ohn Brown, a.k.a. the 'King of da Burbz', has been described as "one of the most controversial figures in hip-hop at this point in time".
Propelled to national notoriety as a finalist on "ego trip's (White) Rapper Show" on VH1, Brown was best known for relentlessly marketing his company "Ghetto Revival" and one of their catchphrases -- "Hallelujah Holla Back". He'll also be the first to tell you that he's not a rapper but rather, "an entity".
Born in San Francisco, CA, Brown was raised in Berkeley and Davis, where he was known locally for his passion for music. "I was trying to find a little scene or whatever, some people that moved up from the bay," Brown told realtalkny.net. "I started producing when I was in high school. I was a kind of an oasis in my town."
Brown relocated to Santa Cruz for a few years where he linked up with Brooklyn-native, Dred Scott, and honed his production and song-writing skills. Anxious to broaden his world perspective, Brown moved to London for a year and worked with several European artists and hosted a radio show. After London he moved to Brooklyn to intensify his grind and help set the foundation for the company now known as "Ghetto Revival".
"Our whole M.O. is really unity," Brown said. "We are about people being there own bosses. Creating your own destiny, whether you are from the burbs or from the 'hood."
While growing as a producer and artist in Brooklyn, he built on an innovative concept that defined his place within hip-hop - "King of da 'Burbz".
He explains: "As I grew up and developed my craft with music I decided to embrace suburbia rather than run from it. I felt that if I'm already sitting in the "American dream", I should represent the mentalities and cultural traits associated with it - the ironies, contradictions and economics... When you're from a city like New York or Atlanta, there's such a rich culture and rich history. A lot of people give shit to people from a sanitized, kind of boring town. It's a feeling like, if you're from a town with nothing your corny, especially when you're young."
Brown also takes his name from the storied abolitionist to illustrate his drive for eventual progressive change.
"At the end of the day I'm trying to make a bigger social statement that America tends to breed cultures that are segregated from one another. You can look at kids in college, kids in prisons, and that whole thing, I'm really on that, I come from a background of checking that out. I'm really trying to bring light to these issues."
However, Brown and Ghetto Revival maintain a refreshing and unique approach to raising ideas while still reaching a wide audience.
Brown has released two mixtapes: "Hallelujah Holla Back" with DJ Absolut and DJ Fingaz and "King Of Da 'Burbz" with Big Mike and DJ Fingaz. His third mixtape, "Burb Life" with DJ Rah2K, drops in September. In addition to wrapping up additional mixtapes, he is also releasing a creative instrumental project that will showcase his production background and reveal a different artistic side.
Brown is distributed digitally through InGrooves, which released his "Keg Party EP". He also has a digital deal with Amalgam Digital, which is releasing his "King Of Da 'Burbz" digital album. Brown believes that digital distribution is the future and has established a strong on-line video presence with five official videos and several behind-the-scenes documentaries and interviews.
Brown has a very entertaining stage show and has performed throughout the nation, in Canada and the UK. He consistently drops material on various hip-hop websites and is featured or referenced in several print and on-line publications including: XXL, KING, Rolling Stone, Complex, WorldStarHipHop.com, SOHH.com, Ballerstatus.com and others.
The company, Ghetto Revival, currently consists of six artists: Dred Scott, John Brown, Veezy Da Puerto Rock, Dubbz & Knox (EMS) and Dice aka Yung Scholar. A production subsidiary, So Religious Productions (SRP), has also been formed that includes several producers nationwide including Dred Scott, John Brown, Brian Demby and Matt Price. Ghetto Revival also has a model agency, "Revival Models", which has been extremely successful and continues to grow and receive high-profile castings.
Ghetto Revival donates 7% of its profits from all merchandise, shows and music sales to charities that help revive communites that need help.
As Woodland's Daily Democrat explains, "Whether you agree with his philosophies or not, they're making a noticeable splash in the nation of hip hop, and the ripple seems only to be widening."