Part II: Music man in the making

Brandon Lloyd grew up on hip-hop music and began working on his own sound during his college days at the University of Illinois. Here, in the second of three parts, Lloyd develops his own unique style and eclectic sound - a mix of East Coast underground filtered through West Coast production - that his producer says cannot be defined by a particular characteristic. Lloyd began making rapid progress toward recording his debut CD at the end of 2004 and, as he says, "It's not a children's album."

Lloyd is no neophyte when it comes to hip-hop music. He knows the genre well, just as he knows most every significant crossover athlete who has dabbled into the musical arena – not to mention the reasons why their sound either prospered or failed.

Lloyd grew up in Kansas City, listening as a youngster to Sanders' album and its popular crossover single, "Must Be The Money." Influenced by the new wave of urban rappers, Lloyd began to work on his own sound during his sophomore year at the University of Illinois, developing tracks and making tape mixes for his friends.

Regarding his influences, Lloyd said, "I give a lot of comparisons to Fabolous. My inspirations are Jay-Z, Little Wayne, a lot of new-school rappers that got inspired by a lot of guys who have come through here recently like 50 Cent and his whole crew (who are) releasing songs on the underground."

Fabolous and Jay-Z, both Brooklyn rappers, are two of the bigger names in the business. Lloyd likes to compare his flow to Fabolous, but his self-described sound is "mostly an East Coast style with more of a West Coast flavor," he said, which gives his hip-hop style an eclectic feel that is difficult to accurately define or label.

"He really has his own style," Weisner said. "You can't really box him in. He has his Kansas City style in it, too. What I wanted to bring to this record was every style of genre, not just to make Brandon better, but to show my skills, too. I wanted this album to touch everything."

Lloyd's ambition of making an album went quickly from concept to reality after he was introduced to Weisner last year. Weisner, who goes by the alias B Dub and sings the hook on many of Lloyd's songs, helped move the project along by introducing Lloyd to the production values of making hip-hop music.

Of course, Weisner was a bit hesitant at first when he learned about Lloyd's day job.

"I had a few inhibitions when I first heard that I was meeting up with a football player that wanted to do some music," Weisner said. "But as soon as I heard him, his delivery and his tone and his passion for it, just those three things immediately set him apart from other athletes and other athlete/rappers. He's a real hard worker. There's no half-assing it – he's 100 percent all the time. I could see that right away."

Lloyd visited Weisner's studio in Chino Hills, and the two began collaborating via telephone and the Internet. Weisner worked on setting the right music to Lloyd's lyrics, and Lloyd worked on setting the right intonation and flow to the music.

"In the beginning, Brandon had his lyrics, and it was just a matter of him getting behind the microphone and in the studio," Weisner said. "Once he started to do that, Brandon took it all on his own. I didn't have to teach him how to rap. All I had to do was show him how to place his vocals on a track to make it flow. A lot of times, artists will write and write and will have books and books of rap. I want you to write to the beat."

Lloyd took the direction and the initiative. It wasn't a difficult thing for him to do, because the rap already was in his heart, mind and soul.

"I'm so passionate about music," he said. "It excites me. And I treated it like football. I studied it, I had my approach and knew what I wanted to do, so I just went after it and did it based off what I like to hear.

"The hardest part is getting the flow down. It's easy to pick ideas and just sit down and write and have ideas. The hardest part is making your voice a part of the music, and that's the beautiful thing about computers. You can just keep doing it over and over until you get it right. But that's also the fun part, because you can make it sound however you want it to sound. You can make it be what you want."

Lloyd's lyrics are what will separate him from many rappers that his sound and flow will emulate.

While his words aren't necessarily tame by popular standards, Lloyd's lyrics will reflect his life – not the crime-riddled, street-talking ethos that distinguishes and characterizes much of rap.

"It's not a children's album," Lloyd said. "I cuss, you know what I mean? I talk about being in the clubs and drinking. That's what it's tailored to – tailored for my age, tailored for people who do what I do, who like what I like."

That said, Lloyd's music hardly is any kind of Gangsta rap.

"There's some comparisons, some football analogies and metaphors that are used in there, but that's my life, you know what I mean?" he said. "I can't sing and talk about drugs and shooting people, because that's not who I am. I can study all that, all the rappers who talk about that, but when it comes down to it, I can't say that. I don't do what they do, so I can't say what they say. I rap about football, cars, my experiences traveling, hanging out in the club, stuff like that. That's what I do."

SATURDAY: Part III - Football comes first


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