Prof: If I can justify it and be smart enough, I can say anything
|Photo by B Fresh Photography|
But Gimme Noise wanted a bit more about Prof ahead of his two weekend shows -- Friday is 18+ and Saturday is all-ages -- at First Avenue have been sold out for months. We sat down at Merlins Rest back in January to try and fill in some details about Powderhorn, whether he has children of his own or not, his creative process, if Jameson is sponsoring his misbehavior, and what his mom thinks of his rhymes. Some of it made it into this week's cover story, and a good lot more is here in this extended Q&A.
Off the deep end with Prof: The Powderhorn rapper proves there's more to him than partying
Behind the scenes: Awesome Prof cover shoot outtakes
Gimme Noise: How do you compare your Gampo persona and your autobiographical songs to what Rick Ross does?
Prof: Artists can always "Rick Ross" it and just make up a whole new [persona]. He's so good that people are like "All right, fuck it," he's just that persona now. That seems really hard to do to me, it just seems much easier to say what I am, and what I'm not. Almost all the "emo" songs are 100 percent true, all the over-the-top songs like "New Kid," you know, I don't have 35 houses and 70 mortgages. That's me playing with that. Anything with any touch of sincerity is all real though. I was raised in Powderhorn, I was on welfare for seven years, my family house is still there. It's all there, it's all true.You got the Prof nickname from your days playing basketball. How serious of a player are you?
I have knee injury right now. It seems like I have one every year, but I love basketball. I would rather be a professional basketball player than a professional rapper. I'm only 6'1" but I can dribble. Before this knee thing, I was able to dunk. In high school, I was dunkin' all the time. I used to be able to jump pretty well. I love defense, I could get talkin' about basketball with my friends forever. I didn't play in high school, I made the team but I never really played. I was a snowboard instructor in high school too. I made the varsity team during winter, but I always needed a job too. I always just played the streets, but I made it and my mom was like "Well, if you play basketball, you can't have a job, and no income," and I made the decision at the time because I needed money, so I decided to go for the snowboard instructor thing.
|Photo by B Fresh Photography|
Where did you go to high school?
South High, '98 to '02. I've had a bunch of jobs ever since I was 15. My mom wouldn't let me in the house otherwise. So I taught after-school programs, just watching kids, there was a pottery class at South that I liked. I got good at it so I taught kids pottery after school. I taught basketball to kids, I did a bunch of shit. I worked at coffee shops. I never flipped burgers, couldn't do that shit. I worked a photography shops and stuff like that.
What was the first fast rap you remember hearing in that era?
It was probably Twista. He was the first one that I remember really doin' that. Outkast too, a lot of that rap in the '90s, the trips like [mimes a triplet] Bone Thugs, it was pretty popular in the '90s. It was just there, and I kind of soaked it up. Like even Rakim has some fast raps that are pretty technical.
Why aren't you within the Rhymesayers system?
Isn't that weird? My music and Stophouse's whole thing -- it's not the anti-Rhymesayers, but it's kind of like the Get Cryphy thing. All of that shit was going on at the same time. I would go and host Get Cryphy like every month when that first came around. And I was a party rapper, which is totally anti-Rhymesayers from a spot of getting crazy drunk and listening to Jay-Z and Kanye West in a club, like Top 40 shit and going crazy. It's very similar to Rhymesayers with that independent thing, but it's very different philosophy, and content.
You're obviously a city guy, but you seem to tap into that rural thing in some of your stuff.
Yeah, like the white trash let's get drunk and build a fire and break shit? I always felt really similar to Yelawolf as we were coming up. Obviously he was more in the limelight. I felt like were always close in talent and I was more an urban version of what he was. We could both do the party, fast rap shit, but he would go and do some country shit and I'd go do some jazz, whiskey some blues shit, a little more urban-focused.
I was a skateboarder too, more of a skateboarder than a snowboarder. Skating and rapping was all the same shit. Everybody skated. I was a skater before I was a rapper...I think. Everybody got together and skated, you know, it was anti-culture shit too. Like rebellion or whatever, and people started drinking and going to parties and I was freestylin every night. That was like all I ever did, like every night for seven years I got fuckin' drunk and freestyled and skated, went to house parties, that's how I learned how to rap.
Probably about freshman year of High School I joined a group called the Blend that still kind of exists, haven't been with them in years. A group called Agent Orange with another white rapper, Tim Shay from the north side. Then, with Rahzwell. You'd just get faded and the best thing to do was fuckin' freestyle -- it was like better than sex. Havin' a nice buzz and then killin' a freestyle was the most creative, mind-opening shit ever. It was like crack, and I was addicted from then on. Then I got good and started doing shows and then that was addicting too, that rush. I don't freestyle nearly as much as I did back then. But the shows now, night in and night out, that's my rush.
How hard is it to work a crowd?
That takes practice. A lot of these kids in Minneapolis right now with their buzz or whatever -- when they're doing shows and they think they're hot -- put them on the road for the month. They think it's all glamor. Put 'em in Tuscon, Arizona on a Tuesday in front of 10 people. Even when you don't want to do it. You feel like you're going up there and clicking your heels and dancing like a monkey, and entertaining people. Can you still be your best and grab all those people so next time there'll be 20, or 30, or 40 or 50? All these people want that lifestyle, but to really go out there for two years hard and tour like that -- to have the heart to really do that and then want to come back out and do it again? That's super rare.
For all the bottles I've seen you with, do you have a deal with Jameson?
[laughs] I wish! They should give me a fuckin' deal. My first experience with alcohol was like cheap shit, like Phillips Vodka. Whiskey wasn't something that kids drank. People didn't drink whiskey until they were like 25 really. That was kind of why I attached to Jameson. It's not Patron or Cristal or whatever, this is my fuckin' drinkin' man's whiskey! That's why I wanted to rep that too, along with that blue-collar shit, and I still drink it. It's still on my rider every night on tour. I get sick of it, I drink almost everything, but Jameson's just like the go-to whiskey for me. Sometimes I switch it up and get Makers Mark. I like Powers Whiskey, Paddy's is good too.