For Prophetic, a New City and a New Approach
It’ll probably surprise a few people to learn that Milwaukee’s most visible rapper no longer lives in Milwaukee. After a half decade of constant gigging around the city, where he performed at seemingly every major venue, festival and benefit concert of note, often as the only hip-hop act on the bill, Prophetic moved to Los Angeles last year to pursue music licensing, and has since relocated once again to Nashville. Listeners would hardly know he left the city based on the sheer volume of local rap releases he’s guested on over the last year, and he still gets back to Milwaukee often, but, as Proph says over the phone from Nashville, “I can’t say I live there anymore.”
So far he’s got no regrets about leaving. He says he’s making good money licensing songs to movies and TV shows, and that’s a badge of honor for a rapper who prides himself first and foremost as an entrepreneur. One of his tracks was featured in the action film Officer Down, and others will appear on the upcoming Showtime series “Ray Donovan.” “These are things I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t left,” Prophetic says. “There’s a lot of knowledge I have now that I wouldn’t have gained if I had stayed in Milwaukee.”
Unsurprisingly, the move has also changed Prophetic’s attitude toward recording. Where, like many idealistic young rappers, he once prided himself on a lyrics-first mentality—he loaded every moment of his debut album Mo Profit, Mo Progress with verses, thoughts and wordplay—he now says he’s learned to do more with less, or sometimes even less with less, if the song calls for it.
“This producer, Hart Gunther, who has engineered a lot of India.Arie albums and some of Jay-Z’s stuff and worked with the Clipse, was one of the guys who was telling me when I moved to L.A. that I really needed to take it easy,” Prophetic says. “He was saying, ‘Just try to have the choruses and the beats be the driving force, and you’ll be amazed at the feedback you get.’
“I realized that at the end of the day, music is just about how it makes you feel,” he continues. “You can have songs where you’re not really saying anything, but it gives you that energy, or that emotion that you want. I think that’s the true test, being able to control emotions. Now I’m more interested in making people feel a certain way with a song, rather than just trying to spit the hardest, or to have people say to me, ‘Man, nobody can rap better than you.’ I don’t really care about that anymore.”
Prophetic’s new approach doesn’t necessarily mean he’s dumbed down his music. Rather, on his new album Eat Alone, out May 15 and available for a while exclusively through Spotify, he simply lets his songs breathe. The Hart Gunther-helmed “Steady Chasin’” best exemplifies the shift. Prophetic resists the urge to fill in the considerable empty space in Gunther’s vibed-out production, and instead rolls with the song’s leisurely pace. The beat carries the song; Proph just rolls with it.
“This is one of my better projects,” he says of Eat Alone. “Before I was relying on my lyrical ability to evoke the emotion I was looking for, but now I’m linking with producers who can better capture that same emotion.”