“It’s our duty to carry the culture: the culture of Jazz, bass culture, the culture of Hip-Hop,” professes producer, bassist, multi-instrumentalist Brady Watt. “I feel like I’m part of a legendary scenario. It’s my job to do right by the people I work with. Since I’ve been put in the position do this, I’m gonna do it right.”
Having collaborated with Joey Bada$$, Styles P & Talib Kweli, Curren$y, Melanie Fiona, and Statik Selektah, Brady has amassed an esteemed resumé in the last decade. However, that work has not always come easy. Even through literal hunger pains, winters without heat, and a lot train rides to $50 gigs, the Nashua, New Hampshire native declares, “This shit is easy compared to what I was doing when I was a kid. This is nothing. Hard work is waking up at 6 am and carrying rocks all day.” Growing up, Watt was consumed by music when he wasn’t earning money doing landscaping and masonry. Listening to and playing music was his escape after the separation of his parents. “Hip-Hop lyrics empowered me to just get by as a young, solo dude navigating the world,” he recalls. A lover of Punk and groups like Wu-Tang Clan and A Tribe Called Quest, Watt’s father bought him a cheap guitar and changed his life. Playing the guitar led the infatuated musician to bass, a key component of the genres his loved, which also included Jazz. As a teenager, Brady left New Hampshire for Berklee College of Music in Boston. “That’s when I got way better, over those four years. It opened my eyes to a lot. At my age, I was one of the baddest bass players in New Hampshire, I’m sure. But Berklee really showed me I needed to step up a lot if I was gonna make it in this game.” Influenced by the likes of Jaco Pastorius (Weather Report), James Jamerson (Motown’s Funk Brothers), and Pino Palladino among others, Brady honed his own style, and learned to transcribe, compose, and produce music.
Upon graduation, the musician-producer traveled further away from New Hampshire, to Brooklyn, New York. He had nothing waiting for him but the next step in a dream. “I never really had a plan B. This was always what I was doing,” he notes. “I’ve always been semi delusional, I think. I was just rolling the dice and knowing that each gig would lead to the next one. As a result, it was just years and years of poverty.” From playing at Nigerian restaurants for a few dollars and a meal included to gigging at Baptist churches nearly two hours away (where he remains actively playing today), Brady Watt seized any opportunity he was afforded—the old school way. In the more extreme times, the supremely talented bass player used those fingers to pass cell phone carrier flyers hours away from home as a temp in the Bronx.
However, the circumstances changed drastically one night when Brady Watt and a friend decided to attend a party. Invited to Dame Dash’s DD172 compound in Tribeca, the night promised a free drink, some girls to talk to, and networking at best. With his bass on his back, between gigs, the musician encountered Ski Beatz. The hit-maker for Jay Z, Camp Lo, and Fat Joe saw the instrument and invited Brady to plug into his MPC sampler. Around the party, Jean Grae was penning a verse, Ski was tapping out beats, and Brady was going in on the bass. Along with partygoers, Ski was impressed. Soon after, Brady, Ski, and BluRoc Records began a string of celebrated releases including Curren$y’s Pilot Talk 1 & II, 24 Hour Karate School, and Murs’ Love & Rockets with a promotional tour soon after. “Ski loves explaining what he’s doing as he’s doing it, and I was just taking notes. That’s how I’m able to do what I’m doing now. All of a sudden I was Dame Dash’s musical director. Then people started coming out of the woodwork, because, ‘Oh, he plays with Mos Def and Jay Electronica.’ Then things opened up.” Suddenly, the kid from out of town was running with the it-crowd.
As Dame would ultimately close DD172, Brady’s philosophy of living in the moment would be achieved. The producer occupied a friend’s partially renovated Harlem brownstone. Living cheaply (sometimes frigidly) in a Manhattan mansion, Brady brought the party to him this time. There, there were backyard bonfires, smoky gatherings, and lots of jamming. Melanie Fiona cut vocals in a closet, while Talib, DZA, and others made their Lifetronics contributions there. That album, released in 2015, would be a time capsule of Watt’s two years Uptown.
Following that, Brady would trade his heatless New York to the sunny cliffs of Malibu, California. To Get Back Home was birthed when Brady got an offer to rent a room in a crowded house full of women, pool parties, and musicians passing through. After cross-country road-tripping, Brady honed a sound to match this moment too, including video single “Youth and Revolt” with Michael Christmas.
Ro James, Topaz Jones, and Michael Blume are other guests on Brady’s first album for DJ Premier’s TTT (To The Top) imprint. The two producers met years ago, discussing their favorite bassists and musical styles. When Preemo was offered a booking gig with a band, the only bass that came to his mind was Watt. “It’s a cool set up with nobody crowding the track, Lenny and I play the music very much how it is supposed to be played in my opinion” he says of the group’s chemistry. “The horns can dance on top.” Following tours through Europe and Asia (US dates begin in June) with the resulting Badder Band, Watt feels deeply encouraged by his upcoming album’s fusion of Hip-Hop, Jazz, and World Music. Watt also plays in Kweli’s band, having co-produced two tracks on The Seven EP with Styles.
Like his band-mate (and one of his leading inspirations) DJ Premier, Brady Watt left home at a young age with blind faith and laser focus on music. For the last decade, in the era of online networking, Watt did it the old fashioned way. With his bass strapped to his back, a quick ear and dynamic fingers he played his way into a career. Although he plays bass, keys, as well as drum programming, Brady helps others into the fold. “As a session player in New York, I have access to tons of people. We’re constantly giving each other jobs and income, hooking each other up with opportunity.” He believes that while many producers learn instruments after making beats, his understanding of composition and theory is enhanced by the fact that that he was a player first. This allows his music a different level of quality.
Brady Watt’s tenacity in music matches his journey. To Get Back Home infuses Hip-Hop, R&B, Jazz, and World Music into a cohesive listen. It pulls from many places, takes many turns, but it all flows together with notes and keys. That sound reflects the life of the artist who makes it, and an experience that is resonant to something bigger.