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Brian L. Davis Jr. Reaching Forward

Brian L. Davis Jr. performing

Brian L. Davis Jr. is the type of person that tells you that he raps occasionally, and it just makes sense. Almost everything he does is distinctly, unapologetically himself. He walks into my room as surely as if it were his own, hops onto my bed, and freestyles rhymes on demand. From black sweatpants and a sports jersey on his stroll down our VCW hall, to a plaid button-up and khaki pants, or to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Halloween costume, he dresses for every occasion. His facial expressions, however, are few: neutral, happy, or laughing. Never have I seen Brian flustered or upset. He simply exudes confidence and carries a contagious charm.

“Rapping occasionally” is a drastic understatement of the degree of Brian’s passion. One does not merely drop a ten-track album and five singles, perform in clubs on New Year’s Eve, or find themselves featured on Spotify, iTunes, and Soundcloud overnight. Now a freshman in the MSB, Brian tells me, “This all started when I was ten years old. There was this talent show, and my friend said I should make a song with him. I said okay, we won the show, and I’ve been making music ever since.”

Brian has a clear vision for his music and knows exactly what he wants. Music, for most, is an alternative, perhaps augmented, way to experience life, and Brian is one of the gifted few that is able to create his own reality. “A point I make in music is to always do something real. I want my music to be genuine,” he says. He describes his rapping as “an escape, an opportunity to explore myself in a different way,” and adds, chuckling, “it’s pretty fun, too.” A full-time student, passionate rapper, and self-proclaimed video gamer, Brian underlines the importance of authenticity. His greatest challenge? “Finding the middle ground of what I like and what people like,” he says without hesitation. “I can easily make music that people will listen to, but that’s not who I am.”

I have had the privilege of being more than Brian’s interviewer; I am his floormate and a friend whom he spoils with impromptu bursts of rapping and dancing. Just from my mere glimpses of his vast musical range, I know Brian easily strides along the spectrum of rap—from sentimental truths of love to witty rhymes—and this musical versatility parallels the range of his personality. He is someone you can rely on for a great night out, just as he is someone to turn to for advice. “Just be yourself,” he told me once when I was anxious for an application I had to write. “I know it’s cliché, but if you get to the peak of the mountain or whatever you were reaching for without being yourself, it just doesn’t feel as good.” Sometimes, it seems like he speaks in rap. Brian both simplifies and magnifies life in his everyday words and musical lyrics; he extracts the essence of any scenario and lays it out for you to listen.

Yet his lyrics never tell the whole story. “Sometimes in my music I come across as very cocky because I have confidence that I’m good at what I do, and I think it’s more fun when I have fun with it,” he says. I push him to elaborate, curious about the distinction in his private and public self, and Brian explains, “I think, at times, it’s good to seem arrogant when performing because it actually boosts your confidence, which is important in terms of stage presence and how you control the audience.”

Confidence often comes to mind when describing Brian, but he embraces humility as much as talent. My personal favorite of Brian’s songs, “Low Battery,” has not been released publicly. Written while his cell phone battery was at three percent, “Low Battery” draws parallels between the dropping energy levels of his phone and the challenges he has had to overcome. To write a complete song on the verge of your phone dying is undeniably impressive, and yet, I’ve never heard Brian call himself a rapper — if you ask him, he simply raps.

Brian L. Davis Jr. is not defined by his music, but rather defines it. His natural affinity for performance has not carved him a single path as a musician but rather allowed him to maximize his overall potential. Whether he’s recording in a studio, performing at a BSA charity auction, or working shifts at GUAFSCU, Brian gives his all. The name of his newest song, “Reaching”, reflects his limitless passion and captures his animated personality through an upbeat tune. Brian’s rap itself is pure talent, but what is more impressive is the refreshing authenticity of his passion. His music, while a manifestation of his personal growth, inspires others to reach forward.

PC: Brian L. Davis Jr.

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