7-Time Grammy Winner Brody Brown Talks About Co-Writing Big Hits For Bruno Mars And Silk Sonic, And His Solo Album, The Kick Back

Brody Brown
Brody Brown

Over the past five years, Brody Brown has become one of the most successful, award-winning songwriters & producers in the music business. Impressively, he has won seven Grammy Awards for his collaborations with platinum artists Bruno Mars, Silk Sonic and Adele. He has also co-written seven hit songs that reached the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, and three of those songs went to number one.

Brown has co-written some of the biggest pop & R&B songs in recent years, including the hits “That’s What I Like,” “24K Magic,” “Grenade” and “Finesse” for Bruno Mars. He also co-wrote the hits “Leave the Door Open” for Silk Sonic, “Fuck You” for CeeLo Green, and “Young, Wild & Free” for Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa & Bruno Mars.

In addition to his work as a songwriter & producer, Brown is now focusing on being an artist. He has signed with Def Jam Recordings, and he has just released his debut solo album, called The Kick Back. This is a solid collection of songs that emphasizes his love of hip-hop, R&B and pop music. This includes the key songs “How It Coulda Been” and “My Life,” which have been released as a bundle. Other highlights include the  cuts “Run It Up,” “Wizard” and “Single.”

Here’s an excerpt of our interview with Brody Brown, who discusses his song “How It Coulda Been,” from his new album, The Kick Back.

Brown (whose birth name is Christopher Steven Brown) grew up in Compton, California, where he listened to the jazz his mother played during the week, and the gospel she played on Sundays. As a child, he learned to play piano, guitar, bass and drums. During his middle school and high school years, he played in several bands and performed at church.

When he was a teenager, Brown was also a member of the gang, The Crips, and he was shot and jailed during this period. In a 2016 interview, he said that music “kept him from becoming another statistic in a hard neighborhood.”

Here’s a video of Brody Brown performing his song, “How It
Coulda Been.”

By the time he was 17, Brown began making inroads in the music business. He started writing and playing with R&B singer Bobby Valentino, and he signed a music publishing deal. He subsequently met Bruno Mars (who was unknown at the time), and they began writing together and became friends. Soon after, Brown & Mars collaborated with R&B star CeeLo Green and co-wrote his hit, “Fuck You.”

When Mars launched his artist career in 2010 with his debut album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, Brown co-wrote three songs on the album, including the hit “Grenade.” Notably, Brown later met pop superstar Adele, and he co-wrote the ballad “All I Ask” from her multi-platinum album, 25.

It was in 2016 & 2017 that Brown had his biggest success, when he co-wrote all nine songs on Mars’ multi-platinum album, 24K Magic. This included the hits “24K Magic,” “That’s What I Like,” “Finesse” and “Versace on the Floor.”

Then in 2021, Brown continued his success with his contributions to the hit duo, Silk Sonic, which featured Mars and Anderson .Paak. Brown co-wrote the #1 hit “Leave the Door Open” and the song, “777.”

For his work with Mars, Silk Sonic and Adele, Brown has won seven Grammy Awards. This includes a Grammy (Album of the Year) for co-writing “All I Ask” for Adele’s 25 album; four Grammys (Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best R&B Song) for his work on Mars’ album, 24K Magic, and co-writing “That’s What I Like.” and two Grammys (Song of the Year and Best R&B Song) for co-writing Silk Sonic’s “Leave the Door Open.”

Brody Brown Interview

We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Brody Brown. He tells how he got started in the music business, and discusses his collaborations with Mars, Silk Sonic and Adele. He also talks about his new solo album, The Kick Back.

DK: I read that you grew up in Compton. How did you get started as a musician, and writing songs?

Here’s the audio of Brody Brown’s song, “Run It Up.”

Brody Brown: In Compton, there’s a lot of great talent in that city. My mother had me training in church, and that’s when I became more intrigued with music. That’s when I learned all my instruments. My auntie, my cousins…we all played and sang. Then I started professionally doing music around 2008—songwriting and producing—and that’s when I met Bruno Mars.

DK: Before you had a hit with Bruno, you had a hit with CeeLo Green on the song, “Fuck You.” How did you connect with CeeLo for this song?

Brown: I was already working with Bruno at the time. At Atlantic Records, me and Bruno were writing partners. Bruno called me in one day and said, “Hey man, we’re working with CeeLo Green today.” And so that’s how everything happened. He called me, I showed up, and CeeLo aced it in one take sitting down (laughs). The next thing you know, it’s Top 10.

DK: How did you meet Bruno Mars and decide that you were a good team?

Brown: One of my friends introduced me to my publisher, and after that, my publisher introduced me to Bruno. He said, “You guys should work together. You’re both signed to me, why don’t you just work it out.” And we’ve been tight ever since.

DK: Does Bruno mostly write the melody and lyrics, and you create the music and tracks?

