Southside Minneapolis’ own Prof just released a new album entitled Pookie Baby and is slated to hit the Soundset stage May 27 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. I recently had a chance to catch up with the Rhymesayers’ rapper and we touched on a number of topics. Below is an excerpt of our conversation.
Sean Cook (SC): When did you decide that hip hop was your love?
Prof: When I heard Goodie Mobs Soul Food. I was the only White dude in Powderhorn Park, basically in my neighborhood. And then when I heard these guys it just explained everything to me because I didn’t really understand the whole context of what’s happening culturally, the whole racism…
I was super young so I was the only White dude there and I’d wonder, “Why am I getting my a** beat?” I didn’t understand the anger and everything. I listened to this record that just explained my situation and life at that point.
SC: Do you still love hip hop? Why or why not? What about it do you love?
Prof: I still love it. I think a lot of people when they look back — it’s actually like a scientific thing I read about — your memories are more rosy, and you think of your past or nostalgia in a better manner of where you’re living right now.
I’m sure the same kids coming up now 20 years later will think this time is better. Right now, I’m a player, I’m a congratulator [and] I make music. I’m not a critic — I’ll save that for my close homies who…hate on a lot of stuff [in] hip hop now.
There are a lot of branches on the tree right now. If you want conscious [rap], you got Kendrick [Lamar}, [J.] Cole, Atmosphere…
There are so many lanes right now; you can basically fit in anywhere. It’s just broader in general. It’s a lot of flavors, man. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s not real. It’s real, man. It’s happening. People may make a million dollars of a song that you may not like, but it is what it is.
SC: Do you have a dream collaboration?
Prof: I guess my favorite artists. Jay-Z would be number-one, but that seems too obvious. I would’ve loved to collab with Ray Charles. My dream…of anyone of all time would be Van Morrison, Young Thug, T.I.
SC: I watched your new video “Andre the Giant” off of the newly released Pookie Baby album and I was wondering if you were making a satire of what’s happening in the industry right now. Is that what you were going for?
Prof: No. Not really. Maybe subconsciously, you know what I mean? I was looking at my surroundings, but it was basically me playing off the beat and how the beat rides. I felt sinister; I fell into character with that and took the baton and ran with how that made me feel. But there is contemporary rhyme patterns on there like triplets, Chicago drill in there, you know.
SC: I caught you at the Target Center last year when Lil Wayne didn’t show up and you gave a really good show. What can a newcomer or established fan expect from one of Prof’s shows?
Prof: My headline shows are a little different than a show that I open up for. For Lil Wayne, I would do tracks that are more in the vein of what the audience came to see from Wayne.
But if you come to a Prof show that means I can do whatever I want as far as taking you on a journey. I have turn up tracks, but I have the mellow tracks [and] moody bluesy tracks, too. I take everybody all over the place for the climax; it’s really dynamic. If they want to cry or laugh — I touch all bases when I headline a show.
SC: How would you describe your style?
Prof: My style was wilder coming up, but now I go wherever the beat takes me.
SC: You’ve come a long way since your days at the Dinky Towner. I read about your infamous “drunk shows.” Do you miss anything about your early days?
Prof: I miss the excitement of not knowing back then. I thought I was going to blow up every day! The enthusiasm I was in love with… I’ve had a lot of opportunities [and] I had to turn down a lot of major deals. I’ve seen the business right now [and] I’m kind of jaded. It’s not as rosy as it once was. It’s not as fun as it was back then.
SC: What do you think urban rappers in Minnesota have to do to get out there and what’s the secret of your success?
Prof: I don’t know. It’s just really strange that the four biggest rappers out of Minnesota are White. It’s like is it really because of our skin? Minnesota is just White. You can’t get away from it. You get out of the city, and bro, everybody’s White.
I don’t know if it’s that divided or what. I see a difference in North Side and South Side rap. Southsiders always have had freestyling and battle shows.
On the South Side, you had places like Dinky Towner and Bon Appetit. Where the North Side didn’t really have those venues to hold on and promote that kind of culture like the South Side did. I think maybe the North Side is still feeling the effects of not having a place that stayed open as long as those couple of places did.
I go to a lot of showcases at the Cabooze. Mac Irv is going on tour with me — he’s very talented. There are thousands of talented artists out of the North Side that aren’t getting any shine, and I think it has a lot to do with press. I do now, but then I hated [the press] so much that I stopped sending press kits… I don’t know the perfect answer of how to blow up.
SC: How many times have you performed at Soundset and what is it like?
Prof: Four or five times. It’s different; it’s almost like performing in a glass bowl because you’re so far away from the people. I like the smaller, more intimate settings better because you’re closer and can feel the people. It’s just so big — it’s a totally different beast.
Look for Prof and other local and national artists at Soundset 2018 on May 27. For more Soundset info, visit https://soundsetfestival.com. For more on Prof, visit https://rhymesayers.com/artists/prof.