Evi Da Prince is a rapper from Columbia, Missouri who grew up in St. Louis. He’s trying to use music to get out of the Midwest and has aspirations that go beyond being a successful rapper. Mechanical Dummy spoke to Evi about what sets him apart and what he hopes to accomplish through rapping.
Words by N. Sella
Mechanical Dummy: Who are you and what do you create?
Evi Da Prince: I go by the name of Evi Da Prince and I create art. I like to speak of my music as art because for real, everything I do, regardless if it’s a club record or a storytelling record or whatever – it’s all personal feelings. That’s really how I mold music – how I feel at that time, I do that and I write. I write a lot of slower songs. That’s the thing that a lot of people don’t know about me. They see the rapping and stuff like that, but I also do a lot of writing behind the scenes.
MD: When did you first get creative?
EP: I’ve always been a music head since a real young dude. Like I remember being five and what not, that’s when I got my first Walkman. My dad bought it for me and I had the 2Pac and the Biggie tape, and 2 Live Crew. I had just a bunch of tapes. I’ve always been a music head, but as I got older I wanted to do the basketball thing. But it really wasn’t for me. I had no way to express myself. So I would write poetry and stuff and people would tell me like, “Your poetry is kind of good.” That translated into me trying to rap. So I would say I started at about 13, hanging around with my older brothers and cousins. They had a little in-house studio and I would try to fit in with them. I started out as a battle rapper because that’s what we would do where I’m from in St. Louis. At school, at lunch, we would battle – and that’s really when I got into it.
MD: What’s the feedback to your music been like?
EP: It’s more or less the feeling I get when people tell me, not just, “Oh you good, I could see you making it.” But when they genuinely tell me, “I hear something special in you, something that I don’t hear from the other 900,000 cats that’s out here trying to make music.” That added on to the fact that I actually get personal feedback of people being able to relate to my music instead of just liking it because it sounds good. The studio, that’s my peaceful spot. I could stay in the studio all night. That’s where I let my stress out. That’s where I feel my best and the most comfortable. With the lack of funds and stuff, I could say that’s probably the most stressful part of it. Just for real, knowing my family and how I really want to get my family out of a tight situation. I don’t really care about the money, personally. I just want to be heard among the masses. So that’s really what keeps me going.
MD: What makes your sound unique?
EP: The fact that I can really tap into personal feelings or I could jump on club record and keep peoples’ attention. Whether it is catchy wordplay or the way my cadence is when I rap. Or just the fact that with different beats I’m comfortable with, knowing how my voice should sound on that track.
MD: How do you approach writing for others?
EP: When I do write stuff for other people, most of it, I don’t really write raps for other people, I write songs for other people. I’m not a singer or nothing like that, so it’s more or less the stuff I want to say that other people are going through at the same time. If I turn on a beat and I instantly hear a dope hook and I come up with an idea and write it out, I’m like, “I can’t really do this myself but I kind got an idea of who might be able to.”
MD: Where are you from?
EP: I’m from Columbia by way of St. Louis, I approach it like that. I’m proud to be a Columbia artist because at this point there’s no outlet. There’s nobody that’s really major who’s ever done anything from here musically. You got Stevie Stone, he’s doing his thing, but he’s still on the kind of mid-major level. There’s nobody that does what I do that’s really made it to a top level. So I kind of embrace the small town hero deal.
MD: How do you stay inspired?
EP: I listen to everything. Anything hot, it doesn’t matter what genre of music it is. I listen to everything because I feel like that’s the best way to keep the juices creative. If you listen to strictly rap and you listen to a certain artist all the time, eventually you’re going to start mocking what that artist is doing because they’re hot at the time. To be as big of a rapper, as far as how far I want to go with it, I don’t really listen to rap music a whole lot. And when I do, it’s mostly myself and I’m listening to how I can get better. And when I do listen to rap, I’m listening to people that’s really doing it but I’m listening from an angle like, “How can I outdo them?” What are they doing that I’m not doing that could get me to that level instead of trying to do what they are doing?
MD: What is your ultimate dream?
EP: I’m just trying to use rap as an outlet to get heard, but most importantly as an outlet to get out of the Midwest period. Once I get to a certain level, I want to eventually move on and own my own business, like a record company or studios, real estate or whatever. I’m just doing rap as an outlet because it’s easy for me. And hopefully it can help people get through whatever they’re trying to get through. I just enjoy performing, I enjoy expressing myself through music but for real, for me it’s all about business. I’m just trying to get to a higher level and own some property when I get up.