Words by Tony Grands
Rap music is in a precarious position right now. It’s fighting for independence from the machine (& apparently winning) while still struggling to find a proper voice to represent it globally.Where the art of rap was once a unilateral execution, it’s now a multifaceted jackpot of style & variance. In the past, MC’s were pigeonholed by their environments, but thanks to the internet, boundaries have exploded & expanded to places that – musically – they haven’t been before. It seems that every nine months or so there’s a new rapper or awesome style that dominates & redefines the genre, yet at the same time, nothing is new under the sun.
Life moves in circles & so does art.
Brian Ennals is a rap singer, in the most literal sense of the term. His ultra catchy song, “Newport Music”, has been making waves on the ‘nets with it’s no nonsense, harmonic approach to bad ass raps with a musical twist. & while Brian’s style is slightly reminiscent of Hip Hop crooners like Nice & Smooth, Domino, & Nate Dogg, Ennals adds his personal touch & victoriously carries the proverbial torch.
I caught up with the vocalist to shoot the breeze & give his fans something to talk about while they wait for his next project, Candy Cigarettes, to be released.
Tony Grands: Tell me a little about where you are from?
Brian Ennals: Severn, Maryland. Real small town about 15 minutes outside of Baltimore. Literally right next to BWI airport. If you’re driving through the area, and turn your eyes down to change the dial on the radio, you’d miss it. That’s home though, wouldn’t want to be from anywhere else.
Grands: When did you make the decision that making music was what you wanted to do with your life?
Ennals: When I graduated college. I realized that because of my lack of networking, propensity to getting stoned instead of studying, and general apathy towards higher education, the only decent job I could get was to teach. Alas, I hate kids. Before college was over, it was more, “it’d be real dope if this music happened to pop.” After [college], it was, “this shit has to work bro”.
Grands: Describe your style of music?
Ennals: Nelly mixed with Nas.
Grands: Speaking of Nelly, from Slick Rick to Bone Thugs to Ja Rule, harmonizing has always been a major part of Hip Hop. What’s the feedback been like so far?
Ennals: When I dropped the Untitled tape, cats were leery. Granted, a lot of that had to do with the fact that, at that point, my harmonizing kinda sucked. I knew that was my lane, but I didn’t have a handle on it, wasn’t 100% in pocket. Also, Kid Cudi was peaking at the time so I got a lot of… unfavorable comparisons. I’ve refined my shit though and it’s been doper. Now that’s it’s doper, so is the feedback.
Grands: Who influences you, music & non-music?
Ennals: Music wise? [Ice] Cube, Raffi, and Bobby Brown would be the main ones. Also, my mom used to make up these songs for me when I was a kid about like, He-Man, and the Ghostbusters. But the melodies were so fucking ill. That’s probably the main influence. Non-music wise? Louis CK and Larry David. That kind of lovable self-loathing is what I’m going for.
Grands: What’s a more desirable path for you in the long run: mainstream or independent?
Ennals: I want to say independent. Control, or at least the illusion of it, is vital. But let’s be real, anybody that jumps into the entertainment industry wants to be famous. Major labels get you on TV. TV brings fame. Think of the rappers that had heavy buzz the last few years. Remember when they signed to majors and you were like, “What the fuck, why would they do that?” That’s the fame calling. We all wanna be on TV, don’t let anyone tell you different. So ideally, [I want to stay] independent until my value is high enough that I can go to that next level without having to sacrifice everything. With that said, I’m not against selling out. I’m not sure if that’s a joke or not.
Grands: If you had to pick an animal that best describes you, which would it be & why?
Ennals: Whatever animal is considered the laziest. That would have to be a bear right? Those dudes take whole seasons off. My envy knows no bounds.
Grands: Lastly, what is it that Brian Ennals brings to the table?
Ennals: It’s a different perspective than you’re used to hearing in Hip Hop. As opposed to making music that caters to what the average person may aspire to be, or what they fantasize about, my music is more where the average person in this country is right now. And that’s not necessarily a good place.
Words by Tony Grands