With We All Fall Down, Prozak promises to deliver an album unlike anything you’ve ever heard from The Hitchcock of Hip Hop. From the messages that he has to convey to the brand new sound crafted by producer Seven, We All Fall Down is definitely going to turn some heads: not only from longstanding fans of Prozak but from fans of Strange Music. The bottom line? You won’t see this one coming,
We talked to Prozak to get an insider’s view on We All Fall Down: from the meaning of the title to the thought that went into the production, it’s all here in this Strange Music Exclusive interview.
Tell me about the title of the album We All Fall Down. What does it mean to you and why did you name your album that?
Well I mean, essentially the album title means to me basically – this is the first time I’ve ever said this and it may be a little bit crazy or whatever, but one day I was in my office and I was sitting there listening to some of the beats that Seven had been making for me. Seven produced the entire project himself and all the music was made exclusively for the project, which was the first time I’ve ever had that luxury with a producer, especially someone of the caliber of Seven, so you know I was definitely super excited for it. Anyway, I started talking to him about the tracks I wanted to do and the sounds and how I wanted this to really be different and there was a few different titles that were tentative in my mind.
I was kind of sitting online and I just started wormholing through YouTube. I was looking up something that a friend had sent me, something about FEMA camps and you know, just different conspiracy theory type stuff, and of course you have to take that stuff with a grain of salt, you know, needless to say. I started just kind of looking up stuff and one video went to another, went to another, to another. An hour or two later I found myself in this depraved mind state and it got real dark. It wasn’t about the conspiracies or believing each and every thing that you see, but it was really just the fact that I realized that everybody is searching for something.
It seems like everything around us is in unrest. Unrest everywhere. People wanting to believe a lot of this horrific stuff, just a lot of anger, a lot of hostility, a lot of grudge, whether it be racism – we could go on forever, but ultimately I just kind of realized that when everybody’s divided, how are people going to stand? That’s when it hit me: We All Fall Down. It’s not necessarily promoting one certain agenda or one frame of mind about why there could be end times, but I just think to me the writing’s on the wall: everything is growing faster, technology’s faster, population exploding, resources depleting. It doesn’t take a genius to realize where we’re headed and we’re going to eventually find ourselves on the edge of the cliff with nowhere to go. So I wanted to get all of this out of my system because I do feel that if you let yourself be in that state of mind for too long it can ultimately kind of destroy you from within. So I wanted to get out all of these feelings and all of these vibes and all of these words that I felt that I had to say if that makes sense. I felt like this was something that I had to get off my chest and off my mind and put out there for those that will understand the messages and then after this record I feel like I can be free from this point and then move forward into a different direction.
Do you think you accomplished what you wanted to do as far as conveying the messages?
I definitely do. I think any artist or for that matter any person out there can understand that no matter what you do, you always wish you had more time or you always wish you could’ve done something differently. I think that’s the plague of a perfectionist or anyone who takes a lot of pride in what they do, but I really feel like I came as close as a person really could towards accomplishing something that they set out to do and I feel like I got all the messages out there that I wanted to and I feel that Seven absolutely understood the vision and everything that was in my head from a sound standpoint. I couldn’t of asked for a better producer to work with, needless to say. The guy is just absolutely incredible. Seven stepped out of his own boundaries to create this record and we both found ourselves a lot of times having that conversation of like “Man I never really done this” or “This is the first time I’ve ever really done a track like this.” It was great to see him excited to be able to do something different and experiment. The record is really and truly a concept record, one hundred percent. That’s exactly what it is. There was an X amount of things that needed to be accomplished, there were vibes or sounds and topics that needed to happen and these songs were all written based off of that. That’s what it was, but I feel like I definitely accomplished what I set out to do for the record.
You talk about some of the messages you wanted to convey, but what were some of the goals you had for the music and sound of the record?
Well as far as musically, I wanted a lot of acoustic guitar. Me and Seven both felt the same way as soon as, I don’t even remember which one it was, but one of us started saying “Oh my God, I see acoustic in almost every song” even if it’s subtle or if it’s in the forefront, either way it kind of ties in. It’s kind of the vibe. I can’t say that it’s more like a spoken word record, because it isn’t necessarily, but it does have those characteristics to where it’s like these lyrics are powerful. a lot time was spent on these lyrics. There’s valuable, thought provoking material here for you and we’re trying to come up with the best ambient music to coincide with that. That’s probably the best way I can explain it.
