Deezie Brown drops his sophomore album, 5th Wheel Fairytale, on August 2nd
Bastrop-raised renaissance man Deezie Brown has been appearing on our airwaves since his 2018 debut, Judith. Between the formation of his hip-hop duo Geto Gala (alongside fellow Austinite Jake Lloyd) and an ACL Fest performance at the mammoth Miller Lite Stage, this past year has done well by Deezie. Afrer a recent My KUTX taping, KUTX Producer Jack Anderson sat down with Brown to discuss creative development, accomplishments, and his sophomore album, 5th Wheel Fairytale, out August 2nd.
What was it about hearing “Tha Crossroads” by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony at a young age that made it such a formative experience?
I think that was the first time I was able to hear melodies and rapping at the same time. And then later of course we heard it with Outkast and Andre and things like that. But yeah, I think I was in like second grade and they were always playing it on the radio and it was just one of those things that kind of hooked me, and I was singing it and singing it. And my mom eventually bought me the tape. That’s back when tapes had like three or four songs, like demo tapes and stuff. So she brought me the tape and I remember even going to school and putting it in the tape players that reached you like a book. And I remember me and my friends putting the tape in there acting like we were reading a book and actually listening to Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. I just fell in love with that.
So how did that lead to making mixtapes?
From there I was educating myself on how to use a tape player, and my mom had got me this Sony tape player. There was a ‘play’ and ‘record’ button on it. I didn’t know what ‘record’ meant at the time. I just knew that when I hit the play button, the record button kind of went down just a little slightly. And I was like, “what is that?” You know? And one day I was actually playing a different tape, you know, something my mom had got me and just decided to press the two down. And it wasn’t like ‘til a week later where I rewound that tape and I was able to hear myself playing in my room. And I was like, “oh, that’s actually picking up my vocals.” This was the time when instrumental CDs were kind of a thing as well. And I asked for another boombox, ‘cause what I wanted to do was play the music from one boombox and record it onto the tape through the small mic on the tape player. Once I figured that out and I figured I could get my vocals into the tape and I can get the music into the tape, I’d say, “I’m this close to making a song”, not knowing anything about music at the time. But that’s how I started, and a good friend of mine by the name of EC Main and our grandma stayed right next to each other. I wasn’t allowed to listen to a lot of DJ Screw or a lot of things like that growing up. So he was my source when it came to listening to tapes and the first form of mixtapes and scratching from DJ Screw. So I mixed that in with what I was doing at the crib and that’s how the mixtape era started for me.
Do you remember which artists you’d feature on those mixtapes?
Well this was around the early or mid-nineties I’d say. So it was a lot of stuff like Geto Boys. I remember on Sundays my dad used to play this album by UGK, Too Hard To Swallow. And man I was like, “I don’t know how I’m able to listen to this at the age of eight, but I’m not complaining.” It was so cool. Who else? I mean, this was crazy; it was like Mase and Tupac. You gotta remember, my dad was a high school senior in ‘88, if you can imagine the times. He was into cars and he was into music. And his collection of CDs and records was extraordinary. So shout out, dad.
Speaking of cars, how important would you say car culture is to your persona?
Cars go back a long way with me and my family. They actually have their own car club as well called “Blue Flame Cruisers”. But cars have always been in my life. I’ve always watched my dad take cars from junkyards and old friends and then fix them up. He and his twin brother used to drive a Cutlass in high school, which he had to sell. And to see him get older and kind of go back and get those cars again is crazy. My family is super, super heavy on Chevys. My favorite car is a Chevy Nova, probably ‘69 or, or ‘70. And my dad says a Chevelle, which is the bigger version of the Nova. But, yeah I’ve always been around cars, man and I’ve always wanted to incorporate that into my sound. And when I started working on this project and rolling out characters and a story and a film, I was like, “how cool would it be to add some car elements, some racing elements into this rollout and give people a better perspective of who I am and where I come from.”
On the subject of film, people have described your soundscapes as “cinematic”. From a film lover’s perspective, what are your favorite soundtracks and original scores?
