brian peoples garcia

Views From The Studio: Meet Producer Brian "Peoples" Garcia

To learn how Fetty's self-titled debut album came together, read what producer Peoples had to say on the studio process.

In the music realm, it's hard to stumble upon a songwriter/producer/artist partnership that you know will create replay-worthy songs. There was Aaliyah mixed with Static Major, Timbaland and Missy Elliott in the old school, The Clipse and The Neptunes' otherworldly melodies, and within this age, you might look to Drake and Noah "40" Shebib to give you a cohesive body of tunes. Now, newcomer Fetty Wap has found a home within the charts and everyone's playlists with his bangers, and along for the successful ride is producer Brian "Peoples" Garcia.

The New Jersey native knew producing was a passion of his since his days at Passaic High School. His determination to make it in that realm prompted Garcia to intern "everywhere" and cement connections with those around him, a few being Vinylz, Spinkings and Alan Ritter. He eventually met Fetty one day in a studio through frequent collaborator Monty. From there, the pair crafted hits that live on the radio like "679," "Again," and the Grammy nominated "Trap Queen."

To learn how Fetty's self-titled debut album came together, read what Peoples had to say on creating a few of the tracks in the latest edition of "Views From the Studio."

VIBE: What was the studio process like putting together Fetty Wap's debut?
Every song was a different vibe. “Trap Queen” was just me and him and two other people in the studio when he recorded it. I mixed it in my house. It took me three days to mix that song. I did it in my bedroom and the other songs I did in two other studios. I only had two weeks to mix it because our process in the studio is he comes in and I present him the beat or he has a beat. He either sits down and writes it or he already has it. Like “679” he just went in the booth, I think that was his fourth take, the whole hook, everything was freestyle. It really depends on his feeling when he hears the beat. Sometimes he’ll call me and say, ‘I have this song,’ like “Again.” He had that written and I was already in a studio session. He said, ‘Please I need to record this song now, I think this is the best song I ever wrote,’ and then my boy Shy Boogs recorded him downstairs. Then they finished it and he leaked it. That leak ended up getting 70 million clicks on SoundCloud. Then I mixed it and I think it broke Top 40 records. On Rap/Urban I think it debuted at number 7.

We did “Time” from scratch, that’s the one everybody likes. We asked him ‘What kind of song don’t you have?’ He said, “I don’t know, we have everything.’ I said, ‘You know you don’t have any Drake-type of stuff,’ like that vibe. He wrote it, went in the booth, he did his first verse, the hook, and then he did the little breakdown. He left, and we did the rest of the song like the guitar part, added more drums, then he came back and heard it and said, ‘Wow, this is amazing.’ We added another part to the bridge and then Monty jumped on it. It’s not all at once, a lot of people think we do everything in one take, but it’s a long process.

What was the brainstorming session like when you guys were mapping out the sound or vibe of the album?
I wanted you to go through a roller coaster of feelings, that’s why I ended it with “Rewind,” that really sad song with the guitar at the end. I know it was a lot of songs but there was so much content already out. I just felt why not already give them the content mixed, that way they can enjoy it and give them a little bit of extra stuff. I really wanted the fancy stuff like “Trap Queen” first and then go into serious and street stuff like “No Days Off” which puts you in that thinking mode. I wanted to hit you with all of the feelings on the album. Every song gives you a different feeling. I know a lot of people probably think, ‘He’s in his comfort zone,’ but why not be in your comfort zone? If you’re comfortable with something why try something different? I think it gives you a bunch of different feelings. You start off with “Trap Queen” and it’s so amped up, “How We Do Things” is amped up, “679” is the party thing and it just keeps going. Then “Time” comes and it’s a break, then it starts up again. I don’t think albums nowadays have that balance anymore. I think all the songs on albums nowadays sound the same. They give you that same turn up feeling, that’s it. There’s no other feeling other than turn up, it doesn’t make you think. I’m from a different era of hip-hop. I used to listen to albums totally different than how these young kids listen to albums.

