Hey, You’re Cool: Brock Korsan
Brocky Korsan a.k.a Brocky Marciano hustles hard, probably much harder than most people you know. We sat down with him for "Hey, You're Cool."
Meet Brock Korsan a.k.a. Brocky Marciano. Chances are he hustles much harder than you do. Whether it’s his work as marketing director for the über popular Diamond Supply Co. clothing line or his contributions to some of hip-hop’s illest projects, Brock’s behind-the-scenes contributions to the worlds of music and street fashion are invaluable.
If you’re the least bit wavy, chances are you’ve interacted with some of Mr. Korsan’s work. When he fell through the Mass Appeal offices to chop it up with us, we discussed everything from working at Footlocker to Nas’s career to the potential for greatness within all of us. You know, that Neo in the “Matrix” sorta shit. Operating with genuine passion and diligence in all of his endeavors, it’s no wonder he’s become one of the most influential individuals in our culture.
Mass Appeal: Okay so, what exactly do you do?
Brock: [Laughs] I guess it depends on what time of the day you’re talking to me. I’m the director of marketing at Diamond Supply Co., I do A&R consulting for Sony Columbia, I manage a bevy of producers [Sid Roams, Cardo, Rahki, etc.] and I do like independent A&R, I help out the TDE [Top Dawg Entertainment] camp, Cinematic, [music executive] Sylvia Rhone, you know I do a lot of different shit.
MA: Damn, that is a lot. Which one started first , was it the music lane first ?
BK: I was in the music industry first. I used to manage Evidence from Dilated Peoples and Strong Arm Steady. I met them in college. Around this time I started making shirts randomly. One of my best friends was a professional football player who grew up with Kron and all of them. So, when I met Kron and them, I started making shirts for Strong Arm Steady and Xzibit and everybody. Just doing merch. I had also kind of got involved in social media. At the time they didn’t have a MySpace or nothing like that, so I hooked them up with that. Also, I always had a really good ear for music, I had studied it all my life, and they began to look to me for that.
At the time I was working at an agency representing directors of photography, and shit like that. So they knew I was an administrative type person. You know I worked at an office, I knew how to handle things, so I slipped into a management position and then we did a tape with Dilated. Ev liked my ear for beats and my work ethic, and that turned into something with him. From there I always made sure they stayed ahead of the curve on styles and things like that. So that developed my relationships with everyone in streetwear and clothing. It literally was like a snowball effect, you know? And I think my hustle and work ethic, with my willingness to put myself out there kind of helped glue all that stuff together and it just kind of became what it is today. It’s crazy.
MA: Yeah, sounds like it man.
BK: You know it feels like I’m not even supposed to be here. I didn’t take the conventional path, I never worked or interned at a label, or did any shit like that. I’ve got a couple of mentors like Chace Infinite [Self Scientific, A$AP Worldwide], Krondon and Alchemist and guys who helped me along the way. But I never worked for somebody like “here’s my assistant,” or “here’s this guy that I’m bringing on,” So I kind of figured how to navigate all this shit myself and through my contacts.
MA: Dude, that’s a wild story.
BK: It is, you know? It’s crazy.
MA: It doesn’t seem like you’ve slowed down at all.
BK: You know, if you love what you do you’re naturally going to want to take on more responsibility in every aspect of the job. I think the more things you can do now, without spreading yourself to thin, is only going to be an attribute to everything else because this industry is crazy. You never know where your going to end up, you know what I mean?
MA: Definitely. You have to really keep at whatever you’re doing, and do it well.
BK: It ebbs and flows, you might have a hard two years then all of a sudden get put in line with somebody, and then your back on top. It’s one of those things where you have to constantly re-invent yourself, and re-invent the scope of the culture.
MA: Seeing how contemporary culture is heavily inspired by the past, and you studied music, what was on your cassette player when you were a kid?
BK: Man, a lot of Guns N’ Roses, Beastie Boys, Run–D.M.C, Big Daddy Kane. I love Fleetwood Mac. Yo, it runs the gamut man. I mean what really heavily inspired me was the ’92-’94 era of music like Dr.Dre’s The Chronic , Mobb Deep’s The Infamous, Raekwon, Wu- Tang. Snoop, Fat Joe! You know what I’m saying? Like D.I.T.C., everything man, Nirvana. I always had the music, that’s what I spent my money on. Like I was the kid who was always walking around with headphones on.
