Good Morning. A simple greeting to signal the beginning of a new day. An invitation to wake the f**k up. A fitting introduction to Prime. Like the hazy light of dawn sneaking through the clouds over Hindmarsh Square. Prime’s unheralded arrival on the Australian hip-hop landscape has cast subtle but welcome shadows over a fan base hungry for a new approach.
Some listeners might have caught a glimpse of the Adelaide emcee through his work with Pagen Elypsis, a Triple J Unearthed-winning six-piece whose minor hit One Way Ticket rattled radio speakers throughout 2010. Others may recall Prime from his early but successful days on the battle circuit, which saw him become a fan favourite both in Australia and abroad.
But most have latched onto Prime courtesy of his unprecedented approach to fan engagement in 2011 – his habit of giving away original, album-quality material to a burgeoning listener base via social media, one heartfelt, hard-hitting track at a time. Many of these tracks, like Devilish, have become the stuff of internet legend; others, like Tunguska, have even gone on to national radio airplay.
A video clip for the self-realisation anthem Restore My Faith added fuel to the fire, garnering more than 5,000 YouTube views within its first month of release, while some impressive guest appearances on labelmate 360’s recent Falling & Flying tour exposed Prime to a hugely receptive national audience beyond the hip-hop scene.
Now, the main event is finally upon us. Good Morning – an album-length project offered to the masses for free download – heralds the arrival of a fully-formed musical talent; one who can hold his own with the lyrical giants of the genre, but whose unique mix of bravado and humility breaks the mould of the usually ‘untouchable’ hip-hop persona. Plus it sounds good.
Yes, there are ‘name’ collaborations – ARIA winner M-Phazes, Pez/Mantra collaborator Hailey Cramer, and fellow Unearthed alumni Vegas Aces all weigh in on Good Morning – but these appearances, while exemplary, are peripheral. Front and centre stands Prime, mic in hand, laying down the gospel according to a 24-year-old male from one of the southernmost cities on the globe. It’s a gospel filled to the brim with joy, hope, struggle, anger and fear, underscored by some of the most head-noddingly pleasing hip-hop music you’re likely to hear this year.
A traditional (read: commercial) album, while likely in the future, can wait for now. With Good Morning, Prime is seeking a no-bullshit conversation with his listeners, free of the confines of record store shelves and sales expectations; an approach as refreshing and unprecedented as the music contained on the album itself. Good Morning.
aahh: There’s been a massive response to your debut solo release, how are you feeling about the feedback you’ve received so far?
Prime: Really pleased, man. I was pretty proud of what I had put together but at the same time I didn’t expect such a positive response. Getting that positive feedback, and also getting it from a large number of people has been great.
aahh: The title of the release we are referring to is titled ‘Good Morning’. It seems to be a concept you’ve been building on for quite sometime now. Do you want to explain this a little further?
Prime: The basic concept is that the album unfolds over the course of a day, only I didn’t want to make it that obvious. If you look at it like obviously the first track 8AM is in the morning, but shit like Money and Tunguska are sort of on that “get up and go, keep it moving” tip. Then you’ve got House of Balloons leading into Heaven and Hell which is the connected story of a night out. I didn’t want the concept to be the focus, but there is a loose one there.
aahh: When talking about the Good Morning release you recently said “there’s no kind of fantastic bullshit on the album, it’s all kind of my life”. It sounds like you’ve wanted to keep the album on a fairly personal tip?
Prime: Yeah, pretty much every track is just me talking about my own situation, which a lot of people might say is boring but that’s just how I’ve always done my solo shit. There are still a few tracks where I’m telling someone else’s story like For The First Time or Devilish but it’s mainly just my own life over the last 2 years.
aahh: You’ve recently been signed to Soulmate Records, who are establishing themselves with some great artists. How are you settling in?
Prime: It’s been great. As far as settling in, being the only person involved with Soulmate that lives in Adelaide I still just do my usual thing but the difference is I get a lot more help, have a lot more ideas flying around with stuff other than the actual songs. I feel really good about the Soulmate signing.
aahh: Now you made a bulk of the Good Morning album on a recent holiday from the reg job. What was that experience like?
Prime: I made a lot of tracks on that annual leave but to be honest only about 6 of them ended up making Good Morning. Those tracks were done before Pagen Elypsis’ album dropped and I kept writing more and more after. Some of the people in my circle who had heard those original tracks might be wondering why they weren’t on the final copy but I think I ended up with the best, most cohesive record I could.
aahh: What were some of your inspirations for the Good Morning release? For a free release the depth of the album is fairly extensive.
Prime: It was my first solo release, and I knew that I had to make a bit of a statement considering how long I’ve been involved with doing shows/group projects/battle events etc. I didn’t think it would be good enough to do a few tracks only for a debut solo release. I wanted something people could really sink their teeth into. I also wanted something that had a lot of replay value which I think Good Morning does have. My inspiration was pretty much a) to not let down the people who have supported me for so long and b) To be true to myself and make the music I wanted to make.
aahh: One of the first tracks released from the Good Morning album was titled ‘Tunguska’. Was this a metaphorical title in reference to your arrival as a solo artist or something completely different?
Prime: I just always thought the whole Tunguska Event was some incredibly cool shit that wasn’t really something everyone knew about. The decision to name the track Tunguska was seriously one that took about 0.8 seconds. I just thought it was a cool, different thing to call a track which is just bars and cuts on a dope beat.
aahh: You were up on Top Billin the other night for part 2 of 100 Bars with fellow PE member Purpose. Do you enjoy getting the opportunity to spit like that from time to time?
