I first saw Bryce the Third perform at the 50th edition of The Air Up There, hosted at UFO Factory by Sheefy McFly and featuring a long list of notable talent from Detroit’s underground hip hop scene. Bryce wasn’t on the lineup, but Sheefy told the crowd that he had seen something special in him, so the host let Bryce do a few songs at the very end of the night. Honestly, those few songs were some of my favorites of the whole show, and afterwards I immediately went home to listen to Internal Revenue in its entirety.
B: Do you remember the first album that you ever purchased?
Br: To be honest, I can’t really remember the first one I purchased because I had tapes and it wasn’t really my money, but I know I was listening to Kriss Kross, they were hard as hell. The first Parental Advisory was probably D12’s Devil’s Night, and Gorillaz’s self titled project.
B: How did you first get into music?
Br: My og, my moms, she always had different types of music playing in the house, that’s where I got my eclectic taste from. Whether it be like Prince, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, but then also like The Police, The Eagles, Carlos Santana, and even Motown, The Supremes, and even old school shit like Minnie Riperton. A lot of different sounds of music, I was always intrigued, because like even when I was young I knew what it all was, she’d play something and I could be like oh that’s Beethoven, that’s Minnie Riperton, that’s this or that, you know? That’s really where my love of music came from.
But of course hip hop was my basis. She’d also put me onto Tupac’s All Eyez on Me, or Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, and that’s what I gravitated towards. So I took my love for hip hop, and I started to try to write rhymes, maybe like 11, but really I didn’t get into rhyming I started making beats first. There were a couple of rap crews in school, and one of the main dudes from one of the crews used to make beats on Fruity Loops, and I was like, “Damn, how do you do that?” And he was like go home and read the instructions (laughs). I was hoping he’d show me, so I was like fuck that I’ll show him, I just picked it up and started making beats. Then I got into sampling, and like I said my mom had all kinds of different music at the crib, so I would take all the music and make my own sounds and beats out of it. That’s kinda what started my creation of music.
B: Right on. So when did the rhyming come in?
Br: To be honest, it first started when I was a kid, I used to like, I had this one Eminem verse. It was off Slim Shady LP, when he said, “kids hide my cd from they parents like bad report cards,” I was really hiding that shit from my mom for real. The stories he told and the places that it took me, whether it was “Brain Damage,” or “Just the Two of Us,” all that crazy shit, it really intrigued me, like I wanted to tell a story like that. So there was this one Eminem verse that I used to bite in middle school, I used to go to school and spit that shit: “I puke, eat it, and freak you / battle? I’m too weeded to speak to / the only key that I see to defeat you / would be for me to remove these two Adidas and beat you / and force feed you ‘em both, and on each feet is a cleat shoe.”
I’d be spitting these Eminem bars in the lunch line, and all the kids be impressed like it was really me doing it. I had one Eminem verse, one Nas verse (“Second Childhood”) that I used to bite, but after that it was like, I thought man I could come up with my own shit. So then I started penning rhymes, it wasn’t nothin special at first, but you know. I would always rap about the people around me and the shit that was going on, I liked reality rap, so whatever was going on I’d try to make it sound exciting.
B: How does your music back then connect to what you’re doing now?
Br: I’ve always been rapping bro, always been rapping. I think I’ve always appreciated music that really said something, but there was a point in time where I wasn’t really saying nothing myself, I was just rapping to rap. Back in maybe ‘07, I dropped a mixtape called Up to Treble, back then I was going by a different name, Tre B. But the music, I didn’t really have a deep connection with it. Then come to 2013, and after a lot of levels of desperation and things, I got really into xanax, vicodin, adderall, I was always looking outside of myself for something that would complete me with who I was. I always say, I was a shell of a man.
It got to the point where I was really desperate, and by chance I ended up checking into a rehab. That was one of the things that I was afraid about going into rehab, wondering if I could even keep making music without the outside influences. Of course you’re always smoking while you’re making music, in the studio, smoke a blunt before watching a movie, popping some kind of pill before I go to a show, all these habits that I thought made me good at what I was doing.