Brown: I’ll just do the music, but Bruno does both. I chime in on some things with words, but the majority of the content is written by Bruno and Phil (Lawrence).

DK: On Bruno’s big album, 24K Magic, you co-wrote all the songs. What was it like to work on that album and write those hit songs?

Brown: We worked on that album for a year and eight months, which was the longest I’ve worked on an album. But it was all worth it. On the song “24K Magic,” we tried it many times until we found that gold.

DK: On the 24K Magic album, what’s your favorite song that you and Bruno did together?

Here’s the video of Silk Sonic’s hit, “Leave the Door Open,”
which was co-written by Brody Brown.

Brown: My favorite song that I’ve co-written with Bruno is “Versace on the Floor.” I love that song. I love the set up, and how Bruno sets the song up. And how nostalgic it is, when it comes down to the great R&B throwback mood of it. I love the embellishing sounds that Bruno chose for the keyboard parts, and for the drums. And I love that it modulates to a different key…it doesn’t just stay in one key.

DK: More recently, you co-wrote two songs on Silk Sonic’s big album, including the hit “Leave the Door Open.” Can you talk about working on this album?

Brown: Yes. I was a bit of a ghost during the Silk Sonic process. I came in to do two songs: “Leave the Door Open,” and “777,” that I did with Bruno, D’Mile and Anderson (Paak). D’Mile is an awesome producer. During the time when Silk Sonic were working on their album, I was working on my album. So the time that I did go in to work on Silk Sonic, I tried to execute as much as I could.

DK: You’ve just released your solo album, The Kick Back. Have you always wanted to be an artist, and how long was your album in the making?

Brown: Honestly, it’s been a while. For years, I’ve wanted to put music out myself as an artist. I finally got the courage to do so. At first, I was signed to BMG as an artist, but then I got dropped. But then I signed with Def Jam, and I’m really glad that happened.

After I got dropped by BMG I was like, “Screw everything. I’m going to do an album.” Then I did this first album…I wrote all the songs with my writing partners in seven days. That’s how determined I was. I said, “Let’s just do what we do, let’s not overthink. Let’s go for it and put it out.” And before I put it out, my manager was like, “No, this is too good for you to just release it by yourself. We should go (with a label) where we can be helped out with this good music that we’re doing.” And that’s when Def Jam came in and took me in as an orphan. It’s been a journey, and I’m so glad that we finally were able to release it. I’m happy to be working with some awesome people at Def Jam.

DK: On your album, what are some of your favorite songs?

Here’s the video of Bruno Mars’ hit, “That’s What I Like,”
which was co-written by Brody Brown.

Brown: One of my favorite songs on the album is a song that’s dear to me called, “How It Coulda Been.” It talks about how things could’ve been for me in Compton—you know, growing up being a statistic, and being in a gang. Almost dying…being incarcerated. You know, I have children now. The song talks about how things could’ve been. Things could have been a whole lot worse, and I could have taken the other way. No matter how talented I am, I could’ve have just said, “Screw all of this.” And I didn’t. I stayed the course. And I wanted to make my Mom proud, and my children. So that’s one of my favorite songs.

DK: Has one of your songs already been released as a single?

Brown: Yes. The songs “How It Coulda Been” and “My Life” were released as a bundle. So those two songs give a good picture of who I am as a person and as an artist.

DK: Now that your album is out, will you be performing live and going on tour?

Brown: Absolutely. I’m hope that Def Jam puts me on the biggest stage ever. So I can show my ass (laughs).

DK: Right now, you’re focused on being an artist. But are you still writing and producing songs for Bruno Mars and other artists?

Brown: Bruno’s actually working on his new album, and two weeks ago I was in the studio with him. And it was like we never left. Everytime we get together it’s like that, since we’ve been working together for 12 or 13 years. He called me over and was like, “Man, I’m working on my fourth album. Let’s get it. Let’s hurry up and go.” And so I have been doing that.

DK: You also co-wrote a song called “All I Ask,” for Adele’s big album, 25. How did you connect with Adele?

Brown: Again, it was through Bruno. We did two songs with Adele, but only one made her album. And that’s me and Adele on the song, “All I Ask.” I’m playing piano and she’s singing. The recording is just piano and vocal.

DK: You’ve formed a company called ‘80s Baby Entertainment. Can you talk about your company and your plans for it?

Brown: We did a venture deal with Def Jam, so now that my company is able to sign artists, that’s what I want to do with ‘80s Baby. Sign other artists and mold them as well.

DK: It sounds like you have three main things going on—your artist career, your writing and producing for other artists, and your ‘80s Baby company, where you’re developing new talent. Are those three things your focus?

Brown: Absolutely. And raising my children (laughs). My second album is also in the works. I’ve got to get it started now. It will be called Weekend At Brody’s.

Dale Kawashima is the Head of SongwriterUniverse and a music journalist. He’s also a music publishing exec who has represented the song catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Motown Records.
Dale Kawashima