The “New” New Orleans: Brought to you by Brandan “B-mike” Odums
It’s amazing to see what the mind of one individual can do for a city like New Orleans. If you’re not familiar with Brandan “B-mike” Odums, head down to the Marigny, follow the graffiti, and you will eventually land at StudioBe: a collective space created by B-mike that serves as a hub for creatives and artists, of all ages, all around the city. But, that’s not where he started.
Before Studio Be, there was still B-mike, and he was still making moves. Having established 2-Cent Entertainment, LLC in December of 2004, it was at that point that B-mike began building a vocal foundation for the city of New Orleans. Little did he know that with time, 2 Cent would continue to grow and would eventually land a show on ABC. To date, B-mike still runs a lot of his work on behalf of 2 Cent.
Recently, I stumbled upon this 2008 interview of B-mike with Timecode Nola where he got the chance to lay out his upcoming ‘2 Cent’ video project at the time: Freedom Land.
With that being said, I was really moved when I came upon this youthful interview with B-mike, when he was initially trying to figure the constant flow of his creativity all out. Most importantly, this video showcases how important the city of New Orleans has always been to him, and signifies how, over the years, he has used his mental capacity and visual art to better his community.
So, what is 2 Cent?
“2-Cent is an online television experiment that focuses on everything young people need to see, plus what they want to see,” says B-mike.
He continues by emphasizing that, “It’s all about uplifting, educating, and building a consciousness in young people around this city… and soon to be around the world”.
Upon developing the idea of 2 Cent, B-mike worked at a tv station. At that time, he felt as if the station’s showing of programming was not fulfilling the needs of his own community. He turned that lack of fulfillment into inspiration. He decided to get together with a group of close friends to brainstorm on a way out how he could get his message out; a message most in his community were seeking.
His first thought… Music is communication for New Orleans. It’s a better means than television and books.
Music is how were going to carry that message forward, especially in New Orleans. We plan to send positive messages through music, as our main mean of communication, says B-mike.
Thinking about it now, it seems obvious. New Orleans is a city built on the foundation of music, in which it’s pure essence, in any form, can truly impact him or her. Especially when it comes to rappers and rap music.
Outside of jazz and blues, the genres of rap, bounce, and hip hop have always had an impact on the New Orleans community. Rappers are the ones that convey messages to their audience that they not only understand, but are willing to listen to, even beyond the track. For instance, look at the everlasting impact the Hot Boys, Cash Money Records, and Soulja Slim still has on this city today.
Deep into the brainstorming, it was at this point that B-mike and his team figured out their means of communication: music. They then moved onto Step 2: Which rappers would best lyrically convey a message through music, and what would the message be?
And that’s where B-mike’s 2 Cent mindset came into play:
“Positive Rap is a trickle effect. If influential artists are bringing a positive front about their community through music, others will follow,” thought B-mike.
B-mike felt it was important that the artists selected for the videos could bring a sense of vulnerability and speak truth to their own power. They all had to be on the same page in order to truly convey a collaborative message.
With the artists in mind, B-mike and his team then gathered eight of the best, most mindful artists around the city. He asked them to be a part of his 2 Cent vision. He told them he hoped to create a cloud of “positivity” over the city, with further hopes of helping heal the people of New Orleans’ Hurricane Katrina wounds. This would be accomplished by each artist giving their “2 cents”, in hopes of conveying a message.
He said, “Give me your 2 cents on life through your verse. Be blunt. Speak your mind about New Orleans, its problems, and to specifically speak on the City, post-Hurricane Katrina.”
It was at that point that B-mike started to see his vision come true. He observed a level of seriousness from each artist, as they all brought realness, rawness, and passion with their words. The rappers not only took it seriously, but eventually felt inclined to join B-mike in his passion for spreading a positive message to New Orleans through music. By the end of the first project, it was clear that each artist put their hearts on the forefront of their verses.
Upon the creation of that collective sense of passion, his team went forth with their first 2 Cent music video project, Freedom Land.
To truly showcase the array of each artists’ 2 cents, which was to detail their own unique mindsets and personal triumphs at that time, I felt it was important to highlight each artist and what Freedom Land really meant to them.
