When I spoke to Brain about Roller Coaster, he wanted me to tell you all two things. The project is about duality and exploration. In terms of duality, Brain suggests that “the highs and lows of life don’t happen in succession. Rather, they’re occurring at the same time.” In other words, the project blends the good and the bad in a way that showcases the realities of life. And in terms of the exploration side of things, Brain’s work with Steven Padilla has “allowed [him] to showcase growth as a songwriter.” While the bars are still there and always have been, there’s more of a focus on actual writing versus just having the bars.
For example, the project, which checks in a seven tracks, begins with the track “Rollercoaster” before segueing into “Protect Your Neck.” Having those tracks side by side furthers this duality in that we’re given a Brain Rapp who wants his respect by any means, even if he’s got to beat it out of you, and one who’s contemplating whether he’s going to go up or down. Afterwards, we get a syrupy flute-heavy track in “Special,” a track that talks about some of the same topics as “Rollercoaster” but gives us more of a vibe of “I’m the only Brain; check me out because of that.” According to Brain, it’s meant to be a sarcastic look at artists who claim/act as if they’re special, but really aren’t any more special than the person sitting next to them (human nature FTW). We even get a look at the duality of love and lust (mainly lust) on “Her Favorite Ride,” a sexy track that is about exactly what you think it is.
These are struggle bars without falling into the tropes of the “struggle indie rap” subgenre. He is well aware of the struggles that come with being an underground artist, embraces them, and turns them on their head. When he does this, we get a project that’s just as much of a love letter to the game and his fans as it is a damning look at hip-hop as an indie artist.
The project showcases some different sides of Brain and does, indeed, display more songwriting and storytelling than some of his previous efforts. For that–and the fact that the music is full of tasty jams–this is one that’s needed to see the diversity of the DMV region. Check it out above and remember to support dope music in all its forms.