Welcome to Emerging Artists Spotlight, the Billboard series where we highlight a musician or band who has recently made their debut on the Emerging Artists chart. Whether they are new to the industry, or have been around for a while but are just starting to have a chart impact, the intention is to showcase where they are here and now. This week’s pick is country-trap singer Breland, who debuted at No. 49 on the chart March 14, thanks to his breakthrough single “My Truck.”
One year after Lil Nas X blew open the door with his genre-bending smash “Old Town Road,” which eventually broke the all-time record for most weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, we’re only just now beginning to see the fruits of that movement.
We first saw it last summer, with Blanco Brown’s viral cowboy dance ditty “The Git Up,” which spent 12 weeks at No. 1 on Hot Country Songs, and charted on both Country Airplay and Rhythmic Songs, and now we’ve arrived at “My Truck,” by Breland.
The country-trap song continues to scale the Hot Country Songs chart this week, reaching a new No. 35 peak in its fourth week with 2.6 million U.S. streams (up 13%), 2,000 downloads sold (up 19%) and 2.8 million radio audience impressions (up 52%), according to Nielsen Music.
The song blends both country and hip-hop elements, culminating in a catchy hook that features Breland singing “Skrrrr rrrr.” He even leans into the country-trap juxtaposition in the song’s new music video, which opens with a denim-wearing cowboy that resembles Billy Ray Cyrus, and then as soon as the chorus hits, Breland jumps in to finish the song. While fans may have a tough time placing him, it’s nothing he isn’t used to.
“I was never a kid that cleanly fit into any one social category,” Breland tells Billboard. “I played sports, but I wasn’t fully an athlete; I did theater, but I wasn’t fully a theater kid. I feel like as an adult, I was in the same limbo musically. I was writing a lot of R&B and hip hop before getting into my artistry, but I didn’t see myself being able to pull off either of those genres alone.”
At 24 years old, Breland is a product of a generation with countless sounds and genres. Rather than stick to one, his music reflects the influence each of them had on him.
“I knew that whatever I might do as an artist would have to reflect my love and appreciation for a lot of different musical genres, which is kind of how ‘My Truck’ and this wave of new songs came about for me,” Breland says. “It was a way for me to combine all of my favorite sounds and put them into my art.
Learn more about Breland below:
Hometown: Born and raised in Burlington, NJ and now residing in Atlanta
Recommended Breland track: “My Truck”
Outside of the music: “I’ve been really passionate about sports. Even though my own hoop dreams never quite played out, I call myself ‘the pen point guard’ because of how I relate to the basketball position in my everyday life. A great point guard facilitates the offense and knows when to pass the ball and when to drive and take a shot themselves.
“When I’m not watching sports, I’m focusing on more social issues such as education reform. My mother sits on a board addressing modern day segregation in New Jersey public school systems and other issues of equity. I would love to follow in her footsteps to ensure that kids are getting the fairest and best education possible.”
What’s next: “What’s next for me is building upon this foundation — I didn’t realize that “My Truck” would turn into a Billboard-charting song — but I’m up for the challenge. I’ve spent the past few months coming up with songs and ideas that showcase other parts of my voice, and versatility and dynamics within the genre that I’m hoping to define. None of my songs sound quite the same, but I’m hoping that over these next few releases, people will get a better idea of who Breland is and what’s possible in this new era of music.”
Past Emerging Artists Spotlights: AJJ | Sleep On It | (Sandy) Alex G | Knocked Loose | Charly Bliss | Tank and the Bangas | Bear’s Den | J.S. Ondara | Delain | Mabel | Kiana Lede | I Am They | Temples | Aurora | Bonny Light Horseman | Spanish Love Songs