Neon Brown/ Mister Freedom
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Neon Brown/ Mister Freedom

Denver, CO | Established. Jan 01, 2018

Denver, CO
Established on Jan, 2018
Solo Hip Hop Funk

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"PREMIERE: Mister Freedom (Neon Brown & FL) — “Kevin Ware” (MUSIC VIDEO)."

3P0 gets his third eye open with help from Yoda in this creative video from Mister Freedom.

Pre-order the Mister Freedom LP (which features a track with Vast Aire of Cannibal Ox) here. - Ego Trip


"Mister Freedom Is a Breath of Fresh Air for Colorado Hip-Hop"

Despite being from Denver, producer and DJ Alex Warzel (who goes by Neon Brown and was living in Oakland until recently, when he moved back), says he never used to think much of the city’s hip-hop scene.

“I’d never been into rappers from Denver at all,” he says. “I didn’t think hip-hop existed here.”

FL's new album is about more than weed: "I wanted to show the best qualities of the city"
Video Premiere: Scatter Gather's "What More?" Is Typically Atypical
But whenever he was back in town, Warzel (who also occasionally writes for Westword) would look for gigs, and on one trip he hooked up with a Facebook friend, Jayce “FL” Cabell, who was looking for a DJ. When Warzel heard Cabell’s music, his opinion of the Denver rap scene changed.

“I was blown away,” he says.

After listening to his Limbo album, Cabell says, Warzel proposed that the pair do something together.

“He had this project [called] Mister Freedom. The beats were all mapped out,” says Cabell.

Warzel says Cabell took the finished beats and music and wrote lyrics for the entire album, start to finish, without changing any of the music.

“I’m still blown away that Jayce wrote it that way,” says Warzel. “Ninety-nine percent of the time with rappers, it’s like, ‘Nah, you need to cut this out or change this.’ But Jayce made that entire album work. The songs, they all blend together.”

Cabell says the way that Warzel composed the beats helped him flow from track to track without the need for changes.

“I was mainly trying to focus on the concept of an album,” says Warzel. “These days, everything is about singles, not albums. I tried to take the concept of, ‘Let’s look at it like we’re working on a really long single.’”

The pair took on the moniker Mister Freedom for the project. Their eponymous album has been up on Soundcloud for about a month now, and they say the reaction to it has been phenomenal. The next step is to get it out in a physical format, promote the music and get enough money together to continue the project. To do that, they’ve launched an Indiegogo campaign with the modest goal of raising $5,000. Their idea was to keep their expectations low and give fans something of value for their donations. The campaign lays out exactly what the pair needs for each aspect of the record’s creation and promotion, from hiring a PR firm to production costs for CDs and vinyl.

“We’re giving exactly what we’re getting the money for,” says Cabell, adding that $13 nets donors a vinyl copy of the album and a download — a good deal, as any record collector can tell you. Incentives increase with the donation amount but stay reasonable. The top-tier donation of $100 gets fans a signed Mister Freedom CD, a signed vinyl LP, a download code, a tape, a T-shirt, a sticker, a personal thank-you from Warzel and Cabell, and a personalized Mister Freedom baseball jersey with any number the fan wants on the back.

It’s a lot for the money, and that’s on purpose, the two say. They want people to know that they aren’t rich or living lavishly.

“Even in my past work, I’ve never been one to glorify typical things,” says Cabell. “I’m an honest rapper as it is. I don’t think I come off as someone who’s bloated with cash. If you listen to the way we talk about things, it doesn’t sound like we come from money — and I don’t think this comes as a surprise to our fans, to people that know our music.”

FL on stage at the first Larimer Block Party on September 26.
FL on stage at the first Larimer Block Party on September 26.Brandon Marshall
Crowdfunding the Mister Freedom album, he adds, gives people the opportunity to be a part of something real, something that’s not perpetuating a false image and helps grow the scene.

“If you fund yourself and stay consistent, I believe there is some future for your music,” Cabell continues. “You don’t have to shoot for Kanye. Shoot for the middle. I think you could make a decent living.”

