Up-and-coming independent, Minneapolis artist Princeton Brown has the wisdom of an elder at the ripe age of 23. Seeing the world through a critical lens, Brown seeks the simple things and natural way of life, which he expresses in his music.
In the recently released new single and music video for the song “Jamaica,” Brown speaks of a life and experience completely different from the everyday city life. The song paints a picture of ripening fruit on trees and uplifting images of a thriving, supportive community. Written in Jamaica, the song is just a glimpse into the impression the island made on him.
“I woke up one morning,” said Brown as he hummed the melody of his new single. “I played a little rift on the keyboard, and it just came to me — I think I found my paradise,” he said, singing a few lines from the song. He has gone to Jamaica many times before, but this was the first time he had music equipment with him.
Brown worked on the single for two years, recently releasing it when he felt it was ready. “It was a process,” he said. Brown stressed the importance of patience in delivering quality music.
“It was never my goal to make money doing this [and] it still isn’t my goal,” Brown said. Not being naive to reality, the young artist acknowledged that money is needed to push his dreams forward. He also stated that while music is definitely important to him, his family means much more.
Brown hails from a musical background and grew up with music throughout his entire life: As early as age four he learned to play the piano, and today he teaches physics at the High School for Recording Arts in St. Paul.
His father, Dermoth Brown, came to Minnesota from Jamaica in the 90s and has been a successful reggae DJ in both Minnesota and Jamaica. He now serves as his son’s manager. His mother, Wendy Brown, is a classically trained pianist, and his sister, Symone Brown, 21, sings backup vocals for Princeton and is a musician in her own right.
“My father encouraged me; he’s the one that really cracked the whip and said, ‘You know these beats are cool and whatnot, but you need to make your own songs,'” recalled Brown. At the time Brown was producing beats and confesses, “I never had the confidence to do it myself at that time.”
Brown and his family visit Jamaica roughly twice a year, where they have a home. Within his songs “Simple Livin,” “Jamaica,” and other tracks, one can hear Brown’s longing to fuse aspects of the life and feelings experienced in Jamaica to life in America. His music moves listeners to stop and think about the consumer-driven lifestyle. In the words of his father, he produces “conscious music.”
One issue the artist is aware of and spoke in depth about is that of the food retail industry. “It’s just still weird to me, to this day, the concept of a grocery store,” said Brown. “Like we go to these buildings and we have all of our food just laid out in front of us, packaged in little things. Just think about it, what if grocery stores weren’t around? How would people get their food? In Jamaica you can just walk outside and just pick the fruit off of the tree right in front of you.” Brown continued, pointing out that “no other species on earth goes to a central location to get food.”
Brown’s passion for this and other topics is clearly evidenced in his music, and he is sure to keep presenting his ideas as his career naturally progresses.
“I feel like it’s just me, it’s just natural,” Brown said on his approach to music. “I don’t try to even just say I’m just reggae, or even say I’m R&B, or just pop. I just hear what comes in my head and just do it. I’m just giving 100 percent, just me. So whatever that genre is, that’s what it is.”
To date Brown has only produced his own records, with the exception of a few beats his father got from other Jamaican artists to record over. However, Brown tells MSR that he’s open and confident in his ability to produce in any genre for anyone that’s interested.
To get in touch with Brown or to check out his debut album Simple Livin’ and latest single, visit www.princetonbrown.com.
Khymyle Mims welcomes reader comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Khymyle Mims is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.