January 25, 2013 | 8:16am
At 23 years old, Will Brennan is supposed to be a graduate from the University of Florida, but he is not. Not because of a lack of intelligence. In fact, the Palm Beach Gardens High School graduate was an AP student.
"Early on, my parents always had a vision for me to graduate and take it to that graduate school level," Brennan revealed. "But I tried doing what's best for me. The thing that I wanted most in life was something like this, where you have a certain amount of freedom and certain amount of responsibility, like if you don't win, you lose. There is no safety net."
Three semesters in, Brennan dropped out but continued to attend community college to satisfy his mother. During that time, the rapper worked at a retail-clothing store where he got his chance to make music.
"I was working at American Apparel, and one day, this dude, he used be in the group From First to Last, he was living in Gainesville," Brennan said. "He was like, 'Yo, just come up man. You can just work on music all day.' I went up there a couple weekends in a row and I was like, 'I got to do this. If I don't do this now, I'm never going to do it.' And I had no cash except my last check from American Apparel, sold my whip, bought a bike, and that was the start of everything."
Fast forward to September 2012. Brennan released his fifth project, Prodigal Son
, and performed at his second A3C Hip-Hop Festival on the Super Hot Beat stage where other well-known acts such as Tech N9ne, Rittz, Chris Webby, and Yelowolf played.
But the rapper was not the only West Palm Beach native performing at A3C. Eric Biddines made his presence known as well.
With Biddines being the elder, known for setting examples and providing some guidance to up-and-comers, Brennan acknowledged what his counterpart gives to the Palm Beach music scene.
"Eric Biddines defines the county grind," said Brennan. "What he's doing with his PlanetCoffeeBean
movement, the merchandise, with him and T-Green, I got respect for them."
His closest relationship, though, is with producer and long-time friend Somong who Brennan considers a blood brother.
"I've been watching him since I was young," said Brennan. "He's the first person that got me rapping seriously. He gave me my first beat and everything."
And while he respects and recognizes other artists in the county such as Muzik Jones Drew, Makiin, both whom he worked with, 1Hot and Phat Boi, Brennan has developed a love/hate relationship for Palm Beach County, with the hate molded by rules and codes created by others.
"They have this whole 'fuck nigga society' going on where everybody that's not you and your team is a 'fuck nigga'."
Along with some artists getting caught up in Palm Beach County's scene, the rapper says that code mentality is a contributing factor to the lack of attention towards acts in the area.
"When I went to Gainesville and Tallahassee and Orlando and all these different places nobody cares about Palm Beach," said Brennan. "Nobody knew any artists that were from there. And the code that you need to survive in Palm Beach doesn't really apply to these other cities. So once I felt that, I was like I have to keep what is good about where I come from, but that rest of that stuff, I just have to let it go."
And the formula has worked to his benefit, especially at the end of last year.
In mid-December, Brennan released a YouTube video with an appearance by electronic DJ and producer Steve Aoki by his side, announcing that he'd signed with Aoki's Dim Mak Records. The deal came about when Cherif was driving Aoki to his hotel after a performance in Gainesville and played him some of Brennan's music and videos.
A deal was signed three days later.
"It makes sense that it's with Steve Aoki, because we have already done a lot of music that was hinting at that electronic merger with hip-hop," said Brennan.
In celebration of the deal, Aoki and Brennan released More Perfect Union
, a seven-track mixtape showcasing Brennan's rhyming skills over the fusion of both genres. And though a college degree creates a lot more of a safety net, some risks are better taken when you have everything to lose.
"A lot of these trials that come hardest in life, if you don't have that, it's too easy to quit," said Brennan. "If I had a real job and a car and a straight stable life, I would've been quit rapping. You have to make it so that this is all you have," said Brennan. "And then, once it's all you have, you're going to push to the end."
Will Brennan with Eric Biddines and Rel B. 7 p.m., January 27, at Respectable Street, 518 Clematis Street, West Palm Beach.