Blurring the lines between country and hip hop is Blanco Brown, a singer, songwriter, and producer who had his come-up when his hit song “The Git Up” went viral on TikTok. The song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Charts and was a top selling country song in the US, resulting in Blanco being named the No. 1 Top New Country Artist in 2019. Blanco has also worked on collaborations with artists such as Childish Gambino, Parmalee, and Diplo.
After surviving a life-threatening motorcycle accident in 2020, Blanco luckily recovered and took to the road to continue his passion for TrailerTrap, the term he coined for his unique mixture of rural and urban sounds. Blanco performed his singles and first album at festivals across the country, gaining popularity and showcasing his unconventional music style with covers of popular country songs.
Blanco Brown is currently working on releasing two new albums in 2024 after a five-year hiatus, as well as a single that is expected to drop in January. We spoke with Blanco about his recent John Denver tribute song, the importance of music in schools, and his love for fixing and driving classic cars.
Tell me about the new John Denver tribute song that just came out, “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” How did that come about?
A little bit over a year and a half ago the label reached out to me and said that John Denver Estates chose me to do a collaboration with John Denver himself. The recording studio sent me over the original files from “Country Road.” They also sent me the stems and the session data sheets and everything from the original recordings. I mean, I have everything, all the way down to John Denver’s takes. I was just amazed at that. It’s an honor being able to do a song with John Denver’s own vocals.
I was trying to figure out what we were doing with the song, but I hadn’t heard back from my label. Finally, they reached out to me and he said, ‘Well, we haven’t heard anything back, but there’s an opportunity for you to do this song for Germany football.’ I said, ‘that’d be amazing.’ He said, ‘but they want you to speed it up and do your thing. Trill it and trap it out.’ So I said, ‘that’s easy.’ I got it done in like three days, mixed it, mastered it, and sent it off. Then a few months later it came out.
It turned out great. You’ve collaborated with a lot of rap and country artists; T.I., Nelly, and Parmalee to name a few. Do you have any dream collaborations you still have that you want to do?
I would love to eventually do something with Tim McGraw in this lifetime. I will say that I want to build my own brand right now and be able to stand on my own two feet, being taken seriously as a real vocalist. There isn’t anybody I can’t stand beside singing and be overshadowed. My purpose and my gift is God given and great. I’m not intimidated by anybody. I just love to just share my purpose. I would love to be in that space of, ‘man, this guy here is amazing, and then he did a song with Tim McGraw, and then he did a song with such and such.’ But I want to be in that space first.
When did you realize you could sing and that you wanted to make this your career?
I started singing when I was like, five years old, but I didn’t really like my voice. I wasn’t confident in my sound. I realized that where I was in my life, I didn’t have the necessary confidence. I didn’t want to jump the gun of trying to be something that I wasn’t ready for. So I gained confidence, maybe around 25 years old. That’s when I felt like a new, ‘oh, I can sing.’ But before then I was just singing backgrounds and doing some harmonies here and there. That was my thing. When people tried to get me to lead, I said, ‘no, I’m good.’
You grew up in the South. A lot of people I talk to grew up in the church singing, so I didn’t know if you had experience with that or if you just sang with friends.
Oh yeah, definitely. I grew up singing in church and they would make me lead songs, but it wasn’t like I had to sing a whole solo. It would just be, ‘come in on this one part. Benny, can we get you to sing this one piece? We know you don’t like to sing, but we like your tone.’ They would talk me into doing a little bit here and there. That’s how I actually learned a lot of things. I was in the gospel choir and the chorus and stuff in school throughout my whole life.
It’s so sad now because a lot of schools are losing music and art from funding issues across the country. I just think it’s really sad because that helps so many people with education and even outside of school.
It is sad. I hope people can get the gist of what music does for the soul. If I didn’t have music, or that outlet, I would have been miserable going to school knowing that people are training to be scientists, doctors, lawyers, accountants and all those things that came with the curriculum. But I can’t find an outlet to do what I know I want to do in life ultimately. That would be miserable for me.
