yall know.

MN: That should make things easier (laughs).

TP: So Brandon, White Walls…why should the people download it? Go.

BL: People should download White Walls for the simple fact that if you enjoy authentic hip hop music…taking myself outside of the situation and me being a listener, if you’re looking to hear something fresh from a young mind, download White Walls. If you’re looking for something conceptual and refreshing, download White Walls. And if you’re looking for a solid project of any genre, you should download White Walls. Sounds like I should run for president (laughs).

MN: (laughs) As simple as that. What made you decide to title this mixtape White Walls?

BL: When I was listening to all the beats I selected for the project, I bounced a few concepts around and what I did was I looked at all these beats like a blank canvas for me to paint a picture with words and it just fit the mood perfectly.

MN: Now what would be the one track in this whole mixtape that you would recommend to someone who has never heard of you before?

BL: I would go with “I Have A Dream” over the Jay (-Z) beat from American Gangster. I feel like in some people’s eyes they saw it as a classic and I think I delievered pretty well so I’d say it’s an attention grabber that would make people gravitate to my other tracks on the mixtape.

“I Have A Dream”

MN: Where were you getting the beats from for this project? Did you work with anyone specifically?

BL: The majority of the project was actually produced by my father. I’ve been working with my father since I started rapping at 17. The other beats were done by a producer I linked up with over the Summer named Spartacus out of Long Beach, CA, so between those two we put together a pretty interesting set of production.

MN: That’s great that you’re working with your father on the production side. Do you guys connect well due to having that family bond?

BL: It definitely makes it easier to work because we have a deep relationship and our minds, musically, are almost the same. It’s harder to reach those pinnacles and levels with someone I don’t know that well. I can tell him if I don’t like something and there won’t be any hard feelings…at the end of the day it’s all fun. He’s a couple decades older than I am, and it’s just great to have someone with so much knowledge on your side.

TP: Now, since White Walls came out in August, do you have something else coming out soon during this December?

BL: Actually, that’s a misconception. I have my other project called December 21st that I finished over the Summer. We already have the release date set to October 2nd of 2012.

TP: Timeout (laughs). So you have a project called December 21st that you worked on over the Summer that drops October 2nd?

MN: Man this is all over the place (laughs).

BL: It’s called December 21st because that’s the first day of Winter. For some reason people don’t know that. Public school system is failing, bro (laughs). This has to do with one of the most roughest phases when I was young, and I was able to create a project that depicted that time. To me personally, its a classic because I got to reinvent that vision and make people get to know me deeper than what they heard on White Walls. So I dived back in to clear up the grey area of that project with my father and other producers. But yes, it is finished.

MN: Well you got a lot of time to fine tune it until October 2012.

TP: That’s a long time!

BL: Well, see, the thing is I’m headed to defend our country by joining the United States Air Force in February.

MN: Oh wow. Ok.

TP: So you’ll be taking a leave.

BL: I’ll be taking a bit of time off so I’ll get a chance to sit down and get everything situated to bring about this second chapter of Brandon Lockheart. I ain’t gon’ leave nobody hanging in the meantime though. There will be music coming through during my absence. I highly believe in consistency and I look at guys like Curren$y for his consistency in dropping mixtapes like every 2 months. It’s definitely a way of setting yourself apart from the rest.

MN: Being from Detroit, a city full of rappers, how do you differentiate yourself apart from the myriad of artists there?

TP: And if you ask anyone from Detroit, yall don’t breed any wack rappers (laughs). So when it comes to the D, do you feel like you have to rep Detroit?

BL: The best thing I can do is be me. I’m the only one that can tell my story in the best way I can. I represent Detroit, I represent all aspects of life and I represent me. It’s all I can do.

TP: I heard something about a rapper named DK doing a big remix track with you and a bunch of other rappers including Royce (da 5’9).

BL: Yeah, I’m on the remix with Royce, D-12 (Eminem’s crew), Kid Vishis, and a couple of other heads I can’t disclose yet. It’s great that DK reached out to me to be a part of that track.

MN: Another thing I noticed about White Walls is that there is some singing on the tracks. Is that you singing? And did you come up both singing and rapping when you started?

“RunGame”

BL: Yes, there are only two other artists featured on the tape: my boys Rawb and So Easy. That is me singing due to the fact that I had to get over my limitations of not having singers available to do the hooks I wrote. So I took it upon myself to do a lot of things, the songwriting, recording, singing and engineering, being a one stop shop.

MN: Are you worried about any possible Drake comparisons?

BL: (laughs) That’s crazy. People are always going to compare you to someone no matter what. But if I’m being compared to one of the best selling artists of our generation, I ain’t mad (laughs).

TP: People could even compare you to Lil B (laughs). Just bringing some off the wall comparisons without knowing the whole situation.

BL: It’s difficult, but sometimes that’s the key to getting people hip to you because these days, people won’t mess with you unless a whole bunch of people mess with you….but I ain’t worried about that.

MN: So what’s in-store for Brandon Lockheart after this December 21st mixtape that was completed in Summer dropping in October 2012 (laughs).

BL: The ultimate plan is to do what I love. To be involved with Hip Hop. The Air Force move was what I felt was best for my family. I just got married to my wife this past Sunday and I also have a little girl on the way.

MN: Wow, congrats!

BL: Thank you so much. The ultimate goal is to continue persuing my dreams with my specific gifts and talents because I don’t want to look back on my life when I’m 80 saying I didn’t try. And I love this country so I have no problem serving and sacrificing myself for this country at this point in time.

TP: Well Brandon we salute you.

MN: Good luck with everything in the future, Brandon. Looking forward to December 21st.

BL: Thank you guys, I won’t disappoint.

Download: Brandon Lockheart – White Walls