Black Prez Showcases His Personality On His Album “BERLA”
Black Prez is a whole vibe, and he lets his music speak for itself. Splitting his time between Los Angeles and Berlin, the rising star is a true creative, expressing himself through his rhymes and raps while speaking on meaningful topics such as police brutality and life struggles. Spending his waking hours in the studio, his sound straddles the genres of rap, R&B, lo-fi, soul, and funk.
In describing himself, Prez states he’s “an artist, a jokester, a rapper, a good person. I have some friends that have this brand, it’s called Be a Good Person. I try to live my life around that phrase.”
Most recently, Black Prez unleashed his critically-acclaimed new album titled BERLA. Clocking in at 11 tracks, the project maintains a level of “hip hop authenticity,” something he prides himself in with each release. Songs “Häagen Dazs,” “Riding The Wave,” “What It Is,” and “Real Me” all have received visual treatments, and can be found on his Youtube page.
AllHipHop: Are you originally from Germany?
Black Prez: Yeah, I lived in Germany as a kid. I lived there until I was 6, then we moved to Colorado. I grew up between Germany and Colorado, then I was living in LA for a while. Now I’m living in Germany again, so a little mix of both.
AllHipHop: How has Germany influenced you personally and professionally?
Black Prez: I love Germany, I always liked it a lot more than the United States as a child. Every time we’d visit, I was always feeling it and vibing. All my family lives in Germany as well. I was in LA for a little bit, then one day I decided “you know what, I’m going to try living there.” Because I never lived in Germany as an adult, so I wanted to try it out for a little bit. I’ve been here for a while. I’m also considering trying to rap more in German. The last album I released I rapped a little bit in German, but I’ve considered doing a full-on — maybe not a whole album, but an EP. 4 or 5 songs that are completely in German.
AllHipHop: Are you fluent?
Black Prez: Yeah, technically. I don’t want to say it’s my first language, but as a kid I spoke a lot more German than English as a child. Until we moved to the United States, then it switched. I was speaking more English and less German, but at home with my family it was always 100% German. My mom was always saying, “English is not allowed in this home.” [laughs] We only were allowed to speak in German, so I still speak it fluently.
AllHipHop: Biggest influences coming up?
Black Prez: Damn! I like a lot of rappers, but the first rapper I ever really became borderline obsessed with was Eminem. I was young listening to his music. The way this dude is rapping and flowing is something I never witnessed before, something I’ve never heard before. I really liked that. When I was getting older, I really liked listening to Ludacris, only because I always respected his punchlines and the way he’d really enunciate everything he says.
A lot of times when people rap you might not understand what’s being said immediately. It’s a bunch of s### going together, but Luda? Every little word was… [laughs] Some people would say “shake that ass,” but he’d be like “SHAKE. THAT. ASS!” The way he enunciates everything was always funny to me.
AllHipHop: How would you describe your own sound?
Black Prez: My own sound reflects on my personality a lot. Most of the time, I do a lot of light-hearted, funny, good-feeling kind of music. I do venture off into other things as well, but the stuff I feel most comfortable with and what I like doing is “hey, I’m just a dude. I’m optimistic about life.” I’m trying to be positive and bring good energy. Whenever I see friends that are sad, I try to cheer them up and be helpful. I try to reflect that in my music as well.
AllHipHop: How did you get your name?
Black Prez: I was in 8th grade, I was in this speech and debate class and I hated it. I didn’t like the class, it was wack. I had some friends that were in this aeronautics class, they were building airplanes. I said “Oh, this is cool.” I asked my teacher if I could switch and she was telling me “nah, you can’t switch.” I passed the deadline to switch classes. I basically begged her like “aw come on please.” She said “okay if you give one more speech and try to convince the class why you can leave, then I’ll let you leave.” I said “alright, cool.”
I go in there, gave this crazy speech apparently. Everyone starts clapping, getting all excited. People said “Yo, you remind me of a president.” This one kid goes “Yeah, like a Black president!” For a week, everyone at school was calling me the black president. A couple years later when I started rapping, I needed a name. I thought back to that time: oh s###, I remember when people called me the Black President. I’ll shorten it to Black Prez.
AllHipHop: When did you realize you could do music for a living?
Black Prez: I never really realized it to be honest. One thing led to the next, then I’m like “oh s###, I guess this is a thing.” I never really… I don’t want to say I wasn’t pursuing it, I was definitely pursuing it. I realized oh s###, I could make money doing this. I could do this, getting the right connections. Maybe 8 or 9 years ago it really took off.
AllHipHop: You just released your album, BERLA. Why BERLA?
Black Prez: It’s BERLA because I recorded half of it in Berlin, and the other half in LA. I put the words together and it became BERLA.
AllHipHop: What are you most excited for in this project?
Black Prez: It really is something new. I’ve released music before that obviously, but this was the first time that I released a project I was 100% in control of. This is really me. I’m rapping in German on it a little bit. It really reflects my personality a lot. I get into some deeper subjects as well, which some people aren’t really used to with my music. I rapped a little about social injustice, that was important to me. I never really put it to words or put it out there in a music sense. In my personal life I’ll talk about it, but not through my words. For me, it was really important to release it.
AllHipHop: What inspired your song “Riding the Wave”?
Black Prez: “Riding the Wave” is one of those songs for me where I don’t even really remember writing it. It just came out, I didn’t spend much time at all. The guy Barbasauce, who produced the album, he sent me the beat. I said “damn, this is sick!” That’s when I started rapping in German as well. I got really deep and personal, was telling my story. I think that’s why it came so easy to me. It didn’t really take much thought, it just came out. It reminded me of being in a bar, meeting some random person and they’re like “hey, tell me about your life.” I started telling them about my life and that’s exactly what “Riding the Wave” is.
