Getting to Know BRAX
By Chioma Nwana
Virginia-native artist and creative director, BRAX, is quickly rising to success after the release of her debut mixtape: “VERSE(atility)." From her glamorous style to her heavily animated and intense rap verses—versatile is the best way to describe her. BRAX’s artistry is multifaceted: she is a rapper, singer, and trained choreographer. She styles, produces, and creative directs her viral videos and visuals, always leaving her fan base wanting more. The rapper and social media influencer is largely admired for her unique personal image and style. After BRAX’s debut festival performance at A3C, she is readying her EP set for a March 2019 release. In anticipation of next year’s takeover, we spoke to BRAX about everything from music, to mental health, to relationships, to her plans for 2019.
Before we start, how are you, really?
How am I, really? I’m really pretty numb right now—in the midst of an existential crisis. Just trying to find my light again, snatch it, and shove it back in my soul. I’m out here living through it, figuring it out, and fighting it out like my life depends on it. Well, to be transparent, I stopped fighting like my life depended on it months ago when I lost hope in my own. I’m now fighting like millions of lives are depended on it because God revealed to me that they are. He revealed this fight is bigger than me. It’s far beyond me, so that’s what keeps me fighting. The fact that God deems me worthy of such a mighty mission is what’s pushing me right now. I can’t let Him down. Sheesh, the “really” at the end of this question always sparks vulnerability.
You sing, rap, write, dance, choreograph, direct, style, and even dabble in set design. It’s often said that the jack of all trades is the master of none, but you’ve proven that it is, in fact, possible to exhibit an equal amount of excellence in everything you do. How did you find out you had all this power? How have you been making your power work for you?
Wow, I love this. Thank you so much. I’ve been living through the arts my entire life. I had no idea it wasn’t normal to be able to do all of these things exceptionally well when I was younger. I guess I found out after never being satisfied anytime I was assisted with my art. That’s when I had to realize my way about execution was unparalleled. That’s when I had to realize my vision wasn’t common. That’s when I had to embrace my creative power. That’s when I had to devote my being to Christ and ask Him to reveal “Why?” That was only about two months ago. It took me twenty years to embrace how powerful I am.
I have been using my creativity to build a unique brand for years. I’ve been directing my own shoots, directing my own videos, styling myself, writing poetry, writing articles, writing raps, choreographing dances, styling myself, and styling others like it was nothing for years. So I guess that’s how I’ve been making it work for me. Simply doing it. However, most of the time, I was either doing one of the above because I felt I had no choice (due to lack of resources) or just for fun—not because I understood the power behind all of those gifts. Now that I’ve embraced that power, I don’t think the world is ready.
You’ve mentioned on many occasions that 1 John 2:27 is your favorite Bible verse. You’ve also said before that you feel as though you’ve been “called.” How does this verse give context to your calling?
Wow, these questions are amazing. This is crazy. Well, 1 John 2:27 reads: “As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in Him.” This verse is all the reminder I need to remember who I am. My reminder that I’m not tripping when everybody else says I’m tripping. My reminder that He has taught me, He will lead me, and He will continue to lead me if I remain in Him. My reminder that this anointing is real. This verse is my calling. This verse has all the context.
You’ve expressed your disappointment in mainstream music, but you’ve also noted that you have hope for the future of art. What role do you play in that future? How does your music to contribute to the shift?
My role is to create art straight from my heart. For I know that art will be pure, poetic, powerful, and healing. All I want to do is help the world heal. That’s when things will begin to shift.
Just last week, you released a music video for your single “Don’t Deny.” It told a beautiful and intimate story of your relationship with your girlfriend. Can you describe the creative (and emotional) process behind the music video and the song itself?
The emotional process behind the song was actually me venting about my flaws with a sexy, straightforward, egotistical energy—a depiction of my bad love life habits. At the time, I was nervous about fucking up with my current girlfriend. It was around the time that our “talking stage” was getting serious. I had started thinking about cutting it off, because she was everything and I didn’t want to hurt her. But, again, she was every-fucking-thing, so I didn’t really want to cut her off either. Conflict in my life equals new art. I wrote a song to her about how inconsistent I am when it comes to committing to an intimate relationship while also reminding her that I know how good I make her feel, so why leave?
It’s hilarious because she’s never admitted to knowing the song was inspired by her, but she has to know. Which is why when I decided one day, while brushing my teeth, that I wanted a video. I grabbed my phone, texted my videographer, and told him I needed him to follow me and my girlfriend around for a couple days. The juxtaposition of the visual versus the audio was me telling the story of love conquering all. All the lyrics I wrote just last year, I can’t imagine relating to anymore. Simply because our love conquered all fears, all ego, and all of those flaws.
Speaking of your girlfriend, in a past interview, you were asked to list the characteristics that you look for in a partner. You named a few, but ultimately, you said that you’d want your partner to be like you. Is your girlfriend like you? What does “like you” mean?
Yes, my boo is so much like me it’s crazy. We’re also drastically different—it’s the weirdest shit ever. “Like me” just means you can relate to my heart.
You’ve had quite a year. Back in October, you shared a personal Instagram post, detailing your journey, your depression, and your healing process. Healing doesn’t happen by accident—it’s an intentional act. What was the biggest change you had to make in order to heal?
A very intentional act, indeed. The biggest change I had to make, to achieve my first level of healing, was letting go of everything I thought I knew about myself. Do you understand how hard it is to realize you aren’t the woman you thought you were? To realize you’ve hurt people? To realize you’ve been too insecure to live in your full truth when you pride yourself on your confidence? Then the depression came harder. Now, the biggest change I’m making is completely passing my life over to God. The power in realizing your life isn’t yours? Wow.
You have a unique style—you’re clearly a big fan of bright colors, bold patterns, high heels, and wild hair. You’re a walking ode to the women of 90s music with your own modern (and often futuristic) twist shining through. Is it just a coincidence? Or do you seek inspiration from that era? How do you find the confidence to live life as boldly as you dress?
I 100% seek inspiration from that era due to the boldness of that era. I’m inspired by the unapologetic looks. I’m inspired by how they used every part of their body to express how they were feeling that day. From the style of the hair, to the eye makeup, to the liner of the lips, to each piece of jewelry, to each design on the nails/toes, to each accessory, to each prop. Ugh, I live for the commitment! I keep that commitment in mind each time I get dressed. It’ll be easier to commit once I have commitment money ‘cause the pieces add up, honey. They sure do. I find the confidence by realizing how full I feel when I dress exactly how I want. I had to commit to pleasing myself and saying “fuck everybody else.” It’s a daily choice. It’s a process that I think I’m just now perfecting. It’s way harder than it sounds.
What can we expect from you in 2019? Should we just throw you our wigs in advance?
I don’t want to hype anything but… You can expect a whirlwind. Start getting that natural hair together now, honey. It’s over for all the wigs you think you have.
Lastly, I noticed that you’re big on affirmations. What are your three favorite affirmations?
One, if it feels like it’s you versus the world, chances are it’s really just you versus yourself. Two, a lazy mind will kill you quicker than a lazy body. Three, He wouldn’t bring you this far to leave you.
And I’d like to leave you all with this: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom,” Anais Nin. Thank you for these questions—this was beautiful.