How drunk or high do you have to be now to still freestyle? Is it a house party situation? Or cleaning the crib listening to beats? Don’t lie to me mane.
Small Pro:Drunk Smalls doesn’t freestyle…he walks out of the party to see the stars and explore foreign Philly/Brooklyn neighborhoods. High Smalls, on the other hand…usually when I’m walking to a bus/train stop is when the acapella raps start spilling out. I never freestyled sober when I considered myself a rapper, though, so…
What’s the most influential album you stole from your brother?
Small Pro:It Was Written, on cassette tape. Even as a punk 6th grader, I knew it was Nas’s best album. “Good Luck With That” directly drew from the structure of that record, so it wins.
You’ve gotten love from Dabrye and Ali Shaheed Muhammed in the past. Why haven’t you been extra thirsty and exploited their love for you?
Small Pro:My brain doesn’t work that way. Look, getting love from legends is dope, but I will never forget how corny it was that that this one underground NY guy was on stage discussing how he had just been on the phone with the legendary so-and-so because their fandom made them hit him up, and I was just like…that’s corny. So, no.
Who’s the one producer you secretly jock the most that no one would expect?
Small Pro:That’s easy. I put Timbaland in his hey against…damn near everybody. Seriously. Few checkpoints…changed the sound of radio, like…twice, or three times? Dart Adams probably knows, he knows everything. Wattup Dart. Anyways, back to Timbo. The drums…the drums! Their sound, the way they hit, yes…but his bouncy-yet-rigid half-time rhythms were everything, at the time. I wish I could have been more aware of him when that first Missy albums dropped, or the first OR second Ginuwine jawn…oh, brother.
When did you get over your hatin ass pruist phase? Like we all weren’t cool and forward thinking enough to love UGK and Scarface and DJ Quik and Nelly in 1999 while living Philly.
Small Pro:That’s easy, too…it was 2008. Don’t exactly remember why I started listening to southern artists more at that point, but I do remember loving Rocko’s album from that year, and T.I.’s, and Rick Ross, if he dropped anything that year. And then I went back and checked out Jeezy’s debut album, and I was like, yo, this is ill as well. Before that, nah. It was all spiritual subliminal individual…in your swimming pool.
Why is Elucid your favorite rapper ever?
Small Pro:So, my top rappers list is mostly made up of guys who can sound at home on any kind of beat you throw at them. Elucid is super ill to me because I’ve heard him on basically every kind of beat most people rap on, and some stuff nobody else really has…and did it comfortably. Every time I listen to a song from this guy, I marvel at his phrasings, his flow (it is unpredictable in a conversational way like none other…like your homie spitting tipsy game in your ear outside in the rain on the block). His voice always reminded me of a combination of Scarface and Dave from De La Soul, and he utilizes it to extreme crescendo effects, much like a church preacher might deliver his sermon as it is reaching its peak…or he can spit it somber, with the pain of some dark days anchoring his raps. Extremely visual writer, and can also go minimal, saying a lot with a little (“So goth I was born black”). Dope hooks, too. He just gives me a lot usually all at one time, so yeah.
Pretend your girls want to get into the rap game tomorrow. Would you Lavar Ball them or talk them out of it? Would you show them all of your tricks or let them find their own means? What kind of impact did your pops have on you and your brother’s musical purists?
Small Pro:Is the act of Lavar Balling my children or talking them out of their dreams my only two options? I would support them, sure…and I would teach them whatever I could, because that’s what my father did for me. Any chance he got, he would impart some wisdom (especially music) unto my brother and I, and I pretty much operate the same way.
Why is it still important for you to use voicemails from me, movie dialogue, and wild ass sound bites in your records?
Small Pro:Using dialogue always added some extra flavor for me. It gives you some insight into a producer’s sense of humor, personality, and outside-of-music tastes…just something more for a listener to connect with.
How has our friendship lasted this long with you being a fan of Paul Barman?
Everyone asks musicians “Who would you love to work with?” That’s boring. Who would you HATE to work with and why?
Small Pro:I wanted to work with Rick Ross until I saw that video of him eating the strawberries really loudly. It was totally unnecessary and I haven’t listened to his newest album since I witnessed that spectacle.
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