Do you have a memorable moment in the studio with Fetty?
The best time I think was when we did “Time” because it was the first time we ever made a record from the beginning. He usually comes in with an MP3 or says, ‘Peoples make me a beat,’ or ‘Send me a beat,' 'What beat you got this week?’ I’d play him some beats, and it’s usually the first or the second beat and he’s like, ‘Alright, let me get that one.’ “679” I was making that beat over when they walked into the studio. I was making it over, my boy Velous, he made “All Day” and he’s signed to Coke Boys, I made that beat for him, but I don’t think he paid attention to it so I wasn’t happy with the way he didn’t take heed to the beat when I played it. I thought maybe I need to change it around. The next day I went to the studio and I was changing it around and that’s when they walked in and Fetty said, ‘What is that?’ I said, ‘Oh just some beat I was making.’ He f**ked with it and I kept messing with it. When I got to the breakdown, the part that sounds like a little kid playing on a table, that’s when he said, ‘Just load it up.’ The beat wasn’t done. I loaded it up, he went in and by the fourth take that’s when we did that. He’s pretty cool in his process because I’m used to people writing. I’m in deep sessions where it’s 10 or 12 hours and there’s just one song. Eight hours with Fetty is like 10 songs, it’s crazy. He doesn’t have the same process as a lot of people do.

"Trap Queen" remains his crowning single. Share the background story behind that melody.
They brought me a different record to mix. I finished that record a little bit earlier and I knew I was going to mix the other songs so I was being nosey. I looked and I saw “Trap Queen” by Fetty Cash, that used to be his name. I opened it up, and I heard it. He didn’t have the “1738” in it yet. After I heard it, I called his manager Nit The Grit at the time, and I said, ‘He should record this sh*t with me.’ It was a Monday or Tuesday, I remember it vividly. By Saturday we were in the studio recording “Trap Queen.” That day he put it out, that’s why it said “Trap Queen (Rough).” I told them give me a couple of days to mix it so they can sell it on iTunes. I mixed it, and by the time I finished, it had about 100,000 plays. It grew instantly. We did it on March 28, by the end of June, early July he was already at 350,000. I think by mid-July or August, it was not even half a million, so that song really blew over. By like September it was by 2 million. That’s when he got the deal. Then when he got the deal he blew up bigger than life. If that Fast & Furious song ["See You Again"] wasn’t out, “Trap Queen” would’ve definitely been number one on the Top 100.

Did you think this song was going to catapult Fetty into the spotlight?
I didn’t know it would be this big, but I knew it would be a hit. I have a thing when you can make fun of a song that sh*t is dope. I was doing so much dumb sh*t to it that I thought this was a f**king hit. After mixing it and I didn’t have to listen to the record anymore, my son kept singing the song for like two weeks. I had to play it in the car for him. He was like six years old at the time. He said, ‘Dad, play the “Trap Queen” song.’ I’m like, 'This motherf**ker might have a hit on his hand.' I knew the record was big, the way it sounded coming through those studio speakers, and when he said, ‘I’m like hey, what’s up, hello,’ there were goosebumps. I still get goosebumps talking about it. I remember it, so dope. I didn’t have to do sh*t to his voice. It was just natural. I could’ve fixed the “hello” part, but that sh*t was fire. That little mistake made him, because you know that’s what catches you on the record. I feel like if I would’ve fixed it, I would’ve took away character on that part. There’s ways to fix it and I could’ve fixed it. I could make anybody sound like a singer, but not him. That’s his natural voice. If you’ve seen him live, that’s exactly how he sounds.

It’s a song that any type of listener kind of gravitates to.
I call it the “Weird Al” methods. He used to flip the songs back in the day. All the songs he used to flip were the really dope songs. You can even go back to the 80s, early 90s, Mobb Deep sh*t. All their songs that were dope, like “It’s the G.O.D. Father Pt. III.” You can make fun of all of those songs. I think I’m on to something (laughs).

You said there was something captivating about the original version of “Trap Queen.” What exactly do you look for when you’re producing an instrumental that’ll not only capture your attention but also the listener's?
I think drums are the main part of everything. If the drums aren’t hot, the beat isn’t hot. You can have the dopest melody, but if the drums aren’t hot I don’t think it’ll work. I think drums are the driver, the main thing to me. I tend to start my beats with sound, so I would say the main sound is trying to find that melody that'll catch people’s attention. I don’t try to bite other people’s sh*t so I don’t go into the studio like, ‘I’m going to find a song that sounds like Future.’ I just go in there and whatever my vibes are that day, that’s what I do. “Again” I was trying to make an up-tempo “Try Me.” It worked in a good way because it’s Top 40, but to me the sound and the drums have to be dope. The drums that Vinylz did on “Blessed,” that sh*t is… you can’t even catch them that’s how dope they are. It’s so weird, and people like weird stuff now. They’re more open to the weirdness, not like 10 years ago when everybody had the down South flute in their song with the same 909 or 808’s in their sh*t. I just think now people are way more open because of people like The Weeknd, PartyNextDoor, Drake, Travis Scott, so much different sh*t going on right now it’s so cool. A lot of old school people are like, ‘Where’s hip hop?’ There are so many sub-genres now it’s crazy. I think that’s dope that hip-hop is evolving that way because at one point we thought it wasn’t going to go anywhere like, ‘What are we going to do without big rope chains?’ Then Mobb Deep came out talking about shooting n***as. It’s like Rock N’ Roll that has punk, heavy metal and we have down South crunk music, Bay music, Chicago shoot-em-up music. Now we have New Jersey music that we can finally say we have a sound. I think that’s pretty dope.

