(Main photo by Samad Parvez)

 

Welcome to the latest in the series of weekly blog posts about songwriting, which includes interviews with composers and artists about their views and experiences in this field. This week’s interview is with Leeds musician, songwriter and rapper J Bravo.

 

Matt:

What is your background in songwriting and performing?

 

J Bravo:

I started performing when I was 9 years old, I spent my teenage years participating in community cast and chorus line groups for plays that were held at The West Yorkshire Playhouse. At around age 13 I discovered “Real Hip Hop”, I would stop and start the songs line by line and write the words down to learn what the MC’s were saying. Eventually I started writing my own rhymes.

 

Matt:

Everyone has different reasons for writing songs and lyrics, sometimes to express themselves, to tell a story etc. What drives you to write a song and where do you get your inspiration from?

 

J Bravo:

The second part is easier to answer first: other fantastic songs or even movies. In particular, The Wu Tang Forever album and the first Matrix film made me think a lot about how I would want to hold a concept throughout a body of work. I guess what drives me to write a song is the necessity for a particular subject to be addressed, I spend more time jotting down topics for songs and waiting for a really cool or poignant phrase, or the right beat, that I can build upon.

 

Matt:

You were part of making the music and rap video Who’s To Blame, which was part of a campaign to promote awareness of and fight against weapons on the streets. Do you feel songs (and particularly Rap) are a good platform to use for these types of issues?

 

J Bravo:

I do, a lot of songs that touched on these subjects that I grew up on were important because they were from our perspective, as opposed to assumptions and conclusions made solely from outside media sources. “Who’s To Blame?” was written to try address back then what has become “Cancel Culture” today.

(Photo by Samad Parvez)

Matt:

Rap has become very common in current chart and Pop music. Compared to rappers perhaps not as widely known, what are your thoughts about the quality of rappers in the charts, their music and the meaning behind their lyrics?

 

J Bravo:

Without going into a tirade about mumble rap, I think the main problem is that the demand for rappers to be acclaimed lyricists in order to be successful has diminished, the bar has been set so low. Even Jay Z’s latest work, I feel he hasn’t had to push himself to be the best he can be since 2004, because in the mainstream market today the consumer is lenient and wordplay is treated more like a trademark than a required trait. you hear all the time now “Kendrick Lamar is one of them lyrical rappers” but it’s said as if it’s optional, as if you don’t NEED lyrics to be a rapper.

 

Matt:

There are often differing views about songs, both on what the most important aspect is and what the most difficult element of a song to compose is. What do you think is the most important part of a song and do you struggle with a particular stage of composing?

 

J Bravo:

I find catchiness the hardest part to writing songs. I’m not good with repetition and recurring phrases, I lose faith in keeping the audience’s interest with things like that in my songs. It’s a big reason why I like to collaborate with other MC’s often, we help each other build on the things we are less skilled at doing.

 

Matt:

What projects and songs are you working on at the moment?

 

J Bravo:

I am working on an album called “Chapeltown Bread” and I have nearly finished a collaborative project with DJ Agent M. I am really excited to see how people feel about my next pieces of work.

 

You can learn more about J Bravo and his music by visiting his Facebook page and can listen to his music at BandCamp and Spotify

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