Jon Braman

Jon Braman

BandHip HopAcoustic

I play a ukulele and rap over it. It's just as surprising as it sounds and far more universal. Politically conscious surprising rhymes, fun, funky, acoustic homestyle but with serious rhymes on top

Biography

Videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F34WIf3t0QI
http://ukuleledisco.com/imissyou
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRpvXjJv-O8&feature=related

“Ukulele folk hip-hop” - how did that happen? Well, I found the ukelele in a garbage can when I was in high school and carried it everywhere. The hip-hop? That came after college, one rough summer in Hartford, CT. I was working 80 hours a week, organizing with students for clean air and power. It was the kind of thing where you talk and talk all day long about democracy and justice and health and change. You take it door-to-door and people keep slamming them in your face but you just keep talking, keep believing. On top of this, I'd just been through a couple kamikaze attempts at true love that left me raw and hungry. I turned to music, but none of my favorites, not the Beatles, not Miles Davis, not Bob Dylan were up to the task of getting me through. I needed something that just rocked. Something I could lean into, wail out at the top of my lungs; something to pour full of the gritty, buzzing exhaustion and hope of those days. My ukelele was with me, serving as my best friend, body guard and security blanket. But I couldn't plug it in or strum very loud. It’s hard to be hard-hitting with a small instrument most people think of as a kid’s toy. Rapping was really the only choice.

Saturday mornings I would wake up with word & rhymes sprouting in my head and walk out with my uke through the streets flowing by the sleeping houses. Late at night, I tested my new songs with my team over trays of greasy pizza. I've been writing songs and poems and playing music my whole life, but these songs were a totally new experience. People kept thanking me, telling me I had hit something, even telling others. Not only could they relate this music, it was filling some empty place for them. Maybe I was delirious from lack of sleep, but I felt like people needed these songs – songs that are unabashedly political but also intimate, funky music to move to, laugh to, get dumped and fall in love to, music that got to the heart of what was happening to us.

A couple years, a couple dozen original songs and shows later, I’ve devoted myself to this sound. I want to build it, develop it, and get it to more of the folks who could use it. I’m now living in DC, performing like crazy, putting together a band, planning the next album, and writing vocal parts for my wife, Lisette, who sings like a mermaid. It's still just four nylon strings strung on some barely-glued wood backing me up, and my mind charged up with the words and melodies of Oukast, Biggie, Common, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill and many more. Once upon a time I rescued my ukulele from the garbage. That ukulele and the music I make with it keep rescuing me – again and again and again...

Lyrics

One two three

Written By: Jon Braman

Verse:

They say “trust your gut” but I got two/ now what, what in the world am I supposed to do?/ poverty on my left jealousy on my right/ since you broke up with me baby girl ain’t no reason to fight/ well might don’t make right but right ain’t that strong/ unless you got some kinda survival kit like a song/ well long, tall sally was an allycat, short fat betty wasn’t ready to be where it’s at, where I am/ stuck in the middle, with a fiddle, playing little ditties to be something pretty in this ugly city/ if the committee decided right here tonight to re-divide up all the wealth in the name of the health of the united neighborhoods, could it save the day, pave the way to some revolutionary harmony?/ well I can’t say, buddy, but how ‘bout you?/ if you were the man of the hour in power tell me what would you do?/ with all this violence, disease, bad luck and pollution/ would you give me five bucks if I had a solution?/ well that ain’t much to pay for eternal salvation but conartists grow like clovers in this overstuffed nation/ and so do the young gems out the dung heap/ people time and time again who stand up and take the leap to say:

Hook:

“one two three, follow me, brother” never works but
“Two three four, just ignore the problem” is even worse so
four five six, what’s the trick to achievin’ the right mix of a quick fix and a slow struggle

Verse:

The world works one by one or about five million at a time/ can I make you think with a hand shake like I make you drink of my rhyme?/ do you want a firm grip or soft skin? How about a tough tip tell you where I’ve been/ I’ve been all over the world and around the block/ people don’t answer the door just because you knock/ but if you stop giving then the dying starts/ sometimes it feels like just living is a dying art/ I’ve got a lion heart and a pair of monkey hands/ along with a funky understanding of what it means to be a man in a land where overblown testosterone has shown us all how much bad a man in a throne can do acting like a lone-star/ for my own part I work hard, fight hard, love hard, play hard, barbeque peppers in my back yard/ no meat for today, though honestly I love the taste, because we’ve got to find a way that we can cut down on the waste instead of cutting down the forest or some other holy place for grazing cows/ its amazing how everytime you take a step there’s some molecule across the earth that somehow gets affected/ the rule seems to be once you’ve perfected an art or finished school you’d be a fool to not stand up and play the part/ but what if you don’t see how all the jigsaw pieces fit/ and you don’t want to be a Mr. who just takes his share of it without taking care of it,better beware of it, or if you dare to quit, be sure that your abandonment don’t hurt it more than it help it, if you feel me helkp me tell it like it (is)

