Jason Braun’s blog of making text, apps, music, and other things. | jason.lee.braun@gmail.com | 314-614-3717


Some good press. That’s all I wanted for my birthday.

It’s my birthday and Flyover Country decided to say some nice things about the hip hop and the poetry. Good press! That’s all I ever wanted for my birthday.

Mark Oprea asks some great questions about poems, lyrics, music, themes, public perceptions and more in this. We discussed Jay Z’s Decoded, compare Dante’s Inferno to every thing DMX ever wrote, and put 50 Cent in a room with Joseph Campbell to see who dies and who is resurrected first. Shakespeare, Roethke, and Eminem are also put on notice.


Here’s a video by Zia about Hip Hop, Poetry, and Dyslexia

Jason and the Beast Featured in The Belleville News Democrat:

Jason and the Beast — Puck would like this music

Published: July 19, 2012 Updated 3 hours ago

By Video, story and photos by Zia Nizami — News-Democrat

It’s Saturday night and a small group of hiphop fans sip Miller Highlife in the dark corners of the Firebird in St. Louis as they wait for the show to start.

The opening act, Jason and the Beast take the stage. As saxophone player Adam Sirgany improvises over DJ Matt Jones’ driving hip-hop beats, Jason Braun starts rapping in a spoken word style more akin to beat poet Allen Ginsberg than Snoop Dog.

I am that merry wanderer of the night I am that sight the Beast let loose in Bookhouse Well read but Faust read too in smoky light Stretched tight as snaring drum or strings of Strauss I have lead young lovers ‘stray with serpent tongue Hitting graveyard shifts at coffee shops Spiked the preachers punch Smoked the teacher lung Skipped out on tab but didn’t stiff the bellhop I learned my tricks from Beatniks Let’s Drink to them let’s drink to us Let’s skinny dip with dead of river Styx And knock the dust off Ken Kesey’s bus.

— “The Beast in the Bookhouse.”

Watching Braun confidently belt out his cerebral verses, you would think you were watching someone with a lifelong affinity for the written word. You would be wrong. “I didn’t learn to read till I was 6 and I didn’t enjoy reading till I was 17,” said Braun. “I didn’t even read books on my own volition until my junior year of high school, so I was really a late bloomer.” Braun, 34, grew up near Hecker and attended Waterloo High School. His interest in writing and literature was sparked during his junior year in high school.

Watching Braun confidently belt out his cerebral verses, you would think you were watching someone with a lifelong affinity for the written word. You would be wrong. “I didn’t learn to read till I was 6 and I didn’t enjoy reading till I was 17,” said Braun. “I didn’t even read books on my own volition until my junior year of high school, so I was really a late bloomer.” Braun, 34, grew up near Hecker and attended Waterloo High School. His interest in writing and literature was sparked during his junior year in high school.

“It was Shakespeare that really brought me around. Through reading it aloud, I was able to hear what we were talking about and I was able to make guesses about what these words meant,” Braun said. “He wasn’t writing something to be inflicted as a sort of punishment to high school students. He was writing a show. I didn’t get pleasure for reading the words silently , but to hear the ideas, the jokes — to hear the show.”

Braun started writing poems when he was a senior, and went on to join “Jupiter Jazz,” a musical group that combined indie rock with hiphop and spoken-word poetry. After Jupiter Jazz broke up, Braun started working on a collection of sonnets that would become his first solo album entitled “Birth of the Beast.” His stage name “Jason and the BEAST” is an acknowledgement of the duality of good and evil that exists in all of us. “The idea was a Jekyll and Hyde kind of thing. It plays on the idea that every rapper has a real name and a stage name,” Braun said. “People think poetry is reserved and calm and they think hiphop is aggressive. I wanted to dramatize that misconception and prove that they are the same. Inside all of us there are these various beasts. “

Artists like the Wu Tang Clan and the Beastie Boys may have inspired Braun to become a rapper but he also has some truly “old school” influences.

“I thought if I want to prove hip-hop is poetry, why not use the tools of the old guard, of the staunch formal poets, and turn it into hip-hop. The first sonnet that I said ‘This should be a rap song’ was the ‘Beast in the Book House.’ It starts ‘I am the merry wanderer of the night,’ which is a line from Puck in Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ So I take that line and imagine how a modern day Puck might be and I put in a little bit of autobiography.”

