The Okayplayer Interview: BROOKZILL! On Crate Digging, Lessons Learned + Overcoming Obstacles
BROOKZILL! — the culture-fusing, genre-bending hip-hop quartet — serves as ambassadors of the funk to those who love break beats and tambor drums. If you haven’t become familiar with this talented foursome, don’t worry, here’s your late pass and plate of Frango à Passarinho. The short-of-it-all is that Prince Paul, yes that Prince Paul from the Gravediggaz, linked up with Rodrigo Brandão (better known as Gorila Urbano) after vowing to record an album as a pair. As Gorila and Paul explored the city and the sounds, the duo added Ladybug Mecca and Don Newkirk to the bubbling situation to add some extra flavor and spices to BROOKZILL!
Ladybug Mecca, a former vocalist with Digable Planets, added the churrasco to the pot, bringing her smoky and sexy vocals to BROOKZILL! As the daughter of two Brazilian jazz musicians, her influence was quickly appreciated, while her knowledge in the culture and rich Brazilian traditions were absorbed into the sonics offered by the group. An added key component, Don Newkirk has worked with Prince Paul on albums such as A Prince Among Thieves and projects such as The Dix. Connecting with vibes being offered by his friend and favorite collaborator, everyone came together like a Caribbean-tinged Voltron, blowing minds and sneakers along the way.
Throughout Throwback to the Future, which is BROOKZILL’s debut project, rugged Kings County breakbeats are woven into the sound-bed of Latin percussion and Afro-Brazilian horn riffs. Gorila Urbano and Ladybug Mecca display superb rap harmony, as they trade bars back-and-forth using Portuguese and English rhyme schemes. Salutes to the fallen such as J Dilla, Notorious B.I.G. and Ol’ Dirty Bastard show that no matter where BROOKZILL! is at they are always going to put on for real hip-hop. Expressing a family vibe, this nation of creatives carved out some time to rap with us about joining up, why there’s nothing like crate digging in Brazil and shares some obstacles that they’ve overcome while creating Throwback to the Future.
To also commemorate the occasion, BROOKZILL! has sent us an exclusive video to share with you all. Cop the new album, press play and enjoy our interview with BROOKZILL! below.
Okayplayer: What is it about Bossa Nova and Brazilian grooves that keep hip-hop producers coming back for more?
Ladybug Mecca: Hip-hop has always been focused on sound and new sounds while in search of the break. I think that at first DJs and producers, not all of them of course, were driven by a fetishized image of Brazil and its sound. Ultimately, the draw becomes the very unique combining of African and Indigenous rhythms that the music has to offer.
OKP: Has anyone in the crew done any extensive digging while out in Brazil? If so, what is the team’s favorite spot to go to and why? Do you all have a favorite collector?
Gorila Urbano: I live in São Paulo and crate digging is an important part of my life. There are a few sweet spots for the crate diggers, but I highlight Disco 7, which is owned by Carlinhos, an old school cat who is just the coolest record dealer in town. And Patuá Discos, the relatively new kid on the block who is just killing the game right now. Not only is it a shop worth checking out, but it is also a gathering point for vinyl heads that hosts release parties for LPs, books, comics and DJ sets on a weekly basis.
Favorite collector? Well, if by that you mean somebody else who is into records as well… I’d have to shout-out Elo Da Corrente, two MCs and a DJ who are all serious diggers and beat makers. They’re constantly hookin’ me into some wild obscure nacional treasures. Also, last, but certainly not least: DJ Nuts. My man and his craft have already been recognized amongst the turntable elite in the world, so he definitely knows what he’s talking about.
OKP: For those that don’t know — how did you all link up to form BROOKZILL! and how did the name come to be?
Don Newkirk: [Prince] Paul was the one degree of separation between the rest of us in the group and together, we embody the essence of Brazil’s Afro-influenced grooves merged with the Hop of New York City culture and sound by way of Brooklyn, which, when put together, gives you BROOKZILL!
OKP: What is an item that is missing from your own collection that you must have and why?