Hook:

“one two three, follow me, brother” never works but
“Two three four, just ignore the problem” is even worse so
four five six, what’s the trick to achievin’ the right mix of a quick fix and a slow struggle

Remedy

Written By: Jon Braman

(intro) My buddy, my man, my partner my dude my homey my first compadre,
no kind of emotion or reason or logic can explain the way that we linked it we locked it --
My buddy my brother my bra
i'll never be lonely if i could call ya
and talk some wierd nonsensical shit that nobody else gets this is it and I wanna say...

(verse 1)

I remember when we first met it was maybe august or septemeber whatever cause i had my uke you had your accordian and it was no surprise that we would be friends. Walking round campus jamming out on those things, people thought we were freaks but we knew we were kings of the underground chasing that other sound, if they'd be white, we'd be black, if they're red we'd be brown. Hell, we'd even be lost just to say that we weren't foudn following, pride never swallow it, knock on our skulls you know they won't be hollow, cause we had that juice, that hot sauce that f-funkiest fruit on the planet, no one else could stand it, but we would demand it, don't dare try to hand us some sheet music canned, everything was unplanned and spontaneous, crazy, just maybe extraneous. But never quite famous, no one clique could claim us, and only being normal would shame us. Don't look at our wardrobes cause man it was heinous. In chemistry entropy set us free - the letters we scrambled the melody mixed up and baby you better be ready cause if it ain't heavenly we got the remedy.

(chorus)

Oh buddy you
call me your friend
let's just say I
I'll be there when
you draw your line
down in the sand....oh oh oh

Oh buddy I
call you my friend
let's just say you
you'll be there when
I take my dive
off the deep end

but there's an ocean between us...

(verse 2)

Some people are boring but wear crazy clothes. Some people are crazy but turn up their nose at anything smacking of abnmormal packaging, look at me rapping, clearly I ain't African American but then again I'm sharing my soul quite explicitly with this here history. If anyone's listening, stick with me.

You were a tougher nut to crack. I'd lived with you six months before I knew you ac-actually liked me but man it was cool. I liked you already you had that control. The feeling of having the globe in the palm of your mind and I knew that in time we would wind up entwined in some sort of familial thing. I'll just be duke, man, and you can be king. But then there was the evening I came home crying, cause that lady'd ripped out my heart by lying, or maybe it was just that I'd been trying, a little too hard. You said, "I know you're generous with those that you love, but sometimes you gotta be tough because if someone ain't capable of returning that love, you gotta move on." and I knew that you were right, but I couldn't quite take your advice, not that night or even that year, but look how those training wheels brought us here...and even though sometimes I know it feels like we're moving in slow motion, look at you rise, and look in my eyes and promise me you'll never compromise...

(chorus)
Oh buddy you
call me your friend
let's just say I
I'll be there when
you draw your line
down in the sand....oh oh oh

Oh buddy I
call you my friend
let's just say you
you'll be there when
I take my dive
off the deep end

but there's an ocean between us...

(outro) My buddy, my man, my partner my dude my homey my first compadre,
no kind of emotion or reason or logic can explain the way that we linked it we locked it --
My buddy my brother my bra
i'll never be lonely if i could call ya
and talk some wierd nonsensical shit that nobody else gets this is it and I wanna say...

Discography

"Climatastrophunk" - upcoming summer 2007 - exploring the many sides of ukulele hip hop

"Sprouting Daisies Out of My Hair"

a man and his ukulele
available at www.cdbaby.com/jonbraman
and www.musicfordozens.com

Past Radio play includes www.fearlessradio.com and www.globaldust.com/discoverradio
www.wmucradio.com

Set List

I have around 35+ original songs I'm currently performing, including all of "Sprouting Daisies Out of My Hair," "climatastrophunk" and more recent tunes..

One two three
remedy
guru
Tip Top
Don't look back
Daisies
Wild Cats and Sun Kings
Time has come
non-hydro
Gandhi
groove to mourn
let love be enough

ride on
What a way to live
climatastrophunk
re re revolution
the morning after
music
family
a little relief
day dream