But when I was in rehab, you’ve listened to Internal Revenue, the song “Hold On,” the sample that I used for that song was actually from a show by Bill Moyers, it was a PBS show that I saw in rehab. I watched that show there, it was something about addiction and the shit that people in active addiction go through, but the theme song came on, and I was like oh shit. I’m in there, I’m newly recovered, I’m sober for the first time since I was like 13, the longest time that’s ever happened, and I hear this music and just start beating on the desk, like damn this is about to be cold. So when I finally got out, I went and found the documentary on youtube, I took the intro and chopped it up, and eventually that became the beat for “Hold On.”
That was really the beginning of something, because when I got out of rehab, that was when I found one of the deepest connections that I’ve ever had with my music. Totally the opposite of what I had feared. I realized that the music had always been there, and to be honest with you, music is one of the closest things to God that I’ve ever had.
B: If you had to describe yourself as an artist in a couple of sentences, what would you say?
Br: Ay man, I’m a lightworker bro. I believe in chasing what excites you, and music excites me. Although I’m actively seeking to make a living off of my creative endeavors, music is the type of thing that I would do for free if I had to. As an artist, I just try to make human music; we go through a lot of shit, and it’s just an open and honest representation of that.
B: What are some of the artists that you’re currently inspired by?
Br: Yeah fasho, my shit go everywhere though. It ain’t all just rooted in hip hop. But rap wise, there’s Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, Nas, Killer Mike, Nipsey Hussle. Then people like Stevie Wonder, definitely one of my favorite artists, Michael Jackson. There’s this guy from Japan whose name is Uyama Hiroto, who makes just this crazy instrumental, soulful, funky-ass music that has a lot of traditional influence but a different spin on it, kind of reminiscent of Nujabes or something like that. Rock-wise, shit, bands like Highly Suspect, Death, The Doors. Back to rap there’s also Saba from Chicago, Katori Walker, Anderson .Paak, everywhere bro.
B: Going into Internal Revenue, how did that project come to be and what does it mean to you?
Br: I mean, Internal Revenue, that’s really like the first full project that I’ve created sober, and really in general, that I’ve felt like I could push and see how far I could actually take it. From track 1 to 14, spending that time putting together a cohesive project, and I knew the vibe carried a necessary message, this is something that needs to be heard. I’m explaining to people how I got to where I am right now, from the beginnings in the rough to everything beyond that. And I made it to be listened to a few times through; there’s a lot of stuff in there, and I meant for it to be listened from track 1 to track 14, and I think there’s more and more to discover with every new listen. I made it for the people that listen to full projects and appreciate the art of putting together a full body of work.
A lot of it is asking the question, what is internal revenue? To me, that’s that thing inside of you that’s more important than anything that you can find outside of you. If you look at the album art, there’s a dude on there, surrounded by some fine women, nice cars, diamonds, cash, drugs, all that, but on his chest you can see a battery, and it’s drained. Because in reality, what we need is deeper than all of that, and all the material things in the world can never fill that hole. It’s also about self-reflection, discovering what our worth is. But overall the project is really just my journey, it’s not meant to be telling anybody how to live, I don’t believe in perfect advice because what might work for you might not work for me and vice versa. It’s all just talking about my specific experience, and hopefully people can see parts of themselves in the story and in the music.
Moving forward, the shit that I’m working on now, we’re going to continue to see the development of that. The last project was about where I was and where a ended up, but the next chapter is from that point on and how I’ve developed after that moment and into the future. The next shit is more about where it all will take us.
B: If you had to imagine what you hope fans would think and feel while listening to the project, what would you say?
Br: I just want people to take time to think about life; what it is that they care about, what is their internal revenue? What is it that’s more important than any of the worldly vices that we’re all taught to cherish? With all that stuff out there, what is it inside of you that keeps you going? I would hope that this music can help people understand that process, and for the people that are going through it, maybe they can feel supported on that difficult and important journey. It’s not about any specific thing, it’s not about “getting it,” because what is “it” anyway? It’s all a process, and we all need to trust in that process and have the patience to let it take us where we’re supposed to go. This may be a journey that some people never embark on, but I wanted to make it for the people that might feel like there’s something missing in their life, and they don’t know exactly how to pinpoint what that is.
B: Anything else you’d like to say before we go?
Br: Whatever you heard, don’t get used to it. Whatever’s coming next is going to be a lot different than what came before it. As a person, I’m always trying to grow and develop, so as a musician I want to experiment and grow as well.