Keeping Us Conscious
A true multi talented artist gives us a brief story about his life, all the way from live performances in the shower to the projects of tomorrow. I'm proud to share with you, my friend and fellow countryman; Mattias Ekberg a.k.a. Prosperous.
I was born in 1978 and grew up in Karlskrona, Sweden, which was highly effected by several subcultures in 80’s, in spite of its small size. In school I used to look up to the older guys who were into breaking and graffiti, but also skateboarding. In the late 80’s me and my friends were mainly into skateboarding, but hip hop was always there, in the boombox and in the whole way that we presented ourselves. First I was listening to Run DMC, LL Cool J and Public Enemy, but then I got some new friends from another part of the city, who was down with Native Tongues, The Pharcyde, Freestyle Fellowship, Hieroglyphics and more alternative hip hop. At this time in the early 90's I was rapping for myself in the bathroom, in the shower, but never in public. In 1993 I found myself bored during math class, and started writing my own lyrics in secret. Pretty soon rhymes started coming out of me at parties and gatherings, but never on stage. In 1995 I started recording on any dope beat I came across, putting it on tape that only a few people got to hear. I hooked up with DJ Porter and found out he was making his own beats, and had all the equipment we needed to make our own music. We started the group Plant of Trails and became a name in the Swedish underground. My first performance was in 1996 when Promoe from Looptroop handed me the mic at this packed jam in a basement, little did the people know that I was a hidden secret with flows. I started to perform with Plants of Trails at a lot of places at this time. We were mostly in it for the fun, since there wasn't really a scene where we came from. The social enviroment we were part of was so versatile, we hung out with musicians of all kinds, which you could hear in our music and attitude. In the late 90's we started a group called Assimilated Species with Nadasdi, took things to the next level, skilled and self-confident enough to aim all over the map, with a style of our own not giving a fuck about expectations. I moved to Gothenburg in 2000 with my brother Smea, who started TE Records so that we could release masses of cassettes and cd's on our own. Soon there were more of us, so we started the Cerebral Fobia crew. I became a lead player in an underground rollercoaster rap career with only one interest, to crush and manipulate the scene from all angles. It was often about experimentation musically, so I collaborated with producers from other scenes that most rappers hadn't even heard of. In 2004 I got signed by iDEAL Recordings as the only hiphop artist, to make my first totally self made album. I reached a new audience and realised I was more of a solo artist. I collaborated with 247 Records in 2004 to create a project blending my crew with some of the dopest on the Californian underground scene, called it Amphibian Swap and released an album, with the famous Tropiczone Swap sequel, which made us more or less world famous. I created the group Ortho Acusto with Pelpa Karnaval (Fra) in 2008 and was part of the Briefcaserockers crew for a while. Since then I've just continued this adventurous ride as a solo artist releasing albums, loving it all the way.
How come you decided to give your producer persona, Comb, a different stage name?
Comb was originally my graffiti tag back in 1995, since I always kept a “lucky comb” in my back pocket. When I started making my own beats in 1998 it felt natural to call myself Comb. It was already deeply rooted in my persona, which was divided in so many parts, where the rapper Prosperous was only one.
While the majority of Swedish emcees at least once have dabbled with rhyming in Swedish, you seem to be one of the few who never went that route. Was that a conscious decision, to stick to one language?
When I started out in the mid 90's most rappers in Sweden rapped in English, it wasn't even something that we thought about that much, it was all about reaching everyone. Hip hop was really more of a subculture back then, and when the people in your close environment consists of people of many nationalities, it seems pointless secluding 30-50% of them by rapping in Swedish, especially when you think every word you say is that important. Another reason is that the Swedish language is full of sharp consontants which makes it sound a bit rocky, but that's another story. I think a lot of Swedish rappers master it very well, but it's just not my thing. I leave it to them and I really don't want to limit myself to a smaller audience when hip hop is a universal thing and my audience has turned out to be bigger than that.
You’re without a doubt one of the most productive artists out there at the moment. You just released The Brainchild and it’s your 13th full length album. Not too many artists release that many in their entire career while you on the other hand seem to only have begun. How important is it for you to make and record music and release it in various forms?
My whole philosophy is about spreading awareness, which makes recording very important. It's about documentation for this generation and the others to come. It doesn't matter if people don't get my music now, I record so that my words are forever. The reason that I record so much is simply because I make a lot of music during certain periods. It's not a strategy, I'm just the vessle for what comes through me from my surroundings, a reflection of these times if you will.
