Until now, Kev Brown's best-known work has been associated with other, much bigger names in hip-hop. Last year, his "Brown Album," a low-fi remix of Jay-Z's "Black Album," was acclaimed by critics and captivated the attention of underground fans. He also produced Jazzy Jeff's hip-hop gem "The Magnificent" in 2002.
But on Tuesday, the Landover native and Parkdale High alum puts his name front and center on his solo debut, "I Do What I Do" (Up Above Records, $13.99). The economical 13-song CD -- all but one of the songs clock in at around 31/2 minutes or less -- should earn the producer-rapper-writer much wider and well-deserved recognition.
The goal in making the album, Brown says, was to put out songs that "I'll still want to listen to in 10 years." It's hard to imagine he could ever tire of listening to such tracks as "Alone Again," a gritty, head-nodding lament, or the blistering "Beats N' Rhymes." "Struggla's Theme" is another sublimely cool effort, and the horns sampled from a Marvin Gaye song on "Albany" are a surreal, entrancing treat.
The 29-year-old performer, who lists EPMD, A Tribe Called Quest and Gangstarr among his all-time favorite hip-hop acts, is philosophical about whether Kanye-like success awaits him following this release. "I don't even think about that," he says. "If it happens, it happens and hopefully, it will."
Brown performs on Tuesday at 10 p.m. at Mirrors (33 New York Ave. NE, 202-326-0774) and opens for Little Brother on Sept. 25 at 8:30 p.m. at the Black Cat (1811 14th St. NW, 202-667-7960).