Is it just me or is there a butt-load of ayahuasca and psychotropic drugs flooding the rap scene at the moment? Maybe it's the after-effects of rave and EDM, but rap is beginning to look more and more like a Vince Collins film. Timothy Leary is being referenced by Drake, and lurking in the underground are dozens of MCs referencing chakras, tetrahedrals and astral projection. References as such have been devalued lately, as so many MCs are, to paraphrase Heems of Das Racist, only as smart as their smart phones.
D. Prosper has the benefit of being one of the first of this ilk, with tracks with names like "Karma" dropping way back in 1996. For Prosper, such trends are a result of internet placation. “We’re cyborged out," he says. "There’s no more thinking. If they shut down the internet today, there would be revolution. What’s on the internet is like capitalism. Get it this year, get it this year. It’s like a car, they switch it up every year.”
Prosper just sent us his new video for “Come on," and we jumped on it. Filmed by the legendary Dan the Man (Kanye, 50 Cent, Mobb Deep) in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the video combines the burning sunset with blue water like two complimentary sides of a color wheel.
We sat down with D. Prosper to speak about himself, and his video:
Noisey: A lot of “conscious rappers” act like music has been totally degraded recently. If you had one week to control the music we hear, what would it be?
D. Prosper: I’m not mad about where music's presently at. Where there is garbage there is jewels. This is the most important time in the spread of information since the printing press. I used to have to go to Strawberries and sit there for hours. I had to learn about the history of music by shopping at record stores.
My week would be big band, jazz, rhythm and blues. I’d take them to funk, and I’d take them to soul. What George Clinton was doing was very similar to what Sun Ra was doing. In the middle of so much music about the black condition, they were coming with “we want the funk.” All of that is part of our experience, one is bad or one is better than the other. It’s all part of our fabric, instead of honing in on just trap music. Or just honing in on just goth music.
There are a million references to obscure shit all over your lyrics. Are you ever worried people won’t follow them?
You have to be a student to catch any of my references. Even if you’re watching TV you have to be initiated to understand a reference. You don’t have to be initiated to understand a lot of it though. You see it, you feel it, now you’re hungry. Then all of a sudden you want a 99-cent cheese burger. That’s the magic they’ve used, and that’s that Sig-Freud shit. When I make music, I layer it with a lot of coded languages. What the fuck are “ELF waves?” What rapper is talking about Electronic Low Frequencies? I try to make every line a theory, that’s why I tell everyone who listens to me to look at my Rap Genius page.
Your bio says you’d been working behind the scenes for 16 years before putting out the ATOM 12/12/12 and Children of ATOM projects. Did you put your own vision on hold for those 16 years?
Basically. Because the world wasn’t ready to hear about ELF waves 16 years ago. If you look at the stuff I spat then, I had a song called "Karma." Talking about what I’m still talking about now. I had a song called “Waiting All My Life.” Back then I realized I'd be the person waiting all his life. But as the years went by, and people started speeding up, information started being more accessible. And people started having conversations about being human, not just the white experience, or the black experience, or the Muslim experience or the Christian experience. Going back to an immaterial level. I started to see other people thinking like me.
Is that what ATOM is about?
For me, ATOM is all about going back to artistry. I wanted to change the entire business, but I realized its a big animal. So I ended up being a cog in the wheel just to survive and pay my bills. I worked for 50 Cent, Lauren Hill, all these big-ass artists. My story is crazier than a lot of these other artists. I worked with Biggie, I worked with Tupac. I’ve been in this game on a lot of different levels but as an executive behind the scenes. I helped flesh out other people’s visions.
What was that mid-90s era of the rap industry like?
Back then, labels were the pimp, the drug dealer, the gang member. I came up in a time when A Tribe Called Quest was rocking, NWA was rocking. It was a melting pot of different styles, and you got a good reflection. Then the business side came into play and honed in on a certain type of corporate rapper.
In your lyrics you mention “haters, bitches, and heathens.” Is that a way to sum up that era of the industry?
Haters, bitches, and heathens are people we look at. We look at haters, we look at bitches. And most of them are heathens. So that’s what I meant for that.
Huh. OK. What about “gone for an hour, sayonara.” What’s that in reference to?
It takes you minutes, it takes you moments, to get into that zone where you can float. A stillness about you, that you can allow your spirit to leave your body.
Ah. There’s extensive usage of doubles in your video, what is their significance?
The double represents macabre split, that’s why when I jump on the thing, I was trying to process having an out of body experience, like Fringe, you ever seen Fringe? I was trying to portray parallel universes. I want people to understand who I am as an artist and who I am as a poet. The more multifaceted you are the more extended you are in your energy field. You access different parts of your brain to get those shits going.
More From This Show
The compelling and charismatic performer returns to Sugar Mountain.
This is like an 'America’s Funniest Home Videos' segment without the "boings".
Chela throws down in her local late-night, post-party, fuck-I'm-drunk-and-hungry hangspot.
Scarfo whips a Porsche 911 (obviously), dines at Baohaus (shouts out to VICE pal Eddie Huang!), and catches up with Prodigy in the downstairs office for some under-the-table dealmaking.
One for fans of BANKS, Lorde, and Josef Salvat—this London-born, New Zealand-based teenager makes almost drowning look rather poetic.
The Auckland trio who say they are "fundamentally a punk band" move into broodier territory.
Emile Sornin is a busy, busy man.