Artist Name – Brotherman
Song Title – Cloud Clears
Genre – Hip –Hop/Rap
“Brotherman has always stood out for me. His voice is original, his flows are sick and I like his diction. Uniqueness in this rap game is paramount and he has it by the bucketload. On this EP he blends seamlessly with some sick crisp production from GG Peney. Fiercely refreshing and a breath of fresh air from the usual mind-numbing copycat rap music. This project is distinctively dope.”
– Daddy Skitz
“Insightful bars, subtle cadence, heartfelt songwriting. This brother really is the man!”
– Essa (formerly known as Yungun)
“Huckleberry dropping you a dose of that dope socially woke hip-hop that you need for your mental health. Go get your fix.”
Tell us your names, country of birth, and childhood experience.
My name is Thomas Boord-James and I was born in London England.
At the age of five, my family moved to the Caribbean island of Montserrat where we lived until I was 11.
Island life was amazing and a great way to grow up. It was warm and happy but all that would change when we moved back to London. We came back to a life with very little money and to a city where the crime had begun to fill the streets. Life was not as easy as it had been on the island.
State your academic qualifications.
I did okay in school even though I felt like it wasn’t really for me, I studied English language and literature at A-Level and went on to complete a degree in film. It was through this degree that I was signed to my first label and chose music as a career.
Elaborate on your music career, band name, experience, and skills.
Before being signed I would write all day and would look for stages to perform on almost every night.
I began getting good at making a big impression on the microphone and built up a large catalog of lyrics.
I was heard by the guys at a small indie label called Silent Soundz who offered me a contract.
This was when I really became the rapper known as Brotherman and was able to begin recording my first record ‘The Dark and The Light’.
Tell us your genre and idea behind your song and music video.
My genre would be Hip Hop but many would say my sound is more varied and ranges from Lo-Fi or Chill-Hop right through to a more Jazz-like sound.
The idea behind Cloud Clears as a track was always to blend storytelling and music to create a cautionary tale that is easy to listen to and take in.
For the video, we used stock footage that we had shot several years before to give the listener a feel for the streets and the time talked about in the lyrics.
Tell us how to run a record label based on your experience as an artist.
My experience as an artist shows me that in order to run a successful record label you need to really appreciate, nurture and support your artists so you can get the best from them.
If you have talented musicians then let them play with the aim to break down barriers and push the limits to create something new.
The labels that are only in the business of making money are essentially killing the music industry in my opinion.
Tell us how you are promoting your music.
For an artist like me who does not have a large label backing me, the correct use of social media platforms and relationships with blogs has been key to promoting my music. I’m still working to build my name and get my music out there.
Explain the story behind the song.
Cloud Clears is an emotional song that was written in the wake of a year-long stay in prison.
It comments on conviction and trying to keep out of the street violence happening in London as well as a more objective view gained from incarceration.
Inspired by true wordsmiths like Talib Kweli and Mos Def; Cloud Clears tries to act as a warning as much as it tells a tale.
State the names of other members of your band, music producer, crew, or music video director.
This track was produced by GG Peney and written by Brotherman.
The video was produced and directed by Johnny Griffith, who is my right-hand man. He has done a great job in really capturing the essence of the song.
Also much love to the editor Dom Brancaleone for getting the video to its crisp and clean final look.
Elaborate on the song and music video.
The song Cloud Clears contains more than a few references to London streets and the life that I lived… It was only right that the video gave some more insight into the world that is spoken about in the track and so we used footage of me that had been shot back in the times that the song speaks of.
The lyrics are more like thoughts than statements and so we wanted a visual that sort of internalized the struggle I was going through which is why I never talk to the camera during the video.
Tell us how long you have been in the music business, your experience, and your future goal.
My mother says I have been rapping and singing since I was around eight years old. I wrote a number of tracks before I ever performed on stage which meant once I did, I hit the ground running.
I entered open mics and rap battles and began winning and gaining attention and notoriety.
Once I was signed, I appeared on mixtapes alongside Cormega from Wu-Tang and a whole host of rappers from the UK.
I recorded my first album which allowed me to tour and perform to thousands at festivals as well as to millions more live on national radio stations.
My first label folded which left me unsigned just as my first release dropped so it didn’t have the full impact it should have had. Since then I have warmed up stages for Hip Hop royalty such as Mos Def (Yasiin Bey) and Talib Kweli and have continued to build the Brotherman brand and make newer fresher music.
Since my first album, I have had several small releases online but Huckleberry is my first proper release in quite some time.
I am currently working on two new projects which should take the form of a mixtape and an album, both dropping later this year or early next year.
We also have another video from Huckleberry which will be released in a few months.
As for the future well, I would like to see my music reaching more people and would also like to see my style changing to become slightly more musical.
I have plans to work with more musicians and have better and bigger features as well.
Tell us what makes you unique from others.
Put simply, I think I stand out as an artist because I have such a wide range of influences in both my music and my writing.
Musically my influences range from 1920’s Blues right through to Drum and Bass.
Meanwhile, lyrically I am a child of Shakespeare with a want to write like James Baldwin.
My aim is to pretty much write poetry that moves the listener and speaks of the problems we face as a society while creating gorgeous music that is well made and lasts forever.
Tell us your weakness and strength pertaining to music.
My weakness when it comes to music would have to be the ability to play instruments or make beats. I chose lyricism a long time ago so while I play a little guitar, I am more words than music.
Luckily I have a great team who are as good at music as I am with letters.
My strengths are writing and performing. I find that when performed in the right atmosphere my writing comes alive and I am never happier than I am when on stage.
List your five favorite songs including the artists.
Waiting in Vain – Bob Marley
Sky’s the Limit – Notorious BIG
Everything Man – Talib Kweli
The Queen and the Soldier – Suzanne Vega
Liquid Love – Essa (formerly known as Yungun)
Tell us your position on “Do It Yourself” and signing to a major label.
Signing to a major label is always seen as the best way to ‘make it’ as an artist in today’s industry. This is mainly to do with the big signing bonus and the network of marketing and promotion that they supply.
Nowadays there are more than enough outlets for the ‘do it yourself’ artist to have their music seen and heard. This allows the artist creative freedoms that they might not have had as a signed artist on a major label.
Tell us other activities you are pursuing apart from music.
Outside of music, I am a writer and so I am working on several Novels as well as children’s books and poetry. We have just welcomed our daughter into the world, which takes up a fair amount of my time. Anything left is music really.
State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.
My artist’s name is Brotherman, it was a name that the Rastafarian men used to call me as a child. I guess the name stuck and now it pretty much means a brother to man.
State the title of the song and the meaning.
Cloud Clears refers to that moment when the sun is finally visible through the thickest grey clouds and tells of a brighter day ahead.
State the title of the album and the reason for choosing the title.
Huckleberry is the name of the album because it was written and produced on a street called Huckleberry close. I liked it because of the reference to Mark Twain as I felt like this was a twist on a modern-day Huckleberry Finn-type tale of adventure and self-exploration.