So, I thank God we had those opportunities to actually express ourselves and do music. I would be crazy if I didn’t have that 35, 45 minute class to actually sing and learn music. That’s some people’s will, some people’s purpose and people don’t understand. It is just as important as being a scientist If you’re doing music that’s going to motivate the scientists to want to do their job. Music motivates everything in the world.
That’s why I love the CMA organization so much because the proceeds that they make from that goes to music programs and keeping it in schools. There’s a lot of organizations in New Orleans that do that as well. I’m glad there’s organizations out there still keeping it alive.
That makes me want to go and start a program for kids that don’t have the opportunity to experience those things in school. It’s almost like you’re taking away everything that God has created to be an outlet. They even took away “The Pledge of Allegiance”, ‘in one nation under God.’ They took those words and everything out of school, things that kept me grounded. It’s crazy.
What does your perfect day in Atlanta look like? What are you going to do?
Honestly, spending time with family is always the most important thing to me, and working on classic cars. I have several classic cars that I work on. I rebuilt them, I’ve done the transmission, the motors, the overheads. A lot of people don’t know that I build cars from the ground up. I mean, from the ball joints to the suspension. I know how to do everything in a car. I know where the bolts go, and I know what bolt sizes are used for certain makes, if they’re classic cars.
What’s your favorite car you’ve been working on?
A ‘69 Triple Black Corvette Stingray. It’s a four-speed manual, and I have the Protect-O-Plate, the build sheet, and every piece of paperwork, with 70,000 original miles.
Do you actually take them out and drive them, or do you just keep them shiny and store them?
I drive them. I don’t see the point in not driving the car if it’s meant to be driven. I died once and I started looking over everything in my life and what I was holding on to that I didn’t experience. I say I have to experience where I live, or else there’s no purpose or no point in having these things. I couldn’t do anything while I was in that hospital bed.
I lost my dad in a motorcycle accident, so I related when I read your story and it definitely reminded me all the time that life is short. You gotta do all the things.
Yes, indeed. It’s a blessing to be a blessing.
This year we have celebrated 50 years of Hip Hop. What does Hip Hop mean to you?
Hip hop is prevalent in my sound. I call it TrailerTrap, trap music, which was inspired by T.I.. Telling the story of the hoods and going forward and moving forward and just giving back to the world through music, that’s what trap music has done.
We’re heading into the holiday season. Do you have any special family holiday traditions?
Eat. That’s it.
What’s your favorite Christmas dish?
Honestly, If I was eating everything, it would be stuffing, cranberry sauce, turkey, mac and cheese, and collard greens. I mean, I’m just a real professional fat boy. But outside of those things, I no longer eat meat and dairy, so it’ll be some type of fish. I make vegan mac and cheese myself and I haven’t tasted another vegan mac and cheese that could touch mine.
Do you have new music coming in the new year? What can we expect?
Yes, I finished a double album, and I know a lot of people say, ‘man, a double album, that’s a lot of music.’ Yes, I finished a double album. I haven’t put out an album in five years. The music will be coming out in 2024. So, for five years, I hadn’t put out any body of work. It’s just been singles, and I feel like it’s important for people to understand who I am, my versatility, and what I’m capable of because they can’t get that in the short form.
I’m so complicated and intricate that I feel like people need to experience what a black or brown experience is, and a lot of people get to see that part of me when they come to shows or they’re introduced to me during festivals. That’s how I gained a lot of my fans. They’re like, ‘man, we had no idea you can sing like that and the versatility of what you do. We had no clue listening to your album, even though we loved it. We didn’t know that you were capable of all these things and all these textures and vocals.’
This body of work, this double album is going to bring that to a conclusion in people’s hearts until they hear the next song. But 24 records are going to keep them occupied.
What were the inspirations behind these songs?
I’m inspired by nature, I’m inspired by hurt, and I’m inspired by work. This album is a body of every emotion that I know people go through on a day to day basis.
Do you know when it will be coming out next year?
I don’t have a solidified date, but I know it’d be the first quarter. Somewhere around February or March. Around that time.
Well, I can’t wait to hear it!
Thank you much. I’ll be dropping a new single at the top of the year in January. I’m actually on my way to Nashville right now to play all the music for the label and we’ll pick the single.