MA: Like the new shit?
BK: Always the new shit. Like literally I would make tapes for people in my school. Like I come from a small town outside of LA , So we didn’t have BET or Video Music Box, we didn’t have none of that shit. I use to go to Dallas every summer to visit my Dad, and that’s when I was turned on to urban radio like Greg Street, fucking BET, the Box, and that’s where I really got my first exposure to being in the culture of a big city, and experiencing good music like UGK. I remember when “Tell Me Something Good” was on the radio. I remember Mystikal’s first song on the radio in Dallas, and I would come back to LA with all these tapes and singles , and no one would know who the fuck it was like Crime Boss.
MA: Being an A&R, is it a lot to deal with ?
BK: I don’t know, the major label system is so weird right now. Nobody wants to take chances, know what I’m saying? You bring something to them [and they’ll say] it’s too early. Then something transpires and there’s a buzz, and then they all want to compete when everyone starts competing. Or they get wind of some shit, like so-and-so wants to sign so-and-so, we better get on that. It’s a bunch of dick-riding.
When you look at the state of the music industry they’re willing to take less of gamble now, so its harder and harder to find artist to sign. A lot of times, they don’t want to do the work. They want to wait for the artist to make something that kind of crosses over and pops off, then get behind it . I think a lot of A&Rs are not actively developing relationships with artist , and I think that’s where I come in, because I don’t have the huge relationships with the big suits and the executives. Like I know executives, I do my meetings with them and stuff but my relationships are with the artists. That’s how I’m able to place records, that’s how I make things happen.
MA: It doesn’t seem like there is a lot of artist development these days. More so that labels want to catch an artist who is already packaged and ready to go.
BK: Then they want to stick the artist with the hottest producer, with the song that’s already done, with the guy who’s the best song writer, with the guy who writes the hooks.
MA: Then you listen to the artist’s project and think,’That’s not you.”
BK: And I get it, it’s s a part of the business. This, like anything, is a business and the most important part of the business is staying in the black. So like I get it, I totality get it. Do I necessarily agree with it? No, but if you’re going play ball, you gotta play ball. You gotta find a happy medium between the label that is looking for something, but also the artist who is trying to keep his artistic integrity intact. I try to nurture that and make music that can last more than a year. That’s what I like to do. That’s why I love Kendrick , and [Schoolboy Q] , and Curren$y. The replay value is high. It’s hard to find rap these days with replay value. From the inception of the music, it dates itself. It talks about everything that’s new. Everything that’s current. Everything that’s out. And guess what happens? Next year that shit isn’t poppin’.
MA: Word. When you look at some of the heavyweights, they have high replay value. But they’re taking the same subjects and mixing in human concepts.
BK: It’s their stories, wit, delivery, everything. And the beat selection is impeccable.
MA: Exactly. The music is appealing based on many different factors that makes you say, “This is good for rap.”
BK: That’s why Ross wins. If Ross were to talk about, all the shit he talks about just on trap beats, it wouldn’t connect. But he knows. He knows what sounds good, and it translates. The dude picks incredible beats.
MA: Deeper Than Rap. That was the album everyone saw him step out. What’s that song? “Valley of Death?”
BK: Valley of Death! Man I play that song like once a week. That’s one of my favorite songs. Toomp did that. That shit is crazy.
MA: You mentioned Curren$y.
BK: He stepped it up big time. He like found his lane, and started doing what he liked, and you can hear it. You can feel it.
MA: Definitely. He’s an artist that I’d say, when you get your hands on his work, it’s a complete project you can absorb. From the tracks to artwork, down to his image outside of the music. It’s him and you respect him for it.
BK: He’s a good friend of mine. I actually A&R’ed that project with Alchemist, Covert Coup.
MA: Dude! “BBS” is . . . yo . . .
BK: That shit is a classic, I don’t give a fuck what anybody says. I can listen to that joint through and through to this day.
MA: That entire project is some of his best work.
