Hip-hop newcomer Prote-J swings for the fences
At this very moment, somewhere in the United States -- be it a nicely-appointed conference room, a dance club, a recording studio or a cramped studio apartment -- people working in or connected to the music industry are trying to come up with new ways for a new artist to connect with a broader audience.
Prote-J found one, with help from Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder.
Prote-J (Jayhugh Smith) is the 21-year-old hip-hop artist from Orlando, by way of Los Angeles and Papua New Guinea, who composed "Heir to the Throne," the song that Fielder often uses as his at-bat song at Miller Park. The song was written specially for Fielder.
How does an emerging artist get a song played in front of more than 3 million people? We wondered that, too, so we tracked down Prote-J (his mentors are the artists who inspire him) and asked.
OnMilwaukee.com: The song "Heir to the Throne" has been heard by a couple million Brewers fans at Miller Park, many of whom may not know a beatbox from the batter's box. Could you give a brief outline of your background -- how you got started in the music industry, CD release plans, tour experience, etc?
Prote-J: I'm a rapper, producer and songwriter who was born in Los Angeles, but raised in Papua New Guinea, a country just north of Australia.
"I was born in a city where stars are created so my birth was a statement of how far I could make it. But I have no recollection of my time in that big city cuz until my adolescence I was in Papua New Guinea." -- Quote from "Know My Name," on "Good Hip Hop Meets Radio"
There weren't a lot of music teachers around so I taught myself how to play the drums, bass and piano. I listened to a lot of Michael Jackson's music growing up, and ever since I first saw him perform on video I've wanted to be an entertainer. My mom was a big fan of his music and I'm pretty sure she taught me how to moonwalk before I could crawl.
I moved from Papua New Guinea to Florida when I was 12 and that's when I really got into hip-hop. When I got to high school I really started taking it seriously and people started to know me as that kid that was winning rap battles in the lunch room.
Today, I'm 21 with a bachelor's in business administration, and now that I've finished school I'm determined to become everyone's new favorite rapper. Anyone who appreciates creativity and great production will be addicted to my album. If you're somebody who just likes songs that sound good, you'll like it too. My free album (mix-tape) is coming this fall at www.Prote-J.com and it's called "Good Hip Hop Meets Radio." You won't skip a song on it!
OMC: How did you come to do a song about Prince? How did that relationship develop?
Prote-J: Prince is really good friends with my manager, Ben Witherspoon, so that's how we met. In the 2008 season, we went on the road with him and the Brewers. We flew out to San Diego and traveled on the team bus to Los Angeles. That was one of the best weeks I've ever had. I learned more about baseball, I got to know Prince better, I ate chicken and waffles together for the first time, it was crazy. After that trip, Prince wanted me to make an at-bat song for him, and "Heir to the Throne" was born.
OMC: What's it like having the song played at Miller Park and associated with an up-and-coming star like Prince?
Prote-J: It's crazy to think about that many people hearing my song every home game at Miller Park. Prince told me they were also playing the chant at the end of the song, at different parts of the game. But, just having my name next to Prince's is a great feeling. Prince is just a great person and one of the best players in the game. He's a big fan of my music and asking me to make "Heir to the Throne" was his way of helping me get my name out there. I don't get chased through malls or anything yet, but a lot more people know who I am now because of the song. Thanks Prince!
OMC: Who would you list as your influences in hip-hop and music in general?
Prote-J: Besides Michael Jackson, the greatest entertainer to ever live, my biggest influences are Jay-Z, Ryan Leslie, Pharell Williams, Timbaland and Lupe Fiasco. I really like John Mayer, Relient K, Wale, Chester French and Drake, too.
OMC: Explain the concept behind "Good Hip Hop Meets Radio."
Prote-J: There's two different kinds of hip-hop. There's "Good Hip Hop" which is more lyrical and talks about more than shawties, Patron and chains. Then there's "Radio," which is dumbed down and sounds just like everything else out. Nowadays, hearing a new rap song on the radio is like going to see a new scary movie. You want it to be good, but then it ends up being just as bad as the last one.
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"It's over for these jokers the dark knights at bat man" hahah SICK! I'm glad Prince has a song like this. He's awesome and this kid can rappp
I don't know what's worse: The awful song or the fact Prince is vain enough to use it as his theme song. BTW - the Brewers need more audio and visual variety during the games.
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