Breland is on a mission to shake up the world through his music. “I am pushing the boundaries of how country music is perceived and participated,” he told REVOLT in an exclusive interview for Black Music Month.
Since his debut with the smash single “My Truck” in 2019, the New Jersey native has worked alongside numerous country artists, scored two platinum hits, a Grammy nomination and much more. For him, making countless moves in such a short amount of time is great, but the real focus has been changing the lives of others through his music.
“A lot has happened in the last year and some change,” he recalled. “I mean, I put out my debut album, I’ve finally had a full year of touring, and being able to get out on the road and play shows in different countries and different places I’ve never been before. And this summer, having the opportunity to open up for Shania Twain and to be able to play these big arenas and massive venues, I would say all of those have been really, really impressive developments.”
He continued: “I’ve been growing, as not just an artist, but as an entertainer, and realizing what I can do on stage, and with my voice, and with my body, and with my energy to be able to move groups of people that might not always want to be moved.”
Along with crowds, Breland’s origin story is something that has moved his family, literally. His decision to make his last name his official stage name was something that took a lot of thought and consideration.
“It’s a choice that I definitely did not take lightly,” he explained. “I understand the sacrifices that my parents have made over the course of literally just my whole lifetime, but you know — their entire lives to be able to put themselves in a position to raise a family the way that they did — and looking at the challenges that their parents faced and that their parents faced and so on… As Black people, you know, during the Civil Rights Movement and Jim Crow Era and all of the challenges that they had, there wasn’t a whole lot that they could do.
“And I feel like I’m really the first one that’s been in a position and that intersected with time and history in such a way that I was able to have this amount of freedom to create and to pursue these types of dreams,” he continued. “Because, you know, it was set up that way. And I was able to work hard. But, to me, it’s no different than in sports. You put the last name on the jersey because all of those people helped you get there, and for me, that’s exactly what this is.”
Dubbed the “King of Collabs” by AP, Breland also opened up about his mission to continue to give fans exciting moments through the intersection of genres.
“There’s been a ton of collabs between the R&B and the hip hop world to the point where they literally formed them into a super genre within, you know, industry classifications,” said Breland. “And I don’t necessarily think that that’s the solution because I actually think R&B and hip hop are two distinct sounds. But, they appeal to largely similar audiences, whereas country music appeals to a largely different audience. Oftentimes, when you see the collaboration between these different genres — like being able to see Summer Walker hop on a song with J. Cole or for Drake to be able to get on a song — these collaborations help to develop these artists’ careers and they give fans a lot of really exciting moments.
The star hopes that the same can be done for country music. “I think if we’re able to do that within country music with more traditionally perceived, you know, Black genres, I don’t see why it would be any different because the ancestry of these genres is all the same,” he continued. “They’re all trying to tell stories; they’re all trying to make people feel something. And there’s so much overlap that we don’t really give a whole lot of credit to.”
Until then, though, Breland will continue to use his artistry to leave a mark on country music and open doors for other artists who look like him — just as many others like Mickey Guyton have done in the past for him.