BK: Alchemist always does that man, he manages to capture like , your favorite part of… I don’t know what it is but just like his beats, the way that he produces, he always brings out the best in a person that he is working with , and that shit is like man… its magical.
MA: With Ross, Spitta, and Alchemist having partnered with Diamond Supply, do you find that some of those genuine qualities translate to the clothing brand?
BK: Yeah, it goes hand in hand man. I knew a lot of people before I got to Diamond, and obviously people who are valuable in making Diamond grow. You know music and fashion have always gone hand-in-hand, so you just use relationships that you have. I apply my A&R skills to the fashion game, you know what I mean, I always tell people I just really A&R the brand. It’s like I figure out what our lane is, what we are trying to achieve, where we are trying to stay, where were trying to go, shit that makes sense. You know, do shit with people you fuck with. I love D-Block , I love Styles P., I love Jada, and the L.O.X. So Styles came by one day, then we hoped on the phone, we politicked, I sent him some beats, he made a fucking great mixtape, and then we just made a shirt. Wiz, Curren$y, those guys are my friends. I love their music, I love what they stand for. Their lifestyle is similar to what the Diamond lifestyle encapsulates, so its just a natural thing. I don’t like to go chase people down.
MA: No reaching?
BK: Yeah like we’re not going after Jay-Z, Kanye, and those guys who are already established. I feel being aligned with the youth, and the guys who are up next will carry your movement. And it will carry their movement further as opposed to going, oh let me try to get something with Jay-Z or somebody and use his reach. Like Jay is gonna find out about it, and if he likes it, he’s going to fuck with it. But there’s more of a chance of Jay liking it , if he sees everyone else, the younger kids who are about to kill it and who are up next on it. He’s going to be like yo that’s some fly shit , let me go ahead and get that hat or something like that, you know?
MA: Yeah, you can sense when stuff is contrived. Music, clothing, all of that.
BK: We are a skate brand at the end of the day . That’s a thing that a lot street wear brands can not say about themselves. Like we started in skate and we’re going to end up a skate brand. No matter how far we branch out into urban and music and all that. But we do represent a certain lifestyle. You know skate, music, sports, fashion, its just like if you’re into cool shit, you would be able to find somebody or someone you will be able to align yourself with, like the way that you carry yourself, and I think Diamond does an excellent job of capturing that and staying true to it. [Nick Diamonds] don’t make shit he don’t wear. So its like there’s a certain integrity involved with in it. Like we have something for everybody, but we’re not just making clothes to try to fit anyone’s style.
MA: That’s a great way to operate.
BK: The goal is almost self satisfaction first. Nick will make a piece that he feels good about, that represents how he feels. Something that he and our friends can wear. It just works.
MA: I feel self satisfaction is a good way to describe it. Like what you were saying about A&R’ing, that it was pretty much just the music you fucked with and what you thought had that lasting power. The crazy shit to me is that when you do stuff authentic like that people really respond to it in a similar manner.
BK: It either works or it doesn’t. If you can’t stand behind your own work then your just a salesman. And people know. They can smell a salesman from a mile away.
BK: I never would want to be a salesman. I don’t want to force people to wear the brand. I don’t want force people to listen to the music that I listen to. Its just a way to take something that we love, and help everyone else open their eyes to it and love it as well. That’s more gratifying than anything.
MA: So musically, who do you think is up next?
BK: I’m going to have to say Kendrick. He’s just one of the most prolific musicians, especially in rap, that I’ve heard in a long time. ScHoolboy Q too, that guy is fucking outta here. I knew the first moment I heard him, I knew this guy is special and he’s going make some big records and do some shit.
MA: Kendrick is on. [Laughs]
BK: He’s found it. I think that Joey [Bada$$] is going to have the same kind of reception. Being that he does appreciate the “Golden era,” if everyone want to call it that. I just like to call it hip-hop. The scope of music especially as much as it changes on the radio , hip hop records hasn’t changed that much. And those guys have got it.
From here the conversation expanded into several other subjects from the progression of Nas’s career to Jay Z’s intangible gifts to Brock’s ultra-eclectic library of music on his iPhone. If we learned anything from this interview, it’s that there will always be a place for the person who has a true respect for the world he operates in and a passion for all that he contributes.