Prime: Yeah I love it. I’m a big fan of rappers doing radio drops and have been for years. I’ve listened to dudes like Big L, Juice etc. doing it in different ways pretty much ever since I got the internet when I was a kid. The way it’s done on Top Billin is dope and I reckon more artists should do it because there’s plenty in Aus that could absolutely kill it on there.
aahh: You came up with a fairly original idea where you have an album cover for each track, which were designed by Drake Design, tell us about that?
Prime: I think the idea was floated by Chris from Soulmate Records in the beginning but I’m really happy we did it. The way I was dropping tracks one by one before it dropped it helped to have a different cover to help tell a story and give another element to each track. It did cause a few problems as we neared deadline and didn’t have them all 100% worked out yet but it turned out well and Drake smashed every cover out of the park.
aahh: The track ‘Alone feat. Purpose’, features a reworked sample from Purpose’s – ‘Faded’ track one of favourite tracks from his City Pt.2 release. Is there a connection between these two tracks or was it just a sample that you liked?
Prime: For me that track is my favourite track Purpose has made. I have played it do death since it came out last year and Alone is in a way my version of it. It wasn’t intended to be that but that’s how it ended up. The track was finished and then I asked Purpose to lend a verse at the end which he did perfectly.
aahh: One of the lead tracks from the album “Restore My Faith” was also released along with a killer video clip, tell us a little bit behind this track and also the interesting clip that accompanies?
Prime: I wrote the verses in January 09 and it was initially just 50 odd bars of just thoughts, stream of consciousness sort of stuff. It was basically just thoughts and feelings I had at that time of my life. A few days after I wrote it I came over to Melbourne to watch Adelaide United play away and while I was in town I went around to Answer’s place to say hello. He showed me the beat and while I was there I worked the lyrics into 16 bar verses, wrote a hook and recorded it on the day. I thought that would be a good track to do a video for because it has been floating around online and even on radio without it ever being pushed and lots of people asked if they’d ever be able to get a proper version of it and not just a YouTube rip. I thought I’ll go one better and give it a video. The video I did in August this year With Heata and Discourse and it was a massive learning curve for me. I hadn’t ever done a video or anything like it before so at first I was shitting myself a bit, but I did get better at it and we ended up with a video that most people have been happy with. They were great to work with and I’m really keen to do another one as soon as possible.
aahh: ‘House Of Balloons’ was another track released in the build up to Good Morning. A lot of people would recognise the beat from a ‘The Weeknd’ track of the same name. What was your intention with this track? There are some hard-hitting raps over the top of this one?
Prime: The two “going out” tracks on Good Morning are deliberately deep as fuck. I didn’t want to have a track that was about getting fucked up and that’s the whole story. House of Balloons in particular is ostensibly a track about going out and getting high but there’s also all these questions about what really makes a successful life? Where am I going? Why am I still here? There’s kinda two contradictory stories unfolding and I guess depending on how you listen to that track you’ll grab onto a different part.
aahh: It’s clear in a few tracks that you’re very comfortable with your decision to give up battling a few years ago and go in to the studio with 100% focus. What are your thoughts on the current battle leagues going around and that pre-written style that was thought of as such a negative when you were in the battle scene?
Prime: Things change. I don’t think you’re ever going to get freestyle battles over beats back to the same level of exposure that they were before. I think that’s sad in a way because that moment where someone immediately freestyles a response to something that was just said 5 seconds before on a beat is untouchable. Having said that, the battle leagues like KOTD are brilliantly organized and some of the dudes in these battles are absolute beasts. I don’t really watch too many battles anymore but it is quite amazing how much the audience for them as grown.
aahh: A track that’s already received a fair amount of hype, and rightfully so is “Three Men feat. Raven and Purpose”. How did this track come about?
Prime: I had that beat for a long time and I knew it needed something special on it. Purpose and I have a history of doing that kind of track together on songs like “Remember” or “2010” but I also wanted to bring in someone else who could contribute a very dope verse from outside our normal circle. I’ve been a fan of Raven as an emcee for a long time and when we hit him up he was cool to do the track. I’m glad we asked him because he absolutely smoked it, as did Hacksaw with the cuts.
aahh: In the track “One Click” you go through a process of self assessment was this a hard track to put out there? You talk about your working relationship with PE and also other close friends.
Prime: Yeah, I wrote that straight after a pretty big argument when we were making One Way Ticket which ended up with me telling everyone to fuck off and driving home. When I got home I wrote the whole track in no time. It’s not a hard track for me to put out there for me, it might be surprising that I would do it but as far as I’m concerned that’s part of being in this position. I have never been interested in the just writing songs if there is no meaning or substance so I never even considered not releasing that track. The last verse of Pour It on a Page is the same thing.
aahh: What’s next a solo LP from Prime or a follow-up to PE’s One Way Ticket LP?
Prime: I’ll say solo LP from Prime because I already have a lot done for it. Between the 5 of us in PE at the moment there is a lot going from albums to working hundreds of kilometres away to eing on the verge of having kids so I think a solo LP is more likely to come first, and this time I’ll charge you for it.
aahh: Will you be touring the Good Morning release at all?
Prime: I’m looking to do that. I just did 6 shows in the last month and a bit with 360 on his tour but I am definitely looking to expand on that and do a lot more. I will keep everyone updated via Facebook and Twitter.
aahh: Final comments…
Prime: I just wanna thank everyone who’s already downloaded Good Morning and especially thank the people who’ve passed it on to their friends. Big thanks to Soulmate Records, Purpose and Answer who all had a huge hand in the project and made it possible to complete it. Look out for the hard copies which will be announced very soon. Thanks for your time mate.