Wrapping up two grueling years of touring, the trash-rap king disrobed at a local spa to show what’s behind the curtain.
As he put down his cane and limped into the whirlpool at the Ivy Spa in downtown Minneapolis, the city’s trashiest rap star explained why he came to such a classy joint upon returning from a two-month tour. Not only was he on the mend, he was also hiding from his cronies.
“Anytime I get home, my friends are always like, ‘Come on, let’s go drinking,’ ” Prof said Saturday. “I just can’t. I’ve seriously been drunk every night for the past two months.”
Drunk or not, like him or not, he’s the only Twin Cities music act in the past six or seven years to sell out First Avenue without any support from 89.3 the Current (the station can’t play a lot of his music for obscenity reasons). And now Prof has sold out the club well in advance for two nights in a row, Friday and Saturday, homecoming gigs to wrap up two maniacal years of full-steam touring.
Prof has toured with Murs and Atmosphere, gotten Yelawolf to guest on his record and smartly built a following by giving his music away for free, including 80,000 copies of his 2011 album, “King Gampo.” However, his jokey, bratty, often-times groin-driven, sometimes sexist brand of hip-hop has also largely been lost on local music writers accustomed to covering conscientious and emotion-driven rappers.
So it might have been a little poetic justice when Prof became the first interview subject to get this particular writer naked on the job. With apologies to my wife, he’s also the first person to ever talk me into a couple’s massage.
“This is the freakiest place I’ve ever been,” whispered the real-life Jacob Anderson, 28, after we walked into the spa’s hushed, low-lit relaxation area — the only two dudes in a zen den of refined, polished women all dressed in white Ivy robes. “I feel like we’re being signed up for some kind of cult,” he added.
Prof was surrounded by women in a whole different light on the gangsta-rap-mocking cover of his last EP, “Kaiser Von Powderhorn 3,” which shows him seated between a harem-like trio of very pregnant women in bikinis. Prof might not have even been allowed on the Ivy premises if the contents of the EP had been heard.
“Get drunk! Break [stuff]!” he chants in the chest-beating opening track, “Me Boi.” And that’s just the start. The EP includes a fake radio call-in skit in which he falsely outs a girl for pleasuring him. There are much more graphic — and reportedly real — phone messages from other women describing in X-rated detail what they’d like to do with him.
And then there are a lot of lyrics like these in one of the EP’s stand-out tracks, “New Kid,” featuring like-minded Eminem protégé Yelawolf: “Undeniably the baddest / I ain’t worried long as I know where you dad is / Uh, where your cousin at baby?”
Twin Cities rap guru Slug of Atmosphere said his contribution to the “KVP3” EP — in the sexually warped track “Swimming” — was “the most idiotic stuff I’ve done in years.” That was neither a joke nor an insult. Slug’s bawdier early recordings might be the nearest local comparison to Prof’s current line of work.
Slug and his bandmate Ant deserve a lot of the credit/blame for plucking Prof from the periphery. They recruited him and his DJ-ing partner Fundo to open Atmosphere’s first Welcome to Minnesota Tour and a subsequent Family Vacation Tour in 2011. “We had to strong-arm our way onto that tour,” Prof clarified. “They didn’t really want us.”
In a separate interview, Fundo marveled at how far they have come since then. The duo just returned from a two-month trek with Los Angeles indie-rap vet Murs as a warm-up to Murs’ Paid Dues Festival, with long treks in between alongside other breaking indie-rap stars such as Grieves and Andre Nikitina.
“We played to triple the size of crowd in Portland from the last time, and the last time was just in November,” said Fundo (Chris Young).
Also part of the locally adored Get Cryphy DJ quartet — which Prof cites as a major influence on his party-centric rap — Fundo said, “He’s in the same territory, telling people who are into underground rap that it’s OK to have fun and lose your mind every once in a while.”
Licking the wounds
Soaking in the whirlpool before our massage, Prof somberly showed off the dire side effects of losing his mind every night.
Tall and lanky, the Minneapolis native makes an imposing figure on stage, with a devilish-looking shaved head and beady eyes that seem to be daring you at all times. He mostly dares himself in concert, stage-diving frequently and working himself into a hyper tizzy.
“If I get off stage and don’t feel like I have to puke, I feel like I didn’t go hard enough,” he said, listing off his wounds.