EXCLUSIVE | Boom Bap artist Prema777 says she's 'a creator' and boxing herself in one label just won't do
The talented artist has dropped an album titled ‘Take Flight’ which will be re-released in early 2021. Prema777, is a survivor and has been living on her own since she was 17-years-old
Hip-hop is one of the most competitive genres out there and one has to fight a lot of personal demons and handle professional rivalry in order to survive in the sea full of sharks. The beauty of hip-hop lies in its underground music and especially when it comes from one of the five boroughs of New York i.e. the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. We got in touch with a female emcee Prema777 from Staten Island who has been hustling for long in the game.
The talented artist has dropped an album titled ‘Take Flight’ which will be re-released in early 2021. Prema777, whose real name is Caitlin Woych, is a survivor and has been living on her own since she was 17-years-old. She has found her center in being the best artist, writer, and a CEO (of imunaTea, a freshjuice delivery service & President of Intellectual Entertainment, a multifaceted creative development enterprise) and most importantly the best mother she can be every day.
MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) got in touch with her for an exclusive interview where we discussed her new song ‘Workin,’ why she is planning to re-release her debut album ‘Take Flight,’ her personal struggles, what motherhood taught her, the respect female emcees deserve and her valuable opinion on Black Lives Matter movement.
What does your song 'Workin' it talk about? And how did you end collaborating with Brooklyn based artist Nitty Scott?
‘Workin’ was part of my upcoming project called ‘Take Flight’ which is going to re-release in 2021. The song was kind of cultivated from the ground up. There was no concept. We made the beat first and I wanted to sort of take a different turn on the album. My new project is my journey into boom bap infused with a lot of modern sounds with a hint of R&B flavor. I wanted a banger or something which stood out with a different tone and energy in it.
As we made the beat, it came out as very tribal, it was very raw and therefore, Nitty(Scott) was the first emcee that came to my mind. With this single, I felt empowered as a female. I had written the hook beforehand and I thought I getting another female emcee would be the right thing to do. The way I was feeling the song, the vibe and the essence around it, is the only reason I got another female emcee on the track. Nitty is from Brooklyn, I am from Staten Island. I love her work and I love her style as an emcee. So, I reached out to her, she responded and we kind of made it happen back and forth from there.
You had released your debut LP ‘Take Flight’ in 2018 and you are planning to re-release it in early 2021. Usually, artists don’t do that. This concept is something which doesn’t exist in the hip-hop industry. What is the motive behind this move and what do you aim to achieve with it?
‘Take Flight’ was my first brush with experimenting with sounds and we had put a lot of work in the album along with a lot of time. It was a couple of years in the making and when it was about to drop, I got pregnant with my son. That was during the final point, it was almost the time to share my work with the world and I had been longing for it because it was like setting me free and at the same time getting to know myself as an artist. So, I decided to drop the album while I was pregnant and once I had released the record, I wasn’t able to give the care, the shine I wanted to- marketing wise and promotions wise because I was busy with the family and being a mom.
I also had an album release party which was a huge success and my fans here really supported me, however, the album did not get the air time and the play I desired. I know, re-releasing is something which people don’t do but after I became a mother, I learned to appreciate my time and therefore, it made all the sense that I give proper care or proper shine or proper love to my project. Now, whatever happens to the album, that’s up to the universe but I want to give my 100% and make sure I crossed my T’s and dotted my I’s. And, it just happened that when we decided to re-release the album, we happened to run into the coronavirus and for me, it was only right. I was thinking about it and contemplating it and then quarantine happened which made me evaluate and prioritize myself. It was like the universe speaking to me to make more efforts and give it more time to polish, so I went for it. I am more about quality than quantity. I'd rather have one great album or one great single out there than my plethora of tapes or songs with less or bad quality. So, yes quality over quantity any day.
Why do you tag yourself as a ‘BOOM BAP ARTIST?’ Do you always want to make boom bap songs or are you trying to make a statement with it?
It’s just where my heart lies and something from where I draw a lot of inspiration. We were about to make a turning point in music when quarantine happened and with so much accessibility to new music every day and new sounds, it is also very important to pay homage and pay respect to the sounds that create us as an individual and inspire us at the same time. A part of my artistic journey is about being able to give back to what has molded me and blossomed me as a human being in general and boom bap played a big role in my life. I am proud of it of whatever I am doing with boom bap and will always be.
You are from Staten Island, NY and the place has given birth to so many great hip-hop artists like Wu-Tang Clan, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon and a few others. Have you ever met these legends? And, if you have what did you guys talk about and if you haven’t what have you learned from these guys as a fan or maybe as a hip-hop artist?
You know, Staten Island is pretty small and it might be only 8 to 10 miles to its radius point, so, bumping into people who live here and have inspired us from years is a pretty common thing. While growing up, I remember I used to see them at the mall, a couple of times at the deli. With Ghostface (Killah), we were even going to the same gym at one point. And, funnily enough, my husband, the father of my second child, is the son of a Wu-Tang Clan member. Oddly enough, it is a small world and us being both music artists, were introduced to each other through the music world and we became good friends.
Also, it is so inspiring and refreshing to breathe in the same air, to see legendary artists so raw and so authentic in themselves and they still represent what they are and where they came from. It is also one of the reasons which keeps me going out here. It has been a decade since I have been living in Staten Island and of course, I have thought about moving out but as I said earlier, the legendary artists are so raw here and they have paved a way for artists like us which is no less than a blessing. This is a community of some really talented people which the world will see one day but the place keeps inspiring us every single day.