Braun lives in Edwardsville and is working on his master’s degree in English at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He also teaches undergraduate English classes. His editor and faculty adviser, Valerie Vogrin, has a strong appreciation for his music.

“What I think is brilliant about what Jason is doing is that he is trying really hard to combine all of his various passions, his passion for music, for the spoken word, performance, for the written word, poetry, for classic poets,” said Vogrin, a professor of English at SIUE. “He is also really interested in contemporary culture whether it’s hip-hop or rap. It really enlivens all of it. It brings people my age who go to a performance (and) we get one thing out of it and people coming at more of the hip hop angle get a different thing out of it.”

Braun’s latest project is “Made This For You— The Mix Tape is Literature.” The songs are interspersed with excerpts from Braun’s KDHX-FM (88.1) radio show, “Literature for the Halibut,” and recordings Braun made with his iPhone while he was hanging out with his friends.

Braun has also developed an iphone app called “Paradise Lost Office” that provides business advice and a guide to office politics based on John Milton’s poem “Paradise Lost.”

After his set at the Firebird, Braun spends time talking with members of the audience about his music and passes out copies of his new CD.

“When I’m putting on shows, I think that’s a form of teaching. I want to be entertaining first but I also want to kick knowledge,” Braun said. “People are makers now and I believe it makes them better fans as well.

“I believe, whether or not anyone gets famous, writing a song or writing a poem or making a film — I think if you do that you’ve enriched your own life. You’ve taken a risk and you’ve made a small mark on the world even if it’s just for friends and family to see.”





Jason and the Beast featured on Bellvegas Rocks!

Welcome To The Jason and The Beast Email List and Jasonandthebeast.com

Thanks for being here, as Jay-Z, in what I believe is his most thoughtful incarnation, has pointed out to his crowds, “You could be anywhere in the world, and you’re right here with me.”

It’s my belief that 99%of the people that come to underground hip-hop shows like ours are artists themselves or are in the process of becoming artists–to say nothing of the fact that they are uncommonly sexy artists. This is an asset to the community, and I look forward to co-creation within the Jason and the Beast fan base!

Of course, if you’re not interested in making your own songs, poems, apps, etc, I’m still very happy to have you here. The support and interest non-musicians have for hip-hop artists is invaluable to the survival of this music in its ongoing creative development.

To that end I’d like to invite all of you, to an upcoming show in the St. Louis area. Jason and The Beast will be appearing Saturday, June 16th at Johnny’s Sidebar at 109 E. Main St, in Collinsville, IL. We’ll go on at 10pm.

 For those of you also interested creating songs, poems, apps, and more stayed tuned! I’m working on putting together how-to’s and interviews with other creators on these topics. But, in the mean time, here are a few links to get you started:

Ruth Gerson wrote a great article for the Huffington Post about how to start writing a song at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ruth-gerson/how-to-write-a-song-for-w_b_893649.html

Chad Mureta wrote one of the best introductions to the business of app creation for Tim Ferriss’ blog at: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you-create-the-next-instagram/#more-6688



Jason Braun



Show Review of Jason and The Beast, Robb Steele, Bus Driver, and Buck 65

Show Review of Jason and The Beast, Robb Steele, Bus Driver, and Buck 65

Converging on the Firebird from the outer fringes of hip hop, Buck 65 andBusdriver, along with Robb Steele and Jason and the Beast, gave us proof that underground hip hop is still like the Wild West, full of pioneers and prospectors mining gold.

The first act of the night was Jason and the Beast, featuring Jason Braun (one of the hosts of 88.1 KDHX’s Literature for the Halibut) on vocals, Adam Sirgany on the saxophone and Matt Jones behind the turntables. Trying to label this trio with generic terms like “rap” or “hip hop” isn’t possible, as their set transcended the traditional norm and could have easily been a re-enactment of a Beat Generation-era poetry slam. I wondered the entire time if I should be snapping my fingers instead of clapping. Overall the set had a bit of a film noir feel and would have been equally at home in “The Maltese Falcon” or a Charles Bukowski reading.

Braun’s delivery was more like a spoken-word performance than a rap act, his timbre and cadence meshing well with the background music. His lyrics are poems that tell vivid tales of life, often drawing inspiration from classic literature and artists, such as Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and the photographs of Cindy Sherman. With his long hair and mustache, Sirgany looked like a young “Blue” Lou Marini while playing some fantastic runs on his baritone sax, creating a river of notes for Braun’s vocals to sail on. DJ Matt Jones created a great mood for the set. His scratches didn’t seem out of place given the atmosphere set by the sax and vocals, and he dropped some samples that were reminiscent of old 3rd Bass and Del the Funky Homosapien tracks.

