Pryslezz is a rapper from Youngstown, Ohio grounded in three of hip-hop’s fundamentals; adventure, expression and breakdancing. Since spring online audiences have seen his video for “More Than A Love Song” a collaborative R&B threaded jam with Dwele. Rapping in the love aftermath left by LL Cool J, Pryslezz debuts as an emcee with mushy concerns in a masculine-riddled music. But the album Death Of A Man Rebirth Of A King (King Ape Ent) scheduled for an early 2009 release has a mixed sound. It is his first mainstream effort but third full-length project after 12 yrs of learning and performing music. His mostly local fanbase received a national jolt from the single that some would call his radio-ready song. The college graduate who earned his stage name from a friend commenting on his breakdance skills is striving to become the next notable from Ohio a line that currently includes Lfye Jennings and John Legend. Relaxing at home with his daughter the artist conducted this interview by phone and talked about his reason for rapping, plans for his company King Ape Entertainment and why he uses the gorilla as his prototype.
How did you get into hip-hop and become an emcee?
Pretty much my oldest brother he kind of introduced me to it all. I used to watch him write and do songs even down to the breakdancing and everything. I like the way he was able to express himself and I started using it the same way. I found it as a useful tool to get many things off my chest like I fell in love with it when I found out the way I could use it.
Who inspired you along the way?
A lot of people were people that I knew that I was close to like my oldest brother, a friend of mine N.O.X. he’s also a new kid those are the close inspirations. The other inspirations would be Busta Rhymes I really like his energy Pac gave a real raw vibe. Methodman,, Jay-Z, Nas, KRS ONE, Common, Mos Def a string of people.
How did you get your name Pryslezz?
A friend of mine Charlie he was a part of a group called Manifest he was one of the producers and emcee as well to start breakdancing. I met up with him as we grew together as a crew he eventually gave me that name because of the way I attract my dancing I was not afraid to do what I feel like doing I’m not afraid to push the envelope and do things new and attractive.
What part of Ohio are you from?
I’m from Youngstown.
What is the scene like there?
There are a lot of good artists in Youngstown, Ohio right now. You never really hear about a place too much until someone shines the light on that area I’m trying to bring that light to Youngstown. In LA you had NWA, you had different people in the south like Ludacris different people that let the light shine in that area. So far there really hasn’t been a light shined in up Ohio. The only person to shine a light is someone like a Rufus Black but there is so much talent here I would like to see it shine.
The album is called Death Of A Man Rebirth Of A King, what does that mean?
It’s about change in order for you to change you have to give up a part of the person you used to be and that’s really what the album is about. Changes I made in my life to become the person I am now.
Why all the references to apes and gorillas?
I look at the ape or the gorilla as a symbol of strength the silverbackgorilla if you come into a run-in with a silverback gorilla you might not want to test that animal there’s a lot of people who use that term now like silverback it’s that power the raw energy that it has also King APE is A P E stands for aggression, power and emotion. Those are just a few of the things I think you need to have control over like you should be aggressive as a king but too much aggression will put you in a bad spot and have you leading people in the wrong direction all because you want to be aggressive but if you have just enough you can lead the people well. There are different ways you can use your power if you use your power wisely for the people and the people will follow you. When you abuse your power that’s when people start to turn on you. When it comes to your emotions it’s good for a king to have emotions a leader to have emotions because no one wants to follow a machine it’s sort of like you are not real you are not human but too much emotion can make you appear unstable. I feel like a person needs to be in control of themself before they can lead. Emcees and writers we represent whether we want to be or not we become leaders and motivators. You are put at a certain plateau where people look at you they look up to you whether you want to be a role model or not. You have to take that seriously because there are a lot of kids growing up and listening to hip-hop music and patterning what they do from what they see and hear that’s one of the things I like about KRS ONE because they call him the teacher the thing that he says is we want to uplift the people we don’t want to have people stuck in the same situations that’s one of the things he stands for educating everyone. Being in a position where we’re on top of our soapbox and we can say whatever we want but it doesn’t give us a right to say things that harm each other. We should be doing better with that like I said I see us as being leaders whether we wanna be or not and that’s where that came from.
