Interview: The Procussions

The Procussions are one of hip-hop’s most progressive groups, but at the heart of their underground sound is a positive message of hope and faith in something deeper.

To read more of our interview with The Procussion, check out the latest issue of RELEVANT.

How long have you guys been making music together?

Stro: Together, about eight years.

And how about you individually?

Stro: Individually, as long as I can remember. My grandmother tells stories of my father putting headphones on me when I was a baby and putting on old Donald Byrd records. My grandfather bought me my first instrument—a harmonica. He funded me in middle school to be able to buy a trumpet. As far back as I remember, all I wanted to do was play music in some way shape or form—either professionally or as a hobby.

That’s cool. In those seven or eight years together, how have you guys matured or changed musically?

Stro: I think mostly us getting to know each other. We met on a strictly musician basis. We used to battle each other, so we didn’t really know each other too well. All we knew was that we had respect for each other’s craft. I had respect for the way J rhymed and Rez rhymed, and we were all b-boys at the same time as well, and we had that going for us. I think that mostly over the years you understand what everybody’s into and their backgrounds. J was heavily influenced by rock—his father being in a rock band when he was younger. Rez is definitely the more hip-hop guy in the group, and they understood that I come from a very strong jazz background. When you get to know each other on that level, you start to create a sound that makes it easy for everybody to be heard. When you have a group of individuals as different as we are, it’s easy for someone to get lost in the shuffle. I think we’ve learned a lot from each other, more than anything in terms of how we create music and how we approach our own pieces of the craft in terms of making it a “Procussions” sound.

Yeah that’s a really cool fusion when you can take all those different styles and make it jive together.

Stro: It’s not very easy. That’s the other part of it. We try to learn how to make it meld without confusing the listener.

It’s easier to put all these things together; to make it work is another thing, and that’s the thing that we’re still learning as we continue to create music together.

Who do you feel is really getting it right as far as groups in the early and mid ’90s that really affected hip-hop? Who do you think are some groups doing that now?

Stro: It’s weird, because even now underground hip-hop has tons of genres—genres on top of genres. Definitely groups like Little Brother. I like what Strange Fruit is doing. There is a really strong underground soulful scene that we are tapping into that’s really across the Atlantic.

Where do you see your music five years down the road?

Stro: Hopefully selling. It’s hard to focus five years down the line. We’re trying hard to create a really strong foundation now without trying to get lost in what is going to happen five years from now. We realize that the industry moves really fast, and I think that if we try to think that far ahead, we are really going to lose focus on what’s going on now, and we’ll probably drop the ball. Hopefully in another five years I just hope that we are still relevant, like the name of your magazine.

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You are about to go on tour with A Tribe Called Quest, right?

Mr. J Medeiros: Yes, yeah.

I’m assuming you are pretty excited about that.

J. Medeiros: Yeah, man, it’s just something we didn’t even think about, mostly because they weren’t even together. When we started our career, is when they started breaking up. Our second show was with RUN-DMC before Jam Master Jay died. That raised the bar greatly for us. We were just like, “Wow, how many people can we tour with that have that type of history?” Being able to tour with Tribe Called Quest is going to be out of this world.

Do you think people will be in for any surprises as far as collaborations, or are you going to do you own thing?

J. Medeiros: Well, the reason why this whole thing went down was we were in Brooklyn doing the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival with Big Daddy Cane and some up-and-coming artists like Rhymefest. We did the whole show, and we were back in our tent and actually Ali Shaheed Mohammed came to the show and grabbed us out of the tent, and he was all excited, and I didn’t even know who he was at first because he had these big glasses on and this big hat, and I couldn’t see him. But he kept hugging us, and he said, “I came here to see you guys, and I want to take you on tour.” I was really standoffish because he was hugging us hard like a football player. And I think he knew we didn’t know who he was, because he took his glasses off, and we were all just like WOW, we didn’t know what to do. He was like, “Man, we are going on tour.” Ali Shaheed Mohammed is the one that has pushed really hard for us, and he seems like he is interested in our career and our future. So I’m hoping we can get some beats or maybe get him on a track, Q-tip, Phife.

We’ll see. We’ve been touring for like five years about 200 days a year. You’d be amazed; sometimes groups don’t get along with each other, and sometimes you don’t really see the headliner. They’re in their van, and they don’t even come talk to the opener. This seems like it might be something different.

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