KILL THE MOTHERBOARD might never have happened. Jon Brown, a singer/songwriter with a progressive hip-hop background,was poised to break into the national spotlight on a joint album with Rhymefest, the Chicago hometown hero who co-wrote “Jesus Walks” with Kanye West. However, their project fell through, and Jon put his music on hold to support his family. Jon’s career as an artist may have ended there if one of his old demo tapes hadn’t piqued the interest of Grammy Award-winning producer Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, Solange, CeeLo). In a matter of days, Jon went from trudging through snowbanks delivering mail in Milwaukee to meeting with Jack in Miami to discuss what would become KILL THE MOTHERBOARD’s debut album.
Jon recalls the beginning of the improbable collaboration, saying, “I was actually working as a mailman at the time to make sure my family didn’t get evicted from our house, so when I got the call from Jack I was a little skeptical. But as soon as we started making music, I knew the partnership was meant to be.” For Jack Splash, collaborating with Jon was an opportunity to craft a truly unique sound. “When I first heard Jon’s music,” says Jack, “I was immediately blown away and struck by how weird and unique his voice, style, and delivery were. He was singing, but it definitely felt more like hip-hop or funk to me. It reminded me of what I had done with my band Plantlife, or what I was trying to do with CeeLo or Kendrick. When I found out he was from Milwaukee it all made sense. I think where you grow up—and your surroundings—has a lot to do with how you develop as an artist and find your own voice.”
Jon is not the only one who finds his voice in KILL THE MOTHERBOARD. Florida rapper Eric Biddines was tapped as a co-star after Jon overheard a song that Jack was producing for Biddines. “That was perfect for me,” says Jack, “because Jon’s purity in voice reminds me of CeeLo, and Eric Biddines’ purity in poetry reminds me of Andre 3000, so having them both on the same album together is like a dream come true.” With Biddines’ voice on five tracks, the sound of KILL THE MOTHERBOARD was complete.
During the recording of the album, tragedy struck Jon’s neighborhood as a series of murders—some involving young children—were committed minutes away from Jon’s house. Jon and Jack agreed that their first album would reflect what Jon saw in his city—the good and the evil captured in a love letter to the city and to the youth who struggle to survive and thrive at all costs.
Entitled The Legend of Picasso Jones, KILL THE MOTHERBOARD’s debut album pulls stylistically from hip-hop, progressive R&B, new wave, and indie rock. “I don’t think that hip-hop in its purest form can really be categorized,” says Jack. “I mean if you look at Kendrick’s music, it would be hard to confine it into one genre. Same thing with OG’s like Outkast, Lauryn or GoodieMob and CeeLo. I think with KILL THE MOTHERBOARD we’re just carrying on that tradition of music without borders.”
When asked about the name KILL THE MOTHERBOARD, Jack offers this: “I think someone needs to spill a little somethin’ on technology every now and then to make sure that the music stays alive and human.”