By Nicholas Jason Lopez
In August 2020, Elgin, Ill.-based rapper Crazy Brain Cory put out his third project ‘Thankful,’ which focuses on being grateful for every day he lives.
It’s a departure from his past lyrical content that covered negative topics like mental abuse, suicide, car accidents and loss of faith in religion, all things he dealt with in real life. For the music video for ‘Thankful’ closer, “You’re Welcome,” Cory aimed for a modern take on an older beat, a dance-heavy visual with “60’s/70’s vibes.”
Throughout his journey, Cory has embraced being “different” and has maintained his personal mantra that he can be successful through hard work and passion, yet still be true to himself.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with Cory about ‘Thankful’ and more.
Music Bugle – What inspired your artist name?
Crazy Brain Cory – My artist name just came from wanting to incorporate my first name somehow. I don’t know why it needed to be, but anything I tried that didn’t use my first name wasn’t sticking. Then, I remembered how I’ve been called “crazy” a lot. The “brain” came from the fact that I feel like my mind is all over the place, sometimes good and sometimes bad. What’s funny is my first year or so of performing, the promoters would always say, “Crazy Brian Cory.” I almost changed it, ’cause I got tired of correcting them, but I had too many people that fucked with the name.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about rap music?
Crazy Brain Cory – What excites me the most about rap is how layered it is – not just in skills, but how it became the biggest genre of music we know today. I really enjoy “Hip Hop Evolution” on Netflix. It gave me so much perspective and stories on the origins of hip-hop that I never knew. It’s crazy that it just started as DJs sampling and making dope beats for house parties, then the MCs came along and bam! All of a sudden, it’s all about the rhymes to match the beat, which is what I’ve studied the most. When I started learning to write raps, I went to every artist I loved and just looked at how they did their song structure. Eventually, I would try to rap the songs word-for-word to see how they actually spit the bars. This is a long answer to the question, but I just get really motivated by the many aspects of hip-hop.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Elgin, Illinois to someone who has never been there before?
Crazy Brain Cory – Elgin reminds me of a smaller version of Chicago. It’s got an art scene, diversity in the population and the traffic can be brutal, albeit, not as bad as Chicago. It’s also got great local restaurants, like Ale’s Cafe has the best shakes, El Faro and El Pariso are two of the best Mexican restaurants in the world. People usually debate between which is better. I’ve always thought El Faro is superior. Tourists and the locals also frequent the Grand Victoria Casino. My only experience there was losing 20 bucks and being yelled for accidentally going the wrong way through a poker game. Oops.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs was the hardest for you to write or compose?
Crazy Brain Cory – I’d say the hardest song to write was “Over the Edge,” which features my friend A I R. The song details events leading up to me grabbing a knife and seriously considering to kill myself. In short, my dad was pretty rough on me and I was dealing with depression at an early stage. My family had just lost our nice house and now, we were trapped in a small condo. A lot of resentment and anger built-up in my father. My sister and I got mentally beaten every day. We couldn’t say a word without him lecturing us and blaming us for shit that wasn’t our fault. The reason I chose the title, “Over The Edge” is because I was almost about to lose it. Late at night, I grabbed a big knife and went to the bathroom. I sat on the edge of the sink counter and started to feel the knife. I then started to lift it and point it towards my chest. I was crying, almost about to end my own life, but the door was slightly open and my sister saw me. She immediately went to my dad, who was in the kitchen. She said, “Cory is holding a knife and is gonna kill himself!” The next words I heard from my dad were, “Go ahead. Stick the knife in your chest and do it. Kill yourself.” He might have said something after that, but I was in utter shock. I couldn’t believe he actually said that to me. It still honestly gets me angry to this day. He said that he was taught to say that if me or my sister attempted suicide, because for some reason, that would work and to be fair, it did. I’m still here, but I was tearing up the entire writing process for that track. I hated my dad for many years because of what he said that day. He said it so seriously and lacked compassion for me in that moment. I’m glad I still chose to not stick a knife in my chest. If it wasn’t for my sister consoling me afterwards and telling me not to do it before my dad’s statement, I may not be here today.
Music Bugle – How would you compare your latest music to your first project ‘Broken Style’?