You worked with J Glaze who has shown his production skills with Cappadonna, Inspectah Deck, Lil Jon, A Tribe Called Quest, Kurupt, Chasing Banksy movie score. How did you end up joining hands with him? Was he always the first choice for your project and what was the entire process on your new record? How did you approach this project?
I have been working with J Glaze from ‘House of Dreams.’ It is a studio which he has set up for as long as I can remember- maybe more than a decade. I won’t say he was my first choice because I have been to plenty of other studios but it just worked out with Glaze. We clicked instantly. I love his work ethic and I appreciate his style. And, when you are working on a project you exactly need this kind of relationship where you flow smoothly. When we were working on new sounds, he kind of just made me feel comfortable in the growth process. We both went beyond boom bap and experimented with sounds.
With the talent he holds, I mean, he plays multiple instruments and he is very experienced and well-groomed when it comes to production. And, you know, as they say- “Surround yourself with people who inspire you or people you want to grow with,” and that’s what exactly happened when I collaborated with him on my project.
You have been living alone since you were 17 and you went through a lot of ups and downs both personally and professionally. You have also become a mother now. As a hip-hop artist, how comfortable were you sharing your tragedies and inspire others when you started out?
It definitely took me a while to open up and music for sure helped as compared to sharing my stories on a personal level. The music kind of groomed me to be okay to talk about my issues and my experiences and be vulnerable. And, this journey has surely cultivated my sound and taught me a lot as a rapper/singer/ song-writer. I then used my music as a tool of therapy for myself and also help other people. So, now I find it as more of a mission and to support others and inspire other people through my music. I believe, there might be people who must be feeling in a certain way but don’t have a platform to go vocal about their issues, so I make sure I do that with my music to give voice to their problems.
You recently put together an exclusive 83 track greatest women of hip hop "Empress Emcee" Spotify playlist to go with your BlackBook feature. What exactly is the concept of your BlackBook and what made you compile these powerful tracks?
So, Blackbook had hit me up and proposed to me about wanting me to do a piece on “inspiring women in hip-hop” alongside presenting my single ‘Workin’- which is again a women empowerment track, in fact, not just women empowerment, the track will empower everybody in general. They (Blackbook) had asked me to mention what inspired me as a female and which female inspired me in the music business. And, with that they also gave me an opportunity to make a playlist which I thought was really cool because it took me back to my roots. You know, a lot of old school vibes.
The hardest part was to narrow down the playlist. The mission was to make a playlist of the ‘Best Women in Hip-Hop” of all time and it was so difficult for me to choose a select few because there are so many that have inspired me. I basically could not stop and therefore, instead of ten singles, it went to up to a lengthy 80 songs in the playlist. But, they probably further narrowed it down to 40.
We, of course, want to address the elephant in the room. Hip-hop is one genre which is still dominated by male artists. There are female emcees like you who are growing by number every day. How long do you think this journey is going to be? And, do you feel female artists in hip-hop are getting the credit or the respect they deserve?
I feel the hip-hop industry is definitely witnessing a turning point right now. We are living in a time when crossovers are happening. Human beings have comparatively become more aware of themselves in respect to male and female gender, social injustice or racial differences. If we talk about hip-hop in particular, I do feel there are a lot of women getting the respect they deserve. There are a lot of talented hip-hop female artists getting into the spotlight but there is always more work to be done.
It is definitely a challenge and there are certain barriers that need to be broken. These things that we are okay with men as they like to talk about women, their attitude and their persona but if a woman does the same thing, we are kind of disrespected for it. So, there is that to work on. But, you do have the song ‘WAP’ and that’s a big one. It is not that this is the first time either that something like this has come out. Lil Kim was out there in the '90s and she was very graphic but she was well-respected for it. She was one of the “dopest” artists at the time for doing it. So, coming back to today, it is happening a lot but the recognition needs to be more out in the public.
You have Rapsody coming out, who is an amazing artist then there is Nitty Scott who is so wonderful and empowering and a preacher of culture and then there’s myself who is trying to get the work done while still respecting the boundaries of the culture. Then female emcees like Lauren Hill, Missy Elliott, MC Lyte, Ladybug Mecca and Roxy, are certainly one of my favorites.
You started from the underground but now your album has cracked a deal with a record label. So, will you call yourself a commercial artist now?
No, definitely not. I won’t tag myself as a commercial artist and I won’t even put myself in any category of any type of artists. I will always pay respect to hip-hop when it comes to writing and putting out songs. At this point in my career, I am peeling off the layers of myself. I am about making music, making good vibes and sharing my stories with the world so, whatever that means it is up to everybody else to interpret however they want to label me- either an underground artist or a commercial artist. For me, I am a creator and I will continue to walk on this path for life.
There is a global movement going on right now with Black Lives Matter and since you are a hip-hop artist, what is your take on it and how does it affect you?
It certainly affects me as an artist because I feel it is important to share my message and share the inspiration through my music. There is also a lot that I am learning as a human and coming from where I belong, it is surely an awakening experience. And, not that I wasn’t into it before but this movement has surely opened up the dialogue.
People are asking a lot more questions, they are learning through the way and trying their best to come together and work towards a common goal. I am going ahead with the same intention and god has blessed me with music-making abilities so I am going to use it to give it a voice and hopefully give insight to people to also change their perspective and learn. Everybody needs to share the unity, the knowledge, and be open to one another and I can do the same with my music.
You can listen to her song ‘Nothing Free’ here: