Portland rapper L PRO released his new Vertigo CD and video, Friday Oct. 14 at Ted's Berbati's 215 SW Ankeny St. With live backing from Farnel, the event showcased L PRO's unique talent. You can check out his music at LPromusic.com download tracks at LPRO.Bandcamp.com or see his videos on The Skanner News Video
Where are you from?
San Diego. I came to Oregon when I was in middle school. I went to Whitaker Middle School and Madison High School, then PSU for a while.
When did you start getting into Hip hop?
I've been doing music ever since high school. I came out with my first record in 1996. I was in a group called Grass Roots and we put out a recording called Uncharted Regions. That got some national attention and a review in The Source. One of the first shows I went to see was Cool Nutz – but that was back in the day when he was Chillin T. He has been such an influence on me. I was in the first PoHop – I've perfomed at PoHop for the last few years too.
You were gone for a while. Why?
I got married and then divorced. I was going through a lot and I stopped rapping from 2000 to 2004. That was really hard. But then I ran into a friend of mine at the mall and he said. 'Come and do this song.' That started the fire again.
I got back in the studio and and started writing. I put out a record called Chronicle, and if you listen to that you can hear everything I went through. It was a kind of biography; very emotional. I wrote it more for myself than for other people. That record practically wrote itself. I didn't have to struggle to come up with beats and rhymes. Then it was like 'I'm free.' It was like a weight being lifted off me.
Who did you work with on Vertigo?
I'm working with 5th Sequence and he's my main producer and music guy. I'm also working with DESTRO. He's been a friend for many years. We're in the studio working on this new project. Vertigo is produced by 5th Sequence and features Mic Crenshaw, Arkitek, D Wyze, ASA, Angel, a singer called Price Tag and another singer Tokyo Nelson. Matt Knapp of Grammar School did the video.
What does your work deal with?
There is no one theme to my music. Vertigo talks about everything from reintroducing who I am to socioeconomic issues. One song is about a young guy who is going to war and may not return. So the mood is very up and down. The Cypher is a conversation about the state of the world; saying it's important for you to wake up and listen and understand what is going on in the world. Then there is a song like Confessions where I'm really talking to men about women and saying don't be afraid of women who are strong and independent.
Who are your influences?
Mos Def is my #1 influence. And Rakim. I listen to Kanye West, Jay Z, and Nas. They are my biggest influences. But I haven't been compared to a lot of people because I have my own sound and my own thing.
What is it like being a rap artist in Portland?
Portland has a really good hip-hop scene. It's very competitive. It used to be nobody was doing videos. Now everyone has videos.
What would you say to a young person setting their sights on a career in Hip hop?
I'd say take it very seriously. Don't treat it as though it's a hobby, but as the most important thing you are doing. Also, have an education. You need some sort of job and career because there are people out there who are starving artists. Unless you land a major recording deal with distribution and marketing, you can't make it. It takes money to shoot videos. It takes money to make flyers. Everything takes money. So if you don't have some career, it's going to be difficult to be successful.