Last summer, 14-year-old Bed-Stuy resident Brian Bradley was tired of guys ogling and hissing at his pretty mother when they walked down the street. His mom is shy, and he felt it was very disrespectful. So he wrote a rap song about it, "Stop Looking at My Mom," under the name The Astronomical Kid. (See attached video).
By fall 2010, the video he made to accompany the song had racked up so many Youtube visits, it caught the attention of news media everywhere, from New York to London.
Patch has decided to check in with the Internet sensation known as The Astronomical Kid to see how he's handling his new-found fame and to hear about his upcoming projects.
Introduce yourself by stating your name, age, the neighborhood you’re from, and the school you currently attend.
My name is The Astronomical Kid. I’m fourteen years old. I’m from Brooklyn, New York, and I’m currently living in Bed-Stuy. The school I attend… I’m going to keep that private.
Explain your stage name, The Astronomical Kid. How did it come about?
I gave myself the name. One day I was writing a rhyme and I was looking through the dictionary and I came across Astronomical. And I saw it meant big, large, outer space, something like that. I added “Kid” and “The” to it so it would sound real big and professional. I like that name because everything I do I like to think is astronomical. My original name was going to be Nutsy.
Your hit single, “Stop Looking at My Mom,” has earned you national attention. Can you describe what it’s been like appearing on TV? How have you been handling the press?
The first big show was at Black Expo with DJ Envy and I performed my song Converse. I loved Converse at the moment—still do.
Where I’m from a lot of kids watch TV but they never say I can be on 106 and Park or I can be on MTV. They don’t really believe it. So for me to be on both off of one song that just showed me I can do anything or be anything I want to be. My first experience with paparazzi was when I came out of the Channel 11 news building and they said, ‘Astro, can I take your picture?’ That felt really good.
Have you earned the attention of any record labels, either local or national?
Yeah, we have some offers on the table. We have big offers on the table. We should be signing soon. Hopefully by next month I’ll be signed.
How young were you when you started to listen to Hip-Hop music? Can you recall the first rhymes you wrote, or the first time you freestyled?
When I started listening to Hip-Hop I was probably nine years old. I heard Biz Markie and it was really dope. I just wanted to find out about more music that sounded as dope as that. So, yeah, that’s when I started to listen to Hip-Hop, not rap. I consider them two different things.
I became an emcee this year because my definition of an emcee is different from my definition of a rapper. I’ve been a rapper since I was nine but an emcee this year because now I can switch up my flow; I can rap on any type of beat; I can control a crowd with no jewelry on, just nothing but my hand.
What’s the difference between Hip-Hop and rap?
A rapper is someone who will wear jewelry or use what they have on to get a crowd to like them or get people to buy their albums. An MC is someone who really loves Hip-Hop for Hip-Hop. Not about the money, the jewelry or the women.
Hip-Hip is a way for the youth—a way for a lot of different people—to express themselves to the world. Rap is a way for you to be cool, just to get girls. I mean, you can do the same thing with Hip-Hop, but it’s much deeper than that.
Your new stardom has taken you from Webster Hall to Alabama. What’s it been like traveling the country? What has your favorite show been?
I flew for the first time to California for the BET awards. It’s an overwhelming experience. It makes me feel like a real star.
My favorite show would have to be the one in Delaware. I won a contest over 3,000 people who entered. So they let me open up for the Delaware Spring Jam—they’re version of Summer Jam. I performed with B.o.B, Fat Joe, Melanie Fiona, Omarion. Melanie Fiona actually brought me backstage so I could beatbox for her.
What has your worst show been, or the one you learned the most from?
My worst show was a show I did when I was 10 years old. It was at YMCA. I remember my music was messing up because the DJ was downstairs and I was performing upstairs so he couldn’t hear me. Someone had to run back and forth to tell him, ‘Hey drop the record.’ So I stopped, waiting for the record to drop for like 5 minutes and this little girl booed me. You know, she was my age and she booed me and I couldn’t really handle that well. I just started crying after. I don’t really get booed anymore, but now when I do I know how to handle it. I’m stronger. I don’t cry anymore.
Your press bio claims that you’ve “revived the hunger for true hip-hop.” Can you describe how your music is different from what’s on the radio or what other emcees are doing? Why, in your opinion, is your music receiving so much attention?
My music is different because it’s based on concepts, things that people go through in their everyday lives. Stop looking at my mom. I guarantee you every kid from my school—everyone that was walking with their mom—got their mother looked at. It’s different from what’s on the radio because the majority of what’s playing is dance songs. You got songs about money. We got to step up. We got to make Hip-Hop more of an art.
I think my music is receiving so much attention because people can relate to it. Not everybody can relate to going into a mall and spending $150,000 on clothes and popping champagne. But everybody can relate to “Stop Looking at My Moms.” You don’t like people looking at your mother; I don’t like it either. I put it on a song and it became a hit.
Many rappers that you say are influences were also raised in single-parent homes, such as Tupac, Biggie, and Jay-Z. What do you think is the biggest challenge for young men growing up in single-parent homes?
I live with my mother alone. Being raised with a single parent, especially a woman, I have to learn how to be a man kind of on my own. Don’t get me wrong. I have good people all together that will show me how to be a man time to time. But when I’m in my house I have to really help my mother out. I’m kind of like the man of the house. I have a little sister, so I’m surrounded by girls so I have to take responsibility.
When your mother raises you and you see her struggling 24/7 you can’t wait to get signed and be able to buy your mother every single thing that she wants and take care of her. So, every song you hear me record I go hard for my mother. My mother’s the one that got me here. She’s the one that trained me and taught me to rap.
For men, the biggest challenge is opportunity. When you’re in Bed-Stuy, people automatically think you’re from this garbage. It’s hard for you to get a job, to go somewhere.
Do you think it's coincidence or do you think Bed-Stuy as a neighborhood creates great emcees? In what ways are you carrying on Bed-Stuy’s legacy and continuing the tradition of these great emcees?
It’s not coincidence. Every emcee from Bed-Stuy was dope. I think Bed-Stuy really loves Hip-Hop. On each and every single block, somebody has to have a Jay-Z album.
I feel like a lot of people think that if you’re not Jay-Z’s age or you don’t have Beyonce on your side, then you can’t be as great as him. I want to prove that I can be greater.