“This one is definitely worth it,” says Warzel. “It could do some damage.”

Mister Freedom is approximately thirty minutes long, a nonstop piece with sections that each tell a piece of a larger story, according to Warzel, who says he based the concept loosely on the William Klein film Mister Freedom.

“It’s about bringing back freedom in your own way,” he says of the album. “What does America really mean to you? Musically, it’s about not giving in to what’s happening these days, not being worried to take chances.”

“For me, it’s a person living in America, experiencing America, expressing their opinions,” adds Cabell. “This album is very different from other stuff in my catalogue. We were both pushing our limits. There’s stuff about politics, war, police brutality.”

Although working with Cabell has changed Warzel’s view of Denver’s hip-hop scene, both agree that the city could step up its game.

“He was coming from Oakland, so he was unaware of what was going on here,” says Cabell. “But I think it’s true to a degree. There’s a lot of rappers, a lot of people chasing that dream. But there aren’t a lot on the surface doing things. Plus we have some dope guys who aren’t working very hard.”

A bigger issue, both men say, is the lack of interest in hip-hop from promoters and the media.

“I’m originally from Chicago, and my family, my brothers and sisters, they know nothing about Colorado,” says Cabell. “It’s just a hard market to break from.”

A big part of the problem, he says, is that radio stations in Denver don’t have the creative latitude to bring local hip-hop acts into the studio or play their music. “They won’t let us on the air,” says Cabell. “They won’t play any independent musicians at all.”

Both are hoping that events like last weekend’s Larimer Block Party will start to change attitudes toward hip-hop in the Denver area.
“I think Colorado is in its infant stage,” says Warzel. “[Larimer] is literally the first block party of its kind. It’s a small block, but there’s room for expansion. This is what could be the beginnings of something much bigger.

“There’s a little culture here that hasn’t changed since I jumped into the rap scene. We’re working on changing that.” - Denver Westword


"Interview With Mister Freedom"