How’d you describe New Jersey sound?
It’s like party music, I can’t explain it any other way than that. Every time someone comes to the studio, it’s party time, turn up. We got our own sh*t. We make you want to dance when we play our sh*t. It’s always been like that with our music, even with that club music. It was always dance. We know who’s partying over here. People have hoods and sh*t, but at the end of the day we’re trying to make party records. We’re trying to have the clubs rocking. We do it for the street, don’t get it twisted. Personally for me, I don’t. I make R&B music. When I make my beats, if you noticed with the “679” and “Again” have those little old school R&B nods with the new wave. That’s what I do. That’s why I try to incorporate street with R&B with Fetty. That’s why he started saying Trap N’ B because it’s trap, but R&B too.

What makes a song stand the test of time?
I think it’s the uniqueness of it. It’s not like anything else. “679” it sounds like a Mustard beat, but it has that East Coast bounce to it. I think that’s why people like it so much because it can feel West Coast-y, but it still has that East Coast feel. “My Way” is the same thing too. I think it’s about the originality of the record. It all boils down to originality. Nobody sound like Fetty. It really boils down to his voice, the beats he picks for his voice. He knows what range to go and not go, like ‘I know I can’t sing this way so I’m not going to go ahead and get that beat.’ I think he chooses his beats wisely and that’s what makes him so original. He picks the beats that match his voice and then his voice is already so unique that it’s like an instrument itself, it’s so melodic.

You’ve also received shout outs from industry heavyweights like Young Jeezy or Timbaland giving you your props. I wanted to know what is that feeling like?
It’s like I finally made it. I’m 35 years old and it’s crazy. That just smacked me as you asked me that question. I think that’s the first time I thought about it. I don’t let that sh*t get to me. I’m really humble. I don’t really care about the money. As long as my family is happy, my kids and my wife that’s what I give a f**k about. That’s what keeps me moving everyday. That’s what makes me go to the studio and make some dope sh*t that Timbaland is going to post on Instagram and say, ‘This is so f**king hard.’ That sh*t was amazing. That was dope as hell. That’s a person that I looked up to my whole career coming up and it’s like you just said my sh*t is dope. This the first time I actually smiled about that, thank you.

How do you balance family and industry life?
My wife is very supportive and that’s the way I was able to balance it. There’s no other way. It’s a 50/50 relationship. If she wasn’t supportive I don’t think I would’ve been able to do it because we struggled a lot. There was a point where it was bad, lights were getting shut off. We never got evicted, our parents never allowed that to happen, but it was bad. Now, to get all of these rewards, I guess God was like you struggled enough. She worked, and I was in the studio every day. I would make a little bit of money here and there. Vinylz would get some sessions and he was a nobody either at the time when I was working with him. He blew up with “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt," and the studio shut down six months later because the hurricane flooded us. You have to never give up, and my wife never gave up. We just had another baby and everything just started going good. Fetty came along and he was like, ‘I’m going to make you rich one day,’ and I said, ‘Everybody says that,’ and he made me rich (laughs). Thank you Fetty.

Do you think the lack of balance on some artist’s albums is due to the fact that they want to give their fans music right away, a quick turn around?
It’s definitely, ‘I’m hot right now I have to put it out.’ Ten years ago, they used to sit in a studio for like a year and record an album. These rock and pop dudes, they don’t sit in a studio for a month and then drop an album. That’s not what we do. We had a whole year to do it. Now people spend one or two months in the studio and say, ‘We have 10 songs, let’s put out an album.’ I’m more of the traditional method, sit back and make an amazing album that people are going to listen to for a long time and not just for the next six months. I want you to still listen to my album next year.

