Interview with Brainpower
[Conducted in October 2004]
The Triple Trouble CD Single has just been released in the Netherlands with an exclusive remix by a dutch artist going by the name of Brainpower. It was decided we needed to know some more about this guy so we got our Dutch connection, Riemer ten Brink on the case.
Could you give us a short description of your career in the music business?
This is my bio:
As a youngster Brainpower started writing piano-songs. Aged 10 hip-hop got a hold of him and never let go. He started writing his own lyrics in English around 1988 and then a year later also in Dutch.
From 1988 up to 1996, Brainpower made a name the hard way. Entering numerous contests and open mic sessions, he gained a lotta notoriety over the years as one of the most fierce battle MC’s in Holland and Belgium. Furthermore he hosted a lot of shows.
Meeting up with DJ TLM in 1996, the duo starts doing shows all over.The duo heads for New York & Philadelphia, USA, in the summer of 1999, for both a musical soulsearch as well as to gain experience whilst performing where they can. Brainpower releases an indie tape and EP in 1999, before signing with the biggest independant label in Holland, PIAS in the spring of 2000. In 2004 Brainpower and his sidekick have opened up for acts ranging from Eminem, D12, Xzibit (replacing Outkast in the 2001 European Eminem tour for their Rotterdam, Holland show) and Nelly to De La Soul, Black Eyed Peas, N.E.R.D. and Black Moon.
Gig-wise Brainpower and crew have outdone themselves by performin’ for a crowd of 20,000 on Queen’s night 2001, a crowd of 90,000 on Queen’s day 2002. One has to keep in mind that we’re talkin’ about Holland here, where crowds this big are more rare than in the USA, for there are only 15 million inhabitants.
After releasing the critically acclaimed second studio album entitled ‘Verschil Moet Er Zijn’ spring 2002 Brainpower is one of the very few rap artists in Dutch music history with a certified gold single and an album that changed the face of Dutch Hip Hop and inspired numerous MC’s.
November 14th 2002 Brainpower has won the MTV Award for Best Dutch Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards Barcelona!!! He is the first Benelux MC ever to win a prize of this magnitude. The officially authorized ‘One Mic’ Benelux remix of Nas featuring Brainpower furthermore establishes Brainpower as an innovative force, pushing the envelope for Hip Hop in Holland, Belgium and other countries
March 6th 2003 Brainpower has won the Edison Award for Best Hip Hop Act! Nominated with Eminem & N.E R.D, this is rarely seen: a national artist winnin' from such world wide top acts. From 2000-2004 Brainpower tours all over the Benelux, occasionally doing shows in Germany, Poland, France and the Caribbean; Aruba and Curacao.
April 10th 2004 Brainpower wins TMF Award for Best National Rap Act for third consecutive year at the TMF Awards, at the Ahoy, Rotterdam. Six days later he signs a major record deal with EMI Music.
Known as a veteran MC, with 16 years in the game Brainpower is still in his twenties. More importantly he can enjoy the blessing of maintaining street credibility as well as mainstream exposure.
Aside from the groundbreaking Benelux ‘One Mic’ remix for and with Nas, Brainpower recently did official remixes for the Beastie Boys and Jadakiss. For his new and highly anticipated third album he has already recorded with D12, the RZA, Kool Keith and Ced-Gee from the legendary Ultramagnetic MC’s and others.
When was the first time you heard the Beastie Boys’ sound?
I think it was in 1985, or whenever I saw the Krush Groove movie for the first time. After that their first album! The videos are engraved in my brain.
In your rapping part on the Triple Trouble remix you mention 2 Beastie Boys albums, Licensed to Ill isn't one of them. Basically this album meant the Beastie Boys’ breakthrough in the Hip Hop scene. What are your thoughts about the album?
Damn, that's a classic! It's one of my favorite Hip Hop records of all time from that magical era, when every record seemed to be unique! I had written several lyrics with several remarks to different albums. The final Dutch Version had a line in it shoutin' Paul's Boutique' out as an important album for a lotta artists. The line in Dutch is:"Voor alles wat iedereen kocht in 'Paul's Boutique' which means '...for everything everone bought at Paul's Boutique' because I think a lotta artists took from/were inspired by that record. Also, I think it's an important record in between the first breakthrough album and the albums after the second one. It marks the change and growth in style musically as well as styling-wise. From beats & Lyrics to sleeve and flicks. Other than that, I just wanted to make clear that even though I have a succesful career and all that, I'm a fan of the music first, I'm a B-boy at heart. A Hip Hop fiend. Also, some of my (younger) fans might not have the same sense of musical history, so maybe they can pick something up from the lyrics and go check an old Beasties record, you know.
For our international readers could you translate the dutch lines you rap on the Triple Trouble remix?
Translating the Dutch one is really not done. The answer to the question before this one explains some of it, though. For all the Beastie fiends: this was the (unreleased) english one: 'This is B-Boy Love I'm spittin' it as a fan/To the 5 boroughs/Live from Amsterdam/I rip it very delirious never scared & mysterious/Slappin' up all the hideous rappers with all they images/Damagin' materials and tearin' up all they gimmicks/My lyrics carry the spirit of serious Rap lyricists/DeeJay's never ever gettin' rid of their wax/This Remix might as well be pressed on a slipmat'
You were asked by EMI/Capitol to do a remix for Triple Trouble. The one released is one of four you made, what will happen to the remaining 3 remixes you did?
Those are hidden deeply in the Vaults. It was an honor to have one be authorized.
You have told on your website and in different internet articles that the remix picked was not your personal favorite?
Yeah, there is a version with a piano-sample and me rhyming in english, everybody loved it at the label, but it couldn't be released immediately because of sample-clearances.
This was not the first time you did a remix for a famous american artist. You also remixed “One mic” by Nas, and more.
You are even in the video of the One Mic remix, will there be a special Dutch clip for Triple Trouble with you in it?
Don't think so, the Nas Remix was unique in its own right, and this is just a Holland exclusive B-side. But you know, the idea is lovely ;)
This question is for the collectors amongst us. At the moment there’s only the Dutch exclusive 2-track cardsleave featuring your remix, will there be more releases that has the remix on it, promo’s for instance?
Maybe, but I don't think so, it's pretty much an exclusive!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview.
No problem, was my pleasure. Check my new solo album in 2005!