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Darien Brockington discusses his solo debut, his dreadlocks and the ladies

click to enlarge Smooth soul singer: Darien Brockington lands Somebody to Love - PHOTO BY JOHN A. STEPHENS
  • Photo by John A. Stephens
  • Smooth soul singer: Darien Brockington lands Somebody to Love

When he graduated from N.C. Central, Darien Brockington became a teller at Bank of America. But that changed when college buddy Thomas "Rapper Big Pooh" Jones walked through Brockington's line. Jones asked him to join the Justus League, and Brockington became the "hook guy" for Little Brother's Atlantic Records debut, The Minstrel Show, showcasing his suave voice on "Slow it Down" and "Not Enough." But his recently released solo debut—Somebody to Love, with production from 9th Wonder, Khrysis and Durham newcomer E. Jones—finally puts him in the spotlight.

What's the story of you and the Justus League?

My introduction started with Phonte and Pooh before it was even known as the Justus League. After we all left school [at N.C. Central], I started working at the bank. One day, Pooh came in and we started catching up on what had been going, and then we started talking about music. He told me about how he and Phonte were going to Japan soon, and he asked me what was going on with my music and if I was pursuing it. I let him know that I was, and he asked if I wrote. I told him I did. From there, he was like, "If that's what you do, then I have this song that I'd like to put you on," which we know now as "On My Mind" from Pooh's album, Sleepers.

I went over there, wrote it, and was like, "What you think?" He said it was dope. We went into the studio and laid it down. It went from that to working on a Pete Rock joint with them to The Foreign Exchange and, before you know it, I was on the Okayplayer compilation with them, and I was the hook guy. Being the hook guy meant I was part of the family.

Do you feel like your role as the hook guy is changing?

I think so, for so many different reasons. I guess there isn't as much of a need for them to hold my hand and walk me through everything that I do anymore. We can agree that I've gotten to a place as an artist that I can stand on my own two feet. I've kind of established who I am as an artist.

Where do you see yourself and the Justus League in the future?

I think I'll always have a place with them as they will always have a place with anything that I'm doing. More than becoming music colleagues, I like to think that we're family. In terms of the music, everybody plays so many roles. Everybody is versatile. With Phonte, even though we know him as an emcee, he writes, he arranges, he does it all. He did it on my EP and he did it on Somebody to Love. When I need someone to help me with music, that's the man I'm calling. When he needs somebody to sing on a hook, I'm probably going to be the person that he calls. An LB album might come out and I might not be on one hook, but trust me, I'm in the background doing something. That's how it always will be, and vice versa. I might have an album and LB might not be on it. That doesn't mean they didn't help in the musical process.

How have the ladies been treating you since you cut your dreads? Do you think you're becoming the Justus League's sex symbol?

I can't lie. Even when I had the dreads, it was all good. Even those who weren't looking at me like that then are starting to look at me differently. I think it's more than just the hair, though. I'm letting people see more of my personality as I go. No complaints over here.

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