As far as subject matter of the record goes, I mean it definitely goes all over the place, it’s not just pushing one thought, agenda or theme if you will, but it’s basically just simple principles of
You watch the news and it’s the same format in every city. Obviously I travel 48 states regularly and it’s like you watch the news and it’s like, they keep you hanging to see this horrible tragedy, you know, “At six o’clock, three babies found dead in a dumpster and a guy beaten to death with a hammer.” They just keep flashing that because they know that people are just going to sit there and wait to see that payoff of violence and disturbing material and then right after that, “In other news, a kid was rescued on top of a tree!” You know, it’s a sick world, it really is. I feel that was kind of my goal, if that makes sense. I know I just shot off a bunch of rounds all over the place, but I think people will understand.
Is staying informed important for your writing process?
You know, it is, it definitely is, but don’t get me wrong I’m not completely caught up in that. I feel like a lot of what inspires me is the past. Maybe sometimes more so than the future because I feel like the past dictates the future and it helps me understand why things are the way they are today. I’m really trying to uncover the events that led up to this point. Usually a solution can be found in the past. I know a lot of people like to label me as a political rapper and I’m going to say this as far as that’s concerned: I don’t necessarily know that I’m political, it’s just that I’m not fictional, if that makes sense. I talk about real life topics and the majority of my material is talking about social issues or just life in general and the way people treat each other. I don’t think that makes me a Michael Moore of hip hop, I just think that it’s the material that I gravitate to and those are the subjects that are important to me. I do understand that music is entertainment at the end of the day to a lot of people. A lot of people, maybe they don’t feel like I do because they’re like, “Hey man, I’m trying to smoke this blunt, I’m trying to drink this beer, I’m trying to have a good time and forget about the fucked up world and you’re bringing that shit right to the forefront,” and I understand that and I respect that, I absolutely do, but there are those out there who can really attach to my music on an emotional level and identify with it and I think that it’s for the right people.
As far as spreading the message, I think one thing you did with the music is that it sounds a lot more worldly than your previous efforts. Is that something you consciously set out to do with this record?
I would like to say yes to that, but I don’t necessarily know that it was my intention. I wouldn’t say that was the intention when I made the record but I would say that it’s more like these are the things that I had to get off my chest and I didn’t want to box myself in a corner. Never when I sit down do I ever consider “Well, if I do this, I’ll get over over here, and if I rap faster, I’m going to get in over here more with these guys and if I do a little bit more like this, then it’s going to appeal to these people.” That stuff means nothing to me, it truly does not, absolutely doesn’t. Do I realize that if i did certain things consciously when making a record that, like if there was a whole plan set out to make X amount of songs for X amount of different markets and things like that? Sure I can understand that.
A lot of rappers do that strategically as a business move for the record label, but me personally, it’s like I make the music that I make. I don’t even consider where it’s going to go afterward, it’s just making what I feel I need to make or have to make and making sure that I feel that I’m doing the right thing, because I do feel like – c’mon man this is America, people in entertainment, rappers and actors and rock stars, we have a platform. We make a big impression on people and particularly the youth. I feel having that reach of an audience, to me I almost feel obligated to do some good with that and not glorify the things that are ultimately going to hurt these people. It’s basically a karma thing that I feel, but that’s just me in my world and my head. That’s what I do.
As far as musically, the sound of the record is unlike anything I’ve ever heard you do. Did Seven handle a majority of the production on this album?
Actually, once we started talking about the project, Seven wanted to let me know right off the bat, “Hey man, I want to do this record. I want to do every bit of this record. I am the producer. I want to do this record. You and me, we’re doing this record from scratch. All the material that we make will be specifically for this project.” So it’s completely produced by Michael Seven Summers.
What conversations led to that revelation that he had? Why do you think he came at you like that?
Well, first of all Seven and I have worked together in the past a lot. We’ve had a good friendship and we’ve always enjoyed working together and stuff, but when I started to explain to him the vibes and the acoustic guitar and different types of drum structures and different feels and I started kind of listing off examples of material or artists that are kind of in the vein of certain things – for instance I brought up old Fire And Brimstone, revelation Johnny Cash songs, The Man Comes Around and these types of things. I was kind of trying to give him a standing of tones and things like that. He gravitated toward it immediately and then just started spouting off all these other visions that he saw for the record and different types of sounds and instruments and a lot of live instrumentation and I just realized that this was it. This was meant to be and it was meant to be like this. So that was it.
How many tracks are on the record?