That element is gone. You don’t really get those albums like that. Those classics like the Magna Carta Holy Grail sh*t. You see how Jay Z sat in the studio and did everything. Everything was a process and that album came out later. I think the value of music at some point, people need to appreciate it or it’s going to depreciate. You can’t take the time out anymore, you have to come in the game with a body of stuff already made so they can say this is dope, sounding like you sat in the music studio for a long time making it. People make one hit record and say, ‘I want to put this whole album out. The label signed me so I have to recoup this money and I have two weeks to do it because my records are falling on the charts.’ That’s why everybody thought Fetty was a one-hit-wonder and then “My Way” came out, “679,” and then “Again” came out, then the album, and some people on that Billboard only have one hit.

Are you working with any other artists in the future?
I’m working with Red Café. I think I have some A$AP Ferg things going on. I want to work with Kehlani, Drake. I’m more of an R&B dude. I would love to be on a Beyonce record. I think that would be dope as hell. I can hear her on the stuff we do now. There’s a bunch of stuff that people haven’t heard, a lot of “Time” stuff, that R&B new wave stuff I think she’d sound amazing on. I would love to work with Alicia Keys. I just think I’m an R&B head. I think I’m supposed to work with Marsha Ambrosious next week, Trey Songz, a lot of R&B. I guess they want that Fetty sound.

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'The Last Train To Paris' Turns 10: Revisit Diddy's Aug./Sept. 2010 VIBE Cover Story

YOU EVER WATCH a control freak mellow out? It’s fascinating. When said micromanager is Sean “Puffy” Combs, it’s an enlightening ordeal altogether. Sitting at trendy Asian eatery Philippe Chow in New York City, two days before LeBron James announces that he’s taking his show to South Beach, Combs has talking points: impact and legacy. “This ain’t a regular run,” says Combs of his two-decade laundry list of accomplishments. “I’m saying that in the most humble way possible. I’m me and I’m seeing it. Most times the impact of what you do you don’t even live to see it.”

He’s the only patron seated for the evening, lounging at a table that comfortably seats eight. This is clearly a Sean John zone. His voice remains even, but the arrogance skyrockets. “It trickles over into sports. It goes into the way the free agent negotiations are going. [Athletes] have that belief. But that level of confidence as Black businessmen wasn’t really there. Unforgivable swagger. That shit wasn’t there.”

Translation: Sean believes that his ambition has been infectious. In his “humble” opinion, his drive has taught the have-nots that not only can they have, but they can be gluttonous and acquire wealth rather than riches. Will it ruin his day if people don’t agree? Not really. But he’d still like the legacy to be accurately documented. His reactionary reflexes have given way to him thinking long term, which could be why he’s unfazed by trivial shots like 50 Cent’s claims of having nude pictures of his artist Cassie. He’s more interested in guiding careers—Rick Ross, Red Cafe and Dirty Money, among them. And really, he’d like to do square biz and have your kids’ kids respect him like his contemporaries admire Warren Buffet. That would truly be money in the bank. In the meantime, he wants to mellow with a plate of chicken satay and talk Diddy legacy.

VIBE: You have said that rap’s heavyweight class consisted of Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Drake. Do you still believe that?

Diddy: Definitely. I feel like Drake is somebody that entered professionally in the heavyweight division. He didn’t come in as a middleweight, he didn’t come in as a light heavyweight, he came in as a heavyweight. He’s gonna be a force to be reckoned with for a while. He is the definition of a new age musical rapper . . . going forward a lot of rap artists are going to have [singing and rapping] in their repertoire.

What’s the ranking in that heavyweight division?

Jay, Kanye, Wayne, and Drake.

Jay still No. 1?

Hands down as far as worldwide impact and due to this last album [The Blueprint 3]. He’s moved up in the rankings.

People don’t realize that you two are friends and not just industry acquaintances.

Over the years as we’ve grown, Jay and I have needed each other. We’ve needed to be able to pick up the phone and call somebody that can understand what each other was going through. We needed each other to motivate each other; we needed each other to push each other. We needed each other to support each other and also to challenge each other. He’s definitely been a great friend to me. There’s never been anything that I’ve asked him to do or he’s asked me to do that we really haven’t done for each other.

Give an example of when you had to pick up the phone and call Jay for assistance.

