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Proe - conducted by Todd E. Jones  

Proe’s Strive For Imperfection

April 2005

While rappers attempt to make a mark on hip-hop by following gimmicks or riding the bandwagon, respected emcees are true to their roots and display their individuality by being honest about who they truly are. Hailing from Santa Cruz, California, Proe is an emcee many may dismiss at first listen or sight. Some compare him to Slug (of Atmosphere) or Eminem. While these comparisons are somewhat accurate, Proe’s eccentric soul is that of a true individual. A product of racially mixed parents, Proe samples Blues and R&B instead of the usual. His influences are as varied as his samples as his all time favorite artist is Tom Waits. While his debut LP “Tags On The Wall” did not gain much exposure, his fan base grew. Gaining fans from both rock music and hip-hop music, Proe is moving between genres while being true to himself. In 2005, Proe released his sophomore album, “Perfect” on Rec League Records. With the emotional vulnerability of Atmosphere and the wildness of Eminem, Proe has made interesting, poignant, and thought provoking music. As “Perfect” is somewhat a study on the beauty of imperfections, the emcee is truly discovering himself within each beat and rhyme. No emcee or human being is perfect and this journalist thinks that Proe would not have it any other way.

MVRemix: What goes on?

Proe: Sitting here, drinking coffee, and smoking a cigarette. Summoning the will for all the St. Patrick’s Day debauchery.

MVRemix: Your new LP ‘Perfect’ was just released. Tell us about it.

Proe: Well, it’s called ‘Perfect’. It’s 19 songs, almost entirely produced by The Neptunes... Just kidding [Laughs]. I actually handled 98% of the production myself. It's out now on Rec-League Records and I suggest you go buy it. I think it will make both of us happy.

MVRemix: How long did it take you to record ‘Perfect’?

Proe: It took me about a endless amount of cigarettes, cups of coffee, trials and tribulations, all compiled into a little over a year of hardcore work.

MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on ‘Perfect’?

Proe: I don't think I have a favorite. There are certain songs on there which I can conjure memories from as I made them, which is good or bad, depending on which, but they all have their place. For the sake of the question, the song ‘The Break Down’. I wrote while depressed and drunk. So, every once in a while, I might listen to that when I'm depressed and drunk and I'll feel better.

MVRemix: How is ‘Perfect’ different from your debut album?

Proe: Well ‘Perfect’ follows a concept. It’s more personal. It’s more mature. I think I've come a long way since the debut album, both in my song writing and production.

MVRemix: What is the meaning behind the title ‘Perfect’?

Proe: Here's what people need to remember, especially reviewers. I do not claim the album is perfect. I called it ‘Perfect’ from my own f*cked up exploration into perfection, my views, my questions, my contradictions, my sins, my virtues, my laughs, my cries, all over beats. I'm just a not-so-innocent bystander on the street, watching God and Satan have a knife fight to the death while wishing I had some popcorn and a beer.

MVRemix: What song took you the longest to do? Why?

Proe: Well, I really don't remember. A lot of them took a long time. Being an emcee as well as a producer, I get distracted easily. Like, I'll be trying to say something I have in my head and then, all of a sudden, I'll get sick of the snare and work on that until I get sick of the whole thing. Then, I’ll start working on something else. I think have A.D.D. Actually, I'm pretty sure I do.

MVRemix: What song took you the shortest to do? Why?

Proe: This one I can remember. One of my best friends, P. Soup, who produced ‘Move’, left his hard drive of beats at my house for a day. So, I just loaded up the beat to ‘Move’ and wrote it all fairly quickly. It’s quite easy for me to write when it’s not my production. Long story short, he came back and I demanded that I have that beat or I would have had to rough him up a little. I'm a lot bigger, so he gave in.

MVRemix: What is the meaning behind your name, Proe?

Proe: I wish I had something deep or interesting to tell you, but I don't. I get this question a lot so I might as well just tell it again, even though its not that cool. Ok, so when I was just a little twerp, I called myself ‘Prolific’. It was a way too super-power-lyrical-master-verbal-sorcerer type of guy name for my liking, but I'm extremely bad at thinking up names to call myself. I was also too lazy. All my friends, who would ever have to, for some reason, call me by my rap name, would say ‘Pro’, for short. One day, I was drunk with my homey Ricky Saiz, who is a dope producer who you'll be hearing a lot about. I was telling him how I needed a new name, all he said was, ‘Why don't you just be Proe, but with an E at the end?’ So, I was like ‘F*ck it, sure’.

