We posted Prince Ea’s unique “Backwards Rapper” video when it first came out a couple weeks ago, and since then it has blown up across the internetz. With hundreds of thousands of views and many features on respected media outlets, it is safe to say that Prince Ea and his movement to “Make Smart Cool” have been making waves.
Hold on, did we say movement? Unique? Making waves? Needless to say, this interview seemed like a natural fit.
Preview: SPOILER – Why is Prince Ea “Not Some Kid“?
NSK: Welcome to the NSK Hot Seat! Please take a second to introduce yourself to our readers.
Prince Ea: My name is Prince Ea, I am a twenty-two year old hip hop artist from St. Louis MO. I grew up in the most dangerous part of the most dangerous city in America— The north side of St. Louis. Despite the odds against me, I am the president of my own company and also a college graduate (Summa Cum Laude, honors, BA Anthropology).
“Read more” below to find out about Prince Ea’s S.M.A.R.T movement, his writing process, his thoughts about the reactions to Backwards Rappers, his favorite lyricists, and more!
NSK: Thanks for being here. You’ve been leading a movement known as the S.M.A.R.T movement. What is the main goal of the S.M.A.R.T movement, when did it start & what inspired the movement?
Prince Ea: Make Smart Cool began in 2009. There were many reasons that preceded the inception of the movement but if I had to pinpoint one specific moment, it would be when I took a step back and truly looked at society. After observing society for some time, I thought to myself, “wow,” why does intelligence take a backseat to money? Why do we value things we shouldn’t? Why does most hip hop music today perpetuate the agenda of corporate America, when it once served as the “voice of the voiceless.” After I pondered these questions for quite some time, I realized that education is, in fact, the key that unlocks every dream that one might have. Today’s youth are desperately in need of our help, and what better vehicle to use and language to speak to them with than hip hop. Furthermore, I decided to form the movement.
Today, Make Smart Cool’s main mission is to popularize the notion of intelligence. We believe that intelligence is diverse and that “smart” isn’t just knowing the answers to questions but sometimes having the courage to ask them. Make Smart Cool seeks to promote positive social change in various concrete ways from speaking at schools, organizing community events/benefit performances, partnering with community based organizations and setting up educational mentor-ship programs.
NSK: Inspiring! How would you describe your songwriting process/workflow?
Prince Ea: My writing process is very organic. Throughout my day, I take note of unique/funny events and write about them in my blackberry. Eventually they turn into punchlines. I guess the process can be likened to comedian Mitch Hedberg who used to write his jokes down on a napkin. When the time comes and I hear the right beat, I go through my archives and try to structure the song around some of these lines. Much of the song is composed on the spot however. Additionally, I am not a guy who goes into the studio and finishes a song in one sitting. For me, writing a song is much more of a craft and I like to take my time with it. Spending two weeks crafting a sixteen bar verse is not unusual.
NSK: Did you expect “Backwards Rappers” to get the great response that it did? Who are you speaking to in that song, and why do you think it was so well received?
Prince Ea: Not at all! I knew the Backwards Rappers video would do well but not nearly as well as it did! My fan base really enjoyed it and spread it around like crazy! A lot of news corporations picked it up as well, I had an interview with FOX yesterday…crazy! We pulled in 400k views in seven days on YouTube alone, 100k on Worldstarhiphop, 100k on Ebaumsworld, and not to mention they played it on Good Day LA and FOX several times. I would have to quantify the number of people that have seen the video to about 1 million. I think it was so well received because it was the total package. The uniqueness of the verse combined with the uniqueness of the video was what did it. The fact that it was under 2:00, and the simplicity of the video also appealed to a lot of people. I have learned from trial and error to always use the KISS principle – Keep it short and sweet. :)
In the video I was directing my statements to the degenerated hip hop music that is so heavily played on the radio. I didn’t want to say any names (yet at least), I just wanted to attack a negative mentality that is causing the decay of a culture—Hip Hop.
NSK: So you’re all about bringing substance back to hip hop, and we respect that. In your opinion, who is the best lyricist of all time?
Prince Ea: The best lyricist of all time, wow, tough question. If I had to pick one, honestly I would say Bob Marley. The way he could simplify his concepts and universally convey them to people across cultures is, in my eyes, the definition of a true lyricist. I don’t think lyricism is about being extra-complicated or keeping the same rhyme scheme/cadence for 3932 minutes. It’s about how well you get your message across. Bob Marley was one of the best, if not the best. I’d say the best living hip hop lyricist is Jay-Z. Jay-Z doesn’t just rap, he conveys poetry. This is ironic, because I used to hate Jay-Z when I was younger. Guess it took me time to mature to truly understand him.
NSK: What is your favorite song off “Watch the Throne”?
Prince Ea: Haven’t even heard the album :) Maybe I should pick it up :p
NSK: I’d say it’s worth a listen! To make your dream track, who would you collaborate with?
Prince Ea: Immortal Technique, Canibus, Prince Ea, Jus Allah, Vinnie Paz, Killah Priest. This track would be the most epic underground track of all time :). I’m not sure who the producer would be, or if it would even matter. We could honestly rap over the sound of water dripping and it would come out epic :).
NSK: Why are you “Not Some Kid”?
Preview: Prince Ea is Not Some Kid
Prince Ea: I am Not Some Kid, because, if you go back 4.1 billion years to the beginning of Planet Earth, you will never — you will NEVER — find an organism like me. My name is Prince Ea, and I am Not Some Kid!