Crazy Brain Cory – ‘Broken Style’ was a good mix of loose party tracks and introspection, a good introduction to who I am as a person, versatile. The latest songs I’ve come out with are for the most part, more about the vibe. For instance, on my newest project, ‘Thankful,’ I don’t really go into dwelling on past mistakes or my mental battles. I focused more on being positive and being appreciative of life. I still make sure the lyrics are tight and unique, but I mainly am seeking for the audience to go, “Damn, he’s really going in and I’m vibing to it.” My favorite songs are “Matter Of Time,” which features OG Stevo and “You’re Welcome.” “Matter of Time” is a showcase of how I’m finally getting dope rappers to fuck with me and be on my tracks, all while making you feel pumped up and ready to take on a workout. “You’re Welcome” is a wonderful retro-sounding song where I’m finally coming to terms with who I am – someone who wants to be successful and still help others to succeed. My favorite line of the chorus is, “Refresh your mind, but please, don’t be blind to the grind, you’re a one-of-a-kind design.” I truly believe that every person has something that makes them stand out from anyone else. I also know that you have to work hard to get what you want, which is why you can’t be blind to the grind. The music video also made waves with my fans ’cause I’m in 70’s disco clothes dancing with a model with a really colorful background. It’s a sweet song, something I couldn’t pull off on ‘Broken Style.’
Music Bugle – What has been your biggest obstacle to overcome in your life?
Crazy Brain Cory – Overcoming the fear of failure. I’ve been a chronic procrastinator my entire existence on this Earth. I just recently learned that it stems from being afraid to fail, which is funny, ’cause when you put something off and cram, it usually sucks. I still can’t even say I’ve overcome it. I still get panic attacks. I overthink probably the most out of any human in history, at least that’s what the little voice in my head tells me. Having any sort of self-confidence has been hard to come by. I always felt in a state of distraught or contempt at home or school. My social skills were trash as a kid. I’m still working on them now. Every time before I go on stage, I get butterflies, ’cause I don’t want to fuck up. Thing is that, before I perform a set, I practice it in-full at least 10 times, even if it’s just one or two songs. I want to leave the crowd with the impression that they witnessed someone different and fucking killed it.
Music Bugle – Does social media make it easier or harder to stand out as an artist these days?
Crazy Brain Cory – This is tricky to answer. I only have 240-something followers, so I have work to do. I can’t really say if it’s harder or not, because I think we all have a chance to make it big. It’s mainly a matter of getting the algorithms on your side and how to keep your fans engaged. I could say it’s harder, because everyone is competition and attention spans are short. However, that seems way too negative. That’s why I watch Gary Vee a lot. He’s always finding something cool to post and they all stand out. He is also very much himself 100 percent of the time, something that is hard to come by these days, in my opinion. I feel like it can be hard to have longevity sometimes, because there is so much content coming out every day. You just gotta keep trying and see what works best for you. I’m still in the process.
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Crazy Brain Cory – I’m gonna cheat and use two quotes from the great Tupac Shakur, even though I’ve got a million of his gems saved on Google. First one – “I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” I have watched the interview clip of this statement many times. It always amazes me how real Tupac was. He never came across as a liar or to say things just because. He always had a point and thought really inward. He knew he had a lot of impact on society, but he also was humble. He couldn’t guarantee he could fix the world, but he knew his words and actions would get someone to rise up after he was gone. It’s a beautiful testament to his character as a man. It showed real humility. I don’t know if I’m that person he speaks of. He has still, however, lit up my mind and given me the courage to at least try and continue his values. The second quote is, “I don’t want to be a role model, I just want to be someone who says, ‘This is who I am, this is what I do, I say what’s on my mind.'” I love this damn quote. Role models are great, but it’s also impossible to maintain that status. We all makes mistakes and I know the readers of this article would agree. I believe many of us are too afraid to say how we feel, usually in fear of making someone upset because it can affect your ability to accomplish your goals, something I’m guilty of. Not saying you should always say the first thing off your dome, but you shouldn’t be afraid to be yourself. Pac is honestly more of a role model for being real and his morals presented in his songs and actions. He wasn’t perfect, but he never backed off from his emotions. He is a true inspiration and I wish he was still here. His view of the world and his passion to make it better for everyone is a trait I hope to attain.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Crazy Brain Cory – Covid has affected my job life, mainly. I got fired after quarantine and went on unemployment for a while, eventually going back to Uber and DoorDash. It’s also made performing hard to come by, since we have to social distance and limit crowd size. On a positive note, the quarantine gave me a lot of free time to really think about what I want in the future, also, a chance to work through bad memories in my past, so they don’t disrupt my present. Having over a month of no work felt very relaxing. It was a joy to not have to wake up every day wasting eight hours at a place I never wanted to be. Now, it’s all about getting through the pandemic and setting myself up to make it as an artist.
Music Bugle – If you had the chance to go back to this past New Year’s Eve, what would you tell yourself about 2020?
Crazy Brain Cory – I’d tell myself, “You should expect the unexpected. Never get too comfortable, even when you think you’ve made it. Go harder. Be willing to adapt. Just because we have a lot of options now, doesn’t mean they’ll always be here.”