AllHipHop: How was it shooting “Real Me” in Croatia?
Black Prez: That’s a funny story actually. [laughs] I flew to Croatia for some vacation, not even really doing business. On my cab ride on the way from the airport to the hotel, I’m small-talking with the cab driver. She’s like “Yeah, what do you do?” I said “I rap.” She says “Oh, well my cousin shoots music videos.” I said “Oh s###, forreal? Let me see his stuff.” She sent me a link to some of his work and I said “S###, give me his number.” I linked up randomly with this dude in Croatia. The song wasn’t even done yet, but I said “Hey man, what do you think of this?” He’s like “Yeah man, let’s do it.” I linked up with this dude for 2 days and we shot the video in Croatia. The people in the video are random people I met off the street.
AllHipHop: You go from hip-hop to trap to touching on topics like police brutality. Talk about your diversity on the project too.
Black Prez: Barbasuce was sending me a bunch of stuff. This was all throughout 2020: Covid time, lockdown. I could feel myself going through many different emotions and many different things. One part of me was, I’m just trying to have fun. Then the other part of me is damn, I’m really sad that I’m sitting in my house all the time. The other part of me is there’s so much f##### up s### going on in the world right now that I should talk about it. All these emotions going through 2020 shaped the album.
AllHipHop: What songs mean the most to you and why?
Black Prez: They all mean a lot to me. My favorite song is “What It Is” because that really encompasses my personality. It’s really colorful, it’s a fun song to listen to. At the same time, I really like “Riding the Wave” because I talk about my personal stuff. I also like “Haagen Dazs” because of the way it came out, the video is dope for me. It’s a little bit different. I’m rapping in this deep, lower voice and I like that flow. Those are my top 3 favorites.
AllHipHop: What is it that you want fans to get from your story?
Black Prez: A little bit of everything. On the album, you have the fun stuff. What I like the most, especially for the younger fans, is to realize you can be you. Be yourself. That’s another thing I really like about living in Berlin, it’s very liberal and everybody’s themselves. There’s not a lot of judgment. There’s not a lot of pressure of having to fit in and that’s cool. Sometimes growing up, I never really knew where I belonged. Damn, am I German? Am I American? Am I Black? Am I White? I don’t know. BERLA encompasses that: trying to tell people hey, be you. You can be on both sides of the world, you can be on both sides of the spectrum, just feel comfortable in your own skin.
AllHipHop: How’s the independent grind?
Black Prez: It’s tough, but it’s great at the same time because you’re free. At the same time, you have to do a lot more for yourself. If you stick to it and you can get a cool team around you, there’s a lot of possibilities. You have to be persistent. Always hustling, trying to do your own thing.
AllHipHop: How’d it feel to have your music on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater? That’s super dope.
Black Prez: That was random, I wrote that song for another project. It was supposed to be on something else, that didn’t get placed. About 2 or 3 months later, I get an email like “hey, you’re about to be on Tony Hawk.” I thought “oh s###, this is really, really cool,” because I played Tony Hawk as a kid. I said “okay cool,” but then you’ve got the whole NDAs. I’ve known about it for months, but I wasn’t allowed to talk about it, which was probably the hardest part. I literally didn’t mention it to anybody. I didn’t even realize it was announced. Some people hit me up like “Yo man, I heard you’re on Tony Hawk!” I’m like “What, forreal?” I knew I was going to be on it, but I didn’t know I was allowed to talk about it yet. Once people started hitting me up, okay cool I guess it’s been officially announced. So I started talking about it too. [laughs]
AllHipHop: What about having your music in Call of Duty as well?
Black Prez: Yeah, similar story. That was another one that I made the song and randomly got hit up “Yo, you’re about to be on Call of Duty. I’m like “Oh s###, hell yeah. That’s sick.” It’s obviously cool, but it’s funny sometimes when people reach out to me and say “Yo, I know you from Call of Duty!”
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio at all times?
Black Prez: Some water, for sure. I need something to help me take a break for a little while. A video game or I like to play chess a lot, so maybe a chess board. If other people would like to play chess, or sometimes I play it on my phone. Water, a distraction to give me a break, then a dope ass atmosphere. I need something cool. Whether it’s people, whether it’s the studio, I gotta feel comfortable. Sometimes you get into a session and you feel not comfortable, it sucks. You’re sitting there for hours not getting s### done because it’s not the ideal work environment right now. Comfortable, a distraction, and water because I’m thirsty. I need to drink some water.
AllHipHop: Any goals for yourself as an artist at this point in your career?
Black Prez: Yeah, developing myself but I’m always down to help other people too. What really inspires me is when younger, or even older artists reach out to me and they ask me for insights. I like paying it forward. I like showing people, giving insight like “Hey man, how did you get on Call of Duty?” “Bro, this is how you do it.” Just helping people out, I’m not trying to hold any secrets or anything.
I want to keep developing. I want to keep doing my thing. At one point when I’m done rapping, I want to either be a manager or start my own label. Something more behind-the-scenes, but still in the scenes to help develop other artists. That’s a goal of mine down the road.
AllHipHop: What’re you most excited for next?
Black Prez: That’s actually why I’m in London right now. I did an EP with a guy named Shaun Reynolds a few years ago, he’s based out here in London. We’re getting some tracks done for that. I’m also ready to try and get some more placements on my latest album and future projects I have going on. Just trying to keep making music, for sure.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let the people know?
Black Prez: You can let them know to be a good person. You should really check out their instagram, it’s literally called @beagoodperson on Instagram. They do dope things.