Arena-country star Kane Brown retains breaking down boundaries

Kane Brown has been on an enormous Limp Bizkit kick these days.

“People might be shocked to find out I’m into that stuff, but them and Korn and Slipknot — that’s the music that speaks to me in the gym,” says the 28-year-old nation star whose deep, syrupy voice has pushed him to the highest of Billboard’s nation airplay chart eight instances since 2017.

There’s no nü-metal to talk of on Brown’s third studio album, “Different Man” (due Sept. 9), however the LP nonetheless showcases one among Nashville’s most casually expansive skills, with rowdy power-country tunes — together with his newest No. 1, the endearingly shameless “Like I Love Country Music” — up in opposition to trappy pop jams like “Grand” and candy, sticky R&B songs comparable to “See You Like I Do,” through which the singer-songwriter imagines watching his woman “on the runway walking with your wings with Gigi and Gisele.”

Brown’s stylistic flexibility — he’s collaborated with Marshmello, H.E.R. and Swae Lee — is taking him into territory unexplored by a lot of his friends in Nashville; simply this week he grew to become the primary male nation act to carry out on MTV’s Video Music Awards. However he’s cautious of the time period “crossover,” he says, as a result of “it’s not like I’m leaving country music.” Certainly, there’s a sort of inevitability to his naturally eclectic strategy that claims as a lot in regards to the porousness of the streaming period because it does about Brown’s upbringing because the little one of a white mom and a Black dad.

He was raised in Chattanooga, Tenn. — midway between Nashville and Atlanta — the place he realized to sing in high-school choir with Lauren Alaina, the long run “American Idol” runner-up. Right this moment, Alaina remembers Brown performing materials by everybody from Usher to Journey. “I think he and I also did the song from ‘High School Musical,’” she provides with amusing. “But even then his voice was so distinct that it always felt like him.”

After commencement, Brown began posting covers on Fb, which ultimately drew the curiosity of Jim Catino, a former A&R exec at Sony Music Nashville who additionally signed Luke Combs and Maren Morris. “A lot of people in town were skeptical at first: Is this a real artist or just an influencer trying to be an artist?” says Catino, who now heads his personal publishing firm. “It was no different than what we’re going through now with TikTok.” Brown’s first two chart-toppers — “What Ifs,” a dramatic duet along with his previous pal Alaina, and the easily romantic “Heaven” — satisfied the business he was more likely to stick round.

Which isn’t to say he doesn’t often doubt himself today. Requested if he felt snug filming the hip-hop-style video for “Grand,” Brown chuckles. “I will say it was not comfortable. But I grew up watching music videos, and I’ve always wanted to do something like that. Definitely threw some dad moves in there,” provides the married father of two younger daughters.

What had been some clips that influenced a younger Kane?

“Of course the ‘Thriller’ video,” he says. “Gotta go with ‘Chattahoochee’ by Alan Jackson. And then — what was that song? — ‘My lip gloss is cool / My lip gloss be poppin’.’ Lil Mama! That video is so dope.”