I wanted to do something game-changing with Sean John. And I just picked his brain. I did [a fashion line] before him but I think that business-wise he did a lot of things better than me. He picked the right time to get out and get his check, to sell his company. We sat on the phone and talked about itŃput our egos in our pockets. I didn’t see Sean John versus Roc-A-Wear. I just saw that my man over here is doing it [and I had] a couple of offers for Sean John. It was a beautiful conversation, ‘cause we’re sitting down at this restaurant and we’re talking about apparel. We’re not talking about music. It was a beautiful moment. Two quarter-of-a-billion dollar companies—just getting advice from your competitor. It was something that you heard rich White boys do.

Dr. Dre said that the last beat that floored him was “All About the Benjamins.” How does that make you feel?

It’s humbling. I was in the studio with Dre the other day. He started working on a record for me. Watching him as a producer is watching greatness. We had a lot of similar traits. It was like looking in the mirror. He would ask questions like, “How you feel about this?” People don’t really understand true producers want to know how you feel about things. We are some of the most observant people on the planet.

You’re a lot more into the music now than the last time we spoke.

I was waiting to get a lot of inspiration from the outside and it just wasn’t coming. And I’m not knocking anyone’s hustle that’s out there. I just come from musical history that musically people gave more of themselves . . . I was able to go back and listen to all the great records that I made. I ain’t do it on purpose. Like sometimes I’d be in a club and the DJ was just throwing tributes and would go deep in the crates. I would be like, “Damn, I forgot that I made that one.” It just gave me a deep connection and another level of confidence for me to do me.

Are you feeling more comfortable writing on your own?

Yeah. I learned a lot more. I feel a lot more confident and free. On this album, I wrote like maybe two or three records by myself. But I still like writing with somebody. It helps me. Not using it as a crutch, but I get better results from co-writing; having my own feelings and thoughts, and, you know, getting some help with it. I love the feeling of collaboration, community in the studio. I don’t like being the mad scientist and being in the room by myself.

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Desus & Mero Bless A Bronx Bodega With A Year's Worth of Rent

You know them as the hosts of the hit Showtime series Desus & Mero, aka "the greatest show in late-night history, featuring only illustrious guests." These days you might catch them chatting with President Obama, but  Bronx natives Desus Nice and The Kid Mero have never lost touch with their roots as the Bodega Boys.

"On our first podcast me and Mero used to have to ride the train back afterward," recalls Desus. "And basically our conversation on the train sounded exactly like the podcast. And somebody was like, 'Yo, they sound like two guys you hear in the bodega.' Which was true, because when you hear guys in the bodega, they talk very passionately about things. They may not have all the facts, but they're talking with their hearts."

"Their confidence is strong!" adds Mero with a laugh.

"That's just us," says Desus. "We're raised in bodegas. Probably 90 percent of the food we grew up eating was either our mother's cooking or chopped cheese sandwiches."

"Facts," Mero confirms.

Ever since the pandemic hit, New York City's community bodegas have served as a lifeline by providing New Yorkers with daily necessities, especially in neighborhoods where door-to-door gourmet food delivery is not an option. But staying open hasn't been easy—the daily risks of doing business under threat from a deadly virus—not to mention a spike in robberies and violence—has made running a bodega very challenging, to say the least. But day in day out, in good times and bad, they find a way to keep their doors open.

"If your block is the solar system, the bodega is the sun," says Mero. "The hood orbits the bodega."

So when the makers of Pepsi cola decided to give back on the bodega owners who provide life-giving sustenance and ice-cold soda to NYC's five boroughs, they reached out to the Bodega Boys as their official goodwill ambassadors. Today Desus & Mero appear in a short film called The Bodega Giveback, which highlights the way one Bronx bodega overcame extreme hardship—and the way Pepsi is helping them keep going after 2020 comes to an end.

For Juan Valerio and his son Jefferson, the proprietors of JJN Corp Deli & Grocery in the Bronx, 2020 has been a horrible year. Juan still remembers when he came to America with his father in 1990. "To buy a bodega at that time was well over $100,000," Juan recalls in the short film, which you can watch above. "It was a dream that seemed unreachable. I never thought I would achieve it. And now this is what I do. My whole life is here."

Then in April 2020, tragedy struck when Juan's father lost his life to COVID 19. For the first time in three decades, the bodega had to close its doors down briefly. "It’s something very powerful to lose what you love the most in a split second," Juan recalls with emotion as his son comforts him with a hug. "Life goes on. And I decided to come back because he always taught me to work. To stay closed was disrespectful to him."

