Fresh from hiatus, Brandon D makes his own Legend

by Ryan Snyder

Rapper Brandon D has built his legend selling his album’s store to store.

Fresh from hiatus, Brandon D makes his own Legend

The likelihood of finding a successful rapper lacking in bravado is about the same as finding a Hall of Fame slugger who can’t hit a hanging curve; it’s not a result of being great, it’s one of the tools that got them there. If there’s one thing to take from the cover of Greensboro rapper Brandon D’s new release Carolina Legend, it’s that he radiates it. On the cover, he frames his own dreadlocked mug to emulate one of the most iconic albums of all time, Bob Marley’s Legend.

It’s a bold move, of course, but to say that Brandon hasn’t earned at least a little bit of that swagger would be selling him way short. Few rappers hit six figures in units sold and even fewer accomplish that number the way Brandon did: by going from store-to-store and selling them himself.

“We were out in the street every day for three or four years and you know, a lot of people might say they sold a lot of records,” Brandon said. “But we sold 100,000 CDs hand to hand, just out everyday continuously.”

His claim to notoriety goes beyond the sweat equity he has from slinging albums, however. He’s re-released his single with Ricco Barrino “All This Time,” which featured the same signature sample of the Moments’ “Love On A Two-Way Street”as Jay-Z’s hit “Empire State of Mind.” Brandon D’s usage beat Hova to the punch by a mile, as the track’s inclusion in YES! Weekly’s “100 Greatest North Carolina Songs” would indicate.

Brandon chronicled his unit-moving pitfalls and exploits of in his February 2009 DVD release Trap Boomin’: The Naps Krew Story, a 45-minute, fictionalized rapumentary that can only be described as a must-see for not only fans of hip hop, but fans of indie filmmaking in general. The name, like the entire movie itself, is an allegory for simply hustling and making money. While a trap is slang for a drug dealer’s stash house, it’s the trunk of Brandon D’s car where boxes of albums reside in this case.

While its production values are anything but professional, its charm originates almost entirely from its flagrant amateurishness. There’s a sly preface of what’s to come when Brandon introduces his team at the beginning, singling out rapper J. White who was posturing for the camera.

“He told me to watch this. I didn’t know what he was gonna do, but I knew it was gonna be something stupid,” Brandon said in what could have been construed as a metaphor for the entire production. Not stupid in the same sense that Lost is stupid, but more so satirical and campy in the ghetto vernacular.

Amidst a barrage of ads promoting fellow Naps Krew compadres is a nugget of wisdom from the closest thing the story has to an antihero, rapper Blac Boi. It’s easy to hate on Blacboi — he probably prefers it that way. He’s reckless and rugged, yet the glimmer of innocent na’vet’ (he’s awed by the middle-class neighborhood where Brandon resides for having “trees and big-boy houses”) he shows can engender him to the most anti-thug.

“Police hounding… pullin’ over all my whips. Too many nights at the club — rollin’ — spending all types of money. Too much Grey Goose. Too much Grey Goose, man,” he recounts as he scribbles in his journal. “I need to rest. But why rest? You never get yesterday back. There’s always tomorrow. Blacboi signing out.”

His first appearance is a prelude to the formation of Cream Team, a Naps Krew unit apart from solo performer Brandon, though noteworthy in their own right. He arrives at Brandon’s “big-boy house” and in one of the movies most memorable scenes, is greeted by a cartoonishly busty blonde maid who leads him upstairs to meet Brandon and his cousin Young C. She could stand out on her figure alone, but it was her voice that was the stuff of comic legend.

“I’m about to take out the trash, cook and wash the dishes,” she says as she’s dismissed — with the overdubbed voice of a black female. The technical trickery wasn’t because her voice was akin to a cat in heat. Brandon said that she was merely too wasted on meds and booze to remember her lines correctly.

Brandon further exposits Black Boi’s dilemma by saying, “He’s a real good dude man, he just get caught up in some of the wrong situations. He can rap his ass off too. All we gotta do is keep him out of jail.”

The latter was not so easy. Blac Boi went to prison shortly after the production on charges apart from what was implied in the movie, coinciding with the movie’s cliffhanger that will be resolved once Brandon takes to filming again in the late fall.

Of course, all of this was done during a self-imposed hiatus from recording. Hitting the reset button, if you will. But Brandon’s situation is just as real as anyone else. It’s not a rags-to-riches story by any means; he has profile, but he’s still not quite there. It’s only a matter of time, ever, before his trap is boomin’ once again.

Brandon D will perform with the rest of Naps Krew at Greene Street Club this Tuesday, March 16.