Introduction by Dan-O
The rest by PremRock
In a month we will have a new Prem Rock album released through BackWoodz. A new audience will come to the table, who knows what percentage, but post-ShrapKnel new heads will be checking. It’s important that those new faces be welcomed and primed for the Prem experience.
The song that started the idea in my head for “5 Songs You Need To Understand PremRock” is from 2012’s album The Build. The mix of seductive love story, old school hip hop flavor, and true tragic loss had such a glimmering emotional core to it I wanted everyone hearing his voice now to connect back to it. When Prem opens up a newspaper at work half asleep, that’s something he lets us feel that we just can’t get from any other living emcee. That’s heart, story craft and delivery in delicate mixture. No one will convince me otherwise. Below is my pick. The section after that is Prem telling his story.
Obscure as it is, the reason this song is so important to me personally is it kind of felt like my introduction in some ways to a broader audience.
I had released my first record on my own and had been performing all over NYC, as much as I could really, and even made it overseas but this one began to launch a few “who is that guy?” responses. Woods had been made aware of me through my work with Willie Green, who had fast developed into a close friend and obviously a close collaborator and asked if I’d do a hook for Backwoodz Studioz upcoming compilation “The Cost of Living.” I was told Mike Eagle would be on it which was huge as I was already a fan of his as well as Megabusive, an underrated stalwart of the West Coast indy scene. I think at some point Green said I should just do a 16 too at which point I definitely woke up at 7AM too excited and knocked out the writing before making my way to Green’s to lay it down. I wanted people to know I was for real and wanted to impress those guys on the song.
Here is the full comp that should still be up for DL.. a real gem https://backwoodzstudioz.com/the-cost-of-living/
“Christmas Card from a Hooker in Prague” Produced by: Steel Tipped Dove
Tom Waits is my favorite living artist, when he passes he might be my favorite dead one too. My girlfriend at the time told me that our first date consisted of me talking exclusively about my tribute project to Tom Waits, and I was lucky I was cute because I probably didn’t deserve a date #2. I obsessed over this idea before and while executing it. I wanted him to hear it and to like it if he did. Steel Tipped Dove has become a mainstay in my creative orbit and I remember him making this on the spot at his place (same apartment to this day!) this really helped shape the project as I recognized the true way to making this memorable was taking some creative license. I wanted to work on my storytelling and this was a great canvas to do so. I still really like this album and was incredibly pleased with the reception. People still discover it to this day, except Tom that is.
“Lens” Produced by: Quelle Chris
I’m kind of talking my shit on this one. I don’t do that very often. I am rather proud of myself for correctly identifying that Quelle Chris was about to really take off. He was living at Cavalier’s crib in Bushwick, BK, which at the time was essentially an incubator for incredible rap talent. I felt thrilled just to kick it over there every now and again. I got his info through Cav and rolled through, we drank and listened to beats. I was so intimidated because he quite literally had about 50 I would gladly take but even after his generous deal, with my meager wages as a hotel concierge, I could only afford one at the time. I actually took a few home and that didn’t include “Lens” I hit him and said I needed to come back and check ’em out again with fresh ears. Then “Lens” played and I knew it was the one I needed. Quelle is easily one of the coolest people in the rap world and we remain friendly to this day, don’t often see him but when I do it’s a joyous time. He’s one of the greatest artists in the world and I appreciate him taking the time back when I was really just figuring it all out. Funny quote from that session I asked him if he’s ever surprised at what beats people do and don’t choose he simply responded with something like “I think ya’ll are crazy for passing any of these up.” He was actually right, he had a cache unmatched to this day.
“Glass House” Produced by Fresh Kils
Collaboration is the spice of my artistic life. I love the energy others bring and it really allows me to tap into different realms of what I want to achieve. Fresh Kils and I met on the road. SXSW in something like 2013 I wanna say. It’s a long and storied tale I would gladly get into on a podcast but we ended up making a ton of great music together and when I say together, we made almost everything we’ve ever done together in person. I would plan an extended weekend and camp out on his couch in Toronto, imbibe various intoxicants and make a record. In some ways we are excellent foils for each other. After a few weeks on the road together we drive each other nuts but I wouldn’t trade it. We both love the road but our musical backgrounds couldn’t be much more different. He understands theory extensively and I can barely count bars. But it really works as I aim to pull him left and he’s there to center me. We have a lot to peruse through together but this one remains a favorite. Happy to report we have more interesting things on the way as well.
“Rod Stewart (Willie Green Remix)” Produced by Willie Green
Tempted as I am to provide some ShrapKnel this is about ME goddddamnit! Just kidding but I would like to highlight another project of mine that felt was a tad overlooked. I put together “Who Art in Nada” as a companion piece to my record “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” and it took a life of its own. This remix really set the tone for the expansion of sounds on this EP and I love it to this day. I was a mess in my personal life as I returned to New York without money or a place to stay after an ill-fated journey of the heart, this provided solace. I needed to regroup and reinvent myself so to speak. I feel like this was a turning point in my writing. After all, we can’t include Green only once in my definitive 5 tracks now can we?