Kicking off 007 as we mean to go on, here's the first of many interviews with exciting artists that actually deserve attention. We chatted to Pro Green to find out how the debut album's going.
Introduce yourself to those that don't know.
Hi. My name's Edward. Edward Jenkins. I'm 32, 4ft tall, I weigh 15 stone and I'm a singer/songwriter from Kent. Okay, not really. I'm Professor Green and I'm a 23 year old rapper born and bred in Hackney, East London.
How would you describe your style of music to those that haven't heard it yet?
Hiphop, without borrowing too much from Americans. I rap, but in the same English accent I speak with, and talk about things relevant to myself, not someone I've grown up listening to. My music's a variety of things. What I write really depends on the mood I'm in. I started out battling so I can do the punchline ting, but there's a serious side to my music as well. It's not all fun and games. I draw from my personal experiences mostly…
Where are you from and how long have you been rapping?
I was brought up on Northwold estate in Clapton and I've been rapping for five years come this summer.
Who are some of your biggest influences which made you pick up the mic back in the day?
Biggie was the first rap artist who's music I really got into. After that, Jay Z, Nas, Wu Tang, Eric B and Rakim, Krs One, Mc Shan, Kool G Rap. I did kinda find out about them in reverse, but I was only 10 years old at the time!. I was always much more into the East Coast than the West. In saying that, I love Dre's music too, but I preferred the New York rappers. For starting rapping though, CORE and Haunted House Productions, my peoples from day, as they are the reason I started rapping. I didn't ever make a conscious decision to be a rapper. My bredrins were making music from the ages of 13/14, some even younger. They were all freestyling and I got put on the spot and it worked. I kinda got pushed into it. I was 18 then.
How easy has the transition from battle MC to rap artist been to make?
Not sure. my tracks have been pretty well received so far, so fingers crossed it's been a pretty smooth one. We'll find out when my album drops!
Of all your battle rap successes, what do you look back on as the best time in those circles?
All the wins I had at The Jump Off and not just because of the money I won! And definitely battling at the 50k Power Summit in the Bahamas in front of the biggest DJs and artists America has, and coming second. That was good times man!
Are you gonna still be showing up at battles or are you strictly foccused on making recorded music now?
I guess my next battle will probably take place on record, but who knows? I'm concentrating on my album at the moment but if an opportunity worth taking presents itself, I wouldn't rule battling out.
You must have had a fair bit of label interest? What made you choose Mike Skinner's The Beats?
Everyone at the label is as fucked up as I am. It's great. I don't have to deal with wankers in suits who have no idea where I come from.
How far into work on your debut album are you and when do you think it'll be dropping?
I've got most of it written now. I've had a bit of trouble with my voice recently so it's been a bit annoying but fingers crossed by the end of February, I'll have an album recorded… So it'll probably drop August/September time.
Can you tell us about some of the tracks and beatsmiths you've got on there?
Producers, I've got Mike Skinner, Sem/Beat Peddlers, Core, Apa Tight, Sticky, Epydemix, Afreex, Plastician and Joe Buddha. Tracks wise, there's 'Before I Die' which is all about what I wanna do before I'm 6ft deep, 'Lets Talk About Me' which is all about, you've guessed it, me! 'Nothing More' which is about my dickhead of a biological Father, 'See A Man's Face' which is about all the backstabbing pricks I've come into contact with, 'Issues' which is me just complaining about all the shit that annoys me… and loads more!
Who are some of your favourite artists and producers around right now and who'd you like to work with?
British wise, I'm into Ghetto, Kano, Sway, Klashnekoff, Skinnyman. American wise, still the same people. Nas, Jay Z, Busta. I'm not really into the down south party-but-not-say-anything music. I like shit that's a bit deeper.
Do you think the use of references to weed is all a bit too cliche these days?
Are you trying to say my names a cliche? Ey? I'm just fucking with you. Everything's cliche. Saying something's cliche is fucking cliche these days. The word cliche needs to be removed from the dictionary. It does my fucking head in.
What are your other choices of drugs and where do you stand on the whole 'but young kids listen to you' bullshit?
I stand underneath it as it goes over my head! Rappers take the brunt of everything. Violence and drugs. Why? Because we come from where these things are ripe? What about James Bond and The Beatles? James Bond is cool 'cause he kills people. There are posters everywhere of him with a gun, and The Beatles took more drugs than I ever will! At the moment I don't do any drugs. 'Cause of voice problems, I've had to quit smoking which was very painful. The dreams I had for the first couple of weeks were tormented! I've never done Crack or Heroin nor will I! I've seen them fuck up lives all too often to ever feel tempted.
Coke isn't a creative drug. I don't see the point in it. Nothing is more annoying than some cunt gnawing your ear off for half an hour without realising he's talking absolute shit and pills just give me terrible come downs. I've experimented but for the foreseeable future, it's just me and my old mate jack daniels.
Aside from the culture's drug of choice and freestyling, are you into other elements like breaking or graffing?
Personally nah. I respect their position as part of the culture but rap is my form of expression. I was always shit at drawing, and dancing. Lets just say I got blessed with enough rhythm to rap and I'm happy enough with that.
Do you think it's important that younger artists make an effort to sustain the original aspects of hiphop culture?
I think it's important they are respectful of where hiphop comes from. There are a lot of middle class imitations floating around at the moment. Rap is supposed to be what the blues was. RnB was Sam Cook, not this bullshit popcorn shit it is today. Rap was meant to be about a person's experience, their pain, their joy and what's real to them, not just taking a subject and making a song about it.
How into the fashion side of things are you and what are some of your favourite brands?
When I was a yout all the elders were wearing Ralph Lauren shirts, YSL jeans and I followed. From 16 it was Evisu, D&G, Armani, Iceberg, History, Avirex's and Castel Bejac and for me it pretty much still is. I still love one ten's (Air Max Plus) and Air 90's. And Levi's! I did the whole tracksuit ting for a piece but it's not really my thing.
What's your favourite pair of sneakers at the minute and what's the dopest way to tie your laces?
I'm a Nike fan. I have a very cool pair of Air 90's from Footlocker that are brown and beige and they match my new Avirex. I wore them for my most recent video shoot and as for laces, there's only one way, from the bottom straight to a few holes up with big bow's in em.
You seem really into the blogging. Is it a pain in the arse neccessity or an enjoyable thing to sustain?
The only time it's a chore is if I haven't blogged for a while and have way too much to write. I've got myself in the habit of just blogging as things happen or when I think of something to say. They can still be pretty long winded though! I enjoy writing… So far it seems people enjoy reading what I write so as long as that continues…
Have you got any shout out's or messages you wanna throw the people?
Don't smoke weed with grit on it. It's very very bad for your health. The only way we'll get decent uncontaminated weed back from the dutch is if we stop buying it. Check out my myspace at Myspace.com/ProgessorGreen. and buy my single 'Before I Die' from Itunes please. Oh go on. You know you want to! Oh yeah, and check out my radio show once ever four fridays on Radio 1 2-4am. Bless.