New R&B artists emerge everyday in this business of music. With the explosion of artists such as Chris Brown, Omarion, and Trey Songz, Brandon Hines is another name you will soon be seeing and hearing everywhere. The 21 year old Detroit, Michigan native sings about the experiences of love you think a man 20 years his senior would only know about. Brandon Hines being the free agent that he is didn’t wait for labels to come knocking on his dorm room before he took his destiny in his own hands.
As a student of the prestigious historically black college, Howard University, Hines recorded his first album Love Music in the dorm rooms and distributed them around campus selling 6,000 copies to date on his own. I recently had the opportunity to talk to the young singer/songwriter about his dreams, the state of the music business, his idea of love, and what’s next in store for him.
Singersroom: What’s going on Brandon Hines?
Brandon Hines: Chillinâ¦What’s up?
Singersroom: How old are you and where are you from?
Brandon Hines: I’m actually 21 years old, legal (laugh) and I’m from Detroit, Michigan.
Singersroom: What are you doing in New York?
Brandon Hines: I moved out here to New York six months ago on the artist grind tip and working with a lot of producers. I was working real close with Troy Taylor out in Dallas for some time. That’s SongBook Productions. That’s Trey Songz’s production label. I’ve also been working with Ryan Leslie for a while here writing for a lot of his artists. So I have been around working with a couple different people trying to get my name out there.
Singersroom: New artists are usually compared to established artists. You have similarities of Trey Songz and Mario Winans. How do you feel about that?
Brandon Hines: I think it’s funny really. I can see the Trey Songz comparison. I can’t really see the Mario Winans comparison. Nothing on Mario Winans, I think he’s a great and talented producer, songwriter and artist but I just don’t see it. I think my style is a lot different. I think I would more say Joe or an early Joe or K-Ci or something like that. Trey Songz is obvious. I think a lot of people think we look alike a little or as if we can be related. I’ve been getting a lot of that.
Singersroom: Talk about your relationship with Trey Songz.
Brandon Hines: Trey is like a big brother to me. I feel honored to be compared to an artist like him. I think he’s truly an artist in every sense of the word; like he does him. Before I met him I really looked up to the cat and studied his music and how he would carry out emotions through his singing. Trey has inspired me.
Singersroom: How did you two meet?
Brandon Hines: I held an event at Howard University and he came and did a Cingular Wireless Tour. He was performing and I knew all the words to one of his songs “Cheat On You” and they kind of saw it. So when I went backstage they were like “Yo Dude” and then I exchanged information with management and his production team. I just kept in touch with them every since.
Singersroom: Have you two been working together?
Brandon Hines: We did like two tracks so far. One’s called “Different” and the other is “Back Bounce.”
Singersroom: Where can people hear those tracks?
Brandon Hines: They’re not available for sale or anything. Trey had a mixtape ‘Trey Songz: ‘The Ladies Choice’. They were on there.
Singersroom: You sing about love and the definition of love, what was your teenage idea of love compared to now?
Brandon Hines: That’s a good question because I could definitely see the difference between what I thought love was when I was in high school. When I was in high school I used to think I was in love with every girl I used to date. Back then it was pretty much love from a distance. It was how late we used to talk on the phone or were we able to hang out. Now it’s different. I have my own spot, I have my own crib. It’s different when you can talk about actually being with somebody for years, with them being around you and just supporting you in every sense of the word, and just having love for just you as a person. So now it’s more about can I live with this person, is she going to support me and what I do, is she going to be able to handle what I do and everything? It’s a whole different measurement. I’m not really an emotional dude.
Singersroom: How can you not be an emotional dude with the songs that you sing?
Brandon Hines: Well that’s how I express my emotions. I didn’t mean emotional dude, I don’t express my emotions well. That’s always been a problem for me in relationships. So when I write music a lot of the times I say what I should say. It’s easier for me to write it down and sing it. It’s like I’m sort of speaking for the fellas to the ladies like that.
Singersroom: Is it true that you were crowned Mr. Howard University for the 2006-2007 school year?
