When I interviewed Kane Brown a few months ago, I spent a good portion of the 15 minutes I spent with him asking him what he thought of his nomination to Time magazine’s 2021 list of his most influential people.
It was wasted time. I could have easily guessed the answers.
How did Didi think was a guy who already has a rep to be humble going to answer in that case?
Anyway … now that I’ve seen his new show – which is part of the “Blessed & Free” tour that the 28-year-old country music phenomenon brought to the Spectrum Center in Charlotte on Saturday night – I would like to have a redesign. Because now I know there is a topic it would be much more interesting to hear him think about.
I’m not talking about his upbringing. Not to speak of him being alienated by members of his own family and bullied by his classmates at the schools he attended in his hometown of Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, because of his Métis origins, or because that his black father was in jail and his white mother lived in his car for a while. This is all common knowledge to his fans, things he has covered in interviews a million times since he first rose to prominence as a country cover singer on social media in 2014.
On the contrary, there was another rather unexpected theme running throughout Saturday’s Charlotte show that I found, at least, intriguing to consider.
And I started noticing it long before Brown even made his first appearance of the night.
Towards the end of DJ Jevity’s set – which was sandwiched between early bands Restless Road and Jordan Davis – Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s 1992 gangsta-rap anthem “Nuthin ‘but a’ G ‘Thang” a started playing on the speakers. But anyone who had brought children and was preparing for a storm of explicit language could quickly relax. Because Jevity was releasing the clean version of the song.
It was then that I realized that nothing on his hip-hop and R&B playlist was rated R, or even rated PG-13.
It was later that I learned, along with the rest of the audience (perhaps the most hardened Kane Brown fans excluded), that DJ Jevity is, in fact, Brown’s brother.
So they almost certainly had a conversation about the content.
Stay with me on this tangent here for a minute, and know that all the italics you see in the next two quotes are mine.
I did a quick Google search and found this, taken from an almost three-year-old story in The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tenn. : exclusively hip-hop and retro rap: Snoop Dogg, Notorious BIG, Tupac, etc. the versions played were the “clean” editions). “
Okay, let’s continue. After six songs, Brown was preparing the first song in his acoustic mini-set, the autobiographical “Learning,” and he was just finishing the story he had told a million times before, about his difficult childhood. He explained that he grew up in a trailer park. That he had to carry high water and “could never afford American Eagle, Abercrombie or Hollister”.
Then came the kicker.
“All the children that are here tonight, I just want you to know: it doesn’t matter what you wear, it doesn’t matter where you come from. If you have dreams, you can do whatever you want. So know it.
Going A Few More Songs… Brown was in the midst of an exuberant rendition of his most recent country radio hit, “One Mississippi,” when a young girl was hoisted onto the stage. After he gave her a hug, at her softly affable request, she first led the crowd in a one-handed mass wave, then put her mouth to the mic to sing the chorus.
When she was done, he hugged her again and gave her a flash before she was helped off the stage.
Now, yes, “One Mississippi” is all about getting drunk and having sex, but the lyrics aren’t rude, and it’s worth noting that Brown didn’t rely on a classic country music concert shot. at this time or at any other time of the show. That is, he didn’t announce out loud that he was drinking alcohol (although opener Jordan Davis did, right before he took a shot of tequila). Brown also didn’t include any references to alcohol consumption in his between-song jokes. It’s pretty rare for a mainstream country artist not to do that on a show these days.
So my question is – or should I say, if I could have salvaged this interview – is he intentionally trying to make his shows as family-friendly as possible? So if all of this is indeed at least a little calculated, can he speak to what makes him tick?
Could it be that he is already trying to set a good example for his 2 year old daughter, Kingsley Rose, who is often on the road with him these days?
It might not be as interesting a topic to you as it is to me, but then again, it’s just not something you see every day in artists like this … and at least seems like an attempt at salubrity which, dare I say it, is quite refreshing.
No more questions for my hypothetical redesign
I would also ask Brown now, after seeing his dazzling, solidly sung (and sometimes rapped), very entertaining show:
- Did he have to overcome the fear of heights to pull off his opening stunt, which saw him descend from a plank 30 feet above the stage before being lowered to the ground via a wire attached to a harness?
- He admitted to being a huge LaMelo Ball fan, but on Saturday night he wore a Charlotte Hornets jersey emblazoned with star goaltender Terry Rozier’s number 3. A specific reason?
- Then later, when Davis and the members of Restless Road came to join Brown for a performance of his “Famous Friends,” all four wore Ball’s No. 2. And Hornet mascot Hugo joined them. I know the team is on the road, but did he / his turn manager photograph for other Charlotte celebrities before picking Hugo?
- Despite prominent signs at the entrances to the Spectrum Center stating that masks would be required at all times, I barely saw anyone wearing a mask all night. During this time, he gave LOTS of greetings to people in the pit in front of the stage, signed hats and other clothing for even more fans, and even picked up a couple’s phones to take selfies. I love the bond he tries to make with his fans, but are those kinds of gestures a little weirder given COVID? (That’s a real question, not rhetorical. In other words, I’m not passing judgment at all, I’m legitimately curious.)
- When he did the cover of Soulja Boy’s “Crank That”, he did the dance hand gestures, but not the crank footwork. Can it cranks?
- Kind of a minor detail question, but – again, just curious – after “Homesick” he sort of pulled away and the scene died down. There was no “Thank you, Charlotte, good night!” Bogus of the type that usually makes a crowd scream for a reminder. Then he came back a few minutes later and did three more songs. It felt like a reminder and didn’t feel like a reminder at the same time. In his mind, was he giving a callback, or would he classify what he gave us as a full 22 song set with no bis?
And last but not least, there is this: after finally saying “Thank you, Charlotte, good night!” took off his upper body from the Hornets jersey before tossing it into the crowd.
- What does he think about the fact that his shirtless sight produced one of the loudest roars of the night?
Kane Brown’s setlist
1. “Take it off”
2. “Be like this”
3. “Short skirt weather”
4. “Cool again”
6. “Lose it”
7. “Learning” (acoustic)
8. “I adore you” (acoustic)
9. “For my daughter” (acoustic)
10. “Good like you”
11. “A Mississippi”
12. “Ol ‘Red” (Blake Shelton cover)
13. “Beautiful Girls” (Sean Kingston cover) / “Stand By Me” (Ben E. King cover)
14. “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” (cover of Soulja Boy)
15. “Hot Girl Bummer” (black bear blanket)
17. “Famous Friends”
18. “Like a rodeo”
20. “A righteous thing”
22. “What if? “