Matt Champion Writes at KDHX.org

Me and Adam give a director’s commentary for, “Made This For You: The Mixtape As Literature.”

How it happened:

I wanted to do something special for the 2012 American Writers and Poets Conference (AWP), which was to be held in Chicago at the end of February. I conceived the project as a sort of audio guide to the present and future of literature, and on February 19th I went into Will Jones’ Yellow Hat Studios with the tracks for this album in sequence. Still, I was unsure if anyone else would dig the “mix tape” I had built out of three tracks from a finished album recorded over two years ago, three tracks from an unreleased album recorded a year ago, six tracks recorded two days prior to final production, and an assortment of sometimes candid and sometimes orchestrated audio clips of varying fidelity, which I whittled down from seven hours worth of iPod voice memos and radio show interviews. Determined to have a finished product before leaving St. Louis for the AWP, Will Jones and I completed the album at around 1:15AM on the 21st—just a week before the release and so close that it was yet to have its title, “Made This For You: The Mix Tape As Literature.” I want to show some love to Will for helping me pull this off.  I’d like to add a special thanks to KDHX 88.1 and Sou’wester Literary Magazine if possible.


Track by track:


“Turning It On,” This first bit contains SIUE grad students and a professor at Stagger Inn, a short clip of Adam Sirgany’s (He’s an SIUE Graduate Student with Creative Writing Specialization.) Saxophone from Vince Café, and novelist Lloyd Kropp either from a selection of Literature for the Halibut or a recording I did of him at Sacred Grounds in Edwardsville.


“Inferno” is a retelling of Dante’s story with Eliot and Shakespeare thrown in for good measure. Emily Sudholt is singing the hook. (She interned at NASA, by the way.)

People that are somewhere in this track are: Will Jones, Jerry Hill/ DJ Uptown, Mic Boshans of Humdrum and Nee, Elaine Holtz, Dan Meehan of Humdrum, Dan McKenzie, Emily Sudholt, Josh Evans, Shae Moseley of Ghost in Light, Dustin Sendejas of Arts & Sciences, Jon Weiss of Arts & Sciences


“Ander Monson, I’m Losing You,” This was a section of a prerecorded interview. This section of the interview wasn’t aired on KDHX as his phone was cutting out. But Monson’s book, Other Electricities, has been described by Michael Martone as being, “Like Franklin’s discovery of the electricity we do know, Ander Monson’s luminous, galvanized book represents a paradigm shift. The frequencies of the novel have been scrambled and redefined by this elegant experiment.”


“Faust” self explanatory, right?


“Taking Shots At Legends: Bob Dylan Now Works For Cadillac,” This was a late night think tank featuring me in a bad mood about Bob Dylan. I love Freewheeling Bob Dylan, but do not love Cadillac. Neil C. Luke and Nate Fisher (SIUE Grad Student in Creative Writing) speak up for dear old Bob. I’m not especially proud of this moment. But this mix tape idea wasn’t about clipping moments where I’m proud of myself. There are plenty of moments where I’m on there stuttering, more on this later (if you ask).


“Overhearing Black Power Poems,” is a response to a reading the that the Eugene Redmond Writers Club put together at the Mo History Museum featuring Haki R. Madhubuti, Amiri Baraka, and my former SIUE professor Eugene Redmond. The track features SIUE Graduate Creative Writing Students Adam Sirgany on sax and David Rawson on bass.


“Adam Says It’s About Fame,” Adam Sirgany, Tim Harvey and me, running our mouths at Stagger Inn.


“The Thermodynamics Of Laundromats,” is a Dan Meehan original beat, we think. I sent it to him and he thinks he remembers recording it for me at my old place in St. Louis.


“Adam Doesn’t Save The World,” Adam Sirgany running his mouth at Stagger Inn.


“Matt Madden’s Dream Machine,” Artist and Author and Friend Matt Madden, exert from Literature for the Halibut.


“Giant Man, After Matt Kindt: Graphic Novel As Poem And Song,” Matt’s book is also becoming a movie, but there’s already an River Front Times story on that.


