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LSD Magazine Interviews Prox Centauri

Prox Centauri
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Michigan lyricist Prox Centauri Chats with the Crew

It’s always nice to keep in touch with talented people from the other side of the Atlantic. Prox Centauri is a poet, musician, and lyricist with a wide range of skills. Mending What’s Broken, the musical sensation’s new album, was released this month. Prox C was contacted for an interview.

Where are you from and how did this area influence you?

I was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. It is a small city about one hour northwest of Detroit for reference. There is something about home from an energetic standpoint that has helped to nurture and cultivate my desire to become an artist. I abhor the violence that takes place here sometimes, but I have reserved a special place in my being for Flint. I love it. The American Midwest is an eclectic mixture of nature and industry and that tends to build a lot of us from the region a little differently. The city as well as the Midwest made me into who I am as cliche or trite as that may sound.

It is weird because Flint has watched me become a man. When I was at my lowest points, the city was right there to help me reorient and find my path. Some of the best and worst days of my life have taken place right within the radius of the city and there is an air of poeticism in that dichotomy in my opinion.

How did you initially get into the genre?

I grew up in a very musical environment. While none of my direct family members are musicians themselves, I was surrounded by various genres of music for as long as I can remember. Many of my relatives are music lovers and that exposed me to a litany of artists and genres. My mom was really into the conscious/intellectual hip-hop and Pop coming out of the 80’s and 90’s and I heard a lot of the harder core stuff from other relatives from like my Dad and Aunt. My grandfather and grandmother were huge into Jazz and oldies/R&B as well which impacted me for sure. Funnily enough, I didn’t really take much of a direct interest in hip-hop early on despite it being so ever-present in my personal life. I was and still am a pretty huge nerd so I gravitated towards orchestral and electronic music in my earliest years as I love video games and cinema. I became more cognizant of rap during adolescence because I simply didn’t want to be left out of the loop during conversations at school. I started watching Rap City, 106 & Park, MTV, etc then I became more interested in a lot of the mainstream stuff that was popular circa 03-06.

One night as a teenager (I was like 13 or 14) I was watching Adult Swim and an anime called Samurai Champloo had just aired on the network. Battlecry by Nujabes & shing02 is the introduction track for the show and it is incredible. It featured a kind of sound that I was completely unaware of prior to my encounter with it and the lyrical themes were more in line with what I was looking for both then and now. I fell in love with the show as it showcased the five elements of hip-hop in a way that I had never seen them depicted before. I quickly sought out anything I could find about the show, its conception, soundtrack and narrative themes/influences and as a byproduct of that search, I began reading up on the history of hip-hop.

Maybe a month or so after discovering SamChamp, my mom randomly approached me and asked if I was familiar with Nas, to which I essentially said “kinda.” She still had her old copy of Illmatic and suggested that I listen to it. I was blown away. I spun it front to back 3 or 4 times on top of repeated listenings to some of the tracks and was flabbergasted. That was essentially the moment I developed a passion for hip-hop. Those two events culminated at the perfect time and bought me here. While I didn’t start rapping myself until over a decade later, this was easily the inciting event that led me where I am today.

What convinced you to pick up the mic?

Well I had been creating instrumentals as a hobbyist for a few years up until this point. I was making beats in my spare time but after toying around with it, decided that I wanted to get more serious and dedicate myself to learning production. It was my goal to make beat tapes and if the opportunity arose to work with some of my favorite emcees, awesome; if not, I’d just release tapes like other artists I admired were doing. Circa 2016-2017, I ended up dropping and breaking my beat machine and didn’t have the funds to replace it, but still had a creative urge. I know I could have just used a DAW and my keyboard, but it didn’t feel the same as I liked to chop up samples and loop them.

My boy AP (who is a producer as well) suggested that I give rapping a try in the meantime as I was so versed in the culture; I ended up enjoying it immensely. The entire process of conceptualizing songs, coming up with rhyme schemes and immersing myself in the creative headspace of a lyricist was rewarding and very cathartic for me. After a lot of introspection, I realized that I did have something to offer to hip-hop as a rapper and opted to proudly carry myself as such. The intellectualism and poetics that are inherently woven into the genre are very intriguing to me and this is an area that I think I do well with as I have a bit of a writing background.

I am a huge fan of instrumental music though so getting back into production is an inevitability at this point.

Who are some your biggest artistic influences?

This is a tough one as I am inspired by quite a few mediums (I could literally write an entire essay about this haha) but I will stick to hip-hop. As far as hip-hop I’d have to say folks such as Nas, AZ, Big L, MF DOOM, Ras Kass, Twista, Elzhi, People Under the Stairs, Little Brother and Bone Thugs n Harmony along with many others have had the largest influence on my sound from a technical and lyrical perspective.

Listening to the production of individuals like Fat Jon, J Dilla, Pete Rock, Large Professor, DJ Premier, DJ Quik, Apollo Brown, Tall Black Guy, DJ Fresh, 9th Wonder, Afta-1, Freddie Joachim, Black Metaphor, Teebs, Onra, Cardo, Sledgren, Bugseed, Harry Fraud and AraabMuzik amongst many, many others helped me key in on the kinds of atmospheres I look for production.

The “Blog Era” has also been a major factor in helping me develop my sonics and business sense. Wiz Khalifa, Fly Union, The Underachievers, Dom Kennedy, The Cool Kids, Mac Miller, Nipsey, Anonymuz, Clear Soul Forces, Joey Fatts, The Jetlife Collective, Pac Div, Stalley, Flatbush Zombies, Bishop Nehru, and a lot of other guys that came out of that period were in heavy rotation during that time as well so I have to show them love.

