From the mid-to-late 1990s, brothers Shawn and Marlon Wayans starred in their self-created sitcom The Wayans Brothers. In the show's opening sequence, the two are costumed in afros and plain sweaters, dancing down the front steps of a brownstone to the tune of a playful ditty meant to poke fun at older "black" sitcoms. The song goes, "We're brothers, we're happy and we're singing and we're colored. Gimme a high-five!" until one of the brothers knocks over the camera, A Tribe Called Quest's "Electric Relaxation" gets scratched in, an old lady gets hit by a bus and comedy ensues.
Brothers Jordan ("Brody") and John ("Choch") Evans — otherwise known as the Huntersville, N.C. rap duo, Brody & Choch — could have easily recreated that intro on either of their two releases, The Boys Will Be Boys LP from 2010 or their None Since '96 mixtape released in 2012. The skit didn't make the cut, but equally funny are all of the rhymes, antics and throwback flair that carry this light-hearted duo into the pantheon of North Carolina's hip-hop scene.
On None Since '96, released as a free download earlier this year, the song "Chochie AppleBrode" pays homage to A Tribe Called Quest's "Bonita Applebum," but with heightened ludicrousness — "muffin-topper, it's time to meet the muffin maker/ you want a bun in your oven/ well, you need a baker," raps Choch.
It would be easy to dismiss Brody and Choch as a silly rapping version of the Smothers Brothers, or even a double parody of the nerdiness (without the political overtones) of the Brothers Brothers (In Living Color sketch characters played by Damon and Keenan Ivory Wayans). But perhaps the "Covers Brothers" is a better fit. This isn't just a reference to their versions of such hip-hop classics as Will Smith's "Summertime," Nas' "Represent," and Lauryn Hill's "Sweetest Thing," but also to the duo's constant mentioning of under-the-covers indiscretions with women of all shades and character; and their fashion sense — covering or, rather, adorning themselves, with fashion from the early 1990s: box cuts, fanny packs and throwback NBA jerseys.
This has been Brody and Choch's schtick ever since they hooked-up with producer, friend and co-worker C.Y. (all three also work at Red Rocks Café in Huntersville) for their freshman LP, The Boys Will Be Boys. The two ran wild over 12 of C.Y.'s precise, drum-and-bolt arrangements. But the beats were safe and restrained, which made room for whatever projectiles Brody and Choch worded together and chucked into the realm of absurdity and humor.
Even though there's a four-year age difference between the two, songs like "Drunk Choch" show equal levels of rhyme maturity, calling out things like pharaohs, Socrates, sophistication and independence.
Then, there's the Brody and Choch who let strange things come out of their mouths in normal conversation. For their upcoming Oct. 26 show at the Fillmore Charlotte, they imagine things quite differently from what will probably transpire. "This show is right after the presidential debates and we've been talking to both parties," Choch says. "Mitt Romney and Barack Obama might make an appearance. Do a little rap battle, ya know? Brody and Choch are neutral. Even though I fuck with Joe Biden. Of course, we grew up together."
Brody jumps in: "Yeah, Choch and Joe [Biden] were in the same kindergarten class together."
"People don't realize that Joe Biden is 26 and that he's lying about his age," Choch concludes.
The guys emit a likeable balance that might not have been available to us had they not relocated to small-town Huntersville from Washington, D.C. at ages 8 and 12. Now 22 and 26, it's hard to imagine Brody and Choch making music that sounds anything less accessible than would happen if Del the Funky Homosapien, Kid-N-Play and People Under the Stairs all had recess on top of A Tribe Called Quest basslines. Choch states it simpler on the C.Y.-produced track "Dragon Defeated," from their upcoming sophomore album, Partners in Rhyme: "Two brothers backpackin' on our axis."
When Choch isn't taking morning jogs with his chocolate Labrador retriever, Jack Bauer, he's trying to convince people to read their horoscopes — especially the ones in these pages. "Y'all's horoscopes are the truth. They're dope," he tells me. He adds that he's planning to dress up as Count "Chochula" for Halloween, "with a widow's peak, and I'm going to have a cape on, and I'm gonna bite the ladies. But in a good way — à la Vampire Diaries. Ladies, watch Vampire Diaries. It's goin' down," he says.
Before we're done talking, Brody tells me that for Halloween, he plans to dress up as LeVar Burton, in stages. First, as Kunta Kinte in Roots, then as Burton in Reading Rainbow, and lastly as Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Then, from out of nowhere, he and his brother start singing the theme song from the 1990's sitcom Living Single — the last words of which are "true blue, we tight like glue."
Yes, they are. The Evans brothers, Brody and Choch — two unchained, energetic siblings trying to keep true-school rap alive and having fun with it every step of the way.