Published on October 8th, 2016 | by David Morales


Brookzill’s Debut LP: ‘Throwback To The Future’

Brookzill is a groundbreaking collective, made up of the legendary hip hop DJ Prince Paul, producer Don Newkirk, Grammy Award winning MC Ladybug Mecca, and Brazilian MC Rodrigo Brandão AKA Gorila Urbano. Recently debuting a LP titled “Throwback to The Future”, Brookzill steps into a worldly arena, presenting strong Afro Caribbean vibes with heavy Jazz and Soul influences. Recorded in five cites throughout Brazil and the United States, “Throw Back to The Future” reveals a story of unity and togetherness, keeping to the original message of traditional Brooklyn hip hop.

“When I think of “Throw Back to The Future”, it’s almost ironic for me, because I feel that very early essence of hip hop in what we do”. –  Rodrigo Brandão

The Hype Magazine recently spoke with Brookzill about their amazing journey in what naturally defines this diverse group in terms of innovation and quality. They also shared how forming a bond has helped construct their style and produce their sound.

“Hip hop brought us together and was a uniting factor!  We have remained friends ever since.”

– Don Newkirk

But what makes Brookzill different from the past masterful collaborations of DJ Prince Paul and Don Newkirk, such as Stetsasonic and Da La Soul? With the help of Ladybug Mecca and Rodrigo Brandão, Brookzill brings the essence and life of Brazil to the streets of Brooklyn. Together they form a band that symbolizes the colorful art and diversity reflected in Brooklyn today. Brookzill features “Throw Back to The Future” with a host of Brazilian artists including keyboardist Brian Jackson, MC’s Del The Funky Homosapien and Count Bass D. The LP dropped October 7 and is available on band camp.

Don can you give me some history behind you and DJ Prince Paul?

Don Newkirk: Paul and I met in the 9th grade when I was about 14. I gravitated to Paul because he had a shirt on that said DJ Paul. So I said, man that is a regular shirt and that is a regular name, whats up with that? Come to find out, he was actually very dope! I was like, man don’t let the shirt fool you! We became friends instantly! Hip hop brought us together and was a uniting factor!  We have remained friends ever since. I’m fresh out of the Bronx and was at the birth of hip hop in the Bronx. Paul was at the birth of hip hop in another part of town. We both ended up in Amityville and DJing and MCing was the uniting factoring definitely.

You two were The Soul Brothers! What can you tell me about that? 

DJ Prince Paul: When me a Newkirk met, I would go over to his house and we would trade off skills because Newkirk was DJing and MCing back then. So I was like – YO we need to combine forces – your dope, I’m dope. Then I brought a friend named Mic Teelux who was a MC around our way. Then we had Newkrik’s brother Ray come in. We had a really dope collective man! What made it cool was Newkirk and his brother Ray were musicians, so we had drum machines and key boards. We were way in the curve in the early 80’s. That didn’t seem to last too long, but me and Newkrik stayed close. Then I joined Stestsasonic, and that was my vehicle to bring Newkirk back in. That is my boy for life! Whatever I was involved in, I’d bring him in. To this very day, I bring him in. Without sounding cheesy, we are like musical soulmates for real and very good friends. Like brothers!

Now you guys are coming together with the band Brookzill, reminiscent of when the two of you originally started out with Def Jam.

DJ Paul: My relationship with Def Jam and Russel Simmons started when I joined Stestsasonic. Now, Stestsasonic was through Tommy Boy, but Russel Simmons was my manager who was the CEO or president of Def Jam. With those workings, we got into a record deal. Russel then started a new label called Russ Associated Labels (RAL) and began looking for new acts. Newkirk was singing and making his own music and had a really creative demo. So I took it and told him that I’d be back in six months with a deal with Russel Simmons.

That must have been like a dream come true?

Newkirk: Yeah! I was just making music in the basement and I wasn’t really thinking about a deal really. It was in the days before warming up was the thing to do. It was like therapy for me. So I was in the basement just making music on my little 4 tack, and Paul heard it and was like — dude this is like really good, you should let me get that — I was like, OK! He was like – yeah I’m going to get you a deal—and I was like, alright! He came back and did it! Then I cut the Jerry Curl off and went to go met Russel Simmons! I was not going to Def Jam in a Jerry Curl.

What was the inspiration for Brookzill?   

Rodrigo Brandão: I would say an inspiration on my side started with a chance to work with one of the top producer in hip hop history and that is Prince Paul. When he approached me and asked me if I wanted to do an album, I was like of course I want to do an album! Back in Brazil, a lot of musicians make promises and just don’t come back. So I asked Paul, are you really serious about it? He’s like – I’m serious! So we stayed in touch to the point to where I came to New York with a whole lot of samples to start the creative process. That led to what you are hearing now!

So I heard that they gave you a Hip Hop test. Is that true?   

Brandão: Well technically we gave the samples a hip hop test!

What does that involve?

Dj Paul: We can’t reveal that! (laughing) The test is sacred. We took the samples from Brazilian music, and even though it is Afrocentric based, it has a vibe and rhythm that you can turn into hip hop. You can make anything hip hop so we put it through the hip hop test! We have to wait to get it patented which is pending right now before we can tell you what it is! (laughing) So the samples passed the test and we were ready to move forward. So we literally made like 11 or 12 songs in like one day.                 

