5 & Done: BK Brasco

EXCLUSIVE: NYC’s BK Brasco Talks New EP, Learning From Timbaland, & Watching Jay Z Record Magna Carta Holy Grail

(AllHipHop) Involvement in the music industry almost always mandates that an artist has to go through tough times to eventually make it to the top. Brownsville’s BK Brasco has had his fair share of ups-and-downs in the business, but the Timbaland protégé is on the path to reaching his goal of having the world experience his music.

Brasco’s career began as a member of the group  Brooklyn. At one point, they were signed to Arista Records with the backing of the late Shakir Stewart. The group eventually disbanded, but Brasco later landed a deal with Jimmy Iovine at Interscope. Again, the situation with a major label did not work out as planned. The experience at Interscope did connect Brasco with a superproducer from Virginia that took him under his wing.

BK Brasco has moved past the corporate issues and now he is preparing to release his 18th Floor: Thompson Hotel Edition EP. Hip Hop albums like Harlem World, Life After Death, Hard Core, and early Nas LPs serve as inspiration for BK as he crafts his own project of what he calls “car music.” Brasco plans for 18th Floor to be a celebration for the ladies and fly guys looking to see an element of fun brought back to New York.

In the latest edition of “5 & Done,” AllHipHop.com chatted with Brasco about his forthcoming EP, working with Timbaland, being in the studio for the recording of Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail, and what the pinnacle of success means for him.

[ALSO READ: 5 & Done: Panama]

AllHipHop.com: How did you first connect with Timbaland?

BK Brasco: Jimmy Iovine gave me an option for me to work with Timbaland when I was signed to Interscope. Then I met my homeboy who managed Pusha T, Steven Victor, that introduced me to Mike Daddy, one of Tim’s partners. We just became friends. He asked me to do some ghostwriting for a couple of people, so we built a report like that. He said I want you to meet Timbaland, and Timbaland wants to meet you. I flew down to Miami, and the saga started from there.

What was the most valuable thing you learned from your past experiences with major labels?

How to win. Not waiting for nobody. You got to do this yourself. I was a young kid given a deal, and I didn’t know how to treat this. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to go, how to turn. I had people around that didn’t know either. I got a lot of the talent, but I didn’t really have the right people in my corner at that point to navigate me through the pitfalls.

You have a track on the EP called “Pray” where you say you pray to be on top. What will being on top look like for you?

To be top for me is to influence the world. I just want to be a voice. Nothing against guys that don’t smoke or don’t drink, but I feel like somebody needs to be out there, a person like me, so the kids can understand that you don’t have to smoke or drink to be cool, fly, or popular. I have a younger brother. He looks up to other rappers that smoke and drink, and he feels he has to do it. That’s cool to them, but I don’t believe that’s cool. I believe being yourself is cool.

You’ve had the chance to work with a lot of high-profile artists. What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had working in the studio?

I think it would have to be in VA when we – me, Tim, a lot of people – were just creating. We created the bulk of this EP. Justin Timberlake was there, so it was just a lot moving. I just like to be in zones like that. I just like to be in a place where we’re going to this studio and this studio. I just love that. That’s where we made “Every Bag,” “Big Spenda,” and most of the EP. VA and Miami are the places we really went in.

Working with Tim is great. To see how he does it, I learned so much from him. I use to not write stuff down. I would just write 4 bars, 6 bars and then put them in my phone. Then I saw him when we were working on some record. He would put the melody down, and then add the words. I learned a new technique. It felt so good, because you marry the beat the first time you hear something. That’s the first love. He would just put the melody down then scribble some words. I took that from him, and it’s been working. Being in the studio with him and Jay. That was another memorable moment.

Timbo & Brasco
Timbo & Brasco

Were you around when they recorded Magna Carta?

Yeah, I remember the night they made “Open Letter.” When they were making it, I heard the beat… I was sitting outside the A-room like “What the hell is that?” Then I hear Jay rhyming in the booth. I’m in the B-room, and he comes in to get us, because he wanted us to hear it. I remember Jay comes to me like “Brooklyn, I’m the best ever.” I was like “word? Okay.”

I remember him playing me the record. They played the record like 30 times. After they made “Open Letter,” Jay said this feels so good let’s not stop. Tim was on his beat machine. Swizz [Beatz] was right there, so they started doing another beat. Swizz and Tim were going back and forth. I remember Jay writing “Versus.” That whole night was just crazy. They just kept making new songs. I think they made the Jay Z and Beyoncé song [“Part II (On The Run)”] that night too.

Yeah, I was around for that. [Roc Nation’s] Lenny S. heard the EP. He loved it. That’s how we got RaVaughn on “Every Bag,” because Lenny S. manages RaVaughn. I played him the EP, and he was like, “This s**t is crazy. We should put RaVaughn on ‘Every Bag’.” I said, “That’s dope. Let’s do it.” We’ve been just collaborating. When I say on “Pray” I want to be on top, I just want people to have an open ear and listen. I just want to make good music.

18th Floor

[ALSO READ: Timbaland Protégé Shawn Chrystopher Talks Debut Album, The New West Coast & Zimmerman]

Follow BK Brasco Twitter @bkbrasco.

Watch BK Brasco’s studio performance of “Every Bag” featuring RaVaughn below.