"He had to shut down for a little bit," says Desus. "But then he reopened cause the community needed him. Cause the lockdown a lot of stores closed down. And in the Bronx, you can't really get stuff delivered. And he's the hub. We heard stories of what he did, so we were like, how can we give back to him? Shout out to Pepsi with the Bodega Giveback. And just giving him a year's rent—that's the most amazing thing you can give a bodega owner. Shout out to Juan and his son. The look on their face when they really get it—you see the appreciation."

"It really hit home," said Mero. "Cause it's like, we're children of immigrants. So that could have been us—if we didn't get seen by the right people and put in the right positions, we coulda been workin' alongside our dad at a bodega. And then watchin' your grandfather pass away and then comin' back because you know how important you are to the community. Like, that's really selfless. It's just a dope story. And those stories occur all over the place, it's just people don't see them. Cause they don't get exposed on a national level. But a brand like Pepsi can put that on a national stage and be like,  "Yo, look—this is a mom and pop establishment for real. And these are the small businesses that you supposed to be supporting."

The release of The Bodega Giveback kicks off a larger holiday giveback from Pepsi this season that includes cash gifts to bodega owners and consumers across NYC's five boroughs.  “Pepsi has so many longstanding bodega partners in New York City,” said Umi Patel, CMO of North Division, PepsiCo Beverages North America. “They are not only pillars of the community, but they have gone above and beyond to take care of their loyal customers during the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. They have worked around the clock to stay open, filling shelves to ensure their customers, friends, and family have the essentials they need to stay home and stay safe. They have even shifted their businesses to meet the needs of the community, offering new delivery options, adding crucial items like masks and gloves, and more, all while dealing with their own personal challenges of the pandemic. We are proud to do our part in giving back to these unsung heroes.”

From now until December 20, Pepsi will also be surprising customers at local bodegas across the five boroughs by gifting pre-paid credit cards of up to $100.00 per customer.

As Juan says in the film, "one hand washes the other, and with both, we wash our face."

Check out our full convo with Desus & Mero above and the short film, The Bodega Giveback.

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Level Announces Their 'Best Man 2020 Awards' Featuring Entertainment Elite to Everyday Kings

It is a hard feat for media brands to survive the content landscape these days. To pull off the incredible undertaking of informing an audience as a new publication in the digital space is damn near impossible, yet the team at Medium's Level has done just that. To celebrate making their mark as a one-stop information shop for black men with their one-year anniversary this week, the team of bright and witty editors has launched their first annual Best Man Awards 2020.

The plan to honor the brand that started in December of 2019, focused on the interests of African-American males, has expanded into encompassing the efforts of a few good men during this mess of a year that is 2020. In doing so, those that broke through barriers of personal pain, new business frontiers, and support of others are highlighted and given the rightful pedestals to gain well-deserved props.

Of the 12 awards, esteemed gents like Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, and D-Nice are saluted as Quarantine Kings for their Verzuz and Club Quarantine (respectively) social media music creations that entertained the masses during the dogged days of our universal shut-down. There is also a heroic soul of a man who protected a black woman and her family from the surrounding presence of racist neighbors on his own time and dime. They have an award for Father of the Year, where former NBA all-star and champion, Dwyane Wade shines as a glowing example of understanding and ushering in new ways of parenting in today's society.

With the awards being a noble move towards giving Black men some much-needed praise in 2020, Level made sure to round up the last 365 days with themes on "The State of Black and Brown Men" as well. Essays that cover the realms of political ideology, coping with covid among Blacks health care workers,  how Black men fell short of protecting Black women, and exploring what Black men see when they look in the mirror (a piece that is a user-generated content driver/audience-led convo). All hard topics that need to be detailed, yet are rarely in a space for deep-dive convo.

Helmed by former VIBE editor-in-chief, Jermaine Hall, Level's editors explain their thoughts on the special coverage and celebration of their one year old brand:

“With the Best Man Awards, we wanted to lean into people who are doing incredible things to support society and publicly thank them. Anthony Herron, Jr is a hero. He stepped up to protect someone he didn’t know because, as he saw it, harassment is unacceptable. LEVEL wanted to make sure he received a nod for his heroics. But there are also several celebrities who are doing things outside of their jobs. D-Nice, Swizz, and Timbaland helped us cope through music. And it wasn’t a paid gig for any of them. They responded because people needed help healing so they provided care. That’s a strong attribute of the LEVEL man. It’s certainly is the definition of men being their best selves."

Click here to read about these individuals and learn more about the Best Man Awards 2020. Excelsior to Level.


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