“How Many Purses David?” David Rawson runs his mouth at the Stagger Inn.


“Basquiat” is another massive track with all or most of these people: Will Jones, Jerry Hill/ DJ Uptown, Mic Boshans of Humdrum and Nee, Elaine Holtz, Dan Meehan of Humdrum, Dan McKenzie, Emily Sudholt, Josh Evans, Shae Moseley of Ghost in Light, Dustin Sendejas of Arts & Sciences, Jon Weiss of Arts & Sciences


“He Marries The Legless Woman,” Lloyd Kropp taken out of context in a recording of him I did at Sacred Grounds.


“The Fly,” Features Carl Pandolfi of The Lettuce Heads on drums and bass, and Adam Sirgany on sax.


“Extra,” Adam Sirgany, Tim Harvey and me, running our mouths at Stagger Inn.


“Reanimator” is a true story about this Scientist Mark Roth. (www.esquire.com/features/best-and-brightest-2008/bringing-back-the-dead-1208)


“Scott Phillips In French And Jedidiah Ayres In Laughter,” clipped from Literature for the Halibut.


“Alma Mater,” is me, the geese, and a memory.


“Is The Book Dead, Al Katkowsky?” is clipped from Literature for the Halibut.


“Lowdown Redhead Blues: How My Ex-Girlfriend Slept With Ryan Adams While I Was In L.A.” Also true story. Recorded live at Venice café with the iPhone in my pocket. Adam Sirgany and I had never played together before that night. We don’t know what that drummers name was, but we liked him, and still do.


“Dundee” is clipped from Literature for the Halibut.


“Faux Pas” Adam Sirgany on sax and David Rawson on bass.


“Really Creepy Breathy,” David Rawson runs his mouth at the Fine Dinning Hall at SIUE.


“Death By Blackhole,” is writing for astophysicist, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who has a book by the same name. The track features Carl Pandolfi of The Lettuce Heads on drums, bass, and piano.


“Curtain Comes Down,” is Lloyd Kropp taken out of context in a recording of him I did at Sacred Grounds.





Jason Braun is Jason and The Beast. These are his friends who helped him on this: 

Will Jones (Producer/ Engineer)

Jerry Hill/ DJ Uptown (Produced a number of tracks)

Mic Boshans of Humdrum and Nee (Drums, Found Object Percussion)

Elaine Holtz (Keys)

Dan Meehan of Humdrum (Guitar, Keys, Bass)

Dan McKenzie (Fife, Bass, Vibes, Atari)

Emily Sudholt (Vocals)

Josh Evans (Engineering/ Bass/ Guitar)

Shae Moseley of Ghost in Light (Drums, Bass, Backing Vocals)

Dustin Sendejas of Arts & Sciences (French Horn)

Jon Weiss of Arts & Sciences (Trombone, Tuba)

Matt Kindt (Logo)

Carl Pandolfi of The Lettuce Heads (Bass, Piano, And More)

Adam Sirgany (Sax)

David Rawson (Bass)

Tim Harvey

Lloyd Kropp

Al Katkowsky

Matt Madden

Ander Monson

Jedidiah Ayres

Scott Phillips

Valier Vogrin

Neil C. Luke

Nate Fisher

Show with Buck 65, Busdriver, And Robb Steele At Firebird on June 2nd

On Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 8pm the Firebird Presents:

Buck 65
Robb Steele
Jason And The Beast

Get tickets: http://ticketf.ly/KRgmCv

2706 Olive, Saint Louis, MO 63103


Made This For You In RFT

From the Riverfont Times:

Homespun: Jason & the Beast
Made This for You: The Mix Tape as Literature
By Christian Schaeffer
published: March 15, 2012

The title of Jason Braun’s latest release, Made This for You: The Mix Tape as Literature smacks of a term paper’s heading, but that’s very much the point. Braun, who performs as Jason & the Beast and teaches creative writing at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, has long been set on mixing hip-hop and higher ed, quoting from the canon while staying rooted in non-sampled, live-instrument beats. This mix was assembled at Will Jones’ Yellow Hat Studios with help from members of Humdrum as well as DJ Uptown (a.k.a. Jerry Hill). But the musicians take a back seat to the less musically inclined guests; Braun gives various writers and his SIUE comrades chances to wax both eloquent and ridiculous.

