Prose Interview

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In a scene that has struggled with saturation it’s often hard to get excited about new music, but there is a duo with their dusty beats and infectious lyrics that are set to kick the cack and bring back the foundations on which Hip-Hop was built. With love coming from all areas of the country and a debut album soon to drop, UKHH thought it was about time you were introduced to the Boom Bap Professionals, beat-fiend Steady and emcee supreme Efeks.

It’s not very common to see a tight partnership with a producer and an emcee in Hip-Hop today. How did the meeting come about?

[Efeks] It’s about 5-6 years now we’ve known each other, through a mutual friend. I was on a music course with DJ Philly, in London. He heard that I was an MC and said his flat mate makes beats. I met up with Steady and so they say the rest is history.

[Steady] ha, Love blossomed!

[Efeks] I personally had been looking for someone to work with. I had done a few bits and pieces with other people but it hadn’t really panned out. So I had it in my mind that I would kinda just go on the solo tip. I had bought like an MPC and I was determined I was gonna do it on my own, I met Steady and never touched the dam thing!

%image_alt%[Steady] The people we look up to in a way are the mc/producer duos, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, DJ Premier and Guru, EPMD, that type and you get that consistency with their sound and music.

I went to music college, dropped out of school and had been making beats quite a long time before meeting Efeks. I hadn’t really been the type of person to push myself out there as a producer, the type of person to hassle MC’s. I was kinda happy doing my own thing. Efeks was the same, he’d worked with a few people and nothing really came of it. There wasn’t that chemistry. Unlike a lot of mc’s who tell you ‘I know what I’m doing’ Efeks would listen to my advice. He won’t get offended if I’m like this or that might sound better and he’s the same with me on beats. Originate was one of the first beats we made. Born Invincible was another of the first tracks we ever done. We kinda just gelled I suppose.

[Efeks] It was nice though, I had stuff that I had written in the past. As soon as we met up he’d be playing me stuff, yeah that’s the beat I was thinking off. It was nice just to finally unify.

What were your biggest influences musically growing up?

[Steady] I started listening to hip-hop when I was like 8 or 9 years old. People like LL Cool J, Radio, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, Run DMC, Eric B & Rakim, that’s the kind of stuff that really caught my attention, being in school.

[Efeks] Just the same really, a real varied influence from stuff that was played in the house. My mum use to play her Motown stuff, my dad playing his Italian music. Know what I mean, so it’s like a blend of different stuff. And then my older brother sort of got into Hip-Hop and introduced me to it. My Dad’s Italian and my mums Scottish so yeah I’ve got that little contrast in me. But Hip-Hop wise same lines as Steady that sort of school, LL, Big Daddy Kane, the good stuff.

Were there any UK cat’s you were feeling at that time?

[Steady] Yeah, we heard about Silver Bullet, and a bit later on Blade and people like that coming through, London Posse, Demon Boys. It was funny ‘cos I got introduced to that stuff by people who were jus as into it as they were into Public Enemy.

[Efeks] There was actually quite a good scene when we were growing up it was influenced a lot by America, but the UK was still getting its bit of shine. It’s like when you always used to listen to the Westwood show he’d always have like the UK segment at the end. You’d always wait till the end of the show to hear that heavy little piece.

Westwood fans then?

%image_alt%[Efeks] Yeah I mean that was standard back in the day. I don’t really know anyone who weren’t into Hip-Hop that didn’t use to listen to the show. Know what I mean? that was the highlight of the weekend. Getting the tape ready and that.

How would you describe Prose’s sound?

[Steady] We’ve always described our sound as Boom Bap, that’s why we’re the Boom Bap Pro’s. But people have started to rinse that term quite a lot recently. So we don’t want to be associated with the return of the back pack. Yeah ‘94 is where we come from, but I like Thug Hip-Hop as much as Talib Hip-Hop, you know. We love all kinda Hip-Hop. We argue about what we think is good or wack all the time. That’s what Hip-Hop is about.

[Efeks] We don’t really make no apologises for the music we make. It is what it is. It is Hip-Hop and we ain’t ashamed to call it that. It’s always difficult for you to kinda comment on your own sound. To define it. I think we do what comes naturally, Steady makes the beats that he makes, I write the lyrics I write and they are a fit for each other. Our sound is our representation of the sound we enjoy. It’s in the mould of the golden era of hip-hop, early to mid 90’s. Its music we believe in.

Prose is making its mark on a scene that has received a lot of criticism of late notably ‘Hip Hop’ is dead’. That hip-hop here isn’t gonna take off or has had its day. What do you feel about that statement?

