The Superstar You Don't See Coming.
B. Knight | Photos by Alex Young
Brian Michael Knight Jr. fired on his friends. He was funny cracking jokes against Kevin Galloway, Nairobi Jones, Tykee Jones, and Terrell Robinson as they all clowned around eating McDonald's before they headed out into the night, Downtown, Pittsburgh winter weather to film a music video. Knight turned his attention to women who walked by in the lobby of Point Park University's apartment complex. Legs in tight jeans and complementary boots caught us staring. Once, Robinson cracked an unassuming smile and Knight said, "When you smile, it looks like you dookied on yourself." We all howled.
The '90s baby, Knight was "always attracted to entertainers," he said. He was a four-year-old standing on his bed performing for a large imaginary audience.
Now, he goes by B. Knight, and his then imagination for stardom manifests itself in B. Knight's performance and his upcoming mixtape called "Unapologetic."
Dancing came first, and his brother showed him how to moonwalk, but Knight said "both sides of my family sing" so doing both came naturally young. "Brian McKnight, I thought that nigga was my dad. I was all over his shit," he said. He remembers studying R&B legend Usher with his 2001 "8701" album, citing "U Remind Me" and "U Dont Have to Call" as good influences. "When Chris Brown came, it ruined my whole shit." The comparable artists describe an "edge" that features in B. Knight's music.
When it comes to the music, the 21-year-old McKeesport raised Knight finds that "it's so easy to make something organic."
"Unapologetic," a project executive produced by the sound of the streets Stevie B, is about "knowing you're the best," Knight said. And, "when you want to be humble, but you know who you are. When you're the best you, that's when it's over."
B. Knight's team allows him to be "unapologetically myself," he said. Stevie B's been an asset to the singer-songwriter. "We both got that same love for Usher. We listened to the same stuff coming up," Knight said of the super producer who gets credit for the music behind trap-stars like Hardo and Jimmy Wopo. However, "friendship" makes Knight's music work with Stevie B. Also, being around the producer influences B. Knight's writing process and his cadence. "I write my songs like raps," he said keying on his song "My Place."
Additionally, director Kevin Galloway, photographer Nairobi Jones, comrade Tykee Jones, and director Terrell Robinson support B. Knight with the professional aspects of his musical act. Galloway and Robinson were the cinematographer and director respectively for Knight's music video shoot for the interlude song on the "Unapologetic" tape called "SKEEE Back Interlude (3x in a Row)." It's a two-part story about Knight's life riding the bus to clock-in work at Target, and then the music video paints the picture of B. Knight the "superstar."
B. Knight, Kevin Galloway, Terrell Robinson and Nairobi Jones | Photos by Alex Young
For the set, the crew wanted comparisons to, "alleyways from 'Batman' or alleyways behind the club from hood movies," Robinson said. We travelled in a three-car convoy while Galloway and Robinson scouted alleys until they stopped at one between Commerce Street and Centre Avenue. Galloway called the video shots "sleek" that matched B. Knight's swagger "so people can see this and be like ‘he’s the star he says he is,'" Robinson continued. Cameraman Nairobi helped the visuals and composition. Knight trusts him because he moves "rapid with his profession."
The friendly vibe around the group makes standing in the cold covering the subjects enjoyable. Between Tykee, better known by his rap name Keys412, and B. Knight, "we know the common ground that we like music and weed and we pay attention to girls," Knight said.
"I like relationships. I'm really good at it," B. Knight said. "No, you like the idea of them," Keys finished. "Nowadays, [girls] want the whole shebang," Knight added. They always have, and they deserve the shebang, but now he says these elaborate prom proposals on Instagram are becoming too much. Being let down in love "helped my writing," he said focusing on the interview.
Overall, B. Knight knows he must "accept you're on a journey." When "Unapologetic" drops this spring, he feels like "it's 'gonna be a good moment."