Monday, November 1, 2010

Interview With New Artist Noah and Wu Tang "Killa Beez" Shyheim and Prodigal Sunn

In most likely the best interview I've ever done, I learned much on what it's like to be a humble star. Although these three aren't the most famous artists in the world, they carried an aura of accomplishment and confidence all while being totally open and honest. Throughout the handful of artists I have met, these guys were the most genuine and real, and it was nice to see that they remember their roots as well. This was truly a great experience and it was an honor to do this interview. Thank you: Noah, Shyheim, and Prodigal.

Surrounded by the desks of the BigMachineMedia office, Noah, Shyheim, and Prodigal Sunn sat down to be interviewed about life, music, and their current project and song "Immortal" off of upcoming album to be released in summer 2011, Five Decades Below. "Immortal" will be released as a single on December 7th.


To say that Noah has led a simple life is an understatement. Growing up in Whales having a black father of African decent and a white Welsh mother, different culture was always around him. Described by many as the "Urban Rocker" it's Noah's roots that give him the unique style of soulful rock and R&B that has rarely been chartered. "My father listened to a lot of Quincy Jones and Motown music, while my mom listened to Bob Dylan and Patti Smith." Over the years of listening to many different styles himself, Noah had to evolve into his style of music by "Adapting what I was into. Rock was a steady frequency to me, I like to sing folk, and I listen to rap in the car."

One of the more interesting aspects of Noah's life is the varying amount of career paths he could have chosen. Starting as a child performer with his father at a young age, Noah was use to being on stage and the limelight. Then Noah began training to become a boxer. Over the next few years he became an amateur Middleweight boxing champion. After tasting the successes of boxing, Noah switched gears to freestyle dancing. He won the World Freestyle Break-Dance Championships. He attributes this as one of his most vivid memories saying "I was 17 years old, I walked through the curtain and everything was in slow motion."

From here, record labels were all over him to be packaged as a dance pop act, but this wasn't what Noah had in mind. The next years proved to be frustrating for Noah as he bounced around from band to band, and label to label. Suddenly Noah felt it was time for a change, and began studying to be a priest. "The first priest I was with, Father Chris, told me being a priest wasn't for me. The second priest I was with also named Father Chris, told me not to be a priest. He said, c'mon look at you. Do you know the temptation of women you are going to have? So I listened, I figured Chris is like Christ, so after Christ told me twice I felt it was time." From then on, he fully dedicated his life to music.

Touring with many famous acts such as: Puddle of Mudd, Slipknot, Slayer, and Lenny Kravitz to name a few, Noah never let their fame intimidate him. "It's all about being real. I am just like you, a person. There is no smoke and mirrors, and a lot of people don't want that anymore. It might take me longer to catch on, but it will build on my word."

As of now, Noah is traveling back and fourth between Paris, London, New York, and L.A. in hopes of further branching out and making connections. He has met many people in the industry who have led him in the right direction. He believes in "blessings and the path being laid out for him" which is what he attributes in his encounter with 36 Chambers Studios in meeting Shyheim and Prodigal Sunn.

It was upon meeting these two that Noah could complete one of visions. The idea behind the "Immortal" song and video came from "Life, and everything you do should come from yourself. It is spiritual and answers questions." The song is a complimentary blend of essential Wu-Tang gritty raps with Noah's unique booming yet grungy voice. The song is sure to be a splash hit which is evident by the leaked preview which was viewed over 40,000 times in its first 48 hours.

From left to right- Prodigal Sunn, Damon Marks, Shyheim, and Noah

Prodigal Sunn, a Wu-Tang affiliate and true mastermind lyricist has teamed up with Noah on "Immortal" laying down the first verse of the song along with ad-libs.

Prodigal's first claim to fame was with his early 90's rap group, the Sunz of Man. Then known as, the Sun of Man, it was Prodigal's group mate, Killah Priest that urged him to change his name after reading Luke 15:32 from the Bible. The well known passage speaks about "the prodigal son" who comes back to his father after leaving the family. This name stood more prominent to him because it reflected his own life, "I left home as a child, I didn't rely on my father. I've been on my own since 14, yet when I come home, the most important thing for me is family."

