Purpose brings clarity to our lives. While on tour in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, graffiti art emblazoned with the sobering slogan “Hard Times For Dreamers” brought a lifelong music journey into stark focus for singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and composer Brian Fitzgerald. It galvanized him into making a musical statement about the harsh realities of today.
The multi-medium Mexican artist Sleepwalck made the tag. Its placement on a bleak intersection in an impoverished section of town surrounded by palatial resort and well-to-do living accommodations, conjured a metaphor that was hard to ignore. The dissonance in the imaging paralleled today’s global sociopolitical struggles. The mashup of it all crystalized a 1990s hip-hop and pop-infused pan genre approach of non-related musical statements and styles in fertile conversation. Brian took a picture of the tag—used with permission of the artist (he reached out via Instagram)—and his photo graces the cover of his debut album. The image reflected the diverse strains of music incubating inside Brian, and a renewed lyrical mission. And it’s all here on the headphone masterpiece, Hard Times For Dreamers.
Although Brian is a capable producer, he let Joe Nicolo (Kris Kross, Lauryn Hill, Fugees, Cypress Hill, Schoolly D) take the production reins, allowing him to focus on the album’s intricate layers and the album’s carefully crafted track sequence. Hard Times For Dreamers boasts a classic A-side/B-side flow with an uplifting conceptual sweep—the lyrical bend gets more hopeful on the second side. Throughout the album, gritty hip-hop sonic collages breakup song blocks, lending the record a throwback feel to monumental hip-hop full-lengths from back in the day.