Even from a young age, the legacy of Triple Darkness lyricist Iron Braydz seemed almost written in the stars. Finding entertainment in the Harlesden playgrounds reciting Kriss Kross' 'Jump', he quickly built a reputation for rhyming, regularly reciting Wu-Tang Clan lyrics in what he called "who knows Wu" lyric battles as a child.
His passion developed into a career which has included live appearances supporting Public Enemy and Immortal Technique, and performing with a twenty seven piece orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall.
He accomplished these illustrious milestones off the back of his two projects – Devil May Cry (2010) and Holla@Braydz (2012) – and yet claims he has not even begun to touch on the subjects which could potentially turn him into an "international hero". Set to drop the long awaited 'Verbal sWARdz' EP in just over a month's time, British Hip Hop spoke with Iron Braydz to dissect the long anticipated release, discuss his progression as an artist and discover more about the man behind the microphone.
From humble beginnings, we first asked Braydz about the people who aided his initial development as a lyricist.
Iron Braydz: Firstly my late Father, Marvin Manning, Shaun Sinclair, Guyver, Oliver Doku, Masikah, Starvin A.K.A Tone Richardson, Dean Gordon. Marvin and Shaun were the very first brothers who got me into that hardcore hip-hop, I have Shaun to thank for giving me a copy of Busta Rhymes "The Coming" and one of my all time top three Raekwon's "Only Built For Cuban Links". I remember learning all the lyrics to Busta's first album on literally three of my lunch breaks.
The other people I mention were in the first rap group I was a part of.
Reminiscing, Braydz considered his progression as an artist…
Iron Braydz: There's only a few things I may be able to say I've progressed in and that would be lyricism. My approach at these lyrics and writing them are much more calculated than ever before, even if it's a basic line I guarantee there's a chance nine times out of ten there's a double meaning or something, I take more pride in what I write now so therefore the inspiration must be just as serious. It comes from my experience in the industry and life as well as the books and scriptures I've read over the years. Something I may have read six years ago I'm able to articulate now using less words, paragraphs, and phrases if I had to.
Verbal sWARdz will drop four years following 'Devil May Cry', the release which really established Braydz as a forerunner in UK hip-hop. But does it share the same passion?
Iron Braydz: To be entirely honest it has the same vibe and passion as D.M.C, however the overall output is clean in comparison. The lyrical content won't decline when it comes to projects / releases like D.M.C or V.S. it's almost identical, on Millenium featuring Prince Po you'll hear me talk about Devil May Cry. This is in aid to raise awareness about that release, it got a lot of love from those who came across it back in 2010 and I'd like to always keep it going.
We asked Braydz which track from the Verbal sWARdz EP he hopes will resonate with listeners.
Iron Braydz: The track titled "Crowbar Head Topper" which is actually taken from (TD member) Solar Black's Album Winged Scarabs which includes Ray Vendetta (TD) and myself. This track features on all three of our releases, for different reasons. My reason for having this track was for the beat (which I love a lot, Produced by Ringz Ov Saturn) and the message in my verse.
This verse addresses my views on racism and my lack of tolerance for it. My views and lines are intentionally tongue and cheek, because I feel I have the right to be that way about it without getting too political. The people of the black community have been made to feel offended about recent events like the link I've posted [below]. Not to mention the murders of our brothers Stephen Lawrence, Ricky Bishop, Smiley Culture and even Trayvon Martin to name a few. People seem to be very brazen about their racist views and in 2014 and I'll be damned if I don't make my views clear about the blatant disregard and disrespect for Human Lives on a whole.
Braydz went on to reveal the influences behind Verbal sWARdz development.
Iron Braydz: M9 and Cyrus Malachi, they dropped some knowledge on me to do this, so yeah they're definitely ones to thank for that. As for the arrangement, format, overall influence of the EP would be my team Triple Darkness. When you hear what these men have in store as far as music is concerned you'll understand. Raekwon is also a very major influence to the point where I can't help it any more, it's not a gimmick nor is it intentional. When I've been referred to as a UK version of the likes of him not only is it the biggest honour for me, but also no major surprise. His work ethic, rhymes, techniques, flows, delivery, concepts and finesse is damn near second to none. Nas is another one for those exact same reasons.
Does Verbal sWARdz have any underlying themes?
Iron Braydz: As an artist in this case I'd like to leave that to the listener to decide, with me saying entirely what it is I know for certain it will box it up from world open to imagination. I feel when using metaphors in the way I do and the way my comrades do it's a aim to ultimately play with the imagination by creating a world of limitless possibilities tied in with the grim truths of reality – think of an amalgamation of movies like the Matrix, Limitless and Inception.
Verbal sWARdz is ten tracks in length, and only one of which sees Braydz spit solo. Both relatively unconventional features of an EP…
Iron Braydz: I'm an Unconventional guy, hence the label Unorthostract (Unorthodox and Abstract). I just felt the time wasn't right to drop an album. I haven't done enough yet in my career to make such a big move like that. I'm not one of them artists that rush things, I'm still unknown to many people I have to build on the solid foundation I have created for myself and keep building consistently with these solid releases I have planned. God willing!
2014 is a year for me to make moves with beloveds, I tend to do things solo. Even with D.M.C only about four features, this time around on the V.S EP I wanted to bless the listeners with the people I admire and respect on a higher level. And in my defence, every time I come through it's been memorable.
Already having accomplished numerous milestones that almost any rap artist would aspire to, Braydz seems to be constantly progressing up the hip-hop food chain with better material to show for it. The question remains: is he beginning to peak, or just getting started?
Iron Braydz: As I have always explained to my supporters who take the time to ask me a question like this I give them the most honest answer and I'll give you the same answer…
I'm just getting started, I haven't even touched on subjects that could potentially turn me into an international hero or a disgruntled rapper turned garage MC (no offense). However the price for that is time, taking a moment to devise something that leaves a mark on the small portion of people that come across my work. I've been double crossed and helped at the same time just like everybody else, I'm no one special, but I am willing to work hard enough to become that one. The motivation is hard to muster at times, ultimately it will happen.
Do you feel pressured to produce better music now you're more recognised?
Iron Braydz: The only pressure I feel is how I can become a better father and provider for my children. I am comfortable, I suppose that's also due to the home set up for sure. I do plan on easing up on the production and using that time to read more, I miss those days and that's the only way to evolve and become mentally strong.
Verbal sWARdz is set to drop on Monday April 14. Anything coming up for it?
Iron Braydz: There's no shows lined up when Verbal sWARdz drops at the moment, but look out for the videos – I'll be going from strength to strength!
By: Ethan Everton
Iron Braydz – new EP Verbal sWARdz – releases 14th April 2014 on Unorthostract
The EP will be available via http://braydz.bandcamp.com
Video – Iron Braydz "Dredd"