Today, Minneapolis hip-hop’s premiere Gampo, Prof, releases his Rhymesayers debut Liability. Prof’s new album, which will be celebrated Friday with a signing event at Fifth Element, features Tech N9ne, Petey Pablo, and Waka Flocka Flame.
The wild Twin Cities rapper is most known for his live show, including September's annual takeover of Cabooze Plaza, Prof Outdoors, which saw him join former No Limit favorite Mystikal. Channeling that charismatic energy into a full-length release on a lauded label like Rhymesayers may seem like an daunting task. Then again, so does beefing online with John Stamos and Prof's accomplished that, so perhaps nothing’s impossible.
We spoke to Prof as he made the final preparations for today’s release and prepped for his forthcoming Liability tour with Nacho Picasso. We got to the bottom of sex in the '90s, working with Petey Pablo, and his favorite of Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler’s daughters.
City Pages: This is your first release since 2012’s Kaiser Von Powderhorn 3. How different is working with Rhymesayers for a project different from your previous releases?
Prof: Well, as far as creating the music, wasn’t shit different. We created all the music in-house with just me and my homie in the basement. A bunch of beat-makers, like my usual records, I like to push myself and do as much different styles as I can.
So, making it was the same. Releasing it and the business end was completely different. Working with brand new people. I got to take Mike Campbell with me, of course, he has his hands completely over everything at all times, which is the shit. But working with J-Bird, Siddiq, Jordon over there and just the whole team.
Business end, it’s completely different. New people, new meetings, new ways of doing things. It still is a learning process with my first record, bringing a bunch of Stophouse people on board and cross-pollinating with the Rhymesayers dudes, but we’re getting better by the week.
CP: Also between KVP3 and this new record, your touring range has become larger than it's ever been. Given your unique live show, have you noticed different reactions from different regions of audiences?
P: Yeah man. Touring, you get a better understanding globally of humanity. After a month-long tour and seeing so many different cultures in so many different cities, and having to take temperatures of different people in different communities of how they act. It’s so much information to take in and so hard to talk about.
But it is different, every city is different, and who I tour with is different. I could hit Indianapolis with Atmosphere or Indianapolis with Murs, and the crowds are different. But, obviously, crowds in New Orleans are different than Seattle. I really like the Midwest, I think that’s pertains to my style a little bit more. The people are a bit more crazy.
CP: How did you link up with Petey Pablo for “King,” and what was your reaction to hearing him reference his airport-gun incident in the verse itself?
P: You know, all my guest features on the record, I didn’t go out looking for. I actually have trouble with that a lot. If I hear a beat and write to it and do a lot of work on it, and the song’s almost complete, I don’t trust anybody because I fall in love with my verses. Should I trade my verse that I love so much with someone else?
But, with all these guests on the record, it came out of pure fucking music. It just popped up or somebody mentioned something, that’s kind of how I write. With that track, I’d love to hear Petey Pablo’s low scruffy voice all over that track. I can’t remember who brought it up, but it was like, “Oooh, yes, this track, Petey Pablo on it, let’s go!” and we reached out to him.
It was a while ago. He was straight up fresh out of prison like a week or two weeks or something. He was ready to work, hit me back right away, was super easy to work with. When I heard it, opening the track, it was like a Christmas present. His first couple lines were hard as hell and super truthful.
CP: Liability seems to follow the same structure as one of your live shows. Did you have your performances in mind when making it?
P: Not really at all. I’m thinking, maybe some times I should. There’s one track, “Love Like Mine” where I’m hitting this note that’s gnarly and nasty, but the only time I can do that live is if I open up with it. But the way the record swings in-and-out, that’s just kind of how I am as an artist.
I want to be dynamic with my shit. I don’t want to make a CD that’s just a grip of bangers. I want them to be able to pop this record in no matter what their mood and listen to a few songs, or if they want to take a journey they can listen to the whole thing.
CP: You also mention winning the beef with John Stamos on the album. What’s your latest interactions been like with the former Uncle Jesse and star of Grandfathered?
Man, that’s the problem, Grandfathered got him all busy and shit. We’ve emailed back and forth trying to connect, and I tried to get him in a couple of videos but it just hasn’t happened yet. World-class TV star, what are you going to do? I’m happy for the dude.
CP: Given there’s a track on the album about "Sex In the '90s," how different is the act between now and then?
P: [Laughs.] Man, “Sex in the 90s” was me thinking back to the times it was brand new. The first time I ever did “this thing” or “that thing.” Now, I’m pretty well-educated. As an adult it’s like, “What do you like, let’s go for it.” Back then you’re scared to “try this” and “touch that.”
One thing that’s different is, if someone wanted to show a rap star their titties, they would have to take a picture of their titties, develop the film, and mail it to a handler to go give it to the rapper or the rocker. Then, they would have to open the envelope and look at the titties. Now, it’s like “boom!” I have tits on my Snapchat. It’s on the internet. You can do that instantly. I’d hate to be a father of a 15-year-old girl right now. That’s some stressful shit.
CP: There’s a line on “King” about “Steven Tyler’s only daughter.” Do you have a preference between Liv Tyler and Mia Tyler?
P: I wrote that when I was in the studio and it just rhymed perfectly, “boil the Hell out of Holy water / only daughter,” then I looked it up on the internet and was like “fuck, he’s got a couple daughters!” Then I was like, “I don’t give a fuck, everybody knows I mean Liv.” Is Mia Tyler doing shit?
CP: She’s a pretty famous plus-size model.
P: Oh, word! Then I’d take her. But, I guess I have to kill two of his daughters to make that lyric work. After I get off the phone with you, I have to get busy.
Prof Liability release day performance/signing
With: DJ Fundo.
When: 6 p.m. Fri., Oct. 16.
Where: Fifth Element.
Tickets: Free; more info here.