RZA, seeing the talent in Prodigal and the rest of Sunz of Man, signed them to Wu-Tang Records. They were the first branches added on to the Wu family. After a shelved album, SOM sought after a priority deal and got one from Red Ant Entertainment. Prodigal says they were still cool with everyone on Wu-Tang, and frequently collaborated with different members through production work or on songs.

Prodigal Sunn describes his style as "Containing substance. It's filled with science and Bible references." That was the kind of sound he was going for both as an emcee alone and within his group. "You can't make anything up. It's from the heart and the mind, all real and not fake. We were ahead of our time, and we were so young," he says.

With a list containing hip-hop heavy weights of: Rakim, Cool G Rap, Public Enemy, and Curtis Mayfield as his inspirations, it is no wonder Prodigal is so grounded in his rhyme skills.

Aside from rapping, Prodigal has dabbled in other ends of the entertainment industry- movies and television. With the prompting of friends, Prodigal began to take acting lessons. His first role was in Sex in the City, where he basically played himself. Next he went on to finance and produce Grindz, a sports show. He also co-produces a long running hip-hop documentary called American Rapstars.

Even after working with some of the greatest rappers and producers of all time, Prodigal attributes his shining moment as an artist to be when he collaborated on a Earth, Wind, and Fire song. He pitched the idea and then watched it come to fruition. That was a different change of pace for the gritty rapper, and now he's at it joining forces with Noah and Shyheim.

Seated in back Noah. Seated in middle left to right- Prodigal Sunn and Shyheim


Shyheim got his start by being introduced to RZA, who was his neighbor in the Stapleton Projects of Staten Island. It was from there that this 14 year old kid became part of the Wu-Tang family. Signing to Wu-Tang records as a Killa Bee, he was the youngest member at the time.

Shyheim was always treated like an adult, even though the outside world didn't feel the same way. "Sometimes we would go to clubs to perform, and the bouncers didn't let me in. At the time I didn't care, I got paid for showing up I did my part," he said with a chuckle.

On one of these trips to the club, an associate of Big Daddy Kane approached him. "He was like, "yo Kane wants to talk to you." So I walked over and Kane said "Do you rap" and I said yes. "Oh, because I was going to say, that if you don't, I'll teach you" he told me. Then he gave me his jewels. That was one of the coolest moments of my life, and since then he has been a mentor for me," Shyheim explained.

Releasing his debut album, AKA the Rugged Child, Shyheim managed a smash hit in "On and On". On this record he was able to show off his street smarts and knack for describing his life.

In talking about the experience of being so young in such a major group he said, "It was very weird; I came from the Stapleton projects. My fridge had baking soda and water in it. I was on a promotional tour in 9th grade traveling with a tutor. When I came home, there were actually people waiting for me at the air port. I couldn't fathom why anyone would want my autograph, I was just a kid. My friends would say, "Shy, we hear you on the radio everyday, you are on MTV too" and I would just laugh because I couldn't believe it."

Shyheim, like Prodigal describes his sound as real and raw. "I've never lied in a rhyme," he says. "I was influenced by the story tellers of rap: Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, and Slick Rick.

In addition to music, Shyheim also transitioned into film, reluctantly at first. "I received a call from Gary Gray, he wanted me for the movie Fridays. I'm a hip-hop baby, I told him no because I didn't want to sell out. Then I was offered a music video by TLC. Of course I said yes, I love TLC. Later on I got another phone call asking me to be in a movie, I said no, and then he gave me the figures. I changed my mind," he said laughing. From Shyheim went on to be in: Original Gangstas, the Preachers Wife, and In Too Deep as well as appearances on the Parenthood.

Concerning the whole project of "Immortal" Shyheim says "It's weird, because I feel like I'm back when I was a kid. You go through life's ups and downs and now I'm back. Can I impact the world twice? I don't know, but this is my first time with a band and I'm high off the freshness."

So be on the lookout for Noah, Shyheim, and Prodigal Sunn as they prepare to release "Immortal" which will undoubtedly help shape and change the rap game by finally bringing something new and fresh to a starving industry.

Video interview and performance of "Immortal".

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