If I’m talking soundtracks, of course it would be Idlewild. There are a lot of tracks on there from Outkast that were just amazing. Because with a lot of soundtracks, they don’t put all the music on the soundtrack that’s in the movie. So I feel like Outkast did a great job in making sure that when we were listening to the soundtrack, we were getting a sense of how the film was going. If we’re talking about scores, I definitely gotta go with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West. It was a wake-up call for a lot of different artists to become more than what they thought they had. He gave us a lot of vision. And he gave us a lot of gems into what we can be and how much we’re leaving off the table. Still to this day, probably one of my favorite records of all time, that and the film. So shout out, Kanye.
Growing up in Bastrop, what was your view of Austin like? Did it carry that mythos of the “Live Music Capital of the World”?
Growing up, we were always trying to get to Austin. There wasn’t a lot going on in Bastrop. I mean, I love being from there. It’s a great place, you know, it was just a small town type of thing where everything is closed on Fridays and you went to the high school or varsity football game and you ate nachos and you played football under the bleachers if you were a ‘90s kid. So that was all we really had. There were no recording studios. There were no malls or anything like that for us to do, so Austin was an easy escape for a lot of us to do some extracurricular activities. I played sports here as a kid over on the East Side at Yellow Jacket Stadium, right by the Millennium (Youth Entertainment Complex). I played all of my Peewee football there, which was great. But yeah, Austin has always been that cool city that we can escape to really quickly, you know, it’s only 30 minutes away from Bastrop. I had a lot of fun playing early on 12th street at a place called Club 1808. It’s not there anymore. It’s been years, but that’s where I started doing my gigs. I briefly remember being in there with big X’s on my hand, ‘cause I wasn’t old enough to drink, just remembering those cool times and being accepted by other Austin artists. It was extraordinary.
So same question, but Houston.
For me, it was a place where I just wanted to move to so bad as a kid because a lot of the legends and a lot of the people that I was listening to were from there, and a lot of music still is to this day coming out of the city of Houston. And that’s why I decided to go to college in Houston. I went to Texas Southern University for about a year until I figured, “all right, I think I’m a musician for sure. I don’t wanna waste any more of my mom’s money.” But yeah, Houston is definitely something that a lot of us gravitate to. Especially when a lot of us were into grills and things like that back then, and still are to this day. Houston was the hub to go in and get iced out or record some cool music that didn’t feel like live music. It felt more like you could perform with the DJ or just the mic rather than when you’re in Austin. You can still do those things here but I think Austin is more of a place where a lot of bands and live music comes out of. So that was the difference between the two. And it’s still been hard to crack. It’s still been hard to figure out and fluctuate when to do what and when to hold them when it comes to Austin, Houston and Dallas.
Tell me about your Uncle Corey getting you in touch with Shorty Mac.
Whew. That was crazy. I was fifteen years old when I recorded my first song. This was way out in the middle of Bastrop and Smithville, Texas before we lost everything in the fire. I briefly remember him showing me a beat the day before, and he’s like, “hey, we’re gonna go to the studio tomorrow, man. If you want to come and learn a few things, I know you’ve been recording on tapes and stuff, but we’re actually gonna go to a real studio.” And I remember being so nervous. So I wrote a little something as a fifteen-year-old and when I got there, there were a lot of different OGs there like Shorty Mac and my guy, A.C.T.. These were all guys that were a part of the original Screwed Up Click and family of DJ Screw. You know, his family is out in Smithville. He’s got some family in Houston as well. That was a moment for me to be able to record my first song, with, and in front of, the legends that I had grown up listening to and wanting to be like, and some people that I was inspired by. It was a blessing. And then I think from there and I was ready to rock and roll. So shout out to my uncle. He was always moving around, you know, he still raps in and does music as well. He did music in high school and he always had this hustler’s mentality. So shout out to him for believing in me at the time.
Let’s back up a minute. I don’t think I know the story about the fire.
