Astro – The Come Up
In the last decade, TV talent showcases have made stars out of a handful of singers, but rappers have yet to make a name for themselves. Until Astro, that is. Born Brian Bradley, the Brooklyn native became a fan-favorite late last year when his charisma, personality, and of course, his rap skills, shone through on Fox’s talent show, The X Factor. Though he didn’t win the competition, the 15-year-old did win over plenty of fans, as well as some of the judges, including L.A. Reid, who signed the newbie to Epic Records in a deal announced last month.
XXL caught up with the rhymeslinger to find out about his experiences on the show, what he’s learned from Reid, what to expect from his debut, and more. Act like you know. —Adam Fleischer (@adamxxl)
Reppin’: Brooklyn, NY
Notable Releases: Loser; “Stop Looking at My Mom!”
Label: Epic Records
On why he didn’t want to try out for The X Factor:
I felt like it was going to be an American Idol type of thing, and they weren’t going to let me do me, and it wouldn’t be my type of environment, especially as a hip-hop artist. I just felt like it wasn’t for me. But I spoke to my mom and she kept telling me, “You should do it, just give it a chance” and prior to the audition L.A. Reid was on the radio, and she heard him saying, “Yo, if you got 16s, any MCs out there, come through, we need more MCs.” So I just went there and I made it through, that got me off on the competition.
On his favorite moment from the show:
Probably the first live show. The first live show was when I felt like everybody started watching. It was fresh. All of the top 17 got to perform live. That’s the most fun I had on the show. Performing for the audience and getting good responses on Twitter and stuff.
On dropping his mixtape, Loser the day of The X Factor finale:
Honestly, a lot of the tracks on the tape, I was writing while I was at The X Factor studios. I was writing while I was getting ready to go on stage. Just random ideas ’cause I didn’t wanna let ’em go. When I was still doing the show, I felt like, I can’t record songs and put ’em out, so I didn’t even wanna write. And that’s why when I got kicked off the show, I didn’t cry or anything. I was like, Yeah, I can put out another mixtape! I can grind. I can go back to doing shows, doing interviews with XXL—this is what I like to do.
On “Stop Looking At My Mom!”:
We had that record forever. We don’t put it on mixtapes. If we do, it’s a snippet. I think we had that record since my very first mixtape, or something like that. It’s a very old record. But we just shot the video and it blew up overnight and we decided to run with it.
On the controversy when he was almost kicked off the show:
I think people that were watching got confused. I wasn’t overreacting because I didn’t want to perform, I said I don’t want to perform for people who don’t want me here. Basically, it was something that went on behind the scenes of The X-Factor that I can’t talk about, let’s just say they did it out of spite by putting me in the bottom two, but I was real mad that night. I let all my anger out on stage. I was wrong for it and I just want to apologize to everybody who was offended by it or mad because of it. I want to say sorry to everybody, but you know, I’m from Brooklyn, and I don’t really know how to hold my emotions. If people wanna call me cocky, then so be it.
On what he’s learned from L.A. Reid:
One thing with L.A. that I learned is never let ’em see you sweat, and I let ’em see me sweat on the show. Don’t let people see when you’re mad—just smile and laugh. I’m not a star yet so I gotta just wait to I get to that point. I gotta relax and just not get so mad over things. I’m from Brooklyn. I’m not really used to this stuff. You know having to practice everyday and getting up on stage in front of millions of people. They could never bug you if they don’t know what bugs you, so I live with that.
On his upcoming debut album due out later this year:
I want people to know that I’m not just another kid MC. I’m actually a fan of good music and hip-hop. They’ll know I have an old soul. That’s what people have been telling me lately. They’ll feel a little old school vibe. They’ll just enjoy the album.