The Artists’ and their 2 CENTS:
Look at yourself and your surroundings in hopes it’ll make you do something positive with your life. Listen to the words in my song and have them possibly change your life.The Show/Don Flamingo
Everyone got their own Katrina songs and the city’s struggle. They think were crabs in the bucket down here, so we needed this song. And because of this song, there will be others like it to follow.Nutt Da Kidd
I look at Freedom Land as a milestone for New Orleans – Everyone involved that’s on the come-up together in one video is something I’ve never seen – It’s important for everyone to speak their minds and put their 2-cents in.DJ Raj Smoove
When I heard the beat, I was on some rebel shit. The song represents the black community and just shows them that these artists coming together to bring something positive. Where’s the billions of dollars the city got from Katrina? Why haven’t we seen it?Young A
I free-styled my verse. The beat was crying, so I let my heart talk to the beat. The First Amendment gives you Freedom of Speech. Where the hell is the new Malcom X, where the hell is the new Martin Luther King, Jr.? To me, we don’t have any strong leaders around us right now. This the best video I ever saw, I ever was a part of. I hope this message brainwash you, and makes you speak out, and use your voice.Mack Maine
B-mike and the whole 2 Cent family gave us a vision and we ran with it. For me, I felt the sample described the whole movement of us as young black entertainers and entrepreneurs. So that’s what the song meant to me. This song is so beautiful and powerful, and it’s really a whole movement. The video is amazing and you’ve never seen anything like this.Zella
Freedom Land is a strong word. Its important because you get a chance to see how we feel about something that’s really important. I’m putting my 2-cents in about it. When I saw the video, I thought HOT, especially where we come from. No big labels, just communication and dedication. If everyone was on the same page, this video could change the world.Dizzy aka Raw D.I.
Eyes on the prize, you control the future. I’m here to teach ya, when I die to save the people, from New Orleans public schools, mis-education for the Negro.K-Gates
After realizing the impact 2 Cent and Freedom Land could have, or had, on the community, B-mike was more hopeful than ever.
2 CENT PRESENTS: FREEDOM LAND
I hope ‘Freedom Land catapults into some kind of “stamp of approval”, meaning that with these artists and their musical messages, you know what kind of content your going to receive, said B-mike.
And that’s where it all started. It’s a curiosity to wonder if the youthful B-mike, but “not-so-youthful” brain of his has changed the culture of New Orleans rap and youth forever.
Upon the creation of Freedom Land, came the overall success of 2 Cent Entertainment, LLC. It wasn’t long until well-known rappers and artists like Lupe Fiasco, Kendrick Lamar, and Mos Def, picked up on B-mike’s positive message. They wanted to be a part of it. In a small city like New Orleans, that task alone is harder than ever.
Outside of the non-local “bigger” artists mentioned above, B-mike has continued his flow of inspiration to others through 2 Cent. Looking past the artists making the big bucks, the majority of videos produced and/or created by 2 Cent feature local artists, and focus on empowering the black youth. Specifically the black youth in New Orleans.
Now days, it’s hard to come upon a real soul. That is, someone who is willing to do their personal part, just to see the youth step up, speak their mind, and give their ‘2 cents’ on life, with hopes of creating a greater good.
I take pride in bringing light to the youthful B-mike. Simply for the fact that B-mike is that real soul. Whether its 2008, or 2019, B-mike seems to have always have put the greater good of the New Orleans community before himself. With that, and his infinite talents, he has been blessed with success.
That’s why we need more visual artists and mentors like B-mike to bless New Orleans. More than ever, it is needed. With the rise of social media comes the rise in a more “cut-throat” society; a society in which one communicates from behind the screen, and ignores all senses of humanity. The society not in which you’re happy for your colleague, or friend, on their musical successes, rather jaded, or jealous.
It’s essential that you head to B-mike’s 2 Cent TV YouTube channel, 2 Cent TV, and grace yourself with the array of videos that are filled with creativity, humor, and a sense of realness. If you follow New Orleans hip hop, you’re bound to find some gems you’ll be pleased with.
Although a mastermind on the musical production and direction side, as highlighted in this article, B-mike is well-known for his vibrant, eye-popping murals seen all across New Orleans, as well as the United States. They are all truly breathtaking, but more importantly, convey a message that is likely to touch someone, somewhere.