MVRemix: When writing lyrics, do you have the lyrics pre-written or a set theme or do you hear the music before you write?

Proe: I generally have to hear the music first. I like to write songs. So, to me, just writing stuff and placing them on a backdrop, would be incomplete. I have written stuff that I've used, which came to me while without listening to a beat.

MVRemix: How did you get involved with Rec League Records?

Proe: I met all those guys while we were both coming up, making music in town. I thought they were dope and they thought I was dope. We started doing shows. Fast-forward about 5 years and they are all some of my best friends. So, it’s like a record label and a group of friends, which is funny because our music sounds nothing alike, which is dope to me.

MVRemix: What hurdles or problems have you encountered being white in hip-hop?

Proe: This question is absolutely awesome because I'm not white. Well, my father is white and my mother is mixed. So, I guess I don't have a comment about it. But, about the whole white in hip-hop thing, I think that it is 2005 and if that’s really still an issue, people need to grow up.

MVRemix: When did you first begin making music? What was the experience like?

Proe: I first started getting interested in making music as a early teen. I got a set of sh*tty turntables and a mixer at 14, if I remember right. I did that for a couple years. It was dope to me. At first, I really had no idea what I was doing, but it was exciting. I would just sit in my room and do the world's most horrible rendition of crab scratches and Primo cuts. After that, I got into rapping, making tapes from the instrumentals off my records, and pretty much just goofing off with my homeys. I had a Tascam 4-track tape recorder and I thought it was illest thing ever. Eventually, I sort of just stopped DJ-ing and focused on how I could make myself beats instead of rapping on others.

MVRemix: When producing a beat, do you have a formula or a usual process?

Proe: I really don't have a formula. Maybe that’s why my production is so different from everyone else. Although, for the new album ‘Perfect’, I told myself that I wouldn't jump on a soul sample train and pitch every beat up till it sounded like a Chipmunk’s Christmas rap record or something. For this album, I used a lot of rock and blues records. I wasn't really trying to be different because I've always been a little odd when it comes to music. It just turned out that way. And just because I sampled a couple guitars, if I hear the term ‘rap-rock’ I'll have to kill somebody, seriously.

MVRemix: What equipment do you use for production?

Proe: I use a Akai MPC 2000Xl and old vinyl.

MVRemix: What is your favorite drum machine and/or sampler?

Proe: I'm a MPC junkie for life.

MVRemix: How were you making a living before or outside music?

Proe: Currently, I park rich people’s cars and hit on their wives while I carry their luggage.

MVRemix: How has your live show evolved? What is your favorite part of your live show?

Proe: I think after doings a lot of shows, any performer starts to become fully comfortable in that spot light, where they can totally be themselves and without the cliché rapper routine like, ‘Wasssup motherf*ckers! Put y’all mothaf*cking hands up Motherfuckers! All the fellaz say.... All the ladies say..’ Unless that’s really how you do it, and that’s totally cool, but it’s not me. Then again, I find it very entertaining when rappers cuss out the audience to make them interact, so its kind of like whatever.

MVRemix: Do you smoke weed?

Proe: I stopped smoking the devil’s grass a while back, although occasionally, I'll get high by myself and listen to records. Generally, it makes me think way too much and I already have a habit of doing that.

MVRemix: What is it like living in California? What is the hip-hop scene like?

Proe: I love California. I'm a Cali boy. I still wear Dickies and Chuck Taylors, as I did when I was growing up. Living in Cali is dope. The weather is nice. There’s a beach where half naked women go to hang out, but we do have a cyborg mercenary sent from the future as our Governor. So, it has its pros and cons.

MVRemix: Who are your biggest influences?

Proe: Tom Waits, Jay-Z, Johnny Cash, Ike Turner, Redman, Wu-Tang Clan, Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Krs-one, Craig T. Nelson, MC Eiht, Silk The Shocker, Jean Claude Van Damn, Big Daddy Kane, John Lee Hooker, Jim Morrison, GWAR, David Cross, and John Basedow.

MVRemix: Abortion. Pro-life or pro-choice?

Proe: I think it’s pretty ridiculous that old male religious freaks can tell a woman what she can do with her own body.

MVRemix: Death penalty. For or against?

Proe: It seems to be that the devil has a plan for all of us.

>> continued...

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Rich Gang – Rich Gang album review

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"This question is absolutely awesome because I'm not white. Well, my father is white and my mother is mixed. So, I guess I don't have a comment about it. But, about the whole white in hip-hop thing, I think that it is 2005 and if that’s really still an issue, people need to grow up."