About Seven, what do you like about him as a producer? I’m sure you’ve worked with many by now, what is it about Seven that would make you do a whole album with him?
Okay, well that’s an easy thing to answer. I want to say this real quick, a lot of people, of course they like to hype up their projects or hype up people they work with, but I’m going to say this, and this is as genuine as anyone could speak: Seven is, first of all as a person he’s a loyal person, he’s a very intelligent person and the easiest person I’ve ever worked with. That being said his talent is second to none. The way that he puts music together, the instruments – he doesn’t rest. He’s a perfectionist. For instance, on one of the tracks on the record where he performed live bass on the record and I thought it was phenomenal, but he went back two or three times just perfecting that bassline with the bass guitar. It’s hard to find people who have that die hard passion regardless of how busy they are to make sure that they’re doing their best to satisfy the artist within them. His talent, bottom line. This dude is literally a factory of incredible music working with a vast array with artists continuously.
I remember like three or four years ago, one of my friends said, “Man I’m worried that dude’s going to burn out because his shit is ridiculous. It’s always amazing and it keeps getting better. That’s going to have to stop!” And he’s just doing more and more and more projects. It’s crazy because, I swear to God man, every year this dude only gets better. Like, that’s it. So to me, Seven is a prodigy.
As far as you making a whole album, you want to take your fans for a ride when they listen to this thing. What kinds of songs do you have for the ups and downs of this album?
Well, we go all over the place. One of my favorite tracks on the record is called “Distress Call”. “Distress Call” is definitely an oddity of the record. I think that it sums up a lot of things that go into, how can I say this? Almost industrial death metal meets nineteen fifties propaganda. “Blood Paved Road”, another song, it’s an acoustic, almost spoken word ballad. It’s very somber. I’m speaking very simply and matter of fact in that track. Some of those lyrics cut like a knife to the right folks.
“Audio Barricade” is more of a double time , faster flow kind of track. Just shot a video for it down at Strange. That track has a nice, simple message to it that “life sucks sometimes.” Of course it’s speaking candidly. “Life sucks, turn up the music, it always gets better.” To me it’s a celebration of music, period, and just what it does for all of us out there. Music has definitely made my life better. I know growing up I didn’t have the best circumstances and I feel like music stopped me from doing some really regretful things. I think it’s therapeutic. Well you have to hear the record. The album is going to take you a bit of everywhere. It really will. Songs like “Darker Shade of Gray” that are going to take you to some dark places and maybe explore things in your mind.
Do you have any favorite songs?
If I had to choose favorite songs I would say “Audio Barricade” is one of my favorite tracks. “Before We Say Goodbye” is one of my favorite tracks. “Just Like Nothing” is definitely one of my favorite tracks. You know, I like them all, but I think those are some tracks that people will gravitate to on the first listen of the record and I think there are a lot of sleeper tracks on there that will ultimately become people’s favorites later on.
Let me say this too, I know this has been said a lot in the world of musicians and artists out there worldwide, but this record was a concept record, a certain plan strategically done by me and Seven and also Rob Rebeck, who mixed the record and played a big part of the record. I want to make sure he’s included in that. I feel like this record is what it is because it was recorded with Rob and all of that. It was made to listen to front to back. Not everybody’s going to do that, especially in this era of iPod shuffles and YouTube videos, but for those people that really do by the record, when you find the time, bump that thing from beginning to end and you’ll hear a lot of idiosyncrasies and a lot of little things that were done to really show the progression and go through the three phases if you will.
What expectations do you have for this album and its reception?
The expectations that I have for this record is after it comes out I will meet these amazing, wonderful people at shows, at meet and greets, people that message me on Facebook and say to me how the music impacted them and what it did for them and realistically I don’t know if there’s anything better than that. There isn’t actually. I don’t speculate on any kind of success or whatever. I am one of the higher selling artists on my label, I work really hard to push the record because I’m pushing messages, I’m pushing hopes and dreams, that’s what I’m pushing. But yeah, that’s the reward, that’s what I’m looking forward to as far as making sure that I accomplish what I set out to. That will only be determined upon the response of the people that support me and listen to my music. That’s where it is.
For your fans who are looking forward to the record, want to know what to expect and why they should get it, what do you have to say to them?
I guess I would have to say that a lot of my heart and soul is in this particular record, maybe more personal than any other record I’ve done before. I really, truly feel that it is the evolution and the proper next step after Paranormal. I believe that it’s where I needed to be after dropping that particular record and I feel like it’s my best work to date. Let’s hear what they say.
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