words / DAVID MONK  

Whether writing a head-nodding hook, producing a wall-shaking bass line, or rocking a wildly jumping crowd; Ottawa’s up-and-coming rapper, Jonathan Brown, can seemingly do it all. Brown is one half of the two man hip-hop group, 4AM, and spends most of his days writing lyrics, producing music and as of late, opening for A-list rappers.

For the past two years Brown and fellow artist, Trey Timeless, have been working hard to make their mark in the Ottawa music scene. What started out as a side job, renting out studio time to aspiring artists, has evolved to something much greater.

It started when the two were working to pay for their studio time. The idea of branching off into their own group quickly popped into their head. It didn’t take long for them to realize there were great opportunities on the rise.

“The money was good at first, but we just wanted a good studio where we could do our own thing, that was the main objective” said Brown.

It was there they decided to split off and create the group, 4AM – a name that reflects the duo fittingly.

“How many times have we spent leaving the studio at 4.a.m., how many times have been out till 4 a.m., there’s just so much to it,” said Brown.

The group began to create music as much as possible. Brown would write the lyrics while Timeless would produce most of the tracks. They had everything in place for success and only one thing was missing; a venue.

“I love the performance side to music, I didn’t even realize that’s something I love. I spent years making music and never performing it live,” said Brown.

“I just love to rock the crowd”

With a helping hand and an inevitable curiosity, the duo finally landed their first show. It started when Brown saw an ad for $2 tequila shots at the Ottawa club, Bourbon Room. Anticipating a packed venue filled with lively customers, much to his surprise, it was empty.

It was there that Brown approached the owner and offered to help with promoting the club.

“I went up to the owner and said the math here doesn’t make sense. Something doesn’t add up, let me help you out,” said Brown.

It didn’t take long for Brown to convince the owner to let him perform whenever possible. He got the owner of the club to introduce him to the event organizer at Bourbon Room and the duo hasn’t looked back since.

Between the late night studio sessions, live performances and continual creation of music, it was only a matter of time before the duo got its big break. For them, it came from a simple text message.

The text confirmed that 4AM had a spot to open up for the famous rapper, T.I., during his stop in Ottawa for his 2017 tour. With songs nearing 100 million views on YouTube, T.I. in Ottawa was a massive show, and 4AM was now set to open for him.

After Brown received the good news, he was thankful no one was home at the time.

“I was able to get all my emotions out. I was throwing things around, screaming… all of that,” said Brown.

“You rarely in your life get to throw tantrums for a positive thing, you throw fits when you’re angry but like, how often can you throw one when you’re happy?”

With the date confirmed and the line-up booked, it was up to Brown and Timeless to put all their hard work to use. In weeks prior to the event, the duo stepped up their practice schedule in attempts to cool the rapidly increasing nerves. Though for Brown, nerves help push him to his limits.

4AM was the second act to rock the solidly packed crowd and within seconds of taking the stage, the whole crowd was jumping. His set was 20 minutes of non-stop energy layered with intricate yet incredibly catchy hooks.

Courtesy of Laura Collins (@ljcshutter) and Sound Check Entertainment

With a surprise cameo from fellow Ottawa rapper, Vante Poems, the three of them took the stage by storm and delivered an incredible set everyone would remember.

For the many that hadn’t heard of 4AM prior to the show, they sure knew now.

With all the 4 a.m. studio sessions the two had put on themselves, it seems as though it’s all starting to pay off.


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