There was a Bastrop (County) fire, which I think started in (the city of) Bastrop and it carried all the way into the middle of Smithville or almost to Smithville. This was years ago and a lot of us lost our homes. I actually lost my house in that wildfire along with my recording studio. So it was a rough time. And that was one of the reasons why I decided to move to Austin. I’ve been here pretty much ever since. I mean, technically, I feel like I’ve been living in Austin since I was eighteen. But I think the fire happened when I was in my early twenties and I permanently moved here after that, even though I go home a lot, just to reset and rebuild and try to figure out which route to go. But yeah, the fire was…I wouldn’t say it’s a gift and a curse. It was a wake-up call for a lot of us that hit unexpectedly, but one, it kind of just shows you how short life is, and then two, gives you the courage and shows you how strong you are as far as resetting goes.
Shifting gears, how’d you end up linking up with Chris Bosch?
I met Chris…Golly, in 2019. I was on my way to KUTX actually, to do a night interview with Fresh and Confucius at the time. And as I was at the light here on Guadalupe, I got a DM from Chris Bosch and he basically just says, “hey man, your music’s dope.” And you know, for me, I’m a strong believer in like, “if it’s too good to be true to be true, that’s probably right.” So I decided to click on it and go through, and go down his Instagram. And I was seeing pictures of his family and different NBA things. And I was like, “Oh, this is probably real.” So I reached back out immediately and said, “Hey man, thank you. I really appreciate it. I’ve been doing music here for a while, but thanks for listening. And…uh…hey, we should work on something if you’re here.” Just to kind of, shoot my shot, he hit me right back and asked me what I was doing the next day. We met up and listened to some beats and I got to know him a little bit. We would go on to spend the next two years working on music. I would fly out to Miami, to L.A., to New York, to work on these cool soundtracks and cool ideas that he was trying to bring to life. Shout out to Chris Bosch, man. He brought a lot of opportunities and a lot of different things into my life that I can not complain about.
Concerning your partnership with Jake Lloyd, how much of forming Geto Gala was inspired by duos like Outkast or UGK? Do you feel like “two” is the magic number when it comes to hip-hop groups?
It’s pretty much all inspired by UGK, Outkast, Geto Boys, Clipse, N.E.R.D… I could go on forever. Honestly, I would’ve been down for like a five-piece group, if that was something available. It’s just tough, you know, financially where music is right now and trying to feed your family. From a creative standpoint, just for the art, like I’d love to be in a five-piece. But yeah, two, two for us was a magic number. I actually met Jake… Me and my girlfriend were there to see Alessia Lani at the time. And I had forgotten my ID that day. So after her set, I was just ready to go home. And as I was walking out of the door, Jake was sound checking. I had no idea who he was at the time he was sound checking and he started singing. And I peeked my head back in the door, like, “yo, who is this?” And it’s like, “oh, it’s Jake Lloyd and this and that.” And so I went home and listened to his music. I instantly hit him up. Like, “Hey man, I’d love to work with you. Be in the studio this day.” He ended up coming that same day. We discovered that we have a lot of the same similarities when it comes to music, when it comes to movies, you know, we both had kids, you know what I mean? We just hit it off really quick. And I think a year into that relationship, we were making a lot of music and were both like, “Man, what if we just did like a group project?” It wasn’t a group at the time. It was just a project. And I was like, “Sure, man, that, that sounds so cool.” I’ve always wanted to do this group type of thing, especially growing up, listening to UGK and Outkast and stuff like that. And as we were making the record and we say, “All right, what are we gonna call it? You know, we’re gonna call it Geto Gala.” And I was like, “It’d be cool if we just went like super, super South and did like this alter ego where this is an actual thing, like in a group.” And his eyes lit up, my eyes lit up and I was like, “All right, we’re doing it.” So yeah, it was one of those things that naturally happened. Two artists kind of coming together to work and have fun. And after the fact, we ended up making a group. So shout out, Jake. A really good friend of mine. We hang out outside of music as well, you know, and let our kids hang out and stuff like that. So it goes way, way, way further than just music. Big shout to ‘Double L’.
So this new record, 5th Wheel Fairytale, isn’t technically your solo debut. But as far as streaming platforms are concerned, it will be. Why is that?
Right. Yeah. I released a record called Judith in 2018, which I had to take down. There were way too many samples in there and I wasn’t ready for that smoke. I’m gonna find some ways to get that album back up in due time and, and, and figure it out, ‘cause it’s a personal favorite for a lot of different people. Not only here in Texas. I’ve got people in Australia and everywhere saying, “When are you gonna put the album back up?” And I’m working on that. But yeah, 5th Wheel Fairytale I’d say is my sophomore record.
