Brzowski

Brzowski

By ROB DUGUAY

There’s surely nothing like coming back home. Memories pop into the mind while nostalgic feelings encompass the body as you walk on the same old streets and peruse around the same old neighborhoods. It’s also simply good to return to your roots every once in a while and recognize where you came from. For Dallas via Portland post-rap artist Brzowski, who is also known as Jason Cornell, he’s going to be returning to Pawtucket to headline a gig at the News Cafe on 43 Broad Street on October 28. He’ll be joined on the checkered floor with Providence rapper Jesse The Tree, Pawtucket lyricist Drent, Boston rhymeslayer Lewis M. and New Bedford emcee Purge rounding out the bill.

We had a talk ahead of the show about moving down south, what the Dallas music scene is like, his latest album that came out last year and his feelings on the upcoming gig.

Rob Duguay: You established your music career in Portland, Maine but now you’re based in Dallas, so how was that transition going from Northern New England to the Southwest?

Brzowski: I was born in Pawtucket and I lived in Rhode Island until I was 21. Then I moved to Portland in 2001 and I sort of ingratiated myself into the culture there. At the time, the city wasn’t known for craft beer and craft restaurants. It was an arts and music town with a wide variety of content coming out of it and I loved it because it was cheap to live there and the scene is a little smaller than in Rhode Island. The city also isn’t influenced by Boston, which is something that I like a lot so it was nice spending some time there.

I hit my ceiling in Portland a long time ago, I headlined a few rooms and I opened up for national acts in some larger venues. I had been touring my butt off since 2005 so I headed down to Dallas and it was kind of a culture shock. I had toured down there so many times so I was already familiar with the place and I had friends so it wasn’t as dramatic as you might think since I already had somewhat of a network.

RD: That’s great how you already had a foundation set when you moved down there. In the realm of hip hop, the state of Texas is known for the “chopped and screwed” southern hip hop style that came out of Houston. With that being said, what’s the scene like in Dallas?

B: The fact of the matter is there are rappers rapping over trap beats in Providence, so to go to a place like Dallas where it’s more of a thing was a trip. The scene there is kind of divided, I’m not performing on the same bills as those folks so it doesn’t affect me in any way. I’ll put on my own shows in Dallas or I’ll hop on bills with friends that are on tour. I’ll sometimes go to those trap shows and I’m definitely guilty of stopping at a gas station when I see a rack of mixtapes and CDs of local rap music. I’ll buy two of them if the cover has a cool design and I’ll pop it in the stereo and check it out.

RD: Speaking of CDs, you released a new album last year titled The Subjugation Of Bread with Portland artist and producer C$Burns. How did you go about getting together to make this record? Have you both known each other for a long time?

B: Last year I had a bunch of shows ready to go and multiple tours ready to go and we had this album that was pretty much done. C$Burns have a friendship that goes back to 2013 or so, we’ve collaborated on songs and we’ve done shows together. He started mixing and mastering stuff for me, we started working a lot more together and he produced a few songs on my Enmityville record from 2017 so we definitely have a history. We got really tired of people calling this communism and that communism and all of this ignorance so we decided to make an album explaining what communism actually is. That’s the genesis of The Subjugation Of Bread, we’re smartasses who understand the hard left because we’re entrenched in it in our personal beliefs and our lives and the title comes from Peter Kropotkin’s book The Conquest Of Bread and only super-commie nerds get the reference.

We put it out last year during the pandemic and I personally didn’t like the idea of putting out an album of fresh material during a stressful time when artists couldn’t tour but it had great commercial success. Apparently, it hit the nerve at the right time and I’m really happy with how it came out. When we put it out I think a lot of people were angry and looking for a reason why while the pandemic, especially in the way our government handled it, kind of laid bare the failings of capitalism. We hit the right button at the right time.

RD: It seemed to me that when the pandemic hit last year it amplified a lot of issues akin to water bubbling over out of a pot. It heightened the already tense feelings people had before COVID-19 which brought a lot more unrest. Was this album made remotely due to the situation in 2020?

B: Absolutely. It was done remotely but we also worked remotely when we used to live within a couple blocks of each other. We’ve always worked that way so it wasn’t an irregularity for us. We’re very much insulate creatures, he’ll message me a beat at three in the morning and then I’d record some lyrics at nine in the morning on a Sunday. We’ve never been sitting in the same room except for when we’re building certain beats, working on certain mixes and rehearsing for a tour.

We’ve never sat down in the same room together during the recording process, we’ll make a beat and we’ll each go home with the file. That’s pretty much what we did in our own way.

RD: Being from Pawtucket, do you view the upcoming show at the News Cafe as a homecoming for you? What are your thoughts going into it?

B: For the show, C$Burns is gonna be joining me on stage along with our friend Jane Boxall who is going to be on drums. I would say that it’s a bit of a homecoming, I’ve played the News before a couple years ago when I was doing an East Coast run of shows and it was wild to see my parents and old friends who I hadn’t seen in 20 years. I’m hoping that people are comfortable coming out and hanging out in a small space, they’re going to be checking vaccination cards at the door and I hope that the people who are comfortable to chill are gonna come chill. I really do hope that I see some familiar faces. Also, C$Burns and I have another EP coming out on all digital streaming services on November 11 called Seditious Acts that we’ll be playing some songs off of so people can come check out a sneak peek of the record.

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