I'm really a visionaire who wanna spread awareness. I don't wanna tell people what to do, I just wanna make them look at the big picture, reflect it from point of views outside of the realms of the obvious that you already see in massmedia. I'm also trying to give people the same feeling I get when I listen to wonderful music, it's all about giving something back to the scene.
How would you describe your music and could you briefly tell us about the music-making process?
I think my music is a fusion of everything around me. I listen to so many kinds of music, get inspired by so many things, and what you hear is all that filtered through me. It's that simple. I would put names on it to describe, but I think it only reduces the broadness, so I let others do that instead. Usually when I make music I've got struck by inspiration, and it all happens in a rush. I'm not the artist who re-record and rethink my creation. It's all about capturing the moment and putting it out there. A lot of my verses for example are written very fast as I've been given a beat that inspired me massively enough to record it in hours, and have it sent back to the producer, who is often left very surprised. Sometimes it takes a while to finish a song, you shouldn't force inspiration, but as soon as I've written a song I usually get down to it right away.
What are some of your influences?
This is a big question since I get inspired all and every day by exactly everything. My mind is a gaping hole, kind of like the jaw of a whale just sucking it in. Musically I get very inspired by everything from jazz to 60's psychadelic music, everything that makes my mind wander freely. I like listening to easy listening music with less distractions, giving space. I'm not afraid of silence, silence is the result of all the commotion, and it's necessary for all kinds of understanding. I'm also inspired by movies, which you can hear in a lot of my music. Another inspiration is society as a whole, and how it evolves. At the moment I'm quite fed up with all self fullfilling prophecies going on, putting people in the position as victims. There's so many rap groups rapping about the end of the world, almost as if exploiting it. The very awareness about how fucked up things are in the world right now is important, and I'm with it. But after a while of preaching about judgement day I think it's also time for sollutions, which I would like to see more of lyrically today. I'm not really politically involved lyrically since my perspective is more universal, but I see things clearly and I try to reflect that in a way so that the listener can wake up and get inspired to do something on their own, knowing that they're not as small and meaningless as the corrupt mainstream tells them. I have different ways of doing this, where zooming out from the Earth and all of its problems, to put it in perspective, so that it almost looks cute and easy to handle, is one way. I encourage anyone to stand up for their cause, since the world is what you make of it. One of the things I do is rapping, it's the tool I've been given, and I'm gonna use it to spread good energy, instead of abusing it, to gain from it.
Do you have any other passions besides music?
Passion is very important yes, I try to surround myself with passionate people, whatever their passion is. I usually go skateboarding and socialise with different kinds of people. I have a daughter that I love so much, I live through her. I also love food, especially hot food. Food is reason enough to stay alive on this earth for me. I think I'll open a restaurant one of these days.
How did you end up releasing The Brainchild through the Finnish label Hiss Tapes?
Jani at Hiss Tapes contacted me and wanted to release this limited edition. It feels great cause I used to spread tapes back in the days, just going out, meeting people and promote myself like that. It’s that time again and I’m greatful!
What are some of your dreams and hopes for the future?
Just continuous exploration musically, living prosperous in the true sense, calling things to existence, and to one day be that old man getting an award of some kind, for doing it his own way, hehe...
Any musical memories that you would like to share?
On New Years eve 2001 I was rapping, backed up by George Clemons, who played with Jimi Hendrix for a while. He usually kicked people of the stage saying - Get off my stage whitey! (if they sucked). I got to stay, that was dope.
Any upcoming projects that you’re working on?
I'm currently recording with THMS from Stockholm (New Cocoon, Milled Pavement) and also got plans for smokey131 (Germany). Other than that I just started this new group called Nightschool with this upcoming talent called Nexone, we got a free single coming out any day that's very dope. Olonaise is releasing a compilation of our best songs together, with some new versions and beats. Last up is my collaboration with the local crew called Maldiverna, where I'm dropping some verses. Expect an EP soon.
I wanna give a shout out to everyone who has inspired me through the years, and hello to Taze Russell, Smea, Olonaise, Nadasdi, Rodan, Peshi, Bobby at 247, iDEAL Recordings, Dynamo414, F.D.A.S.F.D.A., Rite, G at Panik, Subtitle, Pelpa Karnaval, Albane Simon, Börft Records, Crinan, Fabsoul, THMS, smokey131, contemporary punk music, Access Hip Hop, Vanntoft, Haywire, Advocrates and on and one…