Brandon Lucas / Drops New House Heater with Dr. Cornel West
![Alt Text](https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/56c346b607eaa09d9189a870/1602029784739-CA4JUWYVH7113DOLFROF/DSC_2476.jpg) A progressive deep groove sets the backdrop for a powerful spoken word sample in “Got That Hope," the debut single making a statement from budding Los Angeles-based producer Brandon Lucas. Out on his new imprint, Purple Label Sound, the house cut calls for a message of change, positivity and hope for the future—a highly personal debut for Lucas who teamed up with longtime mentor, friend and renowned public figure, Dr. Cornel West. The famed political activist, intellectual, author, and philosopher has long been an inspiring voice for the music community and his connection with Lucas has led him to advocate for greater representation of Black and brown artists in the electronic music industry. For Lucas and West, Purple Label Sound represents a chance to recenter dance music in the Black tradition of its origins. “Got That Hope” is just the beginning for the duo, with future empowering sounds on the way for the label and a full length project with West slated for next year. With the election swiftly approaching, we could all benefit from a little hope - especially when it’s paired with a funky beat. We got in touch with Lucas to learn more about the man behind the music and how Purple Label Sound came to be.
Working with a prestigious intellectual like Dr. Cornel West is quite an honor, how did you meet and create this musical relationship with one another? I’ve been working with Dr. West for over 12+ years, helping him build and run his social media platforms, as I did for a handful of authors and public figures in similar spaces at the genesis of the social media age. I’ve been truly blessed and enriched to have been given a front seat to him and his message for so long. Were there lessons you learned from Dr. West that have shaped your path to where you are today? The lessons are infinite to be honest, but the idea of using your success to help others as well as leadership through love and service have been paramount. Also, I’ve always respected how he doesn’t favor a “side” -- he favors what’s right and just. He balances intellectual curiosity with standing firm in your convictions, allowing room for sometimes spirit debates with people you may fervently disagree with but still have respect for. What inspired you to produce “Got that Hope?” What’s the biggest message that you want people to take away from the track? This record is not only the direct result of the isolation and loneliness many of us experienced during quarantine due to Covid-19, but also the exhausting racial strife and awakening that came not too long after. To sum it up -- it is a call to action to not lose hope, which I believe starts within. To have Dr. West tell it: “Biden is Neo-liberal disaster and Trump is a Neo-fascist catastrophe”—but we can’t let “the catastrophe have the last word.” No matter who wins it is apparent that our nation still has A LOT of work to do on many fronts—race only being just one of them. I hope that we will get through this.
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It’s been a turbulent year to say the least, how are you hoping the next generation of artists will bring a wave of change in the US? I’m actually excited—we are entering a Renaissance of art and music from this unique time of growing pains in our nation and the world in general. Dr. West often speaks on how music is an expression of our feelings, the stylization of space and time. Some of the best music of the past centuries have come about in similar times of uncertainty and suffering -- plus this rising generation of artists have an unprecedented amount of information to wrestle with daily -- the emotion and thought expressed through art is bound to be epic. What do you think about the current state of BIPOC representation in the dance music industry? There are many amazing artists of color out there who are incredibly talented -- many of them not getting the support and recognition they deserve aside from all the legends in the game who are around 50+ years old. Try it—you can probably count on one hand the names of Black house/techno artists who you know are under 40 if any. From my experience, the dance community is one of the most inclusive communities I know, but I personally feel that uncious racial bias is often at play. So it’s more about awareness and the powers that be doing the work to step outside of their comfort zones, their friends groups and clicks they know to book and push records from more urban flavored minorities. When it comes to Black American producer-DJs in particular, I feel that many labels just don’t know how to market house records from people who come from their backgrounds. They play it way too safe and cookie-cutter. I can admittedly be a house music snob of sorts, but too often not so cool executives in the space are worried about being cool and underground instead putting heat behind a record at the risk of it becoming too successful, if that makes sense...it’s weird. I’m trying to blow shit up...not trying to be anything than what I am. Who were some artists and other influences for you growing up? Have they changed since you’ve moved into the house space? Prince and Michael Jackson of course—but also Gospel legends like The Clark Sisters, J. Moss and Kirk Franklin. Then there are neo-soul titans that influenced me—D’Angelo, Maxwell, Erykah Badu and Musiq Soulchild. I have an extensive musical crate in my head andI find that all of the music growing is still very present in the house music I produce today. On the electronic music front, I would say that I have gravitated toward the sounds of Black Coffee, Bob Moses, Damian Lazarus, Disclosure, Kaytranada and the Martinez Brothers, among many others.
Congratulations on launching your own imprint, Purple Label Sound! Can you tell us more about your plans for the label? Anyone you're looking to sign soon? That main focus will be to develop, package and help elevate the music and visions of artists who are under-represented in electronic music. We will be a collective of artists on the same mission for excellence and legacy through art, love and community. What can we expect from a Brandon Lucas live show? Passion, vibes, grooves, epicness. Anything else you want to share about Purple Label Sound or “Got that Hope"? I just want to say, with a humble heart, that this is only the beginning—so stay tuned for me.