It’s been weeks since the finale of Ego Trip’s The White Rapper Show, and yet, as we lie in bed at night, one thing plays on a loop consistently in our heads: "Hallelujah holla back. Hallelujah holla back. Hallelujah holla back." John Brown is one of the most indelible personalities that Celebreality has seen, and though we didn’t get a chance to talk to him while the show was airing, we thought any time was a good time to get the straight story from the King of the ‘Burbz.
After the jump, John Brown talks about using reality TV as a marketing tool, his "Garbage Pail Kid" cast mates and, finally, what the hell the King of the ‘Burbz is doing reviving the ghetto.
Was the show a good experience for you?
My time on the show was definitely classic for hip-hop and for TV. But it was a stressful situation. I had to be very Revival-minded and meditate a lot. I had to stay focused and not let people shake me off my game plan. A lot of people on the show tried to come at me like a bunch of Garbage Pail Kids. They thought they could shoot first and ask questions later. But I was a little more bullet-proof based on what I’d been building for a long time.
When you talk about the "Garbage Pail Kids," it makes me wonder if you have resentment for someone like Persia.
Oh no, I don’t have resentment or any hate in my heart. I think when people are criticizing, sometimes it’s the biggest form of flattery. I read a lot of people’s articles and they’ve got so much to stay about John Brown. Obviously, I’ve made an impact on them one way or the other. But my whole m.o. was getting Ghetto Revival off the ground and trying to make some money so that we can make some impact on the world. The haters will be forgiven but never forgotten.
If your m.o. was to get Ghetto Revival off the ground, does that mean your participation in the show was a marketing tactic?
Yeah. Nowadays, everybody that follows the record industry knows that record sales aren’t your sole way of making money. A lot of artists they want to attack my credibility based on the fact that I want to make money, even though I think some people are so focused on being real that they end up getting raped and to me, that’s the fakest thing. We recognized the opportunity to not only have me as a rapper show my lyricism off, but also to use the opportunity at hand to spread our lifestyle, spread our ideology, spread our language and our culture. To me, this was a month-long interview. I took the opportunity to spread the word on the Revival because it’s the next big thing in hip-hop and everybody needs to know that.
So did you achieve your goal?
We couldn’t be happier with the way the show turned out. The chess game was played to a T. We’re in the best position right now with the whole world saying, "Hallelujah holla back" and everyone wanting to know what’s up with the King of the ‘Burbz and Ghetto Revival. I wanted to create an intentional ambiguity. Questions make answers and answers make money, you know? We wanted to leave an enigma so that people didn’t get the whole story on the show.
Yeah, I really had no idea what you were going on about until several episodes in. What can you tell me about Ghetto Revival’s ideology?
Our whole m.o. is being your own boss. We’re trying to set up a platform so we can be leaders of our own destiny, and inspire youth in the hood and the ‘burbs to do the same thing. Everyone wants to know, "How you gonna revive the ghetto?" But we’re artists. The stage we’re at now is in the inspirational zone. We revived spiritually in terms of people across the country feeling the spirit. "King of the ‘Burbs!" "Ghetto Revival, baby!" "Hallelujah holla back!" That’s the spirit. And that inspires people to get on their grind and to study certain historical aspects, such as my name’s John Brown and the president of Ghetto Revival is Dred Scott. Just getting at American history in a way that’s fun and that allows you to make your money. We are a lifestyle. We’re not just showing people how to rap, we’re showing them how to live their lives.
So is this self-serving or is it outreach or what?
It’s both. I think if you’re a white rapper, you have to be aware of your place in American history and your place in hip-hop. You should take your skills and your power to try to do something positive. As hip-hop spreads into the suburbs and as the media makes it accessible to people who aren’t from the hood, who aren’t from the struggle where it came from, it can start taking on shapes that are dangerous. You have a bunch of rappers running around the world who are just trying to get their d*** sucked, and trying to get their fame on, on the strength of something that’s very profound. Like I said in the first episode: I’m trying to be part of a revival, something that is bigger than myself. Something that is bigger than John Brown, the white boy from The White Rapper Show, and there’s no other person on the show that brought in anything that was bigger then themselves.
Did you see where Lord Jamar was coming from when he criticized the semantics of the term "Ghetto Revival?"
Yeah, I think that the syntax can confuse people. You never know what to expect with Ego Trip, so for all he knew, they just found some crazy-ass kid who was on something like, "I’m the King of the ‘Burbz and I want more ghettos so there can be more suburbs," or something fascist like that. I think that he was playing devil’s advocate, trying to challenge my ideology, and I knew at the time that if I responded with a socio-economic explanation of why Ghetto Revival is about unity, it would be edited. Everybody looks at these as real conversations, but they’re reality show conversations. I knew that I had to answer a lot of those things in the most marketably wise way. So by saying, "Hallelujah, holla back," it was funny and it also is the name of the project we’re pushing.
On the show, you referred to yourself as not a rapper but an "entity." What were you talking about?
The whole idea with that is that everyone on the show is an entity if they choose to be one. I was making a statement, which was something that unfolded throughout the show, that I wasn’t just there as John Brown the lyrical miracle. By saying I’m an entity, I’m represting the fact that I’m representing a company and representing revivalism. It’s not a movement, it’s a religion.
I thought it meant that you thought you were better than everyone else.
I was there to spit game, not to the people in the house, but to the children and to the people of the country. To show people how you can rep, how you should rep if you’re doing this rap s***. I was just trying to show what I’ve taken from this culture. People like Puffy and Jay-Z and 50 Cent, in terms of what they’ve done with economic placement within America is very unprecedented. I think people understate that. I just wanted to make sure that all those ideas got into the show somehow, and it’s not easy to do that when you’re up against the editing board.
$hamrock told me that he thought you got a bum rap from your portrayal on the show, that you’re actually a likeable guy.
I don’t think I got a bum rap. I think it’s funny when people get off reality shows and they blame editing for how they were portrayed. I was on my savage game and I definitely wasn’t there to make friends. I was there to let people know what was really good. I didn’t have contempt for any of the people, it’s just that I was shining and a lot of people were trying to bring that brute force to me. I had to keep my game face on and not let them know what was going on. But the pimps know what was going on.
So what’s next for you and Ghetto Revival?
We’ve definitely been embraced by a lot of the hip-hop press. SOHH.com is advertising our hoodies, they did an on-camera video for us, they compared us to the next Dipset. A lot of different people have been showing mad love. They understood what I was doing on the show from the get go. We’re in a lot of conversations with distributors and we’re working on getting our clothing line officially running. On the music side, we’re putting out the official Ghetto Revival mix tape. That’s going to put the King of the ‘Burbz in context. It’s called Hallelujah Holla Back. And then we’ll start shopping the King of the ‘Burbz album. That’s my solo album, which should be out this summer. We’re going to have a casting for Revival Models, soon, too.
Is John Brown the greatest white rapper of all time?
Eminem and MC Serch brought something to the game and they’re legends and nothing’s ever going to take that away. What I’m bringing as the King of the ‘Burbz is something new for the game, and it’s definitely legendary and classic. Whether people want to choose to call me the greatest white rapper ever or the greatest rapper ever, that’s what it is. But I’m on my King of the ‘Burbz s*** all day everyday, and I try to do me to the fullest potential. I’m here to put my stamp on hip-hop.
Stay tuned to John Brown by visiting his MySpace.