Album release: Life Well Lived by :Brownstudy
Release date: 10 March 2014
Label: Third Ear Recordings
"From the often indistinct morass of modern hip-hop comes something so singular as to merit special attention ... His beats are fresh and different, but it is his Rap stylings, a vehicle for social comment and heart-felt self examination, that mark him out as special and worthy of attention." - The Guardian
"A most soulfully cerebral volume of no-pose wisdom. Musically :Brownstudy evokes the clammy, distressed soul of Sly Stone's 'Riot', and the lush visions of 4 Hero." - Mojo
"Electronic beats, the darker influences of jazz and abstract hip-hop lyricism.. sounds like a meeting between George Clinton and Madlib somewhere in the outer stratosphere. Definitely a good thing.’ - DMC World
:Brownstudy, real name: Jason Hogans, comes with an adventurous style and musicality that has caught the attention of DJs and tastemakers worldwide.
Hogans’ first impacted through Detroit’s electronic music scene, impressively debuting on Carl Craig's Planet E in ’98 with an EP called Peter And The Rooster. But his most enticing identity came after his experimentations with folk, cut & paste, minimal, punk, ambient, glitch, soul, reggae/dub, jazz, hip hop and prog-whatever. Debut album Tell Me More About Bubbles in 2005 under the new moniker :Brownstudy came out on Third Ear Recordings. Jason returns to Third Ear for this next LP, Life Well Lived, with 11 tracks that further showcase his polyrhythmic and experimental sound.
:Brownstudy (don't ignore the :colon) covers all styles in trying to convey what he wants to say. "I've been doing music in some way since elementary school” says Hogans. “Violin, trumpet, piano/keys, electronics, percussion, vocals, etc. Some formal training (classical theory, jazz theory, jazz improv, sight singing/ear training, creative writing), but ultimately relying on my ear & heart.”
The record features some truly nonsecular sounds, steeped in impressive analog blends. His masterful and quirky thesis in beat programming particularly notarises instrumental tracks such as ‘Wax Suckas (Decline)’, ‘Dead Doldrums’ and ‘Red Dreaded Stepchild’, in a way that the most seasoned beatmakers like Cut Chemist, Mr Scruff and Luke Vibert can beguile. With an extra smattering of Herbie Hancock-esque progression, charm and soul, it all adds up to an impossibly endearing album. An album with a social conscience at its heart, but never veering into soapbox lecturing.
Never one to avoid an issue or confront a taboo Hogans has carved an album that puts him at the forefront of rappers with real lyrical ambition. Yes, his beats and grooves are original, and his sounds are unusual, but ultimately it’s his words and his delivery that marks :Brownstudy out. He spouts potently intelligent and honourable lyrics in tracks like the title ‘Life Well Lived’, and ‘Towards Improvement’ where the lyrics are further maintained by a bed of indolent vocal loops. For more impact, a sprinkling menace is called upon in his words, but staying true to his playful character it works to display his facetious and cheeky streak perfectly. Tracks like ‘Bitchslappin’ Motherfuckas To Hell’ and ‘Glorious Future’ are where the record really harks to the warmly mischievous traits of hip-hop, just like A Tribe Called Quest, Run DMC and De La Soul. But nobody tells it how it is and how it should be quite like :Brownstudy.
"I'm spanking protocol" he says. “I still act like an 18-year-old and pass it off as eccentricity,” coos Jason. “I’m proud of that. Life’s too short to posture like you’re dignified. Nobody’s anything but carbon, water and a set of circumstances.”
Eloquent and self deprecating, shot through with insight and humour. Charismatic and critical. And self critical. There isn’t much to dislike about :Brownstudy and Jason Hogans, and he is clearly onto something in the pursuit to lead a Life Well Lived.