Prince Ea, the man responsible for groundbreaking songs like “Smoking Weed With the President” and “The Brain”, joined Straight Fresh recently for an in depth conversation about his career, politics, the state of hip-hop and more. To check out the interview, as well as the exclusive a capella verse Prince Ea dropped for Straight Fresh, hit the cut.
Straight Fresh: Thank you for taking the time to interview, I know everyone at Straight Fresh really appreciates it. This first question is for the people who are reading this interview that don’t really know about you. Want to just tell us a little about yourself – who is Prince Ea?
Prince Ea: Sure, sure, sure…man, Prince Ea is a young rapper from St. Louis, Missouri. Very lyrical, very introspective…very innovative. I kinda built most of my fan base through digital media and digital marketing. Um, you know, putting out viral videos, um, developing a really loyal fan base with like a lot of political, a lot of socially conscious songs, in the beginning. And then I kinda expanded to more relatable type of music, still me, still introspective, but I expanded…I made an expansion.
As far as my accolades go, last year I was named the best hip-hop artist in St. Louis by one of our biggest, by the biggest newspaper down here. I’ve been in Vibe Magazine; I was the first rapper to be in Discover Magazine, Science Magazine. Um, man, the list kinda goes on and on. I’ve performed with Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, DJ Khaled. Most of my fans have been garner for my digital presence, so I have over 13 million views online. So yeah man, that’s pretty much me in a nutshell. I’m a guy, I’m a normal guy, that kinda wants to, I want to change the scope of music, not even just hip hop, so I put out a lot of innovative material. So that’s just me, man.
Straight Fresh: That’s dope. I’m sure you’ve been asked this question now, probably, countless times, but the story behind the Prince Ea name, want to go into that?
Prince Ea: Oh man, the name, the name, the name…a lot of people don’t know. You know, basically, a couple years ago, I was really, really into…one thing I didn’t mention, I graduated Summa Cum Laude, I forgot about that. But I got my degree in Anthropology, and one of the things I was studying was the Sumerian culture. And Sumer is in modern day Iraq; other names for it were Babylon, Mesopotamia, Assyria, etc. Sumer is basically the cradle of civilization – this is where the fist civilization known to man comes from, uh 6 thousand years ago in Sumer. And these people were so intelligent, so technologically advanced, right out of the Stone Age. They created the wheel, they had the first complex agricultural systems, first political, educational systems, they put 360 degrees to a circle, uh, they knew about all of the planets in our solar system without a telescope. And if you would have asked one of these people, how did you get so much knowledge, so much information, so quickly? And what they would have said was that their living Gods gave it to them. Oh, they also created the first written language, which is cuneiform, script.
They wrote about these living Gods, these Gods called the Anunnaki. And one of these Gods was called Enki, Prince Ea…Ea is actually an abridged version of Earth…Prince Earth, basically who Prince Earth was, he freed man. Man was in a state of bondage, um, in a state of, knowledge was being kept from man. He kinda, uh, freed man. That’s kinda what I want to do with my music – I want to enlighten people with the topics I talk about. I don’t want people to believe me just because I’m a rapper and I’m saying it. I want people to look into what I’m saying and research it and find out. I felt like that story kinda touched me, and I kinda took that name and kinda ran with it. And since I have that name, I can never sell out, I can never go in a different direction, because, you know, your name is your destiny. And that’s kinda what I felt like my role in hip hop was, basically just enlighten man, tryin’ to free man out of, you know, the state that he’s in, that I feel like a lot of us are in, as far as music. Which is a very constricted, very limited form of music right now. So that’s the origin of the Prince Ea name.
Straight Fresh: A lot of people probably believed, or at least used to believe, you’d never make a name for yourself through rap, because of the complex nature and substance of your tracks. What was it like for you early in your career, before you started getting noticed and even a little after you had some recognition?
Prince Ea: Um, you mean as far as the dynamic between fans or like people who came into contact with my music?
Straight Fresh: I guess that, but also people you knew before, like friends and family?
Prince Ea: Oh, got you, got you. Yeah, I mean, I was met with a lot of resistance. A lot of people, even my parents, they didn’t get it, you know, they didn’t understand rap music. When I was growing up I couldn’t listen to rap music, they wouldn’t allow it. I was a big Biggie and Ma$e fan, so I would sneak and listen to them. After I picked up rap music, and started actually becoming a practitioner of it, and doing it myself, they didn’t get it, they didn’t understand it. And back then, when I was first, first, starting, I was the typical rapper. I mean, I always had punch lines, I was always like a line guy, a wordplay guy, but the lines that I was saying weren’t as socially conscious as what I developed into. I was like, “I only wear yellow and blue ‘cause I make green” or “I only see green like night vision goggles”. I had lines like that, I mean, they were hot, I liked them, I still might throw out a line or two like that, but they didn’t have the substance that I developed into, um, so they didn’t get it.
You know, it’s no fault against them, they didn’t know that I was gonna develop and grow and it was actually gonna be something I would put my heart into. So fast forward a couple years when I actually found my sound, it got a lot easier. People started understanding what I was doing; they started to get behind me, started seeing the success I was having. Friends and family, and, um, now it’s…I don’t want to say they’re 100% behind me, like “when’s your next show” and stuff like that, but they’re behind it I think, they understand it. That goes friends and family. So yea, but at first it was bad, man, people would talk about me. With the conscious music too, they were like, oh this shit, this stuff will never sell, you’ll never make a name for yourself doing this. You can’t be lyrical. And that’s people in general man, that’s labels, that’s…when people have a concept in their mind, a way of looking at the world, it’s tough to change it until it changes, ha, in reality. So that’s just natural, you just gotta, you know…if anybody is an up and coming rapper, you just gotta keep doing you man, cause everything comes, is a full circle, it’s a 360, there’s gonna be cycles. So, just keep doing you and one day, people will get it. You know, they say a broken clock is right twice a day.
Straight Fresh: Now, moving to current times, “Smoking Weed With The President”, which you released not too long ago, was a song you hoped would reach the desk of President Barack Obama. Beyond the intended goals of the song, what I really liked was that, unlike most rap songs about cannabis, this wasn’t the average “get high, smoke weed every day”. Instead, you presented a historical and factual examination of the lies and hypocrisy that the laws are based around. It was an educational look at the social and economic issue that is marijuana. What I want to know is, what went into the making of that song? How’s it going in terms of raising money, and do you know if Obama has heard it yet?