Brandon Hines: It was actually 2005-2006. That was such an honor to be crowned Mr. Howard. Howard University is such a prestigious university. It was definitely a great experience to be in a leadership role there. That was actually my break into Howard as far as being an artist. It goes along with my whole story. I sang in the pageant and that introduced me to the school as a singer. After that I did an independent album ‘Love Music’ which I sold on campus. I sold 6,000 copies to date and that offset my whole entire career as an artist. The black college markets have been a big support.
Singersroom: Is that when you looked at this like I can do this professionally?
Brandon Hines: Yes, it definitely was a wake up call. I was taken aback by how my music affected my peers and students and how they reacted towards me after they would listen to my CD. A lot of the feedback I got was mind blowing and it gave me a lot of confidence.
Singersroom: Did it get you in with the ladies?
Brandon Hines: Oh, yea (laughs) oh yea. I’m a gentleman though.
Singersroom: Were you a ladies man on campus?
Brandon Hines: I’m more of the relationship type. But it definitely put me up there with the ladies, yea (laugh).
Singersroom: You don’t want to say more so you don’t incriminate yourself?
Brandon Hines: Nah definitely not. I’m a gentleman. Believe it or not I’m more of a relationship type of dude.
Singersroom: So no pimping?
Brandon Hines: No, (laughing) I wouldn’t call it that.
Singersroom: You received a college degree and let’s say you worked in corporate America might you had made it, why leave a comfortable life to become an artist when nothing is guaranteed?
Brandon Hines: To be honest I’m big into spirituality and prayer. I was lined up to be working with Deloitte & Touche in their consulting department. And honestly that just didn’t make me happy as far as me thinking about my life. You know you only have one life and music to me is everything. Regardless of the music industry and the state of it, I still feel like with drive, passion and talent that will shine through. To me it’s not about being the most famous or the richer artist. Or the artist that is overly exposed, it’s just about exposing my music and being comfortable at the same time. I want to be able to live comfortably and really get my music out there. And be happy with what I’m doing.
Singersroom: Are your parents supportive of your music career?
Brandon Hines: Definitely! I had a long talk with my parents about it and they agreed that it’s important for me to be happy. Back in their time I guess they felt they had to do certain jobs to make things happen. Now they feel like I should definitely follow my dreams and goals. Of course if things don’t work out I’ll always have something to fall back on. If my parents didn’t support me I don’t know how or if I would be in the same position personally. I really do listen to my parents because they are very wise. They always tell me “go do your thing!” I mean it’s hard, like they not supporting me financially (laughs) but more spiritually.
Singersroom: You have a Youtube clip on your Myspace page where you were creating and recording your song “10.” Where was that and is that the normal process of how you make songs?
Brandon Hines: Definitely. That was videotaped at Howard University in the towers (laughs). That’s a dorm room. That’s how we did my entire first album. We did it in a dorm room and it was just fun. That’s a typical writing process for me. I like to come in when the producers creating and then I’ll create; like sing different melodies and figure out one that sticks. Sing around, freestyle some words, and I kind of write down what I like.
Singersroom: What gave you the inspiration for “Look Me In My Face”?
Brandon Hines: I was getting out of a relationship at the time and the same time I met my roommate Brandon Bill. He produced “Look Me In My Face.” I like to write from experience and Brandon Bill is a great writer as well. He co-wrote on that song. Collectively we took a situation that everybody goes through. As a man that’s definitely important dealing with a woman. You need her to be up front and look you in your face. If you were ever in love and you put so much time and efforts in a relationship you definitely want to know that that person still cares. If so it should be hard for her to look you in your face.
Singersroom: What’s next for Brandon Hines?
Brandon Hines: I’m looking at a lot of situations label wise. Trying to fit into the right situation. I’m setting up tours and actually doing a lot of showcases out in New York. The tours I can’t really put those out there as of yet. I hope and pray that I get on a couple of these major tours. I just want to get out there a little more. I think that I have some good material that I would love to share and continue to create. So hopefully, what’s next for B is the Grammy’s, award shows, and those VH1-Driven shows (laughs).
To follow up on Brandon Hines, listen to his music and order your copy of ‘Love Music’ go to myspace.com/bhineslovemusic. —— By: Interview By Summer Terry