As premiered last night on BET’s “106 and Park”, check out Brandon Hines‘ new video “Yes You Are” (shot in Brooklyn, NY and directed by Benny Boom).
R&B music is in the midst of an identity crisis. Yet buried somewhere beneath the Euro-pop synthesizers, half-hearted crooning and Auto-Tune’s computed emotion lies the genre’s gimmick-proof essence: Soul. It’s the essential element that Detroit–born singer Brandon Hines offers pure and undiluted in his smooth tenor. “R&B is rhythm and blues. I think people generalize it to singing but it’s not,” says Brandon. “My music speaks to the soul. There hasn’t been the right fit for that void lately.”
Born and raised in Motown, Brandon has been listening to Marvin Gaye vinyls and singing since sporting Huggies, entertaining relatives with preschool renditions of Jackson 5’s “ABC”. Yet as Brandon grew up, his interests expanded into sports, hip-hop (Biggie, Jay-Z, The Fugees) and breakdancing.
The lyricist truly recognized his vocal gift after scoring a yellow ticket on American Idol’s first season in 2002, competing with the nation’s finest untapped performers. Missing the show’s final cut, Brandon became set on overtaking the entertainment industry when he returned to Detroit. Then came college. After enrolling in Howard University, the international business major saw the HBCU campus as an open market for a burgeoning singing career. He linked with his beat-making younger brother Chris and some Howard classmates to record his first album Love Music: Fallin in Fallin Out. The bed-rocking project, powered by the seductive fan favorite “Overdose,” took off, moving more than 10,000 copies independently and establishing a rabid student fan base.
“I want to make music that people feel. I want people to have sex to my music, to clean to my music,” says Brandon, who was elected Mr. Howard University in 2005. “I want women to get in the bath and feel sexy to my music. I want men to think, ‘If I turn this shit on, the females are gon’ f*** with me.’” The overwhelmingly positive feedback from local performances paired with his CD’s success inspired Brandon to press pause on school and fast-forward his music ambitions full-time in New York City.
Bouncing between the studio and the stage, Hines’ diligent work ethic yielded collaborations with J. Cole, Ryan Leslie, Trey Songz, Troy Taylor, and R. Kelly. He shared the stage with Estelle on her American Boy tour, and continued spiking his stock with the help of MySpace and YouTube, which Brandon used to market his music independently.
After fielding signing offers from several major record labels, Brandon partnered with Revel Music Group, headed by Joe “The Butcher” Nicolo (founder of Ruffhouse Records which launched Lauryn Hill, The Fugees, Wyclef Jean, and Cypress Hill) and his partners Cole Thomas and Tyler Nicolo. Superproducers Jermaine Dupri and Bryan Michael Cox got involved next, co-executive producing Brandon’s free EP In Search Of, which racked up over 500,000 downloads and together (both Revel and Jermaine Dupri) helped score a signing with Epic Records in late 2011. “I’ve built something great with Revel/So So Def. I like the excitement and the history of Epic and LA Reid,” Brandon says. “I couldn’t find myself in a better situation.”
“I touch on real emotions in my music that some may have a tough time expressing” says Hines, who promises to bring a hearty helping of real R&B on his upcoming album. It’s been a long road since cutting tracks in a dorm room, but Brandon knows this is just the beginning. “Everything up to this point was the prologue—now this is chapter one,” he says. “It’s only going to get more intense. I just wanna touch people through my music and spread love to the world.”