Neph and Prevail on Alpha and Omega

Neph and Prevail have a working relationship that took 25 years to foster.

It’s a unique situation, the uncle/nephew duo are at different places in their music careers and in their personal lives. Prevail’s navigated a successful career as a solo artist and as part of Swollen Members. His music catalogue is extensive, a plethora of (profanity free) well thought out rhymes, and a depth and knowledge that can only come out of living life outside of your comfort zone. He writes music without using popular crutches (money, women, violence) in a way that is accessible to the listener, but forces each to form their own conclusions about his verses.

In a way, he’s the perfect mentor for Neph, who’s new to hip hop in comparison. Neph grew up leading a parallel life to his uncle. They’re both Victoria Island boys that moved over to Vancouver to pursue music. Neph could have been tempted to rap about trendy things as it seems to be a surefire way to mainstream success, but instead he’s opted to write only about what he really knows and what comes freely to him, and that’s his saviour from the dilapidated state that mainstream hip hop has become. His verses are raw, they aren’t even flattering to him at times, far from painting himself with bravado; they’re uninhibited reflections of the struggles felt by him and his friends.

It’s this gritty portrayal of his life, set in the streets of Vancouver, that is endearing to listeners. While he and Prevail have completely different vibes and aesthetics, they play well off each other in songs like Viceroy, which showcases their relationship and similar passion for the music. For Neph, music has been his greatest source of self expression (he also draws and makes art) and an way to escape his introverted tendancies.

Prevail is in the position where he doesn’t need to make another record to prove himself. He’s rightfully earned his place in Canadian music, and is purely doing it for the love of the craft. Complacency doesn’t seem to be a word that’s familiar to him though, and that’s probably part of his longstanding relevancy in his genre. So, Alpha Omega is really a fitting title for these two, a collaboration between a novice and veteran, but without any of the power imbalances that it may have. Prevail is just as willing to be the student as he is the teacher, and this keeps their sound at an equilibrium and something that is relatable to many people, who are at different stages in their own journey.

Alpha Omega is dropping soon and we’re excited to hear their voices mesh together on multiple tracks.

More than blood ties: Neph and Prevail

It’s always intriguing whenever we meet artists working and creating alongside their family. In any type of familial relationship, there’s inevitable power dynamics; it’s built in with good reason, as family is how we learn to structure relationships for the rest of our lives. The familiarity between kin can either greatly enhance or hinder creativity. Complacency can become easy when you know your partner has a real vested interest in you.

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For Prevail and Neph, it’s been a seamless transition from family to collaborators. The uncle/nephew duo have been making music separately long before they stepped into the studio together. Prevail has a storied history in both Vancouver and Canadian rap. The self identified BC rapper has been creating with Swollen Members as well as pursuing  solo ventures. Neph has had a lifetime to watch Prevail turn from amateur to expert, touring the world with Swollen Members. Prevail’s journey inspired Neph to pursue his own interests in art and music, but it was a while before Neph shared his recordings with Prevail,  letting him know that hip hop really does run in their bloodline.

The result is Alpha Omega, their debut album together, slated for release this February. To hear their rationale for the title is poetic – Prevail being the Alpha and passing down wisdom to Neph, the Omega. It’s an unspoken equilibrium they seem to have reached; Neph, the vivacious newbie in hip hop is gently lead by Prevail, whose calm demeanour and skilled lyricism is no doubt an aspiration for his nephew.

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Mobb Deep: Havoc and Prodigy – two decades strong

Havoc and Prodigy have been creating music together since they met as teenagers at the High School of Art and Design. Since then, they’ve dropped numerous albums, travelled the world several times over and have been involved in some pretty legendary rap beef. The feuding also made its way into the group, with the duo splitting for a brief hiatus in 2012 before reconciling to record and tour once again. And, in that way, the relationship between Havoc and Prodigy is one of the of the realest in the industry.

They’ve been creating together for over two decades since their beginnings in Queenbridge, Queens. From the hood dissertation that was The Infamous to releasing The Infamous Mobb Deep this year, it’s come full circle for Havoc and Prodigy. They’ve truly grown up together and have seen each other through both creative and personal growth. The split was very publicized, with verbal sparring over twitter and fans torn between sides.

It’s the type of rivalry we’ve all been in at some point in another, with those that we share a rarified relationship with, where true feelings aren’t masked behind false words. These types of relationships are the strongest because they can withstand the depth and complexity of us as humans, and the only ones which will reveal the sometimes brutal truths we need to face. For Havoc and Prodigy, their hiatus was a chance to focus completely on them as individual artists, and when they reunited a year later (as many predicted they would) they came back with tenacity, recording and touring with a renewed sense of passion and loyalty too Mobb Deep. It’s a clarity you can only reach after having had some strife.

We saw them perform together to a packed house, a testament to the reach of Mobb Deep since their first album. It was clear as soon as the first two bars of Shook Ones Part II came blaring through the speakers, Mobb Deep is forever.

Cam’ron on image and imitation

Cam’ron is a lesson in longevity.

Complacency is not a word that exists in his vernacular. His mind travels at a pace that perhaps even he can’t comprehend. Not content creating in just one field, he’s moves cohesively through several realms of entertainment. He’s made moves in music, acting, screenwriting, directing, and designing and you get the feeling that it’s only the beginning of his experimentation with different mediums.

It can be argued that innovation is one of the most enduring themes of success and Cam seems to be constantly innovating. Inspired by demand for a sequel to 2006’s Killa Season, he decided to instead create First of the Month –  a monthly thirty minute webisode premiering at, you guessed it, the beginning of each month. Each episode is based around Flea, a fictional character whose details shadow the rapper himself. Music is a major part of the series, with Cam releasing five songs along with each episode.

It’s this willingness to experiment that’s led him eschew from the usual roster of hit maker hip hop producers; instead, Cam has teamed up  with electro-house DJ, A-Trak, on a collaborative EP, taking him, and subsequently Harlem into a new sonic wave.

We sat down with Cam’ron after his show and he definitely had us cracking up as we asked him to share with us his thoughts on the importance of image, why he chose the difficult path of entrepreneurship and about Federal Reserve, his upcoming collaboration with A-Trak.

The next episode in the First of the Month series is coming up quick, premiering on September 1st.