CyHi The Prynce
Photo: Robin Marchant/Getty Images
CyHi The Prynce On Kanye Brainstorms, Lil Wayne Tour, 'Nu Africa'
CyHi The Prynce is not new to the game. The Stone Mountain, Ga., rapper's prolific decade-long career has yielded a steady flow of lyrical mixtapes, high-profile collaborations, and praise from the likes of Beyoncé and Kanye West. But with a bold, conceptual full-length debut album on the way, in a way Prynce is just getting started.
If his latest singles, "Movin' Around" featuring ScHoolBoy Q and "Nu Africa," are any indication, CyHi The Prynce's upcoming album will be impossible to ignore. While an exact release date for No Dope On Sundays is TBA, Prynce's concept of community in action is very clear. The five-time GRAMMY nominee — all five as a credited songwriter for Best Rap Song — plans to bring his Midas touch from behind-the-scenes to the main stage on his long awaited full-length debut.
In this exclusive interview with CyHi The Prynce, he speaks the truth behind the Atlanta rap industry, how he empowered West to speak his mind on hits like "New Slaves" and "I Am A God," recalls life on tour with Lil Wayne, and proclaims his love for some rather unexpected musical inspirations.
Your new album No Dope On Sundays seems like it's going to explode. Why do you feel it's going to change people's lives?
I think No Dope On Sundays is a great topic that's not just me rapping. I really wanted to be able to touch people in certain ways and touch my community in a certain way where we work on ourselves through our music. I think a lot of times when people listen to me, it's a very intimate moment. They might not have a lot of friends around or whatnot, but I wanted this concept to also be able to teach something and be able to learn something, and be able to learn from it, but also it'd be something where everybody can listen to it at once. So I put a bunch of different vibes … it's gonna reach every genre and every human being from every race, so I'm glad. I'm happy.
"Nu Africa" is bold, imaginative and fun. If you had to pick, which one of the hypotheticals in the lyrics is your favorite?
The first line: "Imagine if all the actors and athletes would go back and talk to all the ambassadors." You know what I'm sayin' … it's a lane that I feel like hasn't been tapped into and its potential hasn't been tapped into. I think there's a lot of things that me and my people are concerned about here, but there you could expedite it other places. Say in Africa where it's free [and] there's land. You could go back and tell them, 'Hey, this is what we're trying to do, we're gonna donate money, we wanna bring these resources,' and I think they'd be very inclined to it.
But I also wanted to do it in a fun way where it wasn't too heavy-handed, but also just giving them their imagination. … It's not like it's an exodus or something. It's something you can create in your own community. I feel like the Jewish community has a dope community like that, you might go to New York and they have Chinatown, you know what I mean? Just create that culture where if anyone wants to come get some culture from hip-hop or anything, you come to us and we can give you the inside scoop on it. So I think that's what the main reason for that song, and the main direction I was thinking when I made it.
Yeah, it's a real thought-starter …
I always say, "You can't tell nobody to cut their grass unless you cut your own." So a lot of times we have to also understand after we do express our differences and our concerns, how do we go back to the table and rectify them and just not just voice our opinion. That's what I like to do. I say I'm the Navy Seal of my community. The Army is those that march or those that speak out, but I'm the one who really goes and gets the job done.
Where does Atlanta sit as one of rap's capital cities now, compared to when you entered the game almost a decade ago?
Well, I think Atlanta has so much culture and you know I would like to say this — it's very touchy but I want to say it. ... You know, we don't have as many black executives or executives in Atlanta. It's just the executives are probably in New York and California and they'll fly there. So a lot of times we have to make our own executives. A lot of times that takes a lot of hard work and it takes a lot of, I would say from my culture, "penitentiary chances" — you know, where guys are doing anything to come up with this money to be able to fund their studio, to be able to market their project, to be able to do all these things. So a lot of times, people want to know why our city is flourishing because we have the hustle of doing it all ourself. So when you do it all yourself and you have different individuals you're rubbing shoulders with, and we're all into that, I think it builds up a platform that we can showcase our artists, and then other labels come down and, you know, joint venture deals and different things.
