Call it a dash of irony or whatever, but the day Georgia Music interviewed upstart MC and mega hoops fan Cyhi Da Prynce came just 24 hours after NBA superstars Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups were traded from Denver to New York.
“They all are trying to soup-up and beat my Lakers,” says Prynce, referring to the League’s current superteam trend of good players conspiring to play with each other. “But we ain’t trippin’ because they are going to beat each other up on the East. LeBron [James], ya know, created a monster.”
You might discount Cyhi’s take on b-ball as him simply being a basketball fanatic. But in actuality, the man speaks with conviction on the subject because he’s literally a part of his own superteam—Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label. You see, Kanye’s the media-gravitating star. Common’s the other main scorer. Pusha T, of Clipse fame, is also on the squad. So are NY-based rappers Mos Def and Consequence. And then you have Kid Cudi and Cyhi, the talented youngsters in the crew who are just sitting back, soaking up all the rap game they can.
“But if you realize it,” the man who recently changed his legal name to “Prynce Cyhi” continues, “rap is going in the same way [as the NBA]. [Lil’] Wayne loaded up his [Young Money recording] team, you know what I’m saying? Jay-Z loaded up his team. Ye’s loading up his team. [Rick] Ross, if you see Ross, he signed Pill and Wale. We teamed up, but we’re more of quality versus quantity. So, a lot of guys put out a thousand mixtapes and a thousand records. You don’t hear too much from me. If it ain’t a feature [I don’t do it]. I don’t put out songs just to put out thoughts because I like my thoughts to be strategically released. They all have a meaning and a visual and everything behind it.”
Setting a pick
Not the worst game plan for a 26-year-old from Stone Mountain, right? Having already released four winning mixtapes, been featured on Mr. West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and graced the cover of rap bible XXL’s 2011 “Freshman” issue, Cyhi’s strategic rise through the ranks has been a good one. But it hasn’t been easy.
In fact, “It’s been a very tricky one,” explains Cyhi. “It’s been an experience. The clubs that are in Atlanta … we like to party. It was hard for me to get my point across in the mainstream clubs. But I ran into a DJ, [V-103’s] Greg Street. He introduced me to a market of people that listen to hip-hop. They were more so sneakerheads, backpackers, white folks, black, a lot of New York cats that migrated to the South, ya know what I mean? They were at these shows and they appreciated what I did, so it was just like finding the right market and the people to perform in front of. It just spread like wildfire.”
A blazin’ mixtape sprang up here. A scorchin’ cameo popped up there. Still, nothing stirred the flames quite like the song, “Studder,” in early 2010. An absolute marvel of an idea, Prynce came onto the mic and flowed like he had an actual speech impediment. In between semi-realistic stammers, the Decatur representer wowed ears by rhyming “clever,” “Checkers” and “Chris Webber.” The video featured Greg Street and mixtape icon DJ Drama. Kanye loved the track. The underground had found its next No. 1 rap draft pick.
Rookie of the year?
But attention isn’t altogether a new thing for Cyhi. “Growing up,” he tells, “I played football, track, baseball. I was always the captain on all of my teams, like since I was five years old. So, I always kind of took on the leadership role. Once I got to high school and middle school and when I got about 15, I won a talent show dancing, singing and rapping. So, I was like, ‘OK, either they were just being biased, or I really got some talent.’ What really made me, like, I guess, an exceptional lyricist was I used to battle all the New York guys who were at our school. I was tired of seeing the Atlanta dudes lose the battle every time he battled this New York dude. I was just like, ‘That’s over with.’ I was killing that stereotype.”
That seems to be a growing trend down south—proving to the unknowing many that it can be witty, progressive and articulate on things beyond BMWs, booze and big booties. Cyhi’s done it repeatedly on tracks. (If you haven’t heard the homie’s mix The Prynce of Jacks, make it a priority.) Dixie upstarts Pill, Big K.R.I.T. and Yelawolf are doing it. North Carolina’s J. Cole and A-town’s B.o.B. are even doing it on a national scale. The game’s changing. Slow but steady.
Kanye signed Cyhi last September. However, beyond the aforementioned verse on Ye’s CD and two upcoming mixtapes, Royal Flush 2 and Allies, the phenom’s mostly been relegated to the superteam’s bench.
“My genre of music does not fit the music of my region,” he explains of his major label debut’s delay. “So, I have to go out here and spend my own money. I have to press up my own CDs, my own promo, my own videos, all that…[The label will] say, ‘Cyhi, we need a budget. Let’s open up your budget and do all this.’ I don’t want to do that at this point, because I feel like they have to cut me a check before they do that, because I’ve been doing all this other stuff by myself. You think you’re just going to run off with it? Absolutely not.”
The new jack takes a timeout, exhales and adds, “They are discussing me at the end of the summer, like July/August. So, if it do happen, it will be around that time.”