Are there a lot of similarities between traditional Bronx hip hop and the urban decay and violence that is going on in Brazil today?              

Brandão: Oh yeah man! When I think of “Throw Back to The Future”, it’s almost ironic for me, because I feel that very early essence of hip hop in what we do. It came out of the slums. What is going on in Brazil right now is that old, white, rich, money is finding a way to burn down the first woman to become president. She is the first workers party president, in a country where a lot of people can’t read and a lot of people can’t eat.

If you can reduce the number of people starving, that is a big thing! I give props to them because of that! The rich people are totally against this type of thing. So basically, there is this no future sense that I’m sure that they understood this back in the Bronx. It is not sexy being poor. People feel less than the next person for being poor.

The hip hop element that came from the slums changed the perception of self. Before you were like the last in line. Now you are the one with the experience and street credentials. Stuff that the rich kids can’t buy. That changed the whole perception of the ghetto kids and that is quite a revolution if you ask me. So I guess I’m not surprised that hard situations bring great music! Our theme is definitely from the heart and its honest and I’m sure that you can tell that it’s intense. The one thing I claim that is true is my emotion.

Another member in the band is Lady Bug Mecca of Digable Planets who also has Brazilian ancestry. How did you guys come to work with her?

Brandão: Paul has worked with her before on the Dino 5 project and he mentioned the project to her and she wanted to be a part of it. Her connection became so strong and so spontaneous that she became a full member of the group.

Right! Tracy Triceratops and DJ Stegosaurus. That must have been an exciting experience!

DJ Paul: Yeah it was a lot of fun! What is crazy is that I made that record at a rough time in my life because my mom had just passed. I had to channel my happy side in order to make that record. During that process, me and Mecca had made a really good bond. It was the first time I had worked with her. She’s about her business, and she comes in with her tool belt and hard hat on and she works. I respect that! She comes to work and she loves what she does and she’s way super-duper talented. It’s easy to bring her in on any project. So Brookzill was ideal for the next thing for us to work on.

How did your first show go down a few nights ago?

DJ Paul: It was great! It really went well.

Newkirk: That show was fun! I was hella nervous because it was our first show and calm at the same time because we were in New York. We basically started the show from a ritualistic sense and paid tribute to the ancestors and the people that came out to see us. We just asked for a good show from the universe. I think that really set the tone. When that first song kicked in “Macumca”, it just felt good right away. It seemed like the crowd was responding to us well. I thoroughly enjoyed myself!

DJ Paul: The beautiful thing about it was that it was our first show and it was a start! It gave us a good idea of where we can go. As our first show, it opened our eyes. It was just how the show felt! We are going to start blowing cats out!

Brookzill being infused with Jazz and Afro Caribbean Soul is reminiscent of the Golden Age of hip hop. Would you say that is intentional?

Brandão: Not intentional at all man! That is the beautiful thing about this music for me. Basically we are just vibing. We didn’t have any plans. There was no — let’s bring the funk here — there was nothing like that. It was just energy flowing! Afterward, we would listen to what we had and we would be like – OK, so this feels like that – and after that we were realizing the results. I would say that it is a force by itself.

There are a lot of collaborators on “Throw Back to the Future” including a keyboardist named Brian Jackson and a few MC’s, such as Del The Funky Homosapien and Count Bass D. What was it like working with them?

Brandão: All of those guys for me are people who I have listened to for some time now. It became natural, because they were friends with Paul!

DJ Paul: I’ve known Del since he came out in the early 90’s when I was into the Gravediggaz. Count Bass D has been a longtime friend! I’ve always wanted to work with him on some capacity and I’ve been a big fan. Kid Koala I’ve known forever and Mecca helped reunite us.

Brandão: Brian Jackson came into play because of Mecca. He had played with Digable Planets at some point. When Mecca mentioned that she was good friends with him I was like – oh man, you got to introduce me to the man, because I literally have all his records. When Brian showed up, he was cracking jokes and was super cool. At some point, he asked me about Brookzill and when I explained, he immediately wanted to be on the record. For me, it was just great to kick it with him and just like that, he was a part of it! He invited me to his home and we recorded there in his living room with the instruments, a computer and a Miles Davis poster!

Does Brookzill have any tour dates set?

Newkirk: We definitely want to do some touring. We have some potential stuff lined up but nothing solid as of yet. We are hoping the record gets around as much as possible. I think that the more that people hear the music, the more eager we will be to get on the road. It is a more live vibe. It is definitely something that translates well to a live environment. We are trying to find the right vehicle and the right tour.

Is there anything that you guys want your fans to know?

DJ Paul: Just a few things! We will definitely be at venues near you at some point so keep your eyes peeled. The best way to do that is to go on our website We also have a Facebook which is Brookzill official. You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram and stay up to date through our social media channels. We definitely want people to come and be a part of Brookzill.


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About the Author

is the Executive Editor of The Hype magazine. A graduate of Eastern Michigan University, David has a background as an artist manager, writer, blogger, drummer, and in the human services industry. He is passionate about helping others, learning and has a deep empathy for the creative process. You can follow his social media @dcypherstudios

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