What inspired the name ‘5th Wheel Fairytale’ and how would you describe its direction?
I got the title 5th Wheel Fairytale from a term that we use here in Texas, called “fifth wheel”, where it’s an extra wheel on the back of your car. I think “Continental Kit” is the correct word for it. But I got that because we were always talking about that in middle school and high school, it was like, “Ah, I want a car with a fifth wheel and fifth wheel, this, fifth wheel, that.” And it was just the term that I knew people could understand. “Okay. He’s telling a Texas story in a sense or a Southern story” in a sense. But putting “fairytale” at the end of it, gave me the strength to storytell and bring in characters and turn it into a film. I knew I wanted something that hit close to home. I knew I wanted to start making music that gave people hope and that people could resonate to. When you listen to Judith, it sounds like an ‘80s pop-rap record…808 & Heartbreak meets a Southern rap album is what I was going for. With 5th Wheel Fairytale, I wanted to hone in on going back and sampling. I think as I was making the record, I fell in love with sampling in general. I taught myself how to produce just by going over to the record store and grabbing records and throwing them into my MPC and trying to figure out the method of sampling along the way. I started to create and find the sound for 5th Wheel Fairytale which has turned out to be this Southern soulful record in which I add layers of Isley Brothers and I add layers of Geto Boys and UGK. And I’ve still been able to figure out ways to use traditional New York “boom bap” drums and spice those up with crazy 808 bass. It’s just a Southern hybrid of my music collection and things that I’ve learned over time.
On the 5th Wheel Fairytale website there’s an image with the state of Texas and the following quote: “To all the blue-collar workers, we the real superheroes of modern culture.” The merchandise section even lists a shop rag, which is a product few musicians would even consider. How fundamental is the concept of the “working class hero” to 5th Wheel Fairytale?
That was important to me…as much as I want to be invited to the Met Gala. (laughs) I just never understood how. I don’t know, was it I had to be famous, or is that the code? Whatever. Still to this day, I’m not a hater of it. I just wanted to make something that your everyday person, everyday worker, blue-collar construction worker, you know, janitor, mechanic could listen to and could resonate with. And I knew my audience was different, especially as I get older and I have a daughter now, you know, I have to use my voice as a message. And there are so many things and so many different elements that go into my music these days, as far as educating the people that come after me. And so for me, the only way to do that is to resonate with your people and resonate with these communities. That’s kind of what we did with 5th Wheel Fairytale.
You’re playing with Devin the Dude…are you pumped for that?
Yeah. I am. I’m really pumped for that one. I’m trying to gather a head space for it because I’m playing Bastrop Rodeo August 6th, and then I have Hotel Vegas sponsored by KUTX for my release show on August 19th, with the album coming out on August 2nd. So I’m trying to get all of those mapped out in my head and then focus on Devin the Dude. But man, I just keep thinking about it. I’m super excited. I’ve always grown up listening to artists that are signed with Rap-A-Lot. I still have a dream to this day, no matter what anybody says about the label… “Rap-A-Lot for life” or this and that and all of the negativity and all the stuff that you hear of people trying to place their fears on you…I still want to sign with Rap-A-Lot. (laughs) You know, this is my call-in to Jay prince. Hey, I’m here. I’m here if you’re looking. So, yeah, I’m, I’m super excited to be performing in Houston. It’s my first time actually performing in Houston with my band, so that’s gonna be fun, you know? It’s the Last Concert Cafe on Saturday, September 3rd. But yeah, I’m super excited. Super excited.
In the meantime, your album is about to be released.
The album’s coming out on August 2nd. We’ll be at hotel Vegas for the release show on the 19th. Then, as of now, I’m trying my best to gather up some animated directors and help bring my film to life, 5th Wheel Fairytale. It’s going to be an animated short film highlighting the boyhood and childhood of one of my characters and taking you on a journey of what he has to go through, translated through me and things that I’ve been through as a person, and dealing with anxiety and going through fatherhood and things like that.