The Brainchild Project is the brainchild of B Ruckus, AKA Barry Rohrer; MC, founder and producer for the Minneapolis-based hip hop band Leroy Smokes. Musically, the album represents the wide variety of influences that have made an impact on Brainchild’s creative path. Hip hop is a genre encompassing many things to many people, and Brainchild touches on a quite a few of them.
As a fourteen-year-old skateboarding punk-rocker, Barry started his musical career on the drums, playing for various punk and alternative groups around the Minneapolis area. Always a fan of hip hop, Barry never thought a suburban kid like himself could credibly pull off his own hip hop sound…but as time went on, the love for this music grew stronger and after high school Barry threw himself into the hip hop music that he really wanted to do.
Starting with some crappy instruments and a drum set, the next step was buying a cheap cassette four-track. Recording hip hop with live instruments proved difficult compared to the drum-machine-based hip hop sounds prevalent at the time. The challenge turned out to be a blessing in disguise as Barry developed a signature style, based on imitating the drum loops in the hip hop songs he loved.
As years passed and the ear got better, the next big step up in gear was an MPC. Barry’s then-girlfriend was a turntable DJ and learning electronic music production from local music educator Jack Robinson, who encouraged her to buy an MPC for herself. She saved up and bought one, and once Barry started playing with it he became hopelessly addicted. Sampling anything he could, from all types of media, and especially his own drumming, he began to form a signature sound once again, this time much more technologically advanced. His style came through the combination of live drums and instruments with loops and sequences. To this day he uses that MPC as a major component in his production.
At the same time, the band Leroy Smokes, which Barry formed with friends from the Twin Cities in the mid-nineties, was developing into an innovative creative force with Barry rapping and playing drums at the same time. While this was an original way to perform at shows, it wasn’t until the band got a new drummer, allowing Barry out from behind the kit and to front stage, that his rapping really began to blossom and his lyrical style was more finely developed.
Lyrically speaking, Brainchild is also very unique. Barry’s early doubts about being able to create credible hip hop subject matter – being a white kid from the ‘burbs – were unfounded. He manages to speak about things that touch all of our lives, no matter what our background, without alienation. Outside influences included Chuck-D, Mos Def, Black Thought, Andre 3000 and various reggae and dancehall artists. But these influences do not really capture the style of both political and personal, global-minded yet down-to-earth, serious but laid-back enough not to take himself too seriously. B Ruckus is the working man’s MC: finding something that moves people and letting them interpret their own way, applying it to their own lives, without spitting judgements or boasting which is so common in so much hip hop.
This CD is the first official release for Brainchild, and is as much a diary as it is commentary. It is just as much of a rally as it is a party, because like most things in this world, there is never one answer or one path to happiness. Personal fulfillment is found in the tiny moments between this day and tomorrow. The overall message he presents is encouragement to start getting your own act together and try to make a difference, no matter how small…just don’t forget to enjoy the party that is life.