When people think of rappers, they generally think of celebrities with money to burn, and egoes larger than the pants they sag. They do not think of an engineering student with physics homework to do and floor event to plan, but that is Brandon Gill. As a mining engineering major, an RA in Bradford, and the rapper of the band Influence, Gill is a very active student. He started rapping when he was 17 and at the request of some friends compiled a mix tape called “6 Days ‘Til Summer.” In September he released a second mix tape called “Constructing My Mind.”
While listening to “Constructing My Mind,” is clear how much passion and energy went into compiling the track list. Gill writes all his own lyrics and many tracks on the tape are very inspirational. When asked how he makes his music he said, “When I’m writing in rapping, it sounds cliché, but I’m really just rapping from the heart. Whatever I’m feeling in that moment… The inspirational things that come from my songs are really just me trying to get rap back to its roots. It started with people trying to get their feelings and emotions out. Trying to get people to hear what they were saying and now it’s all kind of gone mainstream to the point where you hear the same songs and it’s kind of just a cool beat and a good chorus. But for me it’s more about putting my emotions out there and the inspiration of letting people know it will be okay and hoping that song helps them out.”
Every original influence song embodies this grassroots, soulful journey. “Dream Chaser” is one song that really exemplifies how Influence raps are like musical poems giving the listener a glimpse into the soul of Gill. In this simple upbeat tune, Gill shows his own dreams and the struggles he faced while going after them. He also encourages his listeners to go after their own, despite what anybody else thinks. While Gill is very lyrically talented he has to pull the beats for his songs from various sources. Sometimes while looking through new beats, a vision of the way that song is going to turn appears, but other times he has a preconceived notion in hand. While the beats that he finds affects the way that the songs come out, Influence is also influenced by a lot of other sources. Familiar places of inspiration are the musical stylings of Jay-Z and Kanye West, or a couple of artists that are bit more off the radar such as Logic and OCD Moosh & Twist. Gill easily relates to artists who are rapping from the same perspective as him.
While rapping started out as more of a hobby and an escape from reality for Gill, it has become more of a reality. Influence now hopes to get signed and one of the ways Gill tries to get exposure is on the Internet. Gill has songs on two websites, a Facebook page, and a music video on YouTube. Influence will also be performing on April 19 in Friedhoff Hall, which will hopefully include material from the new project “Makeshift Studio” which is slated for full release in May 2013. Even though it is still in its infancy, the project and Influence have a very promising future ahead, and with a dream chaser like Gill behind it, who knows how far it will go.