RH Interview: Brittney Carter

If you’ve been keeping up with Chicago’s music scene recently it’s been hard to not be aware of Brittney Carter. She’s put out a slew of rock solid singles where she displays her lyrical tact and her hunger as a young emcee. Although she hasn’t been rapping for very long, she shows a maturity beyond her years as a songwriter and a power that comes via an avalanche of bars ready to slide at a moment’s notice. A few weeks ago I sat down with her to talk about her background, her vision and her upcoming performance at our next Digital Freshness on April 6th at the Empty Bottle where she’ll opening up for New York’s Kemba and Ness Heads. Check it out below.

rubyhornet: I want to ask you about your approach to songwriting. Do you start by coming up with a verse and then figure out a chorus for it or do you have an overall idea of what it’s going to be about and then go from there?

Brittney Carter: Most times I just listen to the instrumental and just kind of like with what vibe is it giving me and try to come up a lot of with the first line, I just sort of flow from there. So that’s how it usually how it works.

rubhyhornet: Your beat selection is really jazzy. Is that something that you look for when you’re listening to beats to possibly rap on?

Brittney Carter: Yeah, it’s pretty strange. I’m still trying to figure out my sound, but I do notice that I gravitate more to jazzy instrumentals.

rubyhornet: What’s your musical background?

Brittney Carter: I’ve been doing music since about late 2015.

rubyhornet: What about growing up? What was playing in your house?

Brittney Carter: My mom listened to a lot of RNB, lot of Anita, Luther. My Dad was like a huge hip hop head, he’s a huge Jay-Z fan.

rubyhornet: What motivates you as a rapper.

Brittney Carter: Motivates me as a rapper. Um, I kinda Kinda just use it like, it’s therapy really, it’s just fun for me, you know? That’s pretty much it. Just having fun doing it. I try to just write how I’m feeling, really. I journal a lot. That’s what I’ve always done., I’ve always kept journals since I was a kid. So that’s just been, you know, my get away I guess.

rubyhornet: Would you write in verse as a kid? Or was it more free flow?

Brittney Carter: It was really free, just writing about my day really. It was like, oh, what went on in school? This just happened. My Mom pissed me off, you know, just stuff like that. Never poems. I didn’t start writing poetry until, I would say maybe seventh grade or something like that.

rubyhornet: What sparked that?

Brittney Carter: I have no idea. I don’t know. I’m just having fun with it I guess. So it was just something I was doing for myself. Nothing that I really shared with anyone. No one knew that I was just doing it, I was just like, “Well, I don’t know, I feel like this, so I’m just going to write this.”

rubyhornet: That’s funny, because you’re music is really outspoken. Like, it seems like you would just say, this is what the fuck I’m doing”, but that’s not how it was. Where did the confidence come from to share that you were writing?

Brittney Carter: I guess my people just saw it on social media. I didn’t come out like, yeah you guys, I’m gonna rap now. In early 2015, I was a part of the Set It Off Cypher and so we just dropped it on youtube and my parents saw and and where like, “what is this?” Oh yeah, I did this thing with some friends. So yeah, they had seen it on social media and they’ve been really supportive since.

(Her verse starts at 2:00)

rubyhornet: So, going back, you said music is therapeutic, do you use it therapeutically for yourself or is it more therapy for your listener?

Brittney Carter: I guess I use it for myself mostly. I’m just now seeing how people respond – the videos I’ve been dropping – a lot of people have responded to them well, I didn’t really anticipate it to happen. I’m just doing it for fun, you know? And so I’m just like, “Wow, okay, people really like enjoy this, this is really cool.” Because it’s fun for me it’s like a get away from me? So, the fact that I can share that with other people is cool.

rubyhornet: Last month, do you put an A side B side single. What do you think put those two songs together?

Brittney Carter:That’s a good question. So those are pretty old tracks and I just wanted to get them out there. I never recorded them or anything, it was just like something I had been performing. I was just like, I should put these together and just drop them. And it’s funny, the original instrumentation is completely different from what’s out there online. So usually when I perform it, I play it with the original instrumentation that my friend made, but the the online version is like completely different. I’ll probably keep them separate. I like performing them with the original instrumentals.

rubyhornet: I think that’s really cool. I love when people do that. So, I want to ask you about Loop Theory and working with Scheme, what’s that like?