In keeping with standard mixtape etiquette, Jason & the Beast pairs songs with interludes and spoken-word bits. But instead of hokey skits, this one is long on literary ephemera of varying sonic fidelity — there are snippets from Braun’s on-air interview’s from KDHX’s (88.1 FM) Literature for the Halibut, snatches of late-night bar talk and pieces of professors’ lectures. Early on in Made This for You, we hear name-checks to Odysseus, Dr. Faust and Macbeth’s Weird Sisters. But Braun is a pop-culture junkie as well, so riffs on Bob Dylan’s selling out, Crocodile Dundee’s hero’s journey and Ryan Adams’ girlfriend-stealing get airing in the interludes. Some offer passing profundities, though a few too many have the had-to-be-there feel of an inside joke.

The more straight-ahead songs on the mix are various versions of indie-friendly hip-hop, and most are less than two minutes in length. “The Thermodynamics of Laundromats” rides on a clicky beat and some circular acoustic guitar picking by Humdrum’s Dan Meehan. The bohemian bongo jam “Giant Man, After Matt Kindt” shows Braun’s Beat aspirations while Adam Sirgany’s baritone sax offers breathy counterpoint. One of the best is the moody, thumping “Basquiat,” which recalls Stevie Wonder’s “They Won’t Go When I Go” while praising the late graffiti artist. Taken all in one piece, Made condenses the high points (and some of the fluff) of an Intro to Literary Studies course into 30 entertaining minutes. But like any good teacher, Braun leaves you a little hungry for more knowledge.


Download Poet Jason Braun’s Free, Digital, Literary Mixtape – Look-Listen – February 2012 – St. Louis MO

From St. Louis Magazine by STEFENE RUSSELL

Ask any poet, novelist or playwright about the Association of Writing Programs Conference—AWP for short—and you’ll get one of two responses. Either their eyes’ll shine like fairy boot buttons or they’ll stick a finger down their throat in the universal gesture for “it makes me gag.” Then they’ll either tell you that it’s the only place they see certain writer friends, or that it’s a self-indulgent cluster#$&@.

As this writer has never been to AWP, I can’t say who is right from the point of view of an individual writer. I do know that AWP (which kicks off today in Chicago) has become crucial in helping little magazines and university presses connect with the reading public. St. Louis poet Jason Braun will be holding down table G5 at AWP’s Book Fair as the editor of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville’s Sou’wester.

If you were not one of the 9,500 writers who scored tickets to AWP before it sold out, Braun is offering a free digital mixtape so that you can soak up the AWP experience through osmosis. Made This For You: The Mix Tape as Literature features songs like Is The Book Dead, Al Katkowsky? and is downloadable at jasonandthebeast.bandcamp.com. It’s a name-your-own-price download, which means you can listen to it for free, though if you do have the extra scratch, we hope you’ll pay, or even overpay, for it, in the spirit of supporting local literature. If you find yourself in Chicago this weekend, Braun will be hanging out afterhours at the Hilton Chicago or The Green Mill bar. You can always stop off and offer to buy him a couple of rounds. After a day in a book booth trafficked by nearly 10,000 people, we reckon he might need it.

On March 27, Braun appears on the creative writing panel, “Thinking About Space,” as part of SIUE’s College of Arts and Sciences Colloquium. On March 29 at 7pm, he’ll read his work at the SIUE bookstore as part of the school’s Graduate Writers Read series. And on March 31 at 7pm, the St. Louis Writers’ Guild brings him to Kirkwood Train Station for a night of poetry and music.

Download Poet Jason Braun's Free, Digital, Literary Mixtape – Look-Listen – February 2012 – St. Louis MO.

Made This For You

Hip-hop is poetry

“Jason and the Beast have one goal, to prove that hip-hop is poetry. With an impressive collective of musicians behind him, the titular Jason employs a man vs. self approach that evokes not only Shakespeare but Sage Francis and Saul Williams.” Bryan J. Sutter, Playback STL

ESPN.com had some words to say…

“Braun boasts a rap resume that includes a run with the popular jazz/hip-hop group Jupiter Jazz, a gig that landed him opening spots for B.B. King, The Black Crowes, and others. Though that group disbanded a few years back, Braun says Jason and the Beast is the creative outlet he’s been craving and he’s more committed than ever to showing young audiences that poets like Shakespeare can still entertain with the best of them.” Chris Files, ESPN.com