Brody & Choch: (Ever)Green
By Eric Tullis
If you call Jordan Evans’ cell phone and reach his voicemail, you’ll be greeted by a 10-second rap. It’s a juvenile gesture, more appropriate for a creative high schooler than an up-and-coming emcee. But for Evans and his brother John, who comprise the Huntersville throwback-rap duo Brody & Choch, it’s all part of the act.
The duo loosely describe themselves as “nonsensical.” It’s a style that playfully parallels their everyday, blue-collar lives with the those of their listeners, rather than trying to sell themselves as inauthentic gangster rappers — or, on the flip side, ultra-serious truth seekers. Instead, Brody & Choch’s trademark fanny packs, vintage Charlotte Hornets jerseys, and high-top fades are fun homages to an era in hip-hop where the clothes were just as colorful as the rhymes.
“Once people see the style it opens them up to something else,” Jordan says. “They laugh a little bit and then we hit them with the lyrics.”
So far, the strategy has worked out well, especially as openers for large audiences packed in to see nationally-recognized acts like Slaughterhouse and Mac Miller. Of course, any up-and-coming act must put itself through this rite of passage, and these days an act’s reputation — locally and nationwide — is largely dependent on the word-of-mouth such performances produce.
Brody’s experience as a cook at Alton’s Kitchen and Cocktail in nearby Cornelius, N.C., and his brother’s experience at Huntersville’s Red Rocks Cafe, helped shape their philosophy on live shows, which is to be indiscriminate, professional and pumped up by the challenges of performing on-the-fly in front of any crowd.
“Every plate I put up there is good, but it pisses me off when I’m told that a certain person is in the dining room and to ‘make it good,’” says Jordan. “I’d make the same, exact food for the Prince of England as I would for some dude that just found eight dollars and comes to get a steak. So, I take the same approach to performing.”
When the brothers were 8 and 12, their family relocated to Charlotte from Washington, D.C. after their father received a job promotion. Several years later, the family moved just north of the city to Huntersville, where the brothers — now 21 and 26 — currently reside. The small town isn’t exactly a hotbed for music, but for Brody & Choch, it’s enough of a refuge to shield them from a metropolis of rappers all watering down each other’s sound.
Also, as it frequently happens in hip-hop, rappers find themselves running from location to location trying to fit in separate studio sessions with multiple producers. In the end, everyone is on different schedules, and it hurts the rapper’s bottom line. Conversely, Brody & Choch have chosen to rely on their long-time friend and producer, C.Y. He shaped their self-released 2010 debut, The Boys Will Be Boys, providing necessary restraint. His in-house, boom-bap nostalgia guided Brody & Choch’s baton-passing, interconnected random-mania, and frequently saves them from their tendency to rhyme without inhibition: On “Thumbin’ Around Times 3” Choch’s culinary quirks quickly follow Brody’s insistence on parking his “car” in a woman’s “boulevard.” On “Sweek k Aid” C.Y. provides extra gristle, offsetting the brothers’ playful banter about women being “down with the brown.”
Their ongoing fixation with everything yesteryear is a sticking point as well. “Chochie AppleBrode,” the lead single from their recent None Since ’96 mixtape, is a remake of the A Tribe Called Quest classic, “Bonita Applebum,” and is featured along with three other old-school remakes “Summertime,” “Represent,” and a rap version of Lauryn Hill’s classic ballad “The Sweetest Thing,” featuring vocalist Jocelyn Ellis). It’s an opportunity to reintroduce their fan base to some of the music that Brody & Choch grew up idolizing and maybe repay some of the select fans who have gone so far as to donate some of the retro apparel Brody & Choch wear on-stage and in photo shoots.
For now, you can look forward to more on their sophomore LP, Partners in Rhyme, due out this summer on Charlotte’s B.i.M Music Group. The notion of their second album being a nonsensical take on rap is a broad overstatement, especially to golden-age rap fans who couldn’t ask for anything more than a good time and fun rhymes. There’s plenty of backwardness in hip-hop to mock, but the punch lines are only funny when executed with finesse, talent and some level of self-respect. Brody & Choch serve up enough of both ingredients to satisfy any party — no matter the size.