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interview // braille

Braille is a phenomenal emcee who debuted in 1999 with “Life First: Half the Battle” and now is back with an extremely anticipated sophomore solo album “Shades of Grey”. Braille is also part of super crew Lightheaded with members Ohmega Watts, Othello and Muneshine, which released “Pure Thoughts” in 2003 to great success and praise.

What is the logic behind the name Braille?


I've been named Braille now for like 6 or 7 years.  It almost feels like my birth name sometimes. The definition of "braille" is text for the blind.  I take it as, using the text I write to help people understand the things they can't see, to express the unseen, to express emotions and to communicate life perspectives.


How did you begin rapping and who was your inspiration?


I grew up in one of the many golden eras of hiphop.  My favorite groups were tribe called quest, de la soul, leaders of the new school and so forth.  I hardly remember what first got me into it, like, I can't remember the day that I sat down and decided to write a rap.  I think I used to rap other peoples lyrics and then slowly started writing my own.  This was at a very young age.  It was recreational for the first year or two.  I started recording songs in studios around age 14 and that just got me amped to keep working at it.



What albums are in your discography?


As a solo artist I've released "Lifefirst: Half the Battle (1999)" and "Shades of Grey (2004)".  Aside from many tapes and such, the other release I'm still pushing is with my group Lightheaded, "Pure Thoughts (2003)".  I've also featured on a lot of different cds through the years.


How did the groups Acts 29 and Lightheaded form?


Acts 29 was the name of a youth group that I attended.  The CD was originally created to give to youth visitors at the church.  Syntax wanted a solo record from me and I didn't have one at the time, so I gave them the church project.  The main base of my groups started with Return to Sender (Ohmega and I) but since we never had the chance to expand much we just always included each other in everything we did.  The end result right now is "Lightheaded" which also has Othello, Muneshine and now our official DJ is DJ Bombay from Ohio. Ohmega Watts, Othello, and I are just a grouping of best friends who all happen to be fans of each others work.


How did you hook up with Syntax Records?


I've known Tim (sir roc) for a long time now.  We've always chatted back and forth on-line.  When they were working on Fashion Expo they talked with me about doing a solo record with them.  We did the songs for fashion expo and I consistently featured on most all of their releases.  Funny thing is, they never had the chance to release a solo record from me.  At this time I'm not signed with them anymore but we are still great friends.  We are both in the process of building our futures and re-building the foundations of our careers.  I'm sure we'll always be involved in each others projects regardless.



What does the title of your latest release "Shades of Grey" mean?


I believe in absolutes.  The "Shades of Grey" are the areas of confusion in our life.  When we allow them to remain grey and don't establish a direction based on either truth or faith.....then these areas eventually take over our way of living.  No boundaries, no direction....just existing in the grey. 


How did you come up with the idea for a Limited Edition "Shades of Grey", complete with signatures?


In the process of working things out with Syntax, I was just so excited to get this album into people’s hands that I decided to release it myself.  I made the first 1,000 limited because I didn't know how soon it would officially release.  However, I have now decided to start my own label, so it is officially released now through that label. 


What do you feel is your favorite track off the album?


That's a really hard question.  I spent 3 years piecing it together, so everything on the record means a lot to me.  Some of my personal favorites are towards the end.  Songs like "goliath", "nobody", "shades of grey" and in the middle songs like "keep on" and "poetry in motion part two".


How did you hook up with Rob Swift from X-Ecutioners for the song "Hiphop Music" and 9th Wonder for "10 Years"?


I just wanted to connect with them, so I reached out and we were able to make it happen.  This was before 9th Wonder was producing for artists like Jay-Z. As for Rob Swift, he's just a mad cool guy. 


What would the ultimate reward for you be?


I'm really trying to do my best to serve God with my whole heart.  Knowing that he's pleased with me at any given time is the greatest possible reward, beyond that, just being part of what he's doing in my life and seeing it un-fold.  I have so many things I want to accomplish during my life span, but really, none of it matters if it gets in the way of where God is taking me. 


What can we look forward to in the near future from Braille and Lightheaded?


Next releases on the way...


1. Pick up Braille "Shades of Grey" from www.braillehiphop.com , www.sphereofhiphop.com , www.ughh.com and many other great places.  For more store info e-mail me at braillehiphop@hotmail.com


2. Braille "Box of Rhymes" EP releases on Domination Recordings in January 2005


3. Lightheaded "Wrong Way" EP releases on my new label during the first quater of 2005.  I'm excited for all of that. 


4. Also check for a re-release of Lightheaded "Pure Thoughts" coming soon.  It will include a new bonus cut.  Last but not least, I'm also doing the U.S. release of Othello and the Hipnotiks (jazz project) titled "Classic".  This will have complete mixes of the jazz project, and includes 3 bonus songs with production from Muneshine and Mr. J of the Procussions.  That will drop September of this year. 


5. Keep an eye out for "Heavy Rotation" also presented by my new label hopefully later this year.  I know that's all confusing but if you keep up at www.braillehiphop.com then it will soon all make sense. 


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