Normal is not a word that people used to describe Prozak. Not his appearance, not his music, not his views on life and society. So, it makes perfect sense that the Saginaw, Michigan rapper selected Paranormal as the title of his new album on Strange Music.
"I chose that title because genre-wise I can do rock-rap, the hip-hop, storytelling, a little bit of the dark stuff," reveals the artist-director also known as The Hitchcock of HipHop. "I'm Paranormal to the music industry. One thing I keep hearing from people whether it's A&Rs or publicists is that they've got to figure out how to market me. After hearing that so much, I felt like what I do is paranormal to the scene. My music is something that's outside the range of normal. This is not cookie-cutter hip-hop. You can't say this is gangster rap or backpack rap or that this is just for the hipsters. You're not going to be able to categorize it that simply. I make complex music for complex people."
Indeed. Bolstered by production from Mike E. Clark (Insane Clown Posse, Kid Rock), Michael "Seven" Summers (Tech N9ne, XV), Robert Rebeck (Tech N9ne, Kottonmouth Kings) and The Legendary Traxster (Mariah Carey, Ludacris), Paranormal takes listeners on a powerful lurical and sonic hourney into the mind of one of rap's most compelling artists.
"The Tell A Tale Of Two Hearts," for instance, was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Tell-Tale Heart." Prozak's song, which sounds like Tim Burton meets hip-hop, discusses what happens when two people are in love and one of them dies suddenly. The twist is that the deceased person is still present in their lover's life. They do not want to leave their partner.
Prozak then teams with a live band and DJ Starscream from Slipknot for "The End Of Us." This hardcore track features Prozak exploring the consequences of living in a consumer-driven society.
"Everybody is worried about buying $300 and $400 cellphones," Prozak says. "It's like we're farm-raised, like guinea pigs right from birth. Everything is marketed to you from the time you're old enough to even understand what it is. It just happens at the beginning and goes all the way through life. The funny thing is in the genre of hip-hop, everyone is worried about image. All it does is push everything even further. Everybody's worried about $800 outfits and 20-inch rims, nut none of these people even have a lifestyle that can support that. It's about consumerism and everybody being brainwashed into thinking that they've gt to have these things in order to be accepted. It spiraling out of control and eventually it will all collapse."
Another volatile subject Prozak examines on Paranormal is prejudice. On the charged song "Hate," he looks at the implications of persecution based on racial, religious and economic grounds. Shot in a train station from the 1880s that had segregated waiting rooms, the song's explosive video features appearances by stand-ins for The Pope and members of the Ku Klux Klan and Taliban.
Prozak takes a more optimistic approach with "Million Miles Away." On this thoughtful selection, he wonders if humans would be able to create a utopian society if they could wipe the slate clean and start over. While filming the video for "Million Miles Away," Prozak and his team traveled throughout Michigan, Illinois and Missouri and had people explain the one thing they would change about the world if they could.
As his songs and their subject matter demonstrate, music is about much more than image for Prozak. It's about substance.
"People write about stuff that interests them and that they feel passionate about," he says. "The topics on my album are the things that matter to me. To me, all you have is life. You have to look at the things that are going on that are incorrect or the things that are affecting your life, the hypocrisy of what's going on out there. All that stuff matters. I know that this is entertainment and that people listen to music and watch music for an escape from reality. I wouldn't say that I'm a political rapper, but a lof of those things do matter. In making music for people, I believe you have somewhat of a responsibility to put something positive out there or bring attention to things that people should be aware of for part of a greater good."
Prozak's razor-sharp focus has helped him become one of rap's most formidable independent artists. During the last decade, he's appeared on four national tours and done more that 1,000 performances, where his moshpits rival those of any heavy metal show. The Michigan rapper earned a lofty 3.5 Mics in The Source for his 2008 album, Tales From The Sick, and has collaborated with Tech N9ne, Twista, Cypress Hill and Insane Clown Posse, among others.
As a filmmaker, Prozak released the first two installments of his A Haunting On Hamilton film series, which oepned with sold-out screenings of 2,000 people per screening in Saginaw, Michigan. He also directs his own music videos, ensuring that his art is properly presented visually.
Now, with Paranormal, Prozak has delivered a project that hits hard lyrically and aurally, the type of release that stars with a listener long after the music stops.
"I wanted to put out the best record that I thought I was capable of, an album that would really define who I am," Prozak says. "If you want to know who I am or what kind of artist I am, this record will set the tone completely. It's a really deep record. To me, it's an album. It's not a CD of tracks. It's an album. It has that feel."