New genres of music don’t just come about every day. But for the island-influenced Bay Area supergroup the Brodies, now is the time for their own style: R&Bay.
Made up of Oakland singer Adrian Marcel and Vallejo’s CRSB (aka Chris Ramos and Sonny B.), the Brodies offer a unique take on R&B, one which they plan on releasing into the Bay Area in waves. Influenced by their shared familial experiences and roots in Hawaii, the three blend together roots rock island reggae with the Bay Area’s hyphy scene and hip hop to make their signature sound, and open Music in the Park this Friday.
“We’re expecting a party, baby. We know how San Jose get down,” Ramos says. “We’re starting this very, very big movement, and you’re catching us kind of at the surface.”
This music is meant to show love, grooves and good vibes. But they’re not just going to give the new goods away all at once.
While they only met during the pandemic, at a chance encounter in an East Bay studio, the three artists have put together a secret stash of 100 unreleased tracks over the last two years. They plan to drop many of these songs via a tiered release system throughout the rest of the year.
“Piece by piece, rather than just trying to give this all to you in a big package,” Marcel says. “The sound is so different. It’s so new that I think it’s really all about how they see it and how they feel it, just as much as how they hear it.”
All three Brodies grew up listening to island music and visiting family in Hawaii. But they also grew up with the sounds of the Bay Area, in particular hyphy hip-hop like E-40, Too $hort, Mac Dre and Keak da Sneak. On CRSB songs like “Give It Up,” the combination of the two sounds is clearly audible.
“Me and cuz (Sonny B.) were trying to build this bridge where people who looked like us could exist in this world,” Ramos says.
Now, they’ve made some space for themselves in the music scene, garnering millions of streams on their older tracks, with heavy play in San Jose, the East Bay and Hawaii. The Brodies even recently collaborated with McDonald’s on an ad campaign (“the McBrodies”) released throughout the Bay Area—a testament to their growing population and increased influence.
Now, as they prepare to share the big stage at Music In The Park, they’re ready to bring their new style with them.
The group’s new music includes some heavy-hitting features, though they are cagey about who exactly. Recently, Adrian Marcel released the single “Bip City,” a laid-back groove set to a hyphy tempo that features E-40 and was produced by Sonny B. Another recent track, “Wait,” featured CRSB, timestamping the beginning of the R&Bay era with all three represented on the slow-jammed Bay Area love song.
While hyphy is known for being over the top, R&Bay isn’t just about going stupid and getting faded. All three artists have a knack for tapping into deep emotions and feelings with serious gravity. R&Bay is a kind of reprise from the standard hyphy sound, while still respecting its influence.
The Brodies have noticed a rise in appreciation for island music and culture, especially following the devastating fires in Maui’s Lahaina town. Ramos and Sonny B.’s ohana (family) still live on Maui.
“When something bad happens, we feel it as a people,” Ramos says.
B. says, over the years, the Bay Area especially has embraced more inclusion of Polynesian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander art and artists. Earlier this month, the two performed for thousands at Holo Holo Festican in Wheatland, CA, a major showing for Polynesian culture in Northern California, B. says.
“When we first started, there weren’t many festivals doing that,” he says. “You’d have to go outside of California to experience that kind of festival.”
But the Brodies are looking to be a part of that greater change. And when B. and Marcel first met two years ago, they demanded that it be Marcel, B. and Ramos at the forefront of that.
“This was ordained,” Marcel says. “This was something that was bound to happen, whether or not people were ready for it, or wanted it, or tried to keep it from happening.”
Music in the Park
Fri, 5pm, $38.50
Plaza de Cesar Chavez, San Jose