Fate has an interesting way of working its magic, especially in the lives of Braelon “B Town” McMullen and Marquez “B Boi” Hutchinson. Although both men hail from the Southside of Atlanta, they had to travel across the world — by way of the U.S. Navy — for their lives to intersect. In 2008, the two would form a unique bond while enlisted in the Navy’s ranks, and set the framework for a musical partnership they coined “Mullage.”
Like any artistic collage, Mullage’s diverse musical passions have worked together to craft a distinctive debut that finds its beauty in the uniqueness of their individual styles. As B Town and B Boi placed the finishing touches on The Element of Versatility, the duo set aside some time to speak with Clayton Perry and reflect on the origins of Mullage and the musical influence of T.I and Andre 3000.
Before forming Mullage, the two of you were enlisted servicemen in the US Navy. What led you to join the Armed Forces?
B Town: I had a partial football scholarship, as well as a track scholarship at Methodist College. I was paying $26,000 a year to go to school, and at the time, my mother got a divorce, so I didn’t really have a choice. In the back of my mind, I just knew that I would have to take a leap of faith.
B Boi: Growing up, I had a lot of friends around me that joined the military, so that was a major influence. I would hear stories from them when they come back home on leave and stuff like that. As I got older, I felt the sense of limited opportunity in my environment. I had to make a change and get up out of there, so I joined the military.
Since you were stationed on different ships, how did you find each other?
B Town: We actually found each other through a mutual friend by the name of Jodi Lambert. He kind of brought us to the same label, a label by the name of Final Destination Records in Norfolk, Virginia. We actually met there and the rest is history.
At what particular point did you decide to leave the Navy and focus on the music?
B Town: Well, I never really wanted to make the Navy a career path for me. I just knew that is was something I had to do at the moment. I had the tools, so I knew that I would be good at it, and I had a military background from my family beforehand in the Air Force. I just knew that it was something that I could do. You have all the people trying to influence you to stay in and everybody else thinks they know what’s best for you. But I got out in September 2008. So it’s a recent change.
B Boi: I decided to get out after maybe my first two years in. I decided that music was going to be a part of my life and I felt like if I really needed to do it and take it seriously, I needed to get out of the military. I made my mind up and began the process in November ’07. I got released a year early from the military with the help of my superior, and I actually ended up getting out in March ’08. I wasn’t supposed to get out ‘til ’09.
With your background and travel experiences, what have you learned about the power of music?
B Boi: I mean, just realizing how many people you can touch with the music – that’s the biggest thing. You really don’t know until you’re actually in the music industry to realize the type of power and control you can actually have over people with the music and the people you can reach and touch with the music. That’s been like the biggest thing for us. We want to be able to have people relate to us. We want to be able to relate to the people as far as our music. It’s one of the biggest things that we sit down on and think about. How can we relate this music to the people?
There is a clip on YouTube showcasing a performance that you had in Fort Dix for the troops over the Fourth of July holiday. What did that event mean to you on a personal level?
B Town: It meant a lot because first of all, there are 30,000 people and there were a lot of troops present. Just for them to be able to see us in the situation that we’re in right now, I just know it spoke a lot. Our whole goal is to do music to inspire others, especially with the background that we came from. With us knowing the day-to-day struggles that troops go through no matter what branch of service you’re in, we know what they go through because we’ve been there. We’ve had other branches come on board with us so we know exactly how it is. It was really special for us, especially on the 4th of July, the birthday of the country.
Since you’re based in Atlanta’s metro area, is there a particular artist that has influenced you and your love of music?
B Town: For me, it was Andre 3000. He took his identity seriously early on in his career, and I really love him just for having creative control of his music. He really kept his team tight. With me seeing that in the ninth grade, I wrote my first rhyme, and I would pass them to other dudes at school and read it to them. I think I was fourteen or fifteen years old at the time.
B Boi: One of my biggest influences in the industry growing up was T.I., and just listening to the type of music he did and where it came, since we are from the same side of town. When I was in high school, I would watch a bunch of guys come up to my school and pass out his T-shirts and I really saw how he was on his grind. That’s kind of like the picture I had always painted in my head when we were out here grinding in the beginning stages and what we’ve gone through. That right there was one of the things early on that really inspired me to keep going and to push it.
The music business can be very tough. Who do you consider to be like a mentor or role model in the business?
B Boi: We have a really good team around us and they have really given us a lot on the inside of the industry, especially Kamal Carter and Osei the Dark Secret from V103. We’ve never walked into a situation blind. They’ve always given us the rundown, things to expect or things that we should do or could do to make things a lot easier.
B Town: While I second that, for me personally, it would have to be my mother. She’s actually in the industry and a part of a stage play, Beauty Shop, right now. To see other people have false hopes and false dreams, and she stuck with it. She lived by her slogan: “You’re never too old to be what you could have been.” She instilled in me that in this industry, you have to have thick skin. Things are going to happen and it’s not always going to go your way. Just be prepared for the worst. I would have to say my mother is my rock in the industry.
As you were preparing yourselves professionally, how did you come up with “Mullage” as the name of your duo?
B Boi: Initially we thought of a collage as a piece of art that is constructed of different pictures that make an even better picture. We look at our music the same way. Even though we mix a bunch of different genres together, we are creating a musical collage. Our music showcases our different interests and lifestyles and where we are right now.
How about your stage names?
B Town: Well, B Town came from the hallways of Stanley Creek High School, when one of my homeboys shouted it out. It actually came from my first name, Braylan. I dance, too, and I used to dance with a lot of people from DC. I kind of had my own style back then, because they have their own form of dancing in DC. So people would say, “You think you’re from B Town or something?” So it kind of stuck with me.
B Boi: My name originated in high school as well, just hanging out with the fellows. I was always the darkest cat in the crew [laughing]. I was always the “black boy,” so everybody just called me “black boy.” I just went ahead and shortened it up a bit, so now they call me “B Boi.”
Since you’re part of a duo, it’s kind of hard to get to know you on an individual level. So B Boi, if you were to say “B Town is the ___ of Mullage,” what would you say?
B Boi: B Town is the micro-manager of Mullage. B Town is going to read between the lines. He would see some things that I would overlook in a lot of situations.
How about you, B Town? What would you say about B Boi?
B Town: I would say he’s the icing. He brings the elements that I can’t bring. And that’s true for both of us. The skills that are his strong points may not necessarily be mine, so we mix them all together. It brings us back to being Mullage – bringing different elements to the table. At the end of the day, I know what he’s capable of doing and he knows what I’m capable of doing.
For more information on Mullage, visit the duo’s official website.