Lake Norman & Mooresville

Brothers bring fresh approach to hip-hop

Huntersville brothers John Evans III and Jordan Evans are fed up with today's hip-hop music scene.

The excessive use of curse words, the rapping about a lifestyle that regular folks have never experienced, the auto-tuning.

"A lot of times, it gets to the point where I'm hearing the same thing over and over," said Jordan Evans, 20, whose stage name is Brody. "People are looking for something different, something fresh, something they haven't heard before."

The brothers, who both graduated from North Mecklenburg High School, hope to be what Nirvana was for rock or Michael Jackson was for pop - they want to revolutionize hip-hop music by harking back to the days of DJ Jazzy Jeffand The Fresh Prince.

Back when hip-hop was more about having a good time and less about smoking marijuana joints in a club, when funky and bright clothing superseded sagging pants and grills in the mouth.

"We don't curse as much in our music as other artists," said John Evans, 24, whose stage name is Choch. "If you use a curse word, you're wasting a word. It just means you couldn't think of anything else to say."

Added Brody: "There's not much in the creative process anymore. Something will catch on and artists will ride out that beat pattern. I'm tired of it."

Born and raised in southeast Washington, D.C., at a time when the city was the nation's murder capital for three years in a row and their family was on food stamps, Choch and Brody could have easily succumbed to the trials life threw at them. "It hasn't been an easy life by any means," said Choch. "Our parents definitely felt that if we didn't get out, one of the brothers wouldn't make it out."

So in 1998, the family moved to Charlotte and, in 2004, to Huntersville. Choch soon began working at 14 in area restaurants and Brody started working at 16.

The brothers said when they perform, they draw on their experiences with urban poverty and having to work for most of their lives, which often reaches fans in profound ways.

"A lot of our rhymes are about what we do - serving people food, working in the kitchen - and people can relate to that," said Choch. "There's a niche for it that needs to be filled for the ordinary people."

And if it wasn't for their days at Independence and North Mecklenburg high schools, they might never have entered the music business.

During his days at Independence and then when he transferred to North Mecklenburg, Choch battled with other students about everything from classes to girls. Battling is when individuals competitively rap retorts back and forth to each other.

But one day, one of his raps about a girl hit a little too close to home for his opponent, who thought Choch was talking bad about his girlfriend. The two nearly came to blows, said Choch.

After that, he backed off from battling, figuring the aggressive music would not have a positive impact on his life.

"You start drawing that element toward you, and that's one of the things we never want to happen," he said. "Battling is a more aggressive form of hip-hop. Fresh Prince is all about having fun," he said.

About that time, one of his older cousins gave Choch some tapes with early '90s hip-hop, including DJ Premier and Mary J. Blige.

Choch kept the tapes on repeat in his stereo and said they changed his life and views on music.

Then the two were invited to host Mr. North Meck, a male student-only talent show at the high school, in fall 2008. The invitation and performance solidified their love for the '90s style of hip-hop and their dream of performing.

"We'd always rapped but we'd never performed," said Brody. "But we hosted it together, and the crowd loved us."

Since then, the brothers produced their first album, "Boys Will Be Boys" with friends Grant Covington and Kyle Davisand recently signed with B.i.M Music Group, a Charlotte-based company.

And this fall, the brothers got to mingle with leading performers at the BET Awards in Atlanta after Choch won a battle for tickets to the event.

Choch described the experience as eye-opening.

"We got to see the hip-hop that's right now. There are so many artists that are so much alike - there's no levity," he said. "We asked each other, 'If we did this, how could we improve this event?'"

These days, Choch and Brody work in a couple of Huntersville restaurants to pay their bills. Both of them work at Café 100 in Huntersville and Brody also works at Red Rocks in Birkdale. Still, they haven't lost touch with their music career.

The brothers will perform at Café 100, at 100 Huntersville Concord Road, on New Year's Eve in a performance dubbed "The Funky Tie Affair."

Both the brothers said it isn't so important that they get signed to a major label - in fact, that might be counterproductive. Instead, they hope they inspire others to pursue a new era of hip-hop music that doesn't just crank out the next club banger with a trite beat or repetitive lyrics.

"We're doing an ode to old school hip-hop," said Brody. "We're trying to bring a little fun back to hip-hop because we think it's gotten away from that."