“Eazy-B” answers the hard questions


Sky Barratt, Staff Writer

Many people keep a diary, be it in the form of the notes app on an iPhone, or an old notebook overflowing with words and mementos. These aren’t something people would normally share as usually, these secret thoughts are locked away via thumbprint or wedged under a mattress. However, senior Brandon Engel publishes his innermost thoughts under the name “Eazy-B” and in the form of rap music.

“For myself, it’s like a journal of my life,” Engel said. “I can go back and look at [my songs] and it all means something to me. It’s a way for me to express myself and what I’m thinking and feeling, or something that I want to reprimand. It’s just a good way for me to be able to put those things together into words and satisfy them.

Engel’s rap career all started when Engel was in elementary school and began writing songs.

“I just found this binder full of songs that I’d wrote that had no music to them or anything,” Engel said. “I just like to write lyrics and that’s what it comes down to. Just expressing [myself] through that. It evolved [from there].”

It was in the eighth grade that Engel’s lyrics turned into rhymes, and freshman year when Engel and senior Drew Birnbaum formed a group called “Trashy White Kids,” or TWK, as a spin-off of hip-hop group NWA. Engel’s rap name, “Eazy-B,” is also a spin-off of NWA’s group member Eric Wright known as “Eazy-E.”

Since then, Engel has started rapping on his own and recording with a USB mic. On September 1 2017, Engel released his first album, This Life Isn’t Easy, and on September 7 2018, he released No Eazy Answers.

However, the writing process for both albums lasted much longer.

“I am constantly messing with ideas in my head and pondering stuff that resonates with me,” Engel said. He searches for beats until he finds one that resonates with him. “I’ll almost start freestyling on that and that’s where I kind of decide the true heart and message of the song. From there I go into actually writing the song and depending on the level of inspiration I’m feeling for a certain topic, the writing takes me anywhere from two days to three or four months.”

Engel described that he typically has pre-existing ideas for songs that he’ll piece together over time as well.

“For this album,” Engel said, “there was at least four or five partially complete songs that I trashed and countless ideas.”

Engel said that every song published on his new album was carefully thought out, although he has his favorites.

“There were no throw-away songs that I put on [No Eazy Answers],” Engel said. “It came down to ‘The Power of the Pen’ and ‘Insecurity.’ Those are my two favorite. The first time I listened to ‘The Power of the Pen’ all the way through with everything- the raw recording of myself- my eyes watered. I didn’t start crying, but my eyes teared up. And the first verse of ‘Insecurity’ is really raw and real.”

Engel said that publishing these innermost thoughts and the verses he’s poured time into can be intimidating.

“Sometimes someone will come up and say ‘I listened to your song’ and I’m like ‘I don’t know if I wanted you to hear that. I don’t know if I wanted you to hear the things that I said.’ But you just have to be confident in what you do and [what I wrote] is what I meant. I meant what I meant,” Engel said.

Engel confided that it can be difficult when people who listen to his music don’t take it- or him- seriously.

“I think I said it in one of my songs, but it’s the sarcasm you get from people who don’t take it seriously or are making a joke out of it,” Engel said. “There are some people who you just know are going to take it as a joke. I don’t know how to say it, but you can tell when people are ingenuine. It’s hard to take yourself seriously, but then not get hurt by teasing.”

Luckily, this isn’t always the case.

“There has been so much positive feedback from the release of No Eazy Answers that I’m literally overwhelmed,” Engel said. “I’ve got my mom’s friends telling me how good of a job I did on this.”

As for the future of Engel’s rapping career as Eazy-B, there are no real certainties. Even the release of No Eazy Answers was never certain, it just came together as the music did.

“A career out of [doing rap] would be difficult. For now it’s just a thing that I enjoy doing and it benefits me and allows me to get myself out [of my head],” Engel said. “I do see music as a very valuable thing. I know some people would be like ‘Oh you make rap music, you’re a Soundcloud rapper’ blah blah blah, whatever, but the way I see it is if you have the ear of the youth generation, do you understand how powerful that is? This is the next generation that you’re speaking to. If they’re at your disposal, that’s very powerful.”

For those of you interested in listening to Engel’s music, you can find him as “Eazy-B” on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, etc.

“Except soundcloud, because I can’t stand the Soundcloud rapper stereotype thing.”

At the end of the day, Engel’s music isn’t just for his listener’s enjoyment, and it isn’t just a form of therapy for Engel. While he uses his art form to speak what’s on his mind, Engel said ultimately, he just hopes his music can make a difference in someone’s life.