justLISTEN! Typicality Overcome

Words by Ryan Mitchell
Photography by Tony Einfeldt
Check out his music HERE

And it’s true, we don’t (at least most of us don’t) want to hear about you selling drugs. After all, that would be pretty typical in this scene. Ryan presses Matt to share a bit of his colourful story with us. He’s been through bad times and times where he admits that he’s not proud of. But wait, in the hip hop and rap scene, this is still pretty typical. What isn’t typical is his music. Instead, Matt Brevner takes fresh and different sounds and implements it into his music, drawing from electronic to rock to things just all over the place. A rapper is just a rapper if all he or she does is conform. Where they stand out is how they change it up. Read on about Matt’s take on music and his roots.

Describe Yourself

I’m a loner. I just chill at my house and make music all day.

I try to work harder than anyone else. I want to be the best in everything I do so I’m super competitive. I want to have something to offer, that no one else does and I dive head first in work. I have always been like that with everything I do.

As far as artists in the city, there are a lot of talented MCs but I’m so not sure if there are that many talented song writers; that’s a huge difference. I’m not trying to be anyone; I’m a solid song writer and a good producer.

What does your album “Magnum Opus” sounds like?

That’s the thing, it doesn’t sound like anything you have heard before; the production is all over the place. If you like boom bap, then it’s got some on there, if you like electro, there is that type of shit on it and If you like alternative rock, there are a couple tracks on there. I kept it all over the place, so that there is something for everybody on the album. It sounds fresh. Sounds like the dairy aisle.

What took you so long?

Up to this point, I’ve spent my career just messing with a whole bunch of different crews, labels and dead ends. And so finally, I was like, “I’m sick of relying on everyone else for my shit.” I’ve been MCing [for a while] when I first started producing , I wasn’t a very good producer so I pretty much did what was said on the Kanye West’s spaceship track. I locked myself away for three summers to make beats; I did that and just honed my skills.

What does it mean to be on Top of the Globe?

Depends on how dig your goals are. I define being on top of the globe as the absolute best at what you do in all aspects, like song writing skills, punch lines, production, interviews, videos, merchandise and lots of stuff.

With your song writing, what do you want to capture?

When I first started in the [Hip Hop] game, I was doing shit I wasn’t  too proud of. When I was rapping, I was rapping about that, but I had an epiphany one day that no one wants to hear about a half Japanese kid from Richmond rapping about selling drugs,that puts me in direct competition with every other rapper ever, but I still wanted to be myself. Then I took a break from MCing for six months and started producing. I was like, “Fuck, I have nothing to rap about! All I do is chill in my Grandma’s basement and make beats all day. Fuck it, I’ll just rap about chilling in my Grandma’s basement making beats all day.” I realize it’s still me that’s coming across on the tracks, and it is me maturing in my sound.

What turned you into a hip hop addict?

Jay-Z Volume Two.  I was in grade 6 when it dropped, I was always into poetry. When I was really young, my parents put me on ‘Hooked On Phonics’ and at grade three I was reading at a grade 12 reading level. I was with my cousin at a family event when I was 13 and he started playing this Jay-Z album and I was like, “This is crazy.” This was like deep smart poetry over banging beats. That was the changing point when I wanted to not just be a poet anymore, but an MC.

The art work of the album shows of your Japanese background, how much do you think it contributed to your creativeness?

80%. When I was still signed with the previous crew, a week before we were suppose to open for Kardinal, they gave me this bullshit contract saying they wanted full copyright of my music. I was like, “Forget that.” I didn’t cancel my plane ticket and I went out to Japan, met a couple of promoters and did a couple of shows. Having that keyboard, stepped my game up so much. Not having your habits to fall back on, having something as simple as a beverage and being able to understand most things, the only thing I could related to was my laptop. 80% of those beats were made in Japan and on the plane. Being out there and not having to worry out catering to other people selling beats, I can go crazy with it. After I finish up Beat Detectives, I’m going back in September to do my second album.

When I was 14, I had a rhyme book and now this keyboard is my rhyme book! As soon as the idea is in my head I’ll just [make] it right away instead of it getting stale trying to do it in a studio a month later.

What has mainstream hip hop lost?

When you look at different era’s like disco, hard rock, beach boys, etc. when they started, they were was fresh when they were underground. Then the tune became commercialized and started focused talking about girls and nice things. All music comes to that point so now hip hop is becoming old, so its needs something fresh. Depends on what your standpoint is. I’d say Hip Hop lacks creativity.

Is the Vancouver hip hop scene in the ER?

I wouldn’t say that because the Vancouver scene has never been alive. At most, it has been stuck in nursery since Swollen Members. This is the worst place to blow up but best place to hone your skills. You have to be really good to get any sort of recognition. People here think it’s cool to mimic American music since we are over saturated with American pop culture but they don’t realize that those guys who started were looked at as outcasts at a certain point.

Why is hip hop so good at telling stories?

Hip hop is the most blunt music performance. There is pop, rock n roll, jazz and they portray the emotion, but when you listen to one rap song, that can write a whole rock album from just the words.

What animal do you see record labels as?

They would be the Tyrannosaurus Rex because one, they are huge; they rip the shit out the artist they rape, pillage them and they are extinct, because indie labels are making more music right now. Sound quality that you can get now for 20 grand would have cost you 200 grand a couple of years ago; it’s all about indie shit right now. [For example] I had a sit down with Jin from Ruff Ryders. He signed to Ruff Ryders and with his first album ‘Learn Chinese’, and he is still paying the expenses from pressing the album to this day. His second album called ‘ABCs’, he sold fifty thousand copies, $15 a pop, all the money went to him. So many people didn’t know that he dropped an album but he made a lot more from the second album.

What does it mean to be a Canadian Artist?

It means I have to work ten times harder than everyone else. I can’t fit in for a normal image for a rapper because if I do, then I’d come out as a poser. I have to be one step ahead like when I worked with Felix Cartal in making the beats. I knew the house beats would blow up and now everyone is using that music. I guess I have a good ‘ear’ for that so next time I’ll try to catch that wave when producing.

Describe the ‘Magnum’ and ‘Opus’ of the sound

The magnum would be my take on it and my take on the hip hop, like this is my ‘great’ part on hip hop. I’d say the opus is the thousands of hours of work I put into it. You can’t say anyone is fresher than me. You can’t listen to my album and be like, “Oh, this sounds like…”

The ‘Extacy’ track on the album is like a prequel to the ‘Sunday’ track. What is the overall meaning of these two tracks together other than getting messed up?

I started making electro beats with Felix Cartal. He sent me this beat and I was like, “This is a banging beat. I should rap on this.” What’s the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear this music? Drugs; the rave culture is synonymous to drugs. I don’t do drugs but I used to sell drugs and I know a lot of people who do drugs, so I wrote a song about my friends fucked up on E because I’ve seen it a hundred times. People think, “Oh, Brevner, man, that’s dope that you are rapping about E.”  I’m like, “No, I’m clowning you, about snorting caps and puking them up at 4 AM in the morning.” With the ‘Sunday’ track, I wrote that a year later and it was different than the other songs. One Sunday morning at 10 o’clock, I was hung over, going through beats and I listened to the beat and was like, “This is not helping with my hangover,” then I was like, “This is perfect! This is a hangover song!”

How important is imagination?

It’s everything and all of it! If you don’t have imagination, then what are you doing in music? If art has no imagination, then it’s not art, it’s a replica of something else.

What does HYPE mean to you?

I can go on two different tangents. One being full of energy, the other being so saturated in the media about “upcoming artist” and superficial cookie cut people. So HYPE in another sense is shallow and meaningless.