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Things are good. I’m currently working on a project with Deca under the name the Donner Party. We’re developing an instrumental album, half of which is Deca’s production and half is mine.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Kevin Ware”?
FL and I started using Kevin Ware’s name as an eponym. Meaning, whenever something bad happens in someone’s life, they got Kevin Ware’d, hence the title of the song. It basically defines the bullshit that takes place in an individual’s life on a daily basis. Anything that stagnates your progress refers to being Kevin Ware’d.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
I can’t speak for FL but for me this was the starting point for the album. I created the all of the instrumentals before FL and I collaborated, which made it even more intriguing since FL wrote to the entirety of the album exactly how it is. He never asked for any of the beats to be altered. The dude is amazing. I honestly do not believe any other MC would do such a thing. It really shows how talented and skilled he is as a writer.
Anyways, I created Kevin Ware first. Once I had that instrumental, I decided I was going to create an entire album with that type of sound and texture.
Who came up with the idea for the stop-motion video?
I did (Neon brown). My dude Deca, who has created a couple stop motion videos, influenced me. I’ve always enjoyed stop motion and felt it would be a good approach for this album, to add to its craziness.
How was the film experience?
The stop motion was excruciating. It took forever, but it was worth it. I believe I worked on it for a month straight, sometimes doing ten-hour days.
The single comes off your new album Mister Freedom – how did you guys come up with the idea for the “montage album” concept?
As I stated previously, I created the instrumentals first. The album went through many transitions. I initially thought I would create an instrumental album and that would be that. FL and I were acquaintances online. He had posted on Facebook that he needed a DJ for a gig. At this time I was living in Oakland CA, though I am originally from Denver CO. I was visiting Denver around the time of his gig and I usually tried to pick up a show or two when I visited. So I messaged him about it. The gig didn’t work out but it sparked our friendship. He sent me his solo album Limbo, which I was very impressed with. FL is a rappers’ rapper. He can do it all and very well. I sent him my album Teenagers and he dug it. I then sent him the Mister Freedom album and broke down what I was looking for and he was with it.
What’s the story behind the name ‘Mister Freedom’?
Mister Freedom is based loosely off of photographer and director William Klein’s film Mr. Freedom. The film is a sort of anti- imperialist satirical farce. The costumes, plot, and visualization are brilliant, but you wouldn’t expect anything less from William Klein.
I wanted to take this idea and break it down into layers. Meaning, I wanted to make a point about music, America, the psyche of America, and the individual in America. For me, music has become two-dimensional in many ways. People are following trends rather than being themselves. Mister Freedom defies this concept. We created what ever we wanted to create and never apologized for it.
In addition, the concept of freedom in America has been diluted and swallowed by the masses. We lay down on a lot of issues when we should be standing up. A good majority of the masses in America view our world in black and white. It’s not that simple. All of these underlying issues in America connect with one another and the more we realize this, I believe the more positive change we can create.
I wanted to capture the feeling of America, its psychosis, and the anxiety we all experience on a day-to-day basis. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you live here you deal with it. The important thing to realize is that we all deal with it and should be together on these issues rather than against one another.
How was the recording and writing process?
The recording process was interesting to say the least. For a year I edited and changed the instrumentals from Oakland, while FL wrote to them. We sent back and forth ideas and versions of songs. After that year my girlfriend and I moved back to Denver. FL and I recorded the vocals at his home and I mixed and mastered it at mine. We never went into a fancy studio or had any outside help. We are self sustaining like a motherfucker.
What have you learned from your previous musical endeavors?
It is important to listen to the person you’re collaborating with and really try and understand where they are coming from. Whether its music or life in general, I strive to learn and educate myself in any situation I am in. As well, I have learned little processes within my music that help me create better quality of music, whether I’m in the mixing process, mastering, or creating.
How have those experiences influenced this project in particular?
I believe FL and I learned a lot from one another. We meshed really well in the creating process. Don’t get me wrong, we had our ups and downs but in the end we created a beautiful piece of work. I have a fond respect for FL and the art he creates.
Any plans to hit the road?
No plans as of now to hit the road. I will be doing some production shows over the next year, FL will be doing shows as well but we’re both busy creating new ventures and projects.
What else is happening next in Mister Freedom’s world?
I have the Donner Party album coming up. I’m looking to release other artist’s projects on tape and vinyl. I’m keeping steady on my podcast NPR (Neon Brown Radio) that you can find in iTunes. I have another project in the works that I’m very excited about but I’m going to keep it hushed for now. There will be more Mister Freedom albums in the near future. I’m not sure what that will entail but it will be me collaborating with other musicians. That’s the point of Mister freedom, to be free with the concept. The next album may be a boogie album, or possibly a psych rock album. Who knows?
One more thing, rest in peace to Phife Dawg. A Tribe Called Quest is one of my earliest inspirations in music. With out them Mister Freedom and Neon brown would not exist. I am very happy and thankful to have experience ATCQ and Phife’s music. Thank you Phife! RIP. - Vents


"Mister Freedom ft. CRL CRRLL"

Emcee FL (of Foodchain) and producer Neon Brown have come together to form Mister Freedom, which is also the title of their forthcoming joint album and the first of two lead singles. Red Bull Sound Select artist and fellow Colorado native CRL CRRLL assists on this whimsical audio ride, which (according to the duo) is meant to "illustrate the unhinged method of madness we as Americans are privy to on a daily basis." Mister Freedom, the album, will be available on August 4. - DJ Booth


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Neon Brown is a music producer/DJ residing in the Mile High City. Neon Brown makes/plays music that will make your butt cheeks jiggle and sweat. Neon Brown makes/plays music that excretes salty tears from your bulbous eyeballs. Neon Brown makes/plays music that makes your spongy brain muscle work in fortuitous ways. Neon Brown makes/plays music that arouses your animal femininity, and or primal arousal traits. 

Neon Brown has produced for artists such as, Truck North of the Legendary Roots Crew, Homeboy Sandman, Zion I, Donwill of Tanya Morgan, FL, Mickey Theis, and Deca.

Band Members