Words: Chantelle Fiddy
With Eminem too busy signing off divorce papers, it’s going to be down to the UK’s own Professor Green to fill the skinny white guy size 9’s and keep whooping arses 8 Mile style. “I’m quite a negative person, quite down on myself,’ says the lanky 22 year old. “That’s why I try and make a joke with life and people – including myself.” One of those who’ve felt the wrath of his bitter sweet comedy is his new label boss Mike Skinner, who promptly snapped Green up to The Beats following an impressive warm up slot on the last Streets tour and commendable lyrics on The Mitchell Brothers ‘Routine Check Remix’ (lines including ‘why even try to spit, Mike your rhymes are about as tight as Jordan’s vagina is’ or ‘why is a millionaire crying about women, Mike dry your eyes and stop whingin’’). In Green’s case, this form of reverse psychology has paid off time and time again, his number of consecutive wins at UK battle ground The Jump Off, still unbeaten and his fan base ever increasing. “Way too many people, especially in hip hop, aren't laughing at themselves, they're trying to be gangsters but the gangsters I know aren't rapping.”
Raised by his grandmother on a council estate in east London, Green’s by no means a stranger to the complexities of inner city adolescence or street life itself, previously doing what he had to do to make money. “I’m not complaining,” he explains during a rare moment of seriousness, “but it’s not been easy. My mum had me when she was 16, and she left when I was a year old, she's kind of been there throughout my life but not much. And my dad, don’t even get me started on him. I’ve not had a call since I was about 18.”
It was around this time that Green began arming himself with war discourse, scribing lyrics in his head about random strangers that sat across from him on the train, working out ways to cuss them, or practising on his friends until he felt ready to step up to the live stage. At last years international Power Summit in the Bahamas, Green, the unknown outsider and only British representative, mocked his way through every heat to reach the final. Reports had it that by this time Green had won over many of the American audience who went on to cheer for him as he took on the man regarded as the Worlds best (battle rapper), Jin. “Some people didn’t think it was fair that he didn’t have to go through the other rounds like I did, but he won… just. It was a learning curve before because I’d never battled in that environment before and it gave me a chance to show people what I can do. I’ll definitely be going back again this year.”
There have naturally been the doubters who wondered whether Green could make the transition from freestyling to song writer, but there’s no denying his ability to incorporate his competitive and quirky style into verses. Evidence already available for perusal include the remix of The Streets ‘When U Wasn’t Famous’, (the video starring Jodie Marsh obviously of assistance in garnering Green some serious heat), his mixtape The Lecture #1, showcasing his ability to deal with a broad range of subject matter and beats, and his debut limited edition release, ‘Stereotypical Man’ (also produced by Skinner), which has become a collectable slab of green vinyl. “The pressures really on now to deliver the album. It might now be out till next year, we’ll just have to wait and see. I’m not going to rush for anyone. That’s why me and Skinner get on I think, we’ll argue about a track until we have the best product. And my albums going to be my best, I know that at least.”
Professor Green Lecture #1 and Stereotypical Man are out now on The Beats. www.myspace.com/professorgreen
A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE APPEARS IN DUMMY MAGAZINE www.dummymagazine.com. Buy it!
Saturday, 26 August 2006