Arts Desk

Listen: Kev Brown’s Soulful Ode to South Africa

There's a YouTube clip in which veteran Brooklyn rapper Busta Rhymes effusively praises Landover, Md., producer Kev Brown. "He gave me like 2,000 beats, and I've got five unbelievable joints with the homie Kev Brown!" Busta exclaims.

Brown stood stoic, taking it all in. The producer doesn't say much, and his name rarely arises when folks discuss the DMV's top composers. Through the years, Brown has remained a quiet leader: He's the head of the region's formidable Low Budget Crew, a collective that gave Oddisee his start and includes artists Kaimbr, Sean Born and Ken Starr, among others. Brown also produced the majority of Born's exceptional Behind The Scale LP of this year.

All told, Brown is made in J-Dilla's image: He keeps a low profile and lets his music do the talking. Brown's beats carry a heavy knock, whether he's flipping dusty Al Green instrumentals or plying his crew members with wistful loops.

Released Tuesday, Brown's new EP, South Africa Dedication, was recorded during a recent trip to the country. He sampled "Makeba" from a song he found at a record store there. It's noticeably relaxed as Brown addresses his perceived absence from the game. On "Makeba," he rhymes: "They like, 'Where you been?', I been doin' stuff/Real life, man/Still lace up the beats real tight, man."

So there you have it. While Brown the man stays behind the scenes, Brown the musician is still one of the loudest guys in the room. Listen to "Makeba" below. Buy the EP here.

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