Amidst a six-hour performance of his album, Picasso Baby, in New York City’s Pace Gallery in 2013, Jay-Z noted that hip-hop collectively views the idea of art as too stale, “too bourgeois.” Despite the success and praise of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, a studio album, which featured track artwork by American contemporary visual artist George Condo, as well as a 34-minute film to accompany controversial track “Runaway,” hip-hop culture was hesitant to admit it felt good to fully embrace its equally as strange cousin.
Now, a new wave of hip-hop producers and rap artists have begun to crest and reveal a robust appreciation for the limitless nature of art – evident in their concept-heavy projects, abstract album artwork and progressive approaches to releasing both individual tracks and LPs. Spearheading this effort in Jacksonville is the hip-hop producer and visual artist known as Eddy Braveaux.
The 21-year-old visionary, currently affiliated with Orlando-based artist management boutique, Apply Pressure International, was born and raised in Jacksonville, although his family hails from Nigeria. His vivid taste in production ranges from smooth, chillwave beats to monumental, god-flow instrumentals, all of which are likely to feature spirited riffs, offbeat drum patterns and an atypical assortment of samples. Braveaux said a vast amount of his musical inspiration is from activities during his upbringing, specifically, gaming and watching cartoons.
This past month, I kicked it with Braveaux in the blunt-lit backyard of downtown Jacksonville’s 1904 Music Hall, where he explained to me his ability to turn the things he sees into their audio counterparts. The process entails taking his perceived feeling from a visual, and producing a beat that appropriately embodies that feeling through a myriad of unique instruments and samples.
In his “i n f i n i t y” capsule, a three-track, experimental beat-tape that features a trifecta of gemstone track art and samples from “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” and Walter Wanderley’s “A Nega Se Vingou,” Braveaux attempts to portray a timelapse of morning to night, while also tapping into a normal day’s course of emotions, beginning with excitement, then relaxation, and finally, reflection and deep thought.
In November of last year, Braveaux released “Le Belle Fleur,” a smoothly rich instrumental that would certainly set the scene of any poolside shoot in Beverly Hills. Within a day of its debut, he received an unexpected number of Twitter shoutouts, as well as Soundcloud comments, and within a week, the track’s stats, comprised of number plays, favorites, reposts and comments, began to soar.
An Internet search revealed a YouTube user named “imjennim,” whose fashion tip video channel has over 1 million subscribers. Imjennim had selected “La Belle Fleur” as the background music to one of her many fashion advice videos, which, in turn, sent a titanic amount of traffic (in the amount of 26,000 views and nearly 700 favorites) to Braveaux’s Soundcloud page.
Since then, he said that other fashion YouTubers have been using his music for their videos, as well. “My mom keeps telling me I should be getting paid for it. But I’m enjoying the love, regardless.”
Gearing up for winter, Braveaux will be producing the majority of “bLEACH” – a nonconformist rap initiative, headed by Jacksonville rap artist, DoLA. The project seeks to push character boundaries by bleaching DoLA’s dreads, as well as implementing white contacts to remove DoLA’s eye color. You can keep up with Braveaux and his work at www.soundcloud.com/eddybraveaux.