While the “Golden Era” of hip-hop was essential for getting the masses to view rap as not just a serious art-form, but one that offers high levels of intellectualism, the Blog Era modernized hip-hop and doubled down on how important the internet, technology and subject diversity are. It planted the seeds for artists to become celebrated as independents and helped to divorce independence from many of its negative connotations. I love how it also opened the floodgates for people who championed being and betting on yourself.

I don’t think that era will ever get the credit it deserves.

Prox Centauri

Please explain what the title of this release means. How did you settle on it and why does it represent what you wanted to convey?

Mending What’s Broken: Odes for Stalwart Days & Fearless Nights is a very cathartic and symbolic release for me. I have been creating music for some time now, however Mending is the first project that I went into feeling like a musician and not a hobbyist. The creative process is something that has continuously resonated with me, but with this particular outing, there was much more artistic verisimilitude than anything I have worked on previously. I am an artist through and through and it is with my music that I want to probe and analyze the boundless inner-space known as the human condition.

My intention here was to create something that would inspire folks to be who they want to be when they visualize a “best life.” I touch on a multitude of topics here and I hope that at least some of what I put together for this release instills a sense of healing, confidence and fearlessness into people who take the time to listen and inner, under, and overstand the lyrics.

The world is in a strange and unparalleled transitional phase so I felt that it was imperative that I try to be more intellectually diverse and uplifting.

Lyrically, what are some themes that you were trying to convey here? How did you approach this project differently?

Thematically I went into this one with more of an open mind than I have in previous projects. For my older releases I essentially had an idea in mind for topics I wanted to discuss and just sort of worked to bring them to life. Here, I wanted to be open to letting things come to me and explore whatever spoke to me.

There are some sounds coming out of Mending that aren’t quite what you’ve heard from me on prior releases and while I understand where my strengths lay during this current iteration of my artistic journey, I wanted to venture out a bit more and spread my wings a bit. I think this was a decision that paid off as I am very happy with the overall project.

I didn’t key in on this until now, but that is the overarching theme of this project: expand your mind and do what you need to do to heal and mend those pieces of yourself that have broken during the hustle and bustle of life. I touch on everything from spirituality to streetwear culture so I think many can relate to something here. I see medicine everywhere when it comes to the continual process that is growth, healing and maturation.

Prox Centauri

Outside of creating music, what are some things that you enjoy doing?

I’m all over the place man haha. Name something and chances are I either have or at least have had a passing interest in it at one point in time or another. I like staying sharp and keeping my mind limber.

It catches people off guard sometimes when I tell them that I am a tremendous fan of various genres of music and there is very little I won’t touch. Electronica and it’s numerous subgenres (particularly Ambient music and Drum & Bass) Jazz, Orchestral/Film Scores, Motown, Soul, Lounge, Downtempo and Deep House/Techno are amongst my favorites. The older I become, the deeper these genres resonate with me.

Film and cinematography have been a passion of mine since I was a child and I have taken up photography/videography myself. I spend a lot of time watching and reading up on film analysis, symbolism, semiotics, psychology and philosophy and it is easily one of my favorite pastimes. Eventually, I’d like to get into selling prints of my work and possibly producing, directing or writing cinema.

Herbalism is something else I am quite keen on. I read a lot of studies on herbal remedies and teas as I believe that the Earth does an outstanding job of providing us with natural medicine if we know where to look. I find holistic health to be quite fascinating in general and I try to stay abreast with emerging natural and scientific findings.

I have also been brushing up on business and financial literacy as I have come to understand how critical it is for families to not just secure capital, but understanding what it takes to ensure that those resources remain available to future generations.

Over the past few years I have become a pretty voracious reader and one of my absolute favorite types of literature are those pertaining to Black culture, development and history. You have to understand where you’ve been to understand where you’re going and these resources have kind of been my North Star. I love my ancestors and I deeply appreciate everything they endured to get us where we are today. I try to honor them every single day of my life.

Gaming and tech also eat up a lot of my free time as well. Eagerly awaiting the release of God of War: Ragnarok and Apple’s rumored 14” M1X MacBook Pro!

As evidenced by Regalia, streetwear and sneaker culture are another one of my passions, even though it has gotten virtually impossible to cop a pair of sneakers for retail these days but that is another story for another day.

Any words you’d like to leave us with?

This may sound like a platitude at this point, but trust me, you’d be amazed at what you can accomplish with a little imagination and focus. Keep working towards whatever it is you want out of life and you will slowly begin to see it materializing in your reality. Become more observant and keep a better eye on your development to get a better understanding of what I mean. Constantly express gratitude for the things you have in life and try to keep your chin up and chest out. A “No” is just paving the way for you to gain access to bigger and better opportunities so don’t fret too much. There are some very shady, unprofessional, lazy and egotistical people in this game, but that is part of it. Never let them win.

Also, dream bigger. Sometimes, doing “what makes sense” is limiting yourself which is surprising, but trust me. Shoot your shot no matter how outlandish something may seem. The universe has your back, but you have to show and prove. You’ve got this.

I also want to extend another thank you to everyone who dropped in on this release and to the folks over at LSD Magazine for having me! ☀️🧑🏾‍🚀☀️

BUY THE ALBUM HERE

Be sure to follow Prox C on Instagram

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