We caught up with one of Mississippi’s well known artists and voices, Mr. Brad “Kamikaze” Franklin, to learn more about how he got started in the music game, what it means to be a Mississippian and what we can expect from him in the upcoming months.
Check out our Q&A with him below!
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Where are you from?
BRAD FRANKLIN: Jackson, Mississippi
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: How long have you been performing?
BF: I have been an artist for about 15 or 16 years now.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: How did you get your start?
BF: I pretty much started like most artists started. My first introduction into the music business was when myself and David Banner got signed to Tommy Boy Records. We released our first record in April 1999 which was called Grey Skies. That was pretty much the first time we were introduced to the world and pretty much one of the first big hip hop records out of Mississippi at that time. And that was the starting point for my actual career. For several years before that we were recording music and trying to get into the business but ‘99 was the year it actually began for me.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: What was it like working with David Banner?
BF: At the time we were apart of a bigger group and the crew was comprised of MC’s from all over the country. People were from Mississippi, Chicago, Detroit, and all over. We all had a love for hip-hop. Banner and I just started working together aside from doing our own thing. David was more advanced at the time and when we got together we came up with the name Crooked Lettaz. He was instrumental in forming all of the music and we collaborated together. The creative process was done as a group and he was superbly talented in producing and when it came to creative content. It was a challenge working with him because we always pushed each other to do better. The creative process was also a competitive process and we would try to one-up each other and those challenges pushed us to the point where we were eventually able to get a record deal. Working with him was a really good experience because it pushed me to do the best I could possibly do and be the best MC and artist I could possibly be.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Tell me about Sipphop.com.
BF: Sipphopp is not my project but I am a supporter of it. Sipphopp comes from the concept of uniting all artists in Mississippi under the Mississippi Banner, under the Mississippi flag. It serves as a site for artists to bring music, DJ’s and songwriters. They have a showcase every month, DJ battle, open mic and producer beat battle at Dreamz Jxn. All artists can come out and show their craft. The finals for the beat battle will actually be happening soon. Andy Wright is the creator of Sipphopp and what I do is as a supporter is I push the brand. I am a supporter of Sipphopp, and Mississippi hip-hop period, and have been for a long time. I’m trying to give Mississippi artists a platform to perform. Because growing up I didn’t have that platform.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Who else have you worked with?
BF: I’ve worked with UGK and I’ve toured with Big K.R.I.T, Nappy Roots, and Bun B. I’ve done shows with everyone from Method Man to Wiz Khalifa. Its a long list, I’ve worked with a lot of people and done shows with a lot of people. I’m just blessed to continue doing what I’m doing. And I’m here in Jackson, Mississippi fighting the good fight. And I’m hear to prove to artists that you don’t have to move away from Jackson to be successful in the music business. You have to move around, you have to visit other places and network, but you don’t have to move from Jackson to be successful in this business. And I think that’s what a lot of artists think – that you have to go to Atlanta, L.A. or New York to get discovered and that’s not the case. There’s myself, David Banner, a lot of people who are from here and were discovered and have not left their roots and are still around here. Mississippi will have its day and I’m going to do my part to make sure that happens.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: What does being a Mississippian mean to you?
BF: Being a Mississippian to me means being a person that can make something out of absolutely nothing. We have the ability to make the best out of the worst situations. And that is because we have been born and bred into what people deem to be the worst. Mississippi has been last in everything and people don’t expect us to prosper or be successful at all. There are people who still think we have dirt and gravel roads, and the perception of Mississippi as a whole is just a backwards one. And we have had to take that burden and continue to move forward. And I’ve always said if you can make it in Mississippi you can make it anywhere. Being a Mississippian is to be resourceful, is to be resurgent and to be resilient. That’s what it means to be a Mississippian.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Who are some of your musical influences?
BF: Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye. A lot of my influences are bold, soulful artists. I listen to a lot of soul music and a lot of rock music actually. I was actually a fan of rock music before I started rocking and getting involved in hip-hop. And I’m just a music lover period. But in hip-hop some of my influences have been Outkast, Goodie Mob, all artists out of Houston and people who preceded myself and Banner. More influences are UGK and Three 6 Mafia because of what they did for Memphis. They put Memphis on the map and were trailblazers. That’s the way I look at what Banner and I did as well. De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, those were all influences and it’s just a wide range of people that influence what I do now.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Any other talents or hobbies?
BF: I’m a writer and an entrepreneur. I have my own media company where I do public relations and branding and social media marketing. I have a column that appears in the Clarion Ledger and my wife is also a writer and we’re about to start a blog project together. But I’ve always been a writer. I have a degree in Journalism from Jackson State University so my first love was always writing. When I got my first record deal I was actually working at the associate press in Atlanta. So journalism is my original trade, and writing is something I will always do and it’s kinda how I got into rapping because I like writing. I wouldn’t say its a hobby but another something that I do and will always be doing.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Any upcoming projects or events?
BF: Yes, my first mixtape is out – The Reintroduction of Mr. Franklin. I will be releasing an EP in Spring 2014, which will be called My Strange Addiction and a full album at the end of 2014 called Tacos for Breakfast. I will be going on the road at the beginning of the year with Big Sant who is Big K.R.I.T.’s artist and is featured on his records, he drops his project later this month and when I drop my EP in January we’ll be hitting the road.
This interview was a part of our annual Mississippi Month feature. Like what you read? Share it using the hashtag #JSMississippiMonth!