By: Emily Gabriel | @EmilyGabriele
Meet SB. He’ll make more of an impact with you later, but for now, it’s most important to remember those two letters. In short, rapper Stephen Brown grew up in Brooklyn, moved to the suburbs of New Jersey and currently lives in the New Brunswick, NJ – the “Hub City.” His first, full-fledged mixtape, not so coincidentally titled “SB,” was released on Labor Day weekend and it’s been a longtime coming. “I’ve been sitting on this project for a while now. Finally I’m able to put something out where it’s not just one song or a remix. It’s something that my fans can have and I can see how other people feel about it.”
Stephen Brown has had quite a tumultuous path through life and music has been a huge outlet for him. But how does he differ from most other artists? Well, for starters he truly risked everything in order to pursue his passion for music – and not in a typical way.
Music was always present in SB’s life. He was formally taught the saxophone and played for nearly eleven years with the support of his family. Eventually he outgrew the desire to play so he put the sax down and was all set to follow in the footsteps of his high-ranking military father. A week before SB went to leave for the Air Force, he swung by his friend’s studio as a farewell effort. He remembers the catalytic moment vividly; “To this day, this is the only time this has happened to me– this rapper offered to give up some of his studio time. I went in there, it was dark, and I just let loose. I came out of the booth and everyone’s jaws were on the floor and they were like, why aren’t you doing this?”
With that vote of confidence, SB decided that he needed to tell his family that he did not want to join the Air Force. It didn’t go well to say the least. “Basically when I told my father he said, you have two choices, you go to the Air Force like you’re supposed to, or you can get the f*ck out of my house,” Stephen recalled. With that, Stephen left his father’s house and instantly became homeless.
SB’s homelessness lasted for roughly three years. He left his father’s house with the clothes he had on his back and the ambition to pursue music. Reflecting on his decision now, Stephen casually talks about some of the trials he encountered without a home and the support of his parents. “I did some things, you know – stuck people up, home invasion – I had to do it to survive. Then I just wound up feeling so terrible and gave up hope. I wound up trying to kill myself.” He says this now, with a fearless look in his face, telling of what a strong character he has shaped into.
Take for example his track, “Hurt,” where he raps, “the life that I’m living’s a double-edge sword/I’m winning the battle but losing the war/sometimes you forget what you’re doing it for.” The track exemplifies the internal battles that he has faced. Yet, he also has tracks along the likes of “Paris,” a more, upbeat, party song. Ultimately, it comes down to SB having the ability to fill multiple lanes and provide songs for various different atmospheres and moods of all those listening.
But Stephen hasn’t done it alone. He has had the support of his good friend and executive producer, Ali. Ali has played a pivotal role in motivating SB to believe in the pursuit of his musical talents. Together, Ali and Stephen Brown make up a small portion of the hip-hop entity called Rhyme Republic. The entity started with Ali and SB as two of the four founding members, but Rhyme Republic continues to grow with no concrete number to tag along to their roster. SB is the first of the Rhyme Republic crew to push forward with a complete project to the public and he is determined to use his past as a motivator.
“That’s the best part about what has happened to me – my pride is gone. It wouldn’t matter if anyone sees me with no clothes and stuff asking for money, I’ve already been there. I don’t have pride anymore. You can be proud – proud of yourself, proud of your family, proud of what you’ve done. But pride, that’s a different thing. There are a lot of things that you learn from having nothing.” It’s evident that SB has a lot of experiences to draw upon and filter into his music. That being said check out his mixtape, “SB” that was released this past Labor Day weekend and hear for yourself.