EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: PROPHET Talks 7 LIONS 'Born 2 Run' EP & Rap/Rock Origins
Published: August 20, 2012 - 8:38am
I recently spoke with rapper Prophet on his band 7 Lions' debut EP 'Born 2 Run' which is currently available on iTunes. The band is notorious for their fluid mix of rap and alternative rock which comes off very natural. Prophet and I spoke on the band's sound and how it differs from a band like Linkin Park, his solo career and the upcoming full length 7 Lions record.
7 Lions features Mika 'Prophet' Guillory (rap vocals), Forrest Fulmer (lead vocals, guitar), Morgan Taylor Reid (keyboards, production), Will Carpenter (lead guitar, back up vocals), Daniel Hange (Bass) and Tony Tommasi (Drums). The LA based group is quickly becoming a force not only because of their unique sound but their connection to super producer RedOne (U2, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez). The band has since joined RedOne's label 2101 Records.
Keven: The EP is out and doing very well on iTunes, has it all sunk in yet that 7 Lions is where it’s at today and seems destined for great things?
Prophet: When you work hard for something, say building a garden. You’re watering it and starting to see the bushes come up, the potatoes and tomatoes on the ground – I don’t think you can really reflect on how you can make them a meal until you actually sit down at dinner time. Most of the joy is participating in the journey. I don’t think it has set in. We grind and grind and in today’s landscape of independence in music and industry there’s so much to be done. There’s so many hats for everybody to wear and so many thing you have to take control of yourself now. The work is nonstop, overwhelming and seven days a week. We just hustle with our heads down and just enjoy every bite of this wonderful salad we’ve created and not get too comfortable with the fact that it’s awesome.
Keven: I understand changing the band’s name from Terra Incognita to 7 Lions after Morgan came in and changed the dynamic of the group, but who came up with 7 Lions?
Prophet: I think that was a name that Morgan had been incubating on for some time and it rang relevant because some of the things we talked about when times were down; the royalty aspect of it. We’re kings amongst men and not to stress out about whatever it was. I always wanted that royal aspect if nothing else as a personal encouragement. So when Morgan came up with that and we could make Forrest’s brother a sort of an honorary lion because he had passed away recently from muscular dystrophy. It just made sense.
Keven: The idea of mashing up rock and hip hop isn’t a new one of course and it was very prevalent in the late 90’s early 2000’s with a lot of nu-metal bands, do you worry about being lumped into that category?
Prophet: We’re touching on a new generation and the iPod has allowed people to have Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Tupac, Rick Ross, Kanye and Jay-Z in the same playlist. Lines have blurred because of the way we listen to music. With the fans I’ve spoken to at least, I could be listening to Dead Weather or I could bug out over the new Childish Gambino so I don’t think the lines are as drawn in the sand as they once were when it comes to genres.
The way we put things together organically, it was never forced. It happened at damn near a house party. It’s one of those rare things where we’re not trying to put ‘this amount of rap’ and ‘this amount of rock’ and ‘this amount of electronic’ on every record, we’re just doing what comes natural when all of us are in the room. So I hope that translates as something unique to the audience, not that it hasn’t been done before, but with the way we’re doing it.
Keven: Do you think you have an advantage over a band like Linkin Park for example because you’re a natural rap artist working alongside a rock band, as opposed to some rockers who try their hand at hip hop?
Prophet: I wouldn’t call it an advantage per say but a couple people have pointed that out to me and to be honest I had never thought about it. From my background my dad used to run with Bill Graham, David Crosby and The Rolling Stones so that was my influence. It was never forced and I didn’t have to seek it out. It just happened that the neighbourhood I grew up in was rough and hip hop was like the only form of expression you could have without getting your ass kicked (laughing).
For me the combination of the two was so natural that I never found a way to express it until this project. Finding somebody like Forrest who is from Vallejo and he can sing me line for line a Dre record, like some of the hoodest music out. But at the same time he can sing ‘Black Hold Sun’, Chris Cornell line for line and sound exactly like Chris. We’re basically brothers from another. It melts together. Mike Shinoda and Linkin Park; some of the things sounded kind of different for me but I don’t think of it as an advantage I think it’s just a different authenticity.
Keven: I dig the EP, but I have to know when the full 7 Lions album is coming out. I want more, so when is this happening?
Prophet: (laughing) We hit you with the starters but now you want the meal? Right now, if we threw out 15 records from the gate we felt like some of them would look fast and disposable if only two or three get the attention to be understood. We’re gonna be careful with throwing out too much music. We’re looking towards the fourth quarter for maybe a full length. We’re gonna hit the road and grind for a bit so we’re not sitting in a studio and people can hear this music live while it’s out.
Keven: Will there be any surprises for the Lionheads on the full length, or is the EP the blueprint for that record?
Prophet: It’s fun because we go into a room and there’s no preconceived notions about the record we’re gonna work on. With the brilliance and mentorship of RedOne and unfathomable skill of Morgan we can walk into a room and realistically come out with a crazy up tempo ballad and there may be some features… We’re working with some 2101 artists and trying to come up with the right culmination of that and maybe it’s a little early for us to have any features. We kinda wanna experiment and do some records you maybe haven’t heard yet.
We wanted to make sure the EP was balanced enough that you get a little soft, you get a little bit of hard and you get some depth. But now we wanna go on some tangents that we wouldn’t have attacked on our first look. We’re gonna try and get more creative and get something out of us that we haven’t thought of yet.
Keven: You were just featured on Havana Brown’s debut EP on the track ‘Big Banana’, does that open up more doors for you to cameo on other pop artists’ tracks and is there anyone out there you’d personally love to collaborate with?
Prophet: My solo career has run the gamut. Early on I worked with a good friend of mine, Ryan Tedder when I came out to L.A. I landed on a Hillary Duff record which was pretty funny sampling ‘Personal Jesus’. I worked with Enrique a little bit. The thing about Red which is so cool is that he’s kind of like a family. His surrounding artists are all like family members.
Working with Red and being in that circle, having that family vibe, it’s opened doors to collaborations and working with artists you may have not thought of, like a Marc Anthony record. Somebody from another country that I wouldn’t have had access to without being in that international environment. It’s taken down barriers for me personally on who I thought I could work with. The world is your oyster when you’re working with somebody of the calibre of RedOne.
Keven: Will you continue to pursue a solo career whether or not 7 Lions is successful down the road?
Prophet: Yeah. I think when you’re a straight up and down musician, singer, songwriter, MC – music never stops. It’s something that’s a part of you till you die. I could take a page out of Jack White’s book. The White Stripes didn’t work out? I’ll do Raconteurs. The Raconteurs didn’t work out? I’ll do my own project. It’s in your blood and you cannot escape it. It’s like a woman you fall in love with. You love, you hate, you leave, you come back. There’s definitely no stopping the creative fountain that is Prophet’s music no matter what the configuration I’ll definitely continue to use it.