So I think in a nutshell, its just that environment of swag and talking crap and coming up with these songs and having fun. ... It's just very country but also soulful. I think that's how we keep it all together with all those different things around it that keeps the culture vibing.
So, Kanye told you that you owe your career to Beyoncé for telling him to sign you, but what do you feel you owe Kanye for the influence he's had on your career?
My life. I just think him just being able to teach me how to even communicate with the producers and the engineers [was so important]. Like I didn't know what reverb meant and 808s and 909s and toms ... it's just all these things that he knows and I thought most rappers don't know. But to be able to show me everything, how to put this album together, how to put these songs together and being able to communicate with the writers and the artists and the producers and the engineers, I just think that education is invaluable, like I can't put a price tag on that. I just learned so much and I'm still learning every day, so I think he's the greatest.
With the five GRAMMY nominations as a writer for Kanye songs, what do you feel he's learned from you?
At the end of the day, I think I'm a very out-of-the-box thinker. A lot of people don't know, if you listen to my mixtapes and you listen to his albums, you can tell there's a conversation going on in the studio, and that's what he likes. He likes to come in the room with different people from different walks of life and brainstorm, and that's mostly the album. Eighty percent of his albums are brainstorm. There's only 20 percent of us actually doing something. Most of it's like, the thoughts, the thoughts, the thoughts. The easy part is executing them, but the hard part is really coming up with what he wants to do.
What I like to do is challenge him, like, "Naw, you can't say new slaves. Yeah you can say I'm a God." "What you mean, you can't say that?" "Oh, you, what you wanna say, I'm a gangster?" When he said that, that was a real conversation. "What you a criminal? What, you a n*****? Like, what is it? Oh, you want to think of yourself to be the highest being, you shoot for the moon and fall among the stars." That is what we were talking about … people were in the room who were Christian and who were other different religions that were rubbed the wrong way and we had to have those conversations, so that is what I think that he got me in there for — to really cut that ice, you know what I mean, to actually get to the meat of the song and the root of the songs. I think Yeezus was the first time you probably heard that influence. ...
What hobbies do you have outside of music?
Outside of music, I'm very regular. I'm very go to the movies. I like to fish. I water my plants, I kiss my girl on the forehead, and I write. I write because I told myself if they write another bible, I want to be in it. If they write a Last Testament, my name has to come across one of them books, so that's why I'm here to write. I don’t have any other hobbies but to destroy rappers, that's my biggest hobby.
You toured with Lil Wayne earlier this summer. Any crazy memories from that tour?
We were on different schedules, and I had so much promo to do in between the dates we didn't really get to hang out like we should. But what I learned from him is he performs like it's his first show every show. I've never seen anybody do that. You're Lil Wayne, you can go in there and just swag out, he's in there like, "Wayne, it's not that serious. You're Lil Wayne. The tickets already sold here."
But it doesn't matter if it's a small venue of 20 people to a million people, he gives a show, man. I was impressed … and his voice still sounds immaculate. Like man, this guy's incredible. He doesn't get old. That's what I learned from him, the professionalism. He comes onstage and gives it every night.
You played football growing up. Who's your NFL team, and what is your pick for Super Bowl LII?
You gotta go with Tom [Brady and the New England Patriots], unfortunately. But my favorite team is … I'm from Atlanta, I like the Falcons, but I played park ball for a team called the Central Dekalb Cardinals, so I love the Arizona Cardinals.
What are three things you're inspired by right now?
I love Valerie June, I don't know if you guys ever heard of her, she's a country singer. She probably thinks I'm obsessed with her because I mention her every time somebody asks me, I just love her music.
I've been listening to a lot of '60s music, I've been trying to go into that lane.
And I love Fela Kuti. I could just listen to his music all day and just work and write raps. Those are my three inspirations right now.