By Sabrina Hornung and Jr Lacroix
Prof Comes to Town With a New Album, 'Powderhorn Suites'
Minneapolis-based rapper Prof has undergone a number of changes within a short amount of time. Abruptly dropped from the Rhymesayers label, he went on to release his latest album “Powderhorn Suites.” Prof is best known for his sharp tongue and absurdist lyrics. After listening to his most recent release and comparing it to his breakthrough album “King Gampo,” which was released a decade ago, one could say he’s grown up quite a bit.
We had a chance to catch up and chat about the Rhymesayers Controversy, living in a war zone in South Minneapolis, and what kind of a future he anticipates for his new baby.
High Plains Reader: So it’s been 10 years since the release of “King Gampo,” How do you feel your songwriting has evolved?
Prof: I’ve gotten better. You know, my process is different, my process has evolved. I do more recording, right on the spot, and I guess that means less writing. So a lot of this stuff is freestyle, but re-recorded, but I'll take passes on things more organically and freely because I'm in my own home studio, and I don't need to worry about studio time or anything. My melodies I think got a little bit better, and how I change rhythms, and make my verses more dynamic. Back in the day, with “King Gampo” and stuff like that, I would have a pair of headphones, and I'd just be going over the beat, over and over and over again, just writing down my music. It was completely linear.
I LIVED UNDER HELICOPTERS FOR THREE OR FOUR MONTHS...THERE WERE GUNSHOTS ALL SUMMER
HPR: What turned you on to hip hop, were you into poetry? Were you a class clown?
Prof: It was kind of like a survival tactic, basically, you know, like, it was either that or do some really, really gnarly shit, you know, like, people around me carrying knives, stealing bikes and stuff. Just getting in fights, drinking and doing that kind of stuff. You know, I was always a smartass and I started freestyling. I was like a battle rapper, and then I would just learn to destroy people at house parties and walk out safe. I got a reputation for that and going into clubs battling and drinking and partying rather than, like, stealing or selling drugs that much. You know, it's kind of like a tool, kind of like a lyrical knife I sort of wielded. “Butterfly Knife” from “Powderhorn Suites”, is kind of about that, you know, my language, my sharp tongue that got me through those tough times.
Right. So “Powderhorn Suites” was scheduled to come out in June of 2020. Is that correct?
Prof: Oh man, probably even before that, I think it got pushed back like 2, 3, 4 times, you know, it was just tragedy after tragedy. It kept on getting delayed. I think it was supposed to come out maybe even before COVID happened and I couldn't tour it. We delayed it once. George Floyd was in my city; my neighborhood burned down. I was in a war zone for a few months and all of 2020. So it was tough to get off the ground but we did it.
HPR: So, the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder: what was that like in your neighborhood? Watching it on TV was surreal enough. I can't imagine living it…
Prof: Yeah, I’ve never seen anything like it, you know, it was a war zone. I’ve moved since then. I used to live in one of the closest houses. I lived under helicopters for three or four months. They were right above my house. I had to get up and leave in the middle of the night because the fire was jumping blocks you know? My house was filling up with smoke and the house next to me was melting and shit. There were gunshots all summer and it was a completely lawless summer afterwards too. Without police dispatch, you know, so like there was just gunfights every night it was just oh my god...
HPR: Wow. So, after living through something like that, what do you think about the future for your child? Are you optimistic?
Prof: No. I mean, honestly, I think my child will probably have a nice, full, hopefully decently happy life, because I'm lucky to be a very very rare, successful artist making money, you know what I mean? But like, if she wants to have kids or the next generation...they might have to have some real tough conversations about...I think climate change is gonna go crazy, inequality is gonna go crazy, and there's gonna be some really crazy shit happening in the next, you know, 15 years. I want to get it in while the getting is good and f*cking move up north in a big cabin somewhere. I don't know...I'm not optimistic about the future.
HPR: What happened with Rhymesayers?
Prof: For me, there wasn't ever an event of anything I did on this physical Earth. I haven't told anybody about my private life, but I've been very much cooped up, living a boring life for a long time. So I haven’t been partaking in anything like that, you know? But, um, yeah, Rhymesayers dropped me purely because of my content in the past and the art that I put out with them, you know, which is the most interesting part. You know, they released the music that they dropped me for. It was there, it was their label, they put it out to distributors and everything.
It's hard. It's hard for me to say what this is all about, like, it started with an old DJ of mine. But even with all that shit, I wasn't there and I wasn't aware of it. I don't know...it's a tough situation for me to speak about. I didn't get along with the dude. So, I fired him five, six years ago. Well before any of this. I'm definitely out on the other side of this. I’ve never been more successful. I hit the Billboard charts with my album release of “Powderhorn Suite” through Stop House. I think everybody understood that I got a hard shake on things and people started sharing my content even more and listening even more. And I'm just super, super thankful for it.
HPR: Did you ever think that you would be releasing something on your own? How does it feel?
Prof: I love it. I absolutely love it. I'm very happy with how we shaped our company, all the things on the back end, legal stuff, the connections we've made and what our company is capable of. We spent a very, very long time shaping that while you know that summer of 2020 was going on. And you know, we've been extremely, extremely busy.
HPR: That’s really exciting! Can you share any insight about what’s going to happen next?
Prof: Yes. It's gonna be... you know, the songs that we already have on deck and some of the features that we have, it's going to be...I don't know what kind of insight I can tell you right now, but it's, um, I'll be just fine. You can expect a lot of music and a lot of really, really good shit coming up in future.
IF YOU GO
Prof (J Plaza opens)
Thursday, December 2, 7:30PM
Sanctuary Events Center, 670 4th Ave N, Fargo, (701) 404-9006
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