Brittney Carter: It’s really cool because we’re friends, that’s what makes it even better. We’re just a group of friends that came together and said hey, we’re going to do this. I met Scheme through my friend Kenneth who goes by Disrupt, he’s a producer. He introduced me to Scheme and we were recording out of Scheme’s place for awhile. He gave us a solid place to record because I don’t really have a home studio, or just anywhere to record really. But we were all friends. I met Kenneth through my mentor Add-2 so that’s how I became cool with Kenneth and yeah, we’ve been just, all friends is doing stuff.

rubyhornet: Do you have an album you’re working on or can, we expect like a bigger release any time soon?

Brittney Carter: I really want to say it’s coming later this year, but I always say that. I don’t want to put out just anything. I’m going to make sure that it’s the perfect thing that I put out for my first project. So right now, yes, I am currently committed to a project and prayerfully it will be out later this year.

rubyhornet: You know, it’s funny cause we’re not living in a time where you need an album, you know what I mean? You’re dropping singles and it’s working. I want to ask about the last two that you put out, how were they recorded cause they have more of a lo-fi sound than the other recordings. Was that intentional?

Brittney Carter: So those two, I just recorded those at home really quick. We’ve been dropping the videos every Monday starting this month. I was like, I’m just gonna record these at the crib real quick and see if I can like make it just sound cool. So people can hear it nicely I guess. So I recorded those at the crib and dropped the video and so I was like, well maybe I can upload the audio too, so I uploaded the audio and put those on soundcloud so people can have them too.

rubyhornet: Do you have any dream collaborations

Brittney Carter: Yes! I definitely would love – I don’t know if it could happen, I don’t know if she’s doing music with anyone – but I love Lauryn Hill and if I could meet Lauryn Hill that would be the greatest collaboration ever. Kendrick, of course, I’m a huge Kendrick fan. There are a few more. I would like to Collab with J. Cole, I think that’d be really cool. I would love to work with Saba as well, he’s one my favorites. So yeah, these are my top.

rubyhornet: I heard some TDE rumours around you, are those based in anything?

Brittney Carter: Well I opened up for Jay Rock on November 11th because I won a contest.

rubyhornet: How did that come about?

Brittney Carter: This is really funny. So I entered a contest months before, maybe August, I’ll say August I think. And I didn’t really think much about it cause I just put my name in, if it happens it happens. Because you know, I really haven’t been doing music that long as I’m just like, well, whatever, you know. So I just entered my name. So November 10th I got like a notification on Twitter that me and two other guys were the finalists. And I’m like, really? This is fucking cool. So whoever got the most votes out of the finalists got to perform and I ended up winning and then I found out I’ll be performing the next day, that’s how that happened.

rubyhornet: How was that performance?

Brittney Carter: So cool. It was the best I’ve ever had.

rubyhornet: Have you ever been on a stage like that or had a crowd like that before?

Brittney Carter: Nope. Well maybe one time was close. I can’t remember if it was 2015 or 16, but after we dropped the cypher, we got the opportunity to open up for Public Enemy at Metro. So that was very cool.

rubyhornet: Are you still working with that same group from that cypher?

Brittney Carter: That was just like a one time thing. The girl who put it together contacted all of us individually and was like, “Hey, I want to do this cypher and I think you guys are dope by let’s do it.” So we did it, you know, I don’t think we really had any expectations at the time. We just said, okay, this will be really cool.

rubyhornet: Do you think that like being a woman plays a role in the way that you go about making your music or in the way that it’s received?

Brittney Carter: I think in the way that it’s received. I think most times people see me and think, oh, you’re a singer. I’m not. So I think the way that people received it has been cool so far. It definitely plays a role because, you know, people expect me to do something else on stage and when they actually see me up there It’s like, Oh shit, she’s actually rapping. So that’s been cool.

rubyhornet: Is there anything else you want our readers to know?

Brittney Carter: Yeah I want them to know that I’m just happy that everyone is digging the music that I’ve been dropping. I’m very appreciative.

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Stephen Kaplan