[Steady] I’m a teacher that engages young people back into society through music. A lot of them will be like ’ah like how do you get signed’ you don’t, Jehst and people like that aren’t signed. They have their own thing going on. But they’re not signed to like a major label that’s gonna push them. It’s all underground, the same underground that we’re coming from.

[Efeks] To be honest I don’t know if it really had one over here anyway. Not on the scale as America. And I think part of the problem is it’s not American music. That’s why maybe the Grime scene is better understood because it is coming from here, it’s a homegrown product. You know, we are always gonna be seen as a cheap imitation to what the Americans are doing, which I don’t believe in. But if we were to kinda to sit and ponder on that we’d never do nothing about it. So I don’t think we are under any kind of illusion that Russell Simmons is gonna come along and give us a cheque and record deal. It’s not really gonna happen like that. We do it because we love doing it. It’s an escape from our 9-5’s. With the hope of that something could come of it.

[Steady] I think if people sit around and believe you can eat off it, unfortunately that’s kind of what’s happened with the Youtube generation. It’s the stupidest thing. I‘d love to have mansions and fast cars and all that. What I’m saying is you can’t expect that. We don’t expect that. We do what we have to do to support our family. We’ve been in Hip-Hop for years. Just to put something down and release it is an achievement for us in itself.

%image_alt%[Efeks] There is that expectation from the younger generation coming into to the music thinking, it’s gonna be like this or that, what I see on TV….It’s good to have expectation and have ambition but at the same time I think you have to approach it with a certain realism and in that way your world’s not gonna be shattered.

It’s like when you hear some people saying that if you get to a certain age and if it’s not happening then I’ll knock in on the head. You can’t have those kinds of expectations. I can’t ever imagine me not writing. That’s a part of me, whether I’m 50, 60. I’m still gonna do it I’m never gonna think I’m too old to do this, I’m never gonna stop. I need to do it.

We are not sitting there thinking right if Prose is not signed by next year then Prose is finished. We enjoy our friendship too much. So we’re always gonna do this. I’m still gonna have to put up with him one way or another.

On ‘no concern’ you suggest we should bring Omar back. Another idea that you’re fed up with a lot of things. What’s the Inspiration behind the track?

[Efeks] In that track I’m trying to fly the flag for Britain really. I don’t think say with the other artists they get the credit they deserve. Especially someone like Omar, he’s an institution over here. He was very instrumental in that whole New Soul scene, I mean he lives round the corner from me. Big up what we have here! It would be nice to see people like that get the props they deserve, you know what I mean. It’s also a little tongue in cheek. I’m not one of those people that’s always pissed off though.

[Steady] One of Efeks lyrics on Just Another Day is ‘I grab my laptop and check my myspace for progress’. You know that’s what a lot of peoples day to day lives are like, especially people doing music in this country. You come home from work have a cuppa tea, watch match of the day, check your myspace, just to find out one person is feeling what we are doing.

[Efeks] I was having my Alf Garnett moment. Maybe just being a voice box for everybody who is doing the daily rubbish, it’s not where you wanna be, you just gotta do what you gotta do.

How did ‘Just Another Day’ end up on Disorda’s Suspect Files Vol 4?

[Steady] Yeh man, disorda (suspectpackages) has always looked out for us. He got in touch with us one day after we sent him the Wasted Talent EP he was like ‘look I never reply to people, or get in touch with many people…most stuff I get sent is wack or whatever, I’m not bothered, but I wanted to touch base with you guys and say your big!’ he was really feeling us.

You released the EP ‘Wasted Talent’ on free download. Is the principle reason for the offering in light of the current market and the diminishing vinyl sales?

[Steady] The Wasted Talent EP is quite old now. Originally we did put it on CD and lot of them went out for free. We were giving it away then people up and down the country were coming up to us asking if they could buy it, so we sold a few copies. We were always about having a product. Unfortunately the market was such that we didn’t have the money to put the music on vinyl. If we had it our way we would have had it on vinyl. That’s just our way, that’s how we wanted our music to be. With download really we thought why not.

[Efeks] It might have been naïve on our part, although we never saw it as that. We never really intended to make money off the music especially with the first EP. I think it was such an achievement for us to do it. Like to actually have a product that we were so happy with. Put our blood sweat and tears into. Man, we stayed up all night cutting out all the sleeves and that. We were happy to give it away. We just wanted people to hear it.

So in a sense you were addressing your audience as well?

%image_alt%[Efeks] Exactly, that’s what we were always deliberating about. It was like nobody knows who we are. If there’s twenty people out on road selling their CD’s and we are like the new cat’s on the block, why are people gonna put their hand in their pocket and pay for our stuff that they’ve never heard about. So more importantly I think it was about gaining peoples respect rather then to try and earn a quick buck.

