Now better known as The Pyrvmids, 22-year-old producer Brandon Wilson has become one of the main sonic architects for Miami rappers and singers such as Denzel Curry, J. Nics, Bizzy Crook, and Sahri.
Last year, the hype surrounding Wilson jumped up another few notches with the release of KYRO (Kill Young, Rest Old), a project born out of a failed relationship and assisted by a talented cast.
On this particular day, his manager, Zack Mars, has entered the room to follow up on material that needs to be sent out. Meanwhile, his business partner and engineer, JP, plays Denzel Curry's unreleased "Stadium Starship."
Wilson sits on a mattress in one of the rooms of a studio, wearing jeans, black Timberland boots, a hat that reads "YAYO," and a grey shirt exposing the collage of tattoos illustrated on his left arm, with his forearm occupied by a drawing of a pharaoh.
"I went through stages growing up, probably around 15 to 19, just going in and out of religion, find things comfortable for me to believe in and for me to express myself through. I got attached to Egyptian culture, Egyptian spirituality," said Wilson.
With the release of Black American Dream less than a couple of weeks away, the Miami producer took time to talk about his approach to the project, Tupac, trill music, how The College Dropout changed his life, the Miami hip-hop/rap scene and more.
Crossfade: Why are you The Pyrvmids when you're one person?
The Pyrvmids: It was more of a choice of being mysterious and having a mystique to the name. I was given that name from my brother. I thought about it a little bit. At first I thought it was wack, but then I started posting it, started using it more. People started asking me were we a group. To this day people still think we're a group. I just say, "Hey, we are a group." It's my engineer, it's my rappers, it's my management, it's my whole team. I can't be me without a group of people behind me.
How did you approach Black American Dream differently from KYRO?
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KYRO was a period of time, probably a year and a half, where I was going through depression, lost a little weight. I went through a crazy break-up. So I just said I'm going make this girl a 18-song expression of myself to her. And when I did that it was a gift and a curse. It was something that made me sad listening to, but it also put me in the position that I am right now, to have a face in Miami. But Black American Dream, on the other hand, I'm more happy, I'm more financially stable, I'm more mentally stable. I just wanted to make music for the people through God, because that's where it start off at.
I realized that chasing your dream is a good thing, but it's hard it's a hustle. It's a lot of people that just go by the format of, "I'm gonna go to school, I'm gonna do what the government wants me to do, what my parents want me to do," but it's also people say, "Alright, I'ma snap out of that. I want to be a television producer. I want to be a composer. I want to be a designer." Something that you don't technically have to go to school for, but it's a hard road to get there. So Black American Dream is basically my expression of me deciding I don't want to go to school no more after dropping out. I don't want to work for anybody anymore. But it's very hard to get there. This is my hustle tape.
What has happened in your life in between KRYO to Black American Dream that has brought you to where you are now because the songs on the BAD are pretty fun like the "All Day" with J. Nics. The only one that's sad is the one with Sahri.
In that time period it's just me being exposed to the realness that my dream is being realized and that it's close. All I have to do is kinda work and be balanced in life spiritually, mentally.
I've been dating a lot of girls. Meeting a lot of cool ass people. Just getting in touch with myself and my spirituality. And that song with Sahri is like an ode to all the girls I've been dating. I haven't had the best relationships since then. It's just good to experience different girls, and I threw that one in for them.
You also have one song in it with Bizzy Crook that you held on for a year. Why hold on to a track like that or others for an extended amount of time?
It's just putting it out the right way. It's cool to give people music, but it's even better give them music through formats that they can reach easily and appreciate it more at that moment. You give somebody a track on a Tuesday at 6pm in the afternoon they just going to listen to it like, "Eh, that's cool." But if you have it as an event on a project on a certain day you know you going to get this, they gonna to unwrap that gift, they're gonna get a surprise. I only let three tracks out form this project so far. And that's nothing compared to how it sounds as a whole.
You have a Tupac clip on one of the tracks and I'm always fascinated by those who not only studied his contributions to music but what he did outside of it, and I know you're a big fan of his contributions to the arts.
It's easy to relate to Pac because Pac was only 25 when he died. And even before then in his albums he was laying the blueprint and paving the road for the kids, like you said, we were babies. So, now I'm 22 I can relate just like back on "Neva Love Em." When I made "Neva Love Em" I had the track first. I was listening to a Pac interview, he said that clip, I was like, "Man, that's exactly how I feel right now about women." Through on there in front of that track, and that's like new gold for people, because some people haven't even heard that interview from Pac. But when they hear it like, "Oh, shit. That's Pac." So I'm going to keep revisiting Pac, keep revisiting Pimp C, because they were like the architects of the way we should think right now.
It's funny because a lot of people use the word "trill" in their music and Pimp C never made music like the way people who use the word now make music. They'll mention Lil Boosie and Webbie as well. What's your take on when people say that.
It's a new generation of trill music that doesn't have anything to do with the original trill. Trill is true, real soulful music. That swang, that Houston swang, that Texas swang. You gotta go back and listen to the UGK albums and just listen to the Pimp C interviews and his verses. He had gems in his verses. Trill now is like all that loud club shit. They didn't make that. They made shit for you to ride to and for you to open up your mind while you just having a good, you just want to think and have some balance. That's what I felt Pimp C was talking about with trill and what the trill wave was, and it's not that right now.
There are a lot of artists that will be on this project. How are you able to get all of them to be a part of it?
That's a part of the year or the months process of putting this project together. Like, building these personal relationships with these rappers and knowing them outside of their music. Because when it's time to go and make the arts you gotta have that connection, so that when they're recording something mutual it's something good they want to do for you or yall want to do for each other and not have it as, "Oh, it's just business. I don't really want to fuck with this guy like that."
