Brooklyn Bred Emcee, STRO Opens On Creating ‘Grade A Frequencies’ & Evolution As An Artist
A Long Way Since X Factor, STRO Is Making Power Moves
Rapper, Check. Songwriter, Check. Producer, Check. Reality Show Vet, Check. Actor, Check. Young Talent STRO is known for making power moves.
Back in 2011, the artist formerly known as The Astronomical Kid, née Brian Bradley, Jr., initially made himself a household name as a definite fan fave contestant on the 1st season of ‘The X Factor USA,’ where he ultimately took a respected third place in the intense reality vehicle competition show. Under the tutelage of, then, mentor L.A. Reid, a short lived recording contract with EPIC Records would soon follow. In addition, the, now, 20 year old wunderkind would later go on to land coveted roles on both television [‘Person of Interest,’ ‘Red Band Society’] and in film [Earth to Echo, A Walk Among the Tombstones].
With a number of popular mixtapes and EP’s already under his well established belt, STRO finally unleashes his proper full-length studio LP, Grade A Frequencies.
We caught up with STRO to talk about it all.
Grade A Frequencies:
I called it that ’cause I’m starting to view music as like deeper than just audio, and I’m starting to see the effect that it has on a deeper level, so it’s a frequency, it hits you more than something that’s just music. So Grade A meaning the best of frequencies, or to be read in a way like Grade A meaning Grade A Tribe which is my brand. Grade A Frequencies, this is the type of music you would hear in the world of Grade A Tribe, so it’s pretty much the music I listen to. You’ll hear some R&B, some Boom Bap, some Jazz; it’s just the type of music I listen to on the daily. So it’s like Grade A Frequencies, and it’s basically me just taking the music that I listen to on a daily basis and just putting my touch on it. It’s me just like, “Alright, cool, this is the type of music I like.” This is the type of music I would want to hear in – not just rap – but in music in general. So it’s basically everything I’m inspired by.
How The Project Compares Previous Efforts:
My older stuff is me, so like this one is me just being the change I wanna see as opposed to my older stuff kinda complain a little bit more. Like this one I ain’t really complaining, I’m just saying, “Alright, cool, Y’all do what Y’all do in rap, I’mma do what I do.” It’s just me literally taking anything that I listen to on the daily, and putting the Stro touch on it.
Evolution As An Artist:
I think I just came into my own, man, like I found my style and I just got a reason to rap now. I feel like the difference between this project, another difference between this project and the old ones is I’m rapping for a reason, you know. Like I’m actually on a mission as an artist, as opposed to me before just rapping to compete with everybody else. Now it’s like I’m rapping to actually serve a purpose as an artist, so I think I take it more serious now and I’m in my bag. Like I think when people listen to this project, they’ll hear like, “Okay, STRO got his own style now, STRO got his own sound. He’s on his own mission, like he’s actually rapping for a reason.” So I think people will hear that when they listen to this project.
Shortening Up Of His Moniker:
I think the first name was too damn long, man! *Chuckles* Ain’t nobody trying to be pronouncing The Astronomical Kid. And then I shortened it to Astro just for that reason; like the first one was just too long. And then Astro is just a name like I feel like if you Google Astro, everything will pop up except me, like as far as everything except my music. So I just needed something more unique, so STRO it just did it for me. And then I seen like a million other rappers with the name Astro, so S*T*R*O just did it for me and I feel like it’s just a more unique name, man. Like Astro, first of all I had a different style when I was calling myself Astro than I do now. Like Astro, it’s a whole new vibe for me. So I want people to Google STRO and a whole new line of stuff pop up first, so it’s a whole new world for me.
His Success Thus Far:
I haven’t really – in my mind – I haven’t really popped off yet and taken it to the next level or been in a place that I want to be yet as an artist, but as far as my fan-base and the group of people that mess with my music I’d say substance, man. They look to me for substance and just quality music, and I just make sure I continue to focus on that and, you know, just keep a message in the music I guess.
Factors Contributing To His Lyricism:
Everyday life, man, the things around me. And then also the music I listen to. I feel like this project, the Grade A Frequencies project, is like literally people are gonna hear it and hear the different things that I’m influenced by; whether it’s R&B, whether it’s Boom Bap, whether it’s Jazz. Like it’s literally me just looking around and taking the things that I’m influenced by and putting my touch on it. But as far as what’s most like directly inspirational for me is just everyday life, like things I’m surrounded by and just things I see on a everyday basis.
His Listening Pleasures:
A lot of Kendrick Lamar. I like Kendrick Lamar’s new album. I like a lot of his work. A lot of Jazz. A lot of Steely Dan; I don’t know if they’d be considered Jazz, but I consider the mellow vibe Jazz music. A lot of eighties Pop…Tom Brown…a lot of nineties R&B, nineties Hip Hop. It’s just a whole bunch of music. Just anything that vibes out. I like a lot of mellow chill music, so anything that vibes out.
Today’s Music Trends:
I don’t really listen to too much modern Hip Hop honestly, ’cause I don’t wanna be like subliminally influenced so I’m very careful with what I listen to. I wouldn’t say it’s at it’s best; it’s getting back to where it needs to be, but I feel like until lyricism is on a major scale—like the fact that J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar are the only artists that are considered lyricists that are moving over two hundred thousand units first week, like to me that’s kinda wack. So I feel like until we get back to a point where there’s artists on a major scale keeping it lyrical, I don’t think we’ll ever be back to where we’re supposed to be until we get there.
I definitely plan to continue acting, but right now I’m really focused on the music ’cause I feel like music is who I am. That’s my purpose, that’s something I’ve been dreaming about doing for the longest. And the thing with acting, like I think a lot of people see me as doing acting more when it’s not even the case. Like with acting, it’s just on a bigger scale. So if I leave and go do a role and put a movie out, more people will know about that than they do the music. So right now, I’m trying to really just get the music and the acting – that recognition – at an even place. Like it’s kinda wack to me when there’s more people walking up to me saying, “Yo, I seen you in that movie,” than it is people saying, “Yo, I heard your new record.” So I’m just focused on getting to an even place as far as the recognition is concerned, and then maybe like in the future – like if I do acting from now on – it’ll have to be a role I really wanna do. But it’s not like I’m just acting to act.
The Next 5 Years:
Man, I really don’t know, man. I’d just say successful, ’cause my life is very random. Like I didn’t see myself ever being an actor, but that’s something that became a part of my journey. So I really don’t know within the next five years where I’ll end up, but I’ll definitely say successful.
A Target Date For That “Official” Solo Debut:
When I got the juice, man! Like I know for me my first album, to make the album I wanna make as far as the debut album, I gotta have a certain amount of juice. Like I listen to Jazz; I might wanna work with Marcus Miller on the first album, I might wanna work with Steely Dan on the first album, and it’s like they don’t even know who I am right now. So that’s why I say like first album is a real special word to me. So I wanna get myself to a point where I have a certain amount – a certain type – of resources around me and stuff like that. Right now, I’m still a freshman in the game if you ask me so still just working towards that.
Parting Words: I just wanna thank everybody for supporting…anybody that goes out there and supports the Grade A Frequencies, I appreciate you and thank y’all for taking the time out, man, to interview me, man. Thank you, man.
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