[Steady] This is something I talk about with the kids at work. The whole industry is on its head. We will always support UK, whether it will be Jehst, Skinny or an unknown. I’ll try and put my hand in my pocket to support them, but we understand that it’s hard to jus give money away. So downloads and listening to preview of tracks became the obvious choice

The thing with the Boom Bap Bootleg it’s how mixtapes used to be, you know. It’s all my beats and all his rhymes. DJ Matman (DMC champion) has mixed it for us but there’s no like Nelly beat Efeks is rhyming on, it’s all our material.

Funnily enough the mixtape has now been bootlegged on the blogs and torrent sites. The bootleg has been bootlegged. So with the Wasted Talent EP at least we put it out the way we wanted it to be, with the right artwork.

Is the title of the EP a self-reference?

[Efeks] Yeah definitely. It’s got the Bronx tale sample in there that basically gave me the inspiration for the verses. Steady had made the perfect beat and I felt it was the perfect sample for the track. It’s kinda got many connotations. So as much as it is a reference to me it was also aimed at a lot of other people me and steady grew up around, the fact there was a lot of wasted talent.

[Steady] It was around a time we had both lost people close to us and we were at a period of our time when we were quite introspective and I guess the track was an honest reflection of that. Taken from that, it’s still uplifting the fact that we don’t wanna be wasted talent. It came from the heart

Steady, there’s a real diversity of beats across all of Prose’s instalments so far, notably the big sampling. Is this something that plays an important part in your beat building process?

[Steady] Everything’s done in the home studio. The Boom Bap Bunker. I got into MPC’s back in 97,98. Instead of blowing my student loan on drugs, beer or books I bought my first MPC. I’m a crate digger. I collect and cut records so the MPC plays a big part in my beat making.

It’s refreshing to see very little collabo’s or guest appearances from MC’s of name on the Boom Bap Bootleg or the EP’s. Was this a conscious choice?

[Efeks] We always felt we never really needed anybody. We’ve felt that introducing somebody else into the equation was always gonna either dumb things down or disrupt the balance. So we stuck to each other, we know each other, we trust each other, we share the same vision.

We’re always respected the big names in the industry but we’ve never felt that we had to have them on something to validate us. We would love to work with those guys, but we never felt that we had to.

I mean another one man’s broth is another man’s poison. Me and steady make music that inspires us and we believe is great. Hopefully like minded people out there will love it.

[Steady] We’d be proud to work with them, but if we’re gonna have someone on our projects it would have to be a valid reason for it. Someone who shares Prose’s philosophy and who is doing it for the right reasons not just to get paid. A turntable and a mic is all you need, it’s what you do with it that matters.

You’ve currently pushed out a lot of material. Have you had to sacrifice much in the process?

[Efeks] I have kids, two daughters you know. So it was always that thing when I had my first child, argh this is it now, your not gonna be able to do the music anymore. It all depends on your perspective on life though and I kinda used that like a catalyst really to be more productive. I don’t see things I do as a sacrifice. Before I was sitting on my laurals, but I feel the pressure of time more now.

[Steady] I grew up in the north, where Skinnyman was from, where Low Life Records started and I remember when Braintax was two people. I know a lot of those people from the Leeds scene growing up. The funny thing is I spent a lot of my life sort of having to defend Hip-Hop. Getting beaten up after school and being called a wigga for loving Hip-Hop. It’s so ironic now though cos you look at TV today and hip-hop is part of popular culture. I hope someone out there is debating our music, through the love of music and has tuned on to it by someone else.

So far the EP’s and mixtape are in preparation of a debut album. When and what more can we expect from it’s release?

[Steady] You can expect it when we get that Russell Simmons cheque

[Efeks] Haha, Yeah we’ve been waiting for Damon Dash to ring us back

[Steady] I guess the album is a continuation to what you’ve come to aspect from Prose. Obviously cos it’s an album we’ve thought about every detail from running order to artwork. All tracks are new. It’s not quite ready yet but soon.

[Efeks] It’s really the joy and pain of the last 5 years. And there will also be some guests on the album too, and they’re not what you would expect.

We come from that era of people putting out classic albums, not just churning a mixtape out every two weeks or what ever. People were making conceptual projects, something we want to emulate. People in a couple of years won’t remember mixtapes but they remember classic albums like ‘Illmatic’ or ‘36 chambers’. That’s the direction we always wanted to go in.

%image_alt%Prose’s material is released on the Boombap Professionals label. Watch out for the debut album dropping soon in 09. Download the Wasted Talent EP from their myspace and then buy the Boombap Bootleg Mixtape from Suspect Packages…

Ali Raymond

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