What was it like working with Dwele for “More Than A Love Song?”
It was a wonderful experience I came down to Miami and we were getting ready to work on the album and I had an opportunity to meet some of the people I want to work with and I really liked Dwele’s music I liked his soul I really wanted to do music with him so we contacted him. We contacted Blackout Movement “This Is Why I’m Hot” we went that route contacted them to do some production. We sent Dwele something to listen to and he liked it the people that run his label enjoyed it as well they were excited to do music with us as we were excited to do music with them. It was a wonderful thing because he’s been doing music for a while so for him to step out onto my first mainstream effort was really a blessing he came in and did his thing and it was a lovely experience.
What about working with Raheem Devaughn?
That was an experience as well because I liked Raheem Devaughn when he came out with The Love Experience album. A friend of mine Dre got me The Love Experience since he bought a whole bunch of them cause he saw Raheem Devaughn somewhere I was listening and I was like I really like this guy I really liked his energy and his sound is nice and I had another opportunity to do a song with someone and I wanted to do a song with him so we contacted him and his people. We flew him into Miami actually around the same time I did the song with Dwele. We bought Pekasso in Pekasso did some paintings I actually got a painting Pekasso did for me of me. We went in there and it was interesting to see him work because I’m not sure if anybody really knows this but he went into the booth with no pen or paper he just went in and told us to play the music he was in the booth pretty much the whole time and he just did his verse inside there and came out and listened to it. It was a wonderful thing it really was.
I noticed that your album does not stick to any one sound what was the motivation behind that?
That’s an interesting question I have been asked that question before I had a little bit of trouble answering it but I figured it out and I had time to think about it. My sound is me just as there is different parts of myself there are different parts to my sound. I’ve been groomed from many different sounds and different experiences so my music has many different sounds. If I had to be noble to something I would be noble to hip-hop because one thing that I know about hip-hop is that it draws from many different things. You can have a RUN DMC song that sounds Rock N Roll with a hip-hop flavor or rhyme over it and you can switch it up and do something like I did with Dwele with a smooth R&B type feel but still hip-hop. That’s one thing about the genre of hip-hop that isn’t with anything else hip-hop pools from everything that’s the big thing about sampling we can sample from an Al Green record and it will be all the way hip-hop even Erik Sermon does things like that with Marvin Gaye.
As you mentioned, this is your first mainstream project, how does it differ from your other albums?
It’s still part of the story of my life every project that I have done the first one A Search For Peace I did that one in Cincinnati that’s when I was in college I released that one underground. That was the story of my life up to that point and then after that one I did an album all the way produced by myself and that was my life up to that point. and here’s the new one Death Of A Man and that’s my life up to now. I’m constantly changing going through these things and experiences. What separates from those albums is it’s a new time new experiences new feelings and new ideas it’s still me I’ve grown matured a little you might be able to tell that the emotion is a little bit different from the other albums. Many different producers on this one Blackout Movement, I have a song with Purple Popcorn they did a remix to “This Is Why I’m Hot” called “This Is Why I Rock” then I have a song produced by I guess you would call him alternative they’re called Solar Mesh. A lot of good producers even producers from home like Too Fly and Jesse Astro a lot of people who are close to us. It’s like a family of producers that I have on here the new single “Sideways” is produced by Drop Dead Beats people should really be on the lookout for him and his music.
When will the album be released?
We’re looking for a January date the actual release date has not been announced yet because a lot of different things are going on we’re working on distribution and things like that. The single can be purchased on iTunes. My next single “Sideways” featuring Jason Derulo who’s from here will also be on iTunes very shortly.
Anything else from King Ape Entertainment?
Yes we’re actually working on a mixtape for the next artist to come off King Ape Entertainment his name is Knox he just dropped a single as well it’s called “Move.” We’re working on a mixtape together and we’re just trying to keep the movement going for King Ape Entertainment.