If you tuned into BET’s Being Mary Jane this week, you may have noticed the drama between Gabrielle Union’s character Mary Jane and Patrick. Those dramatic incidences were encapsulated in episode 3’s soundtrack. If you peeped the I Get It single, you tapped into the musical creation of songwriter, producer, rapper and singer Brandon Rossi.
Signed to Jay-Z’s RocNation label last year as a writer/producer, the Decatur, Georgia music wiz is no stranger to the music scene. Raised in a Christian household, most of his family were either preachers or musicians. “I’ve got cousins who grew up playing for Frankie Beverly and Maze,” Rossi told The Source by phone.
“So I kind of just grew up around music.”
Growing up, Rossi listened to hip-hop with his older brother who was ten years older than him. “I heard everything and everybody,” he said. “Any artist you could imagine rapping, I was influenced by them at an early age.” Being from the ATL, it’s of no surprise that he idolized Atlanta’s very own Outkast. “My favorite group to this day is Outkast and Andre 3000 is one of the best MC’s. He got serious about his musical career in 1999 as a freshman in high school and credits Quincy Jones, John Mayer, Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, Nas and Biggie as his musical influences. With Outkast already on the scene and Ludacris and TI building their brand in the A, Rossi saw that he fit into that circle as well.
After high school, Rossi attended Florida A&M in Tallahassee, Florida. While enrolled at FAMU, Rossi says that he met Edward Long, a popular figure on the FAMU campus as a radio personality. Long introduced Rossi to producer Rico Love. You may recognize Love’s producing skills in Usher’s 2010 hit There Goes My Baby.
Early experiences in his young career helped shape Rossi. He had a buzz by producing and performing on his own merit. But no major label would sign him. Frustrated, he stopped recording music for a year and later returned to the scene writing music for other artists. Rossi’s hard work would pay off when a producer named Low Down (wrote Mario Winans’ lyrics for I Need a Girl 1 and 2 featuring Diddy, Loon, Ginuwine and Usher) introduced Rossi to producer Bink Dog.
No stranger to the rap and r&b game, anything that was hot in the hip hop’s golden age he probably produced it. He produced Blackstreet’s 1996 Don’t Leave Me single, Mr. Cheeks’ Lights Camera Action and Jay-Z’s 1-900-Hustler, You, Me, Him and Her, The Ruler’s Back, All I Need, and Blueprint (Momma Loves Me). Rossi went out to Virginia and spent time studying under Bink Dog’s tutelage. “He gave me my first big shot,” said Rossi. “He took me under his wing and let me record.”
Rossi used his studio time with Bink Dog as leverage with record labels and got significant interest from Jay-Z’s RocNation after his manager who was then his producer got him signed.
His goal is to follow in Neyo and Dream’s footsteps as a writer/producer turned artist. That’s crazy to think that in ’99 Rossi was probably in his bedroom listening to Jay-Z’s Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter album while doing his math homework. According to Rossi, a friend once asked him what label he’d sign with if he had the opportunity to choose one. He told him in an ideal and perfect world, he’d only rock out with Jay-Z or Kanye West. His dreams would come true in January 2013 when he signed to Jay-Z’s RocNation as a writer/producer. “You can do anything in life as long as you truly believe in yourself,” said Rossi.
“Everybody including my mom—and it’s nothing against my mom—but everyone in the world told me to quit music at one point because they just had seen me struggle with it. Not because they didn’t believe in me, but they’d just seen me go through so many ups and downs, they didn’t think it was healthy for me to do it.”
Keeping company with Jay-Z these days is nothing to sneeze at. He is the most nominated artist at tonight’s Grammy Awards, with nine nominations. He and wife Beyonce are due to perform at Sunday’s show at the Staples Center. Rossi is in LA and will be in attendance tonight at the star-studded event. Last year he signed to the label and this year he’s sitting in the crowd. He credits a good foundation, perseverance and faith for seeing him through. “I just feel like believing in yourself and putting that extra faith in God—you can’t lose!”