With the arrival of his instantly iconic debut single “My Truck,” New Jersey-born artist BRELAND emerged as a bold new force on today’s music landscape. Now certified platinum, the wildly catchy hybrid of Hip-Hop and Country hit #1 on Spotify’s Global Viral 50 and earned the admiration of country superstars like Keith Urban, while a high-powered remix featuring hitmaker Sam Hunt landed on best-of-the-year lists from major outlets like NPR and the New York Times. But for the Nashville-based singer/songwriter/producer, the song’s breakout success is only the start of a much larger movement. True to his passion for transcending boundaries, BRELAND has set his sights on the tremendous task of building new and long-lasting connections between cultures—all by making music that’s both emotionally honest and undeniably joyful.
“I think what I’m doing has the potential to break down the barriers between genres and make Country music a much more diverse space in terms of the people who create it, the people who perform it, and—most importantly—the people who listen to it,” says BRELAND. “And anytime you add more diversity to a space, the dialogue that can come from that is incredibly powerful. I’m really excited to be a part of this new wave of artists who are helping to shape what the future of Country music looks like and sounds like.”
While the thought of fusing country and hip-hop might have once seemed impossible, BRELAND noticed a common thread between the genres many years ago. “The whole reason I started getting into Country was because of the storytelling, and how concise and poetic the songs were,” he says. “It’s the exact same reason why I love Hip-Hop, even though the presentation and the language is different.” An intuitive storyteller who wrote a 250-page novel at the young age of 12, BRELAND has wholeheartedly devoted himself to developing his lyrical talents since moving from Atlanta to Nashville in summer 2020. “I’ve been in the studio with these amazing Nashville writers who make all the country hits, and it’s been really eye-opening for me,” he says. “They’re so precise and spend so much time on every word, right down to the syllable, and it’s taught me so much about how to flip phrases and twist them into a bigger concept.”
One of his first releases since signing with Bad Realm Records/Atlantic Records, BRELAND’s early-2021 single “Cross Country” immediately shows his growth as a lyricist. With its title taken from the name he’s assigned to his genre-warping sound, the acoustic-guitar-driven track documents BRELAND’s journey to this point in his career, illuminating every moment with a level of detail made even more moving by his soulful vocal work. Produced by his frequent collaborators Sam Sumser and Sean Small (a duo whose shared credits include Keith Urban, Jason Derulo, and Austin Mahone), “Cross Country” unfolds as a vulnerable but triumphant anthem of self-acceptance, and a refusal to fit into any type of mold. “The story in ‘Cross Country’ could probably be a full autobiography, but I liked the challenge of telling it in three minutes,” BRELAND points out.
On songs like “Cross Country,” BRELAND spotlights the nuanced yet powerful vocal approach that he partly attributes to his upbringing. “My parents are ordained ministers and led the gospel choir at church, so growing up I pretty much only listened to gospel music,” he says. But after arriving at the New Jersey boarding school that he attended in his high-school years, BRELAND discovered the artists who would prove to be profoundly influential on his songwriting: Prince, Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder. He also delved into the world of country music for the first time, and soon began dreaming up his own material. “Up until that point I’d been kind of shy and reserved, especially when it came to my voice, but high school allowed me to reinvent myself,” he recalls. “I would perform in front of the whole student body, and pretty soon everyone recognized me as an artist.”
After finishing high school, BRELAND headed to Georgetown University, where he sent out more than 300 inquiries to contacts in the music industry. Those connections eventually led him to Atlanta, where he refined his chops as a songwriter and scored cuts with artists like YK Osiris, ELHAE, and Ann Marie. Late one night at an Atlanta studio, after waiting hours for an artist who never showed up for their session, BRELAND decided to record a demo on a whim. “I’d had a long day and I just wanted to do something different, so I told my friends I wanted to make a Country song,” he remembers. By the end of the night he’d come up with “My Truck”: a feel-good and fearlessly original track that would soon become a massive hit.
Backing his sky-high falsetto with trap beats and twangy guitar tones, “My Truck” racked up over a million streams on Spotify less than a month after its premiere in late 2019, in addition to inspiring countless videos on TikTok. With his profile rising exponentially, BRELAND signed to Bad Realm Records/Atlantic Records and included the Sam Hunt-assisted “My Truck” remix on his self-titled debut EP (released in May 2020), then returned the following month with Rage & Sorrow (a two-song project created in honor of Juneteenth). By the end of the year, he’d begun collaborating with a number of major artists from the Country, Pop, and Hip-Hop worlds, including Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts, Nelly, Blanco Brown, Lauren Alaina, Chase Rice, and Keith Urban (whose 2020 album THE SPEED OF NOW Part 1 includes a standout cut called “Out the Cage,” featuring both BRELAND and legendary musician Nile Rodgers).
As he embarks on the next chapter of his already-dynamic career, BRELAND is bringing his singular artistry to songs exploring everything from heartbreak to self-discovery to the beautiful struggle in finding your place in the world. He’s also flexed his skills at crafting the perfect party song, as evidenced on forthcoming singles like “Throw It Back”: a banjo-laced and beat-heavy track featuring Urban, who joins BRELAND in serving up a brilliant collision of storytelling and swagger. “Keith reached out to me last year and said, ‘I like what you’re doing, I’d love to make something with you—I think we could really shake up the genre a bit,’” says BRELAND. “‘Throw It Back’ was the first thing we worked on, and we ended up playing with some Hip-Hop cadences and just going full party mode on it.” Another song showing off his effortless charisma, “Thick” finds BRELAND flaunting his off-the-charts wordplay as he lays down a sing-along-ready tribute to all the girls who “got a little extra/I ain’t talking about the credit.” “I wanted to make a song that celebrates Southern women—something they’ll hopefully embrace and make into an anthem,” he notes.
No matter what type of track he’s creating, BRELAND’s gift for genre-bending endlessly reveals the strength and sophistication of his musicianship. And as he moves forward with his music, BRELAND is eager to witness the impact of his ingenuity firsthand. “When I’m finally able to do shows, I know that my audience is going to be super-diverse because of the music I’m making, and the type of person I am,” he says. “It’s going to be really cool to see everyone rubbing shoulders with people they normally would never interact with, because now they have something in common. I think the whole genre of cross country could really open people’s minds, and create some new bridges between the different worlds that people are used to living in.”
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