Everybody on that project I got a good relationship with. I could talk to them and call and talk about the family, talk about whatever they want to talk about. I know that's hard for a lot of other producers because they're like, "Oh, how do you know this person? How you deal with this person?" Just got to be around and form that bond.
Is there anybody that you feel you missed out on?
Not really. Not at the moment. Probably after the tape drops and it kinda sit with me for a little bit. But right now as it stands the project is solid, and everybody did what I needed them to do their tracks for me to deliver something.
How did The College Dropout change your life?
Wow. It's like my hip-hop story. I'ma tell you right now. This is how I got into it. I was 14 years old. This is around the time my godfather, who like my father, he passed away. My godmom took me and my godbrothers and godsisters to the "College Dropout" tour, she got free tickets from the police force. And we were like, "Who is Kanye West? We don't like him. We don't know who this is. We want to see Lil Wayne or T.I." So, we get there, this the first time I smell weed, I'm like, "People getting high out here." They had Talib Kweli open up. We were like, "Alright, well, we don't like Talib Kweli." So we were just bored out of our mind. It was like 9 o'clock at night, mosquitoes biting us because Kanye wasn't even big enough to have an inside show. He had to do it at Olympic Park Amphitheater, so we sitting outside on the blanket. Then Kanye come on, and I look at him, I'm like, "He has on backpack, he has on a Polo. That looks like me on stage." And I was like, "Aw, man. I gotta be like this guy." Got back to Miami, bought The College Dropout, listened to it like everyday before school, everyday. And I wanted to make music every since then, because I was like, "That's relatable." I haven't heard people talk about family content and personal content since then. But that was intimate at that time instead of talking about "my bitchces" and "my money." We talking about something intimate like your family situations or your personal relationships with your friends or your girl. It was just life changing to me. That was the beginning. From the drums to the wrapping to the packaging of it.
What track touched you the most?
"Family Business," man. "Family Business" is that one I could listen to everyday. It's just personal. I wish I could make a song like that about my family one day. Touched on every basis from the negative to the positive. That's a perfect song to me.
You called KYRO "Phase I" and Black American Dream "Phase II." Why are you putting phases on them and how many do you plan to have in your career?
Different phases in my life, different chapters. I finished the KYRO phase out. Got happy, got positive. Decided I wanted to take certain things more serious. So, I'm onto phase two of growing, I'm 22 now. Just a second phase in my music life. How many I will have depends on how many albums decide to put out and how big the scale it. Music is not the only thing I want to do for the people. I want to do a lot of things from architecture to food. I'm a cook at my job, so I like to cook. Look up recipes all day, so that could be a phase on there, doing a cookbook or doing a cooking show.
What is your vision of the black American dream in life?
It's the freedom to actually do good without catching flack. Having the same opportunities as everybody. We don't all have the same opportunities because we weren't born with the same thing. I used to come up and think, "Hey, how come I don't have the same opportunities as this guy in my class? Why wasn't I born in this neighborhood?" It's just an equality thing, and I started to notice in America - I have been anywhere else in our the world, so I don't know how it is - but in America, nothing that you want to do that's good, that's not going to come before the money. The money comes first. If I say, "Hey, I want to provide shelter for people that's homeless," you can't build a free house. You can't give away free food. If you're going to do that you're taking that L for yourself, and even when we go do turkey drives or food drives during Christmas we have cops telling us that we can't do certain things certain ways. Like why? Why we just can't give out free food? Why can't I just give out this? Why can't I just build a house for the homeless without having to pay this or do that?
How far away are you from that?
It depends on the days. Some days I feel extremely far. Some times I feel like I'm close. All I need is a check. I feel like once I get established in the industry and I keep going, collecting more money, I'ma try to do more. Me and Luc talked about building hotels. We want to do so much, but we gotta get our foot through the door first. I know you interviewed Luc. That like the other left side of the brain for me when it comes to creating.
On days where I'm doing nothing I'm like, "Man, I have to help all these people. I want to go downtown and go give out pies or cakes or something to the homeless.
Why not volunteer by serving food on your days off?
I haven't thought about that yet. Probably because I have to go through a charity organization. Somebody's getting paid. We usually do it ourselves, the Art Klub, we do Thanksgiving and Christmas food giveaways and clothes giveaways. We need to do that more too. We tried to get the city to help us out, but I don't know, their communication is fucked up. And even why I was in high school I tried to clean up the area where my grandfather used to live in Opa-Locka and I had Kendrick (Lamar), Meek (Mill) e-mail and they just flaked out on me. I was like, "Yall don't want to clean? You just want these people living in filth?" It was a money thing. If I would of had more money I would've did it myself, which I'm going to do by myself.
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The Miami hip-hop scene is what?
(Deep sigh) This is sensitive. Right now to me, honestly I feel like it stagnant because we all don't want to move together. Not as a unit, but we all need to know when it's somebody time, let them go through that door first and that door will be open for the rest of us to go through later on. Just like the Atlanta scene. Future, even though they might say he copied a style from somebody, he had to be the first person with that style to go through that door so that the rest of these guys will come in. And then now you got this style of Atlanta rap, this style of Atlanta trap. Same thing with Chicago. Kanye was in a whole other chapter away from Chief Keef and the Chief Keef GBE generation. But Chief Keef had to be the first one to come through for Lil Durk. We have Denzel Curry right now. He going through that door. I just wish other people would see that and, "Alright, let's get behind Curry. Let's push Curry. Let's support him how he is and then that door will open for the rest of us." Because they're going to come back looking for talent once they snatch him up away from us. They going to go come back looking for talent like they did in Chicago. Right now we're stagnant. Everybody wants to do so much without the unification. But we're going to get all of that right before the summertime.
Follow Lee Castro on Twitter @LeeMCastro