DProsper first came to fame in 1994 as one of the youngest spoken-word artists to compete at the National Poetry Slam. His interest in prose ignited a love for hip-hop, so he moved from his home in Providence, Rhode Island, to New York City to pursue a career in the music industry. He worked A&R on pivotal records like the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, while moonlighting as a rap artist in the 90s and early 2000s. He put out a series of 12-inch rap singles and has production credits on Mos Def's Black on Both Sides and with Cappadonna and Ghostface's Theodore Unit. He has since chosen to "bet on his own horse" and focus exclusively on making his own music. He blew up on the internet last year with the stellar release #ATOM 12.12.12, which featured guest appearances from artists like Jay Electronica, and had a sound reminiscent of the boom-bap 90s, coupled with hard-hitting political lyrics ripped straight from the headlines.
VICE is pleased to premiere DProsper's follow up to #ATOM 12.12.12—the short film Children of ATOM, which was directed by Romulo Sans. The video opens up with a news sample about the recent spike in stabbings, murders, and attacks on Muslims in the USA. And it features shocking, yet thoughtful, imagery like a woman in a designer niqab swinging a chain with a blade. The cagey camerawork through tight corridors and Brooklyn alleyways leaves you feeling claustrophobic. But paired with the feminist, niqabed vigilantes, the whole thing comes off kind of surreal. It raises a lot of criticism of orientalism, but I don't think myself or even Edward Said could properly explain it. To get to the bottom of what the video is all about, I went to the source and spoke to the DProsper, who's not one to mince his words.
VICE: First, why make Islam and Muslims such a centerpiece of your video?
DProsper: My family is Muslim and many people who I build with have come from that. Right now, terrorist must be the new word for nigga. In American, they want you to be scared of something. It's always fear. It’s all about, like, buying things. Like, let me buy a gun because I'm scared. Or let me get ADT for my home because I’m scared. Fear is a way to market and manipulate minds.
What’s the scene with the Arab shopkeeper about?
The phone call of the Arab guy in the music in the store—that’s the love vibration. When the woman in the burka is on the pole, the letters spell out love. The point of ATOM was to bring it back to love.
Is that similar to the intent behind your December release, #ATOM 12.12.12?
Children of ATOM is different from #ATOM 12.12.12 in that 12.12.12 is ferocious, golden-era rap shit with 2013 content. But this is all part of the ATOM series, and ATOM is going back to the origins. The reason why it's called Children of ATOM is because people are people. We all are one.
You mention rap’s golden era, how has hip-hop changed since you started working in the Industry with folks like Lauryn Hill and Masta Ace?
I've seen a lot of things change. The business went from being an elephant to being a little poodle. Technology started whooping their ass. The way it's designed, it's almost like betting horses, and you can bet on your [own] horse. Hip-hop now is corporatocracy. I’ve seen how it works. But I see counterculture is on the rise.
In the USA, it’s different than elsewhere. It could be Moroccan hip-hop, it could be Cuban hip-hop, it could be Pakistani hip-hop—that same energy still exists. How I see it, hip-hop being used in America is a lot different than how I see it being used in Syria. Hip-hop in Syria is serious. Hip-hop in America is very... you know... poor choices. People are making poor choices when they get their time in the light.
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