Artist Spotlight: Xavier Pryce
Former pimp. Distant relative to jazz great Thelonius Monk. Son of an ex-Black Panther. Xavier Pryce‘s colorful background is as intricate as the web he weaves on his new independent music project, Hookers & Housewives.
Hookers & Housewives is an intense look inside the mind of a 29-year-old rapper/singer quick to proclaim music as his only salvation. Soulful and graphic, the project features remixes of hip-hop and R&B hits from acts like Jazmine Sullivan, Drake, J. Cole and 50 Cent, along with thirteen original songs.
You set the bar very high when the “Intro” of your album features lines like, “Now I need the dark to go away like vitiligo/Gimme the spotlight/This is my show.” Not only does Xavier Pryce reach it, he surpasses it.
What’s the concept behind the title Hookers & Housewives?
“The concept is uh…one half what I’m used to, and the other half what I probably need and haven’t been exposed to. Yet, deep down inside, I abhor normal sh*t so the former is what I’m likely to stick with, but the latter is probably subconsciously what I desire but I resist [laughs]. Basically, the concept is I know hookers—where the f*ck are the housewives? But I need a lil’ hooker in my housewife, too.” [laughs]
Your press release says the tape is “an homage to the life and death of your former profession as a pimp in Washington, D.C.” Are those days behind you and if so, how and why did you put them to rest?
“Ah man…the pimp is dead, but the mindset hasn’t really gone. Poe comes out the cut in a variety of situations and you can tell when he’s ’round.”
Who is Poe?
“That’s my alter ego…well it’s not really an alter ego ’cause it’s still me, but Poe is just a persuasive motherf*cker. Everything he says just makes perfect sense [laughs]. First, I’ll convince you that nothing is impossible and you can do anything. I’ll convince you that eating your own face would make sense because you’re determined.”
You released your first album Scar Spangled Banner back in 2003. What took you seven years to put another collection of music together?
“My focus was off. All I really cared about was money and pimpin’. I never really looked at music the way many rappers do. I never said this was my means to an end, so I didn’t put any real effort behind the music. Sh*t, I thought I was already rich! I was already traveling everywhere and getting respect—well, pimp respect at least—so I was just like, f*ck music. I wanna pimp. It wasn’t till I got out the game that I realized man, this music sh*t is what I’m meant for.”
None of the tracks on Hookers & Housewives portray a healthy, positive relationship with females. Would you say love has eluded you up to this point?
“That would be a good analysis [laughs]. I’ve never seen an example of a healthy relationship. But wait…I’m gonna have to disagree with you. ‘Shining Star’s’ chorus is [starts singing]: ‘You’re like my everything, favorite car, favorite clothes. You are the shining star in my life. You’re irreplaceable, super fly, ride or die…girl ain’t nothin’ I won’t do for yooooou.’” [laughs]
Tracks like “Dead Marriage,” “Break Your Windows” and “Untitled” are especially graphic and violent. Do you feel the best creativity comes out of dark places?
“I love getting a reaction from people with my music. I intentionally say crude things in a way that everyone can agree with my sentiments, given the context in which I say ‘em. Women either tend to hate the way I say things or they simply love the honesty. ‘Dead Marriage’ is a realistic look into the mind of a married man. Men think this way when they feel trapped in a relationship they don’t necessarily want anymore. ‘Break Your Windows’ is another realistic view and that was more a lesson, or a warning, to women not to be breaking no man’s property ’cause some men don’t play that sh*t. I wouldn’t go so far if a woman broke my windows, but I’m warning them girls don’t be listening to Jasmine Sullivan and think that sh*t is cool in any way.
“I guess the most graphic of these songs is ‘Untitled.’ This is a journey into the mind of a man who has been wronged by his wife or girlfriend. I agree this one is especially dark, but I love to put stories together and, just like in TV and movies, the most exciting things to watch are ones that have stories that end violently. You can never say the way I put it all together isn’t extremely creative and visual. When I make those songs, I want you to be able to close your eyes and feel like you’re there.”
The stories you tell are deeply intricate and rich. How would you describe your actual music-making process?
“I’m very intense when it comes to making music. I’ve actually never made a song in front of others or with the input of anyone. I usually grab a pint of Remy, have a pack of Newports and write songs pretty fast, but when I start to record I completely zone out. Time doesn’t exist and nothing around me exists. Man, I’m not sure I would ever feel comfortable creating in front of a bunch of people (like how you see rappers in the studio) ’cause my sh*t is a process for real. Almost all of the songs I’ve ever made, I never wrote the chorus. I play around with the beat, testing options as I go, and after I record like three or four times I’ll go with one without ever writing it down. I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing my sound testing process in front of others because that sh*t is weird.”
You handle both rapping and singing duties. Are you more confident in one area over the other?
“I’m more confident in my rapping abilities, but for the life of me I wish God blessed me with a real voice. I actually forced myself to start singing ’cause when I first started out I was in a group wit this n*gga named ‘P’ who used to sing all the sh*t I wrote. I ended up cuttin’ that n*gga off ’cause the n*gga stole from me but everything I wrote was still musical, so I forced myself to start practicing not necessarily how to sing, but test the limitations of my voice. So I started studying n*ggas that weren’t really singers, like Devin the Dude, Andre 3000 and Nate Dogg to get a feel for how I should use my voice.”
Describe your dream recording scenario—which artists would be involved and what would the studio vibe be like?
“It would have to be a session with Andre 3000 and Bilal, produced by Organized Noize. Man, I couldn’t even describe the vibe, but I know it would be an amazing session. What you don’t understand is that I’m so much deeper than what you hear; the ability I have to make songs that are outside-of-the-box-creative I don’t release in EP’s like this. I gotta start with what ya’ll used to, so eventually I can give you what I want instead of what you want.”
Have you already started on your next release and if so, what direction is it taking?
“I got enough songs to release 10 more EP’s or albums back to back. I make a lot of music. But the direction of the next one is gonna be a little more focused and little deeper.”
“Livin’ In Hell”:
Download the full Hookers & Housewives tape (mixed by Statik Selektah and sponsored by FluD Watches) here.
Images: Liz Allen