It was a fairly normal Tuesday afternoon at Mad Priest on Cherry Street for Chattanooga artist Genesis the Greykid, except that he kept taking his attention away from his lunch mates to check his phone. He couldn't stop reading the lengthy story that had just come out on Forbes.com with the headline "What Happened to 'Brothers,' The Kanye West Song That Vanished."
At the top of the Forbes page is a painting that Genesis did based on the song that producers Seven Aurelius, Irv Gotti and Bink! used as the demo for the single they released earlier this month. West wrote new lyrics and sang on the track, but has not agreed to allow its release, though a portion of the finished track was used in July for the Season 2 debut of "Tales" on BET.
The Forbes feature is just the next big thing for Genesis, whose works now hang locally as well as on the walls of the rich and famous in Los Angeles, New York and in the Hamptons.
"This is pretty big for me," he said from the corner booth at Mad Priest.
Genesis was put in touch with Seven via mutual friend Kevin Thomson, who is now also Genesis' manager.
"He's the white version of Clarence Avant," Seven said of Thomson, comparing him to the star of the documentary "Black Godfather" about a real-life connector — a man who uses his vast connections to put people and projects together.
"He's that white version of that, hooking me up with incredible people. He showed me [Genesis'] stuff, and I was like, 'Wow,' he is really dope."
Genesis said he was inspired by the lyrics of the song to think about brothers throughout history, even those not connected by time, but a similar soul.
"I went back 150 maybe 200 years and looked through all these different relationships whether they were blood brothers or brothers in spirit," he said. He said he kept thinking of people like Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones, West, Seven and Jay-Z, people whose names would eventually find their way into the work, while he painted.
Genesis and Seven have also collaborated on the producer's next single, "No Love, That's All Right," with Genesis again painting the cover art.
"Genesis is a phenomenon," Seven said last week from his studio in New York.
"He's one of those people who gets it. Some people don't question things. They go to the light switch are just happy it turns on. Others are like, 'What happened?'
"I trust his instinct and he trusts mine and that is so cool. When you trust and just let things fly and get out of the way. When you work with people you are really, really connected with, man, it's a joy. You just have a phone call and just wait. It's like Christmas."
"Brothers" began its life about three years ago, when it was written by Seven on the same piano that Johnny Mercer used to write many of his hit songs, including "Moon River." It's now owned by his manager, who used to work for Mercer.
"It's a very enchanting piano," Seven said.
"My hands fell into so many different chords and progressions that I didn't even know I had in me. 'Brothers' came out of that."
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.