I was blessed with an opportunity to interview Prominence or Prom. Like my previous interviews, my desire to give these artists a platform to speak and tell the readers who they are. I wanted to officially introduce Prom to you so that you can get to know him personally and pay attention to him whenever you see his name come across.
Q: At what age did you start rapping and who were some of your influences?
A: I would have to say I started rapping around 7 or 8 years old. As far as my biggest influences is concerned, my mom really didn’t let me listen to hip-hop music. I listened to a lot of Christian hip-hop music, some of my favorites growing up were Carmen, who’s CD I owned. I also listened to T-Bone, and Original Gospel Gangstaz. I even listened to a Christian rock group, but when I was at my grandma’s house I would listen to Will Smith, Jay-Z, and Tupac. I even remembered my mom saying that Tupac wasn’t a good person and was not a good influence around the time he died. So I grew up in two different environments when it comes to hip-hop, but still Carmen, T-Bone and OGG were my biggest influences as a kid.
Q: First secular/Christian rap album that you bought?
A: I had a tape when I was younger that was called Rappin Rabbit. It was a kid Christian hip-hop tape and I played this tap until it finally popped. It was one of my favorites. I remembered when I was in church and the pastor would say something like turn to Isaiah, I would rap the song to get to the scripture. I was able to memorize the Bible and the books of the Bible because of Rappin’ Rabbit.
As far as secular album is concerned, I first received a Tupac album as a gift. I didn’t really buy a lot of albums since I mainly downloaded songs off the internet. I think the first album I bought was Cassidy’s Split Personality since most of the music I owned were mostly mixtapes and not albums.
Q: What is the meaning behind the name Prominence?
A: When I was in middle school, everyone used to battle rap and had rapper names. I didn’t have a name like that. My name was real basic, like D, and I wanted a rap name, a cool name. I saw prominence once and thought it was cool, so I decided to look it up. The definition read standing out amongst the crowd and I thought it was dope. There was a definition about solar prominence and it had flames all around. It just made the name that much better.
I used the name when I was rapping secular hip-hop, but when I got saved I contemplated what to do with my name. Then I read Acts 2 which described the Holy Spirit coming down on the disciples like flames. It hit me that this is exactly what was happening. I realized that I speak in other languages, in other tongues to the people I minister to. Many of them don’t understand the gospel coming from behind the pulpit so instead God uses me to speak to them in a language they can relate to so that they can better understand the gospel.
Q: What should we expect to hear on Leve3?
A: I’m actually working on both an official album as well as a project (mixtape). I’m planning to release the album in the summer and the plan is that the project would lead up to the album. This project presents more of me, it’s a little more personal actually than the album in some aspects. I’m working on the project from a different place in my life, where I’ve been working on the album a lot longer. With this project, people will be able to relate to me a lot more because I’ve allowed myself to be very transparent, I thought I was transparent on the album but I realized the songs on my project are a lot more personal. I wanted to let people in on who I am so I think both the album and the project will be great.
Q: How do you feel about where Christian rap is and do you think it has an achievable or viable place in the music industry.
A: I like where it’s going and I want to be at the helm of it all, pushing the Great Commission. For a little while, everyone was saying that they wouldn’t use the Christian title. They wouldn’t label themselves Christian rappers and I was completely against it and didn’t think it was a good idea. I realize that everyone has a different calling on their lives to do different things. It’s all about showing that we are light, so really saying I’m a Christian rapper is only words without being followed by action. I don’t care what you label me, I’m going to hit you in the face with bars and you’re going to respect me. The Holy Spirit has blessed me with the ability to rap, I’m a rapper that’s a Christian but I’m also a Christian rapper.
I think Christian hip-hop is in a good place, things are a lot more open that they were in the past. There are a lot of good rappers out right now. I’m excited for the future because there are a lot of potential people. The world of hip-hop is a worldwide culture, I’ve come across Russian hip-hop through people I’ve talked to through Periscope. They’re doing hip-hop in Russia! It’s loved all around the world, people are embracing this culture whereas the church is not so popular. People are going but they are taken back by what’s being preached but when you put Christ and hip-hop together you get a good blend. A lot of people are receptive and are able to get both what they want and what they need in Christian hip-hop.
Follow up Question: What was the defining moment that you felt that Christian hip-hop finally broke through the barrier?
A: Growing up, I thought everyone knew T-Bone, I use to tell everyone he was the hottest rapper. When he was nominated for a Grammy, I thought this was the moment Christian hip-hop finally broke through, even though not a lot of people knew him. I know most people would say Lecrae, but when T-Bone was in the movie The Fighting Temptation opposite side Cuba Gooding Jr and he was spitting Christian bars in the movie that played in theaters across the country, that’s when I knew there was going to be a shift. T-Bone’s career started going downhill but I felt like Christian hip-hop artist had made progression and then Lecrae bust the door completely open.
Q: What type of production was used on this project?
A: As far as the project/mixtape is considered there are a lot of industry beats that I’ve used. Actually all are industry beats, but I chose to do it that way because I didn’t want to deal with Soundcloud for this. I wasn’t trying to deal with trying to get official rights to song because I just wanted people to hear me consistently. I wanted people to prepare for the album when it comes out, so a lot of the songs will have a familiar sound but I’m bringing a different approach and different sound over the instrumentals. When they hear the beat, it’s going to sound familiar but more importantly I’m bringing something different. I have a lot more fun, playaround tracks on the project.
As far as the album itself, it has a unique sound. I’ve been working with my cousin Mike Epps (not the actor) who’s produced a lot of the beats for me. He’s carried out the unique sound that I’ve been looking for. I’m also working with a producer named The Product who’s worked with people that are good and have the sound that I like, so he’s been making me music sounds the way I want them to sound. I’ve gotten good feedback so far and I know the music is different from what people have been used to coming from me because it’s more hitting you in the face. I feel like with this project, I’m bringing back the thing I feel like has been lost in hip-hop.
Q: If someone picks up this album what kind of message do you want them to receive?
A: They are going to get a message of hope and that’s the biggest, most important thing. It’s why I’m doing this. I want to give the hope that they will be able to live forever in kingdom with a King who rules forever. I want them to see that they can have fun in the kingdom and you can have fun as a Christian. People have stereotyped that Christians are overly religious but I want them to see that we go through things and deal with things as well. That’s what my song Deal with the Devil was all about, that we aren’t perfect and we too make mistakes. Sometime people on the outside see who you are today but don’t realize the path we traveled. I want to bring the reality of living as a Christian and despite being a messed up human being, the kingdom is available to you too.
Q: Any last words or anything you want to say:
A: All I can say is Get Ready. We are about to go on a journey and I want people to be looking out for a whole lot more consistency with music. Check out my periscope Prominence87, I’ve been letting people hear new songs. So all I can say is get ready for this movement, get ready for my team L.E.G (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), which consist of Gramm, myself and Mell Omii, we’re all making moves and you’ll hear me on their tracks. We are all looking to be more consistent and I believe this is going to be a good year for us.