Kansas City Rapper Finds The Soundtrack To His Dream In The Song 'Too Soon'

Apr 26, 2016

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which local musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically.

Lawrence, Kansas producer Brian Rogers (aka Lion) takes an inconspicuous selfie at KCUR with his Kansas City hip-hop collaborator Morgan Cooper (aka Barrel Maker).
Credit Brian Rogers

The Musicians: Emcee Morgan Cooper (aka Barrel Maker) and producer Brian Rogers (aka Lion)

The Song: "Too Soon"

The Album: Continuity, Intelligent Sound

The Story: Cooper Morgan, the emcee known as Barrel Maker, had a dream about his biracial nephew walking down the middle of a street.

On one side was, "project housing, strife, and poverty. And on the other side of the street was a more glamorous side of society: high rise buildings, commerce, economic growth. [There were] lots of white faces on one side and on the other side, lots of black faces," Cooper says.

He wanted to write a song about the dream, but didn't have music to back up his words.

Months passed, and Cooper stood in the crowd at a concert in Lawrence, Kansas watching a producer with a lion's mane of fire red hair take the stage.

"[His] beats commanded so much attention. They were so powerful. It just really fit, and I'm like 'man, I got to work with this guy,'" Cooper says.

Cooper tweeted the producer, Brian Rogers (aka Lion), about collaborating. After exchanging their "artist intention statement" emails, Rogers sent Cooper the beat that became the foundation of 'Too Soon." After a single listen, Cooper knew he had found the soundtrack to his dream.

Rogers uses clips from other songs to create his own music or beats. He cut a 5-second sample of sound from Dionne Warwick's emotional song "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself." Rogers formed the melody for "Too Soon" by reversing the clip, adding reverberation effects, and then looping it back-to-back. Adding a bass drum, snare, and claps, the song was near complete.

"I had never known what I wanted to do with this beat before I met Cooper," Rogers says. "I think I had kind of been keeping it in my pocket on the occasion that I met someone who was interested in doing a project together."

The song became whole when Cooper added his lyrics about building hope and finding answers. Cooper says his nephew "doesn't need to be confined by stereotypes, and the sky's the limit for him."

Excerpt:

We can't stop because we've got to build roads.

We build blocks

We build cities

Build hope

Build dreams

Hannah Copeland is an announcer and arts contributor for KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @hannahecopeland.