New York based MC Des Brennan has only been releasing music for two years now, but he’s already dropped eight killer EPs full of rich rap and raw lyricism. On his latest EP, Haven, released just a few weeks ago, Brennan channels feelings of depression and anxiety through honest storytelling. With major similarities to hip-hop icons like Atmosphere and Brother Ali, Brennan could slide in with the best of the best and belong there.
Haven opens with fresh dance beats building on “All In” produced by Tomcbumpz. Here, we’re introduced to Brennan’s clear, quick delivery as he spits lines about ambition like “You either get exposure or you get exposed” and “At the end of the day I am results-driven, even if it means I won’t get that gold coast livin’.” Next comes “Landlocked,” produced by TESK, a sultry slick tune that opens with a gorgeous female voice singing an R&B cover of Troye Sivan’s “Talk Me Down.” Brennan comes in rapping with a vengeance, sharp on the tongue with clever wordplay over smooth shimmers of percussion. The middle of Haven finds Brennan collaborating with producer Juan RIOS on “Freedom,” featuring some bluesy synth combinations. Here, Brennan’s vocals are especially impressive, and the beats hold clear parallels to woozy electronic arrangements apparent in experimental tracks like “She DGAF” by The Internet. Next is the Cavanaugh-produced “25,” the standout track of the whole EP. A sparkling windchime sways over a pretty piano rhythm before Brennan comes in at his most vulnerable. The sparse instrumentation and introspective lyrics here are akin to rapper Grieves’ work on Together/Apart, and Brennan fits right in, singing poignant lines about the push-and-pull of music’s moving but unreliable nature. Haven ends with “The Preview,” produced by Karnaval Blues, which starts with a dramatic, old-fashioned dialogue. Then, an explosion of rich electric rhythms and multi-instrumentation rise up as Brennan confidently and unapologetically raps lines like “Flight ready, I arose from the phoenix ashes / In this life, ain’t no redos / Wait til you hear what’s next, this just a preview,” the perfect ending to an honest, impeccably produced EP from a rapper with a lot of life left to share.
Listen to Haven below and read on for an exclusive Buzz Artist interview with Des Brennan as we chat a bit about today’s cluttered rap game, his biggest influences, and bringing his truth into his music:
Buzz Artist: First, can you tell Buzz Artist a little about yourself and your music?
Des Brennan: My name is Des Brennan. I am a rapper from Pearl River, New York, which is a town about 25 minutes north of NYC. I’ve been releasing music for almost two years now. My music is very true to self — it’s music that everyone can relate to. I take a lot of pride in always being honest with my [work].
BA: What is the music scene like where you’re from and how has it influenced your work?
DB: Where I am from there isn’t too much of a music scene. There is a small indie-rock and Irish folk music scene, but that’s about it. My work is more influenced by the area itself and the people/places in it — a ton of my influence comes from my day-to-day experiences.
BA: Who are your biggest inspirations both personally and musically?
DB: Personally, my biggest influence is myself honestly. Who I interact with and how I interact with people is also a huge influence on my music. Right now my biggest music inspirations are Oddisee, Atmosphere, Evidence, Isaiah Rashad, Yelawolf, Terence Ryan, Bon Iver, Kendrick Lamar, Oncue, Chet Faker, John Mayer, Jack Johnson, etc.
BA: Can you talk a little about the lyrical inspiration behind your work?
DB: Most of my lyrical inspiration derives from how I am personally feeling at the time I am writing a song, and also depends on the type of song I am trying to create.
BA: What was the production process like for your newest EP, Haven?
DB: The production process was basically finding the right beats to fit the overall vibe of what I wanted Haven to have. They are inspirational and touching, which is exactly what most of my lyrics are on this EP.
BA: Which is your favorite track off Haven?
DB: My favorite track off of Haven is “25”. That song meant a lot to me. I wrote it the day before I turned 25. The years are flying by, and my lyrics weigh on that.
BA: If you could collaborate with one producer and one vocalist, who would they be and why?
DB: Producer – Apollo Brown or 9th Wonder. I love their soulful style and I think I could really kill their beats! Vocalist – Oddisee. His style is just so dope to me. It’s so relatable and genuine.
BA: What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a young independent rapper in the game today?
DB: The advantages are that I am coming up in a time where I have the world at my fingertips because of the Internet. If I market myself well, I can get people from all over the world to hear my music. There are also a lot of really dope producers and artists out right now that I can work with. The main disadvantage is that everyone is a rapper nowadays, so the scene is just so cluttered. Anyone can put out a song and video on the Internet and have it played. When you tell someone you are a rapper these days, their basic instinct is to assume you aren’t good. That’s just how it is. Another disadvantage is that it seems harder and harder to make it a career nowadays. I think that’s due to what I just mentioned before, but also because major labels are really only looking for one certain sound. Right now that’s a pop or mumble/trap sound. But we’ll see what happens with my career!
BA: What is your favorite part about the art of hip-hop?
DB: My favorite part of hip-hop is that it brings people of all different races, religions, nationalities, etc. together. The power of hip-hop is unbelievable. It really does change people’s lives. It inspires people and helps them deal with whatever pain they are going through.
Buzz Artist: Finally, what’s next for Des Brennan?
Des Brennan: I’ve got a lot coming next. I’m going to release two more songs within the next 3 weeks and I’m also going to be dropping three music videos in the next 4 months. After that, I have a big mixtape I will be releasing. Much more to come!