Prema777 is an emcee from Staten Island, New York — the same borough that produced the Force M.C.’S and the Wu-Tang Clan. Being nurtured in a region with a history of putting an importance on songwriting no doubt influenced Prema as a lyricist. Her rhymes are rooted in poetry, while maintaining the essence of Hip-Hop.
Prema777 first official release is a 5-track free EP titled “Poetic Premonition.” The project features appearances by iNTeLL and Paul Marz with production by XPX, Psouloist, Basquiat’sondaBeatz, Dom Staxx, and Chris Prythm. The EP serves as an appetizer for Prema’s first official full-length album “Take Flight” scheduled for a winter release. The first single from that album is a J. Glaze produced song called “Nothing Free.”
Prema777 spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about her competitive relationship with her better half and fellow emcee, iNTeLL, the ups and downs of being an independent artist, the Poetic Premonition EP, and her new single, Nothing Free.
TRHH: Why did you title the new EP ‘Poetic Premonition’?
Prema777: Because lyricism is very important to me. I learned how to rap through poetry. Everything started in a rhyme format for me ever since I was a child. It was kind of imperative to me. It was natural to do something with poetry. When people ask me what I do I don’t refer to myself as a “rap artist.” I usually refer to myself as a poetess, or a poetic lyricist, or an emcee. I use poetry a lot in my life. I love poetry. Life is very poetic to me. Premonition is because I’m a spiritual person. Premonitions happen very often for me and it happens to have the word “premo” in it. It was the right thing to do.
TRHH: How did you get into emceeing? How did you go from it just being words to putting it to music?
Prema777: I have older siblings. I’m the youngest. All of my older siblings listen to Hip-Hop heavy. Since I was a baby I’ve always been around and in the Hip-Hop culture. As I started to get older and kind of wanted to have an understanding, because it took me a while to actually have an understanding of the depths of things, my older brother would go over the lyrics with me. He would basically barter with me. In order for me to borrow a CD or an album I would have to understand the lyrics. I practiced them. I would read the CD booklet, the tape deck booklet, find the lyrics and memorize them.
As I did that I developed sort of a cadence I guess – I didn’t know it at the time. Time went by and poetry led to graffiti, graffiti led to trouble, and it all blended with music. I’ve always been in love with music. It actually wasn’t until my later 20s that I started really emceeing, but I always rapped. I always wrote rhymes, I was just shy about it. It was influential. It was me spitting to albums like Illmatic, Wu-Tang, and stuff like that. I didn’t even know what it was. It was fun to me because that’s what I was around and that’s what I grew up around.
TRHH: Your new single “Nothing Free” has a different sound than the music on Poetic Premonition. Were you targeting a more mainstream audience with Nothing Free?
Prema777: No, nothing of the mainstream, but yes, I wanted to try experimenting with Hip-Hop drums over other sounds. My heart is with lyricism and boom bap but that doesn’t mean that’s what I have to sound like. Essentially, I started out rapping to what I listened to, classic Hip-Hop, but my growth as an artist is contingent on breaking my comfort zone, so that’s why I enjoy exploring other lanes. I spit bars and make music because it makes me feel good. I just did what felt good to me, that’s it.
TRHH: What’s the meaning behind the name ‘Prema777’?
Prema777: It was actually a nickname influenced by DJ Premier. It started with a little bit of graff. I wouldn’t call myself a graff writer, but I started doodling in my early teen years and as I said I always loved Hip-Hop. I wanted something to write, but I wasn’t sure about the name. I love DJ Premier and I came up with “Premo.” I got this little fetish for graffiti for a short period of time and I was writing “Premo.” When I realized graff wasn’t really my thing I flipped the “o” to an “a” and made it Prema. The 7’s just came because 7 in numerology is the number of God. It’s also my numeric birthday number. I did triple sevens because they’re balanced – the holy trinity.
TRHH: What inspired the song ‘Keep Dreaming’?
Prema777: It was really the beat to be honest with you. Our boy Psouloist produced the track – he’s from Amsterdam. We bumped into him at one of our shows while he was visiting in town. He came and linked up with us and played some beats. I was looking for an anthem track. Because it’s an EP I wanted it to be diverse where I hit points of boom bap but also kept up with a modern twist. I wanted an anthem track and that was kind of an anthem track for me. “Keep Dreaming” really means that your dreams become reality and you have to pursue them no matter what. It was more the track that inspired that. I didn’t really think about the theme until I heard the music. The music led me to those words.
TRHH: Since you come from a poetry background do you more often write lyrics on your own or do you write to the beat?
Prema777: A little bit of both. It depends on the state of mind I’m in. I do a lot of both, actually. When developing a project I prefer to write to the beat. But also sometimes I get in these weird moods where I don’t want to listen to music so I just write verses blankly, hear beats, and just match the verses to the beats later. It just really depends on my mental state.
TRHH: I interviewed your better half, iNTeLL, and he put me on to you. How do you guys help each other creatively when it comes to making music?
Prema777: I think life does that for us just on a natural basis. Our souls are very compatible. It’s really kind of hard to explain, but we influence each other off of pretty much everything we do. We have a healthy competition between the both of us. He’s the best lyricist I know, so being around that is utterly inspiring and also keeps me in a competitive motion to want to be better than him. At the end of the day it’s Hip-Hop, so we all have that “I want to be the best” attitude, which draws out in life. I think it’s a little bit of healthy competition and just a lot of soul bonding. When you find someone that you’re compatible with on more than just a level of love — on creativity, friendship, and spirituality we’re very connected. Even before we got together we just kind of jibed to the same beat. It’s not hard. I don’t really have to be inspired because the inspiration comes naturally. I wake up and look at him and I constantly want to be better.
TRHH: You talk about some serious struggles you endured on the song ‘The Mission’. Why was it important for you to share your personal hardships with the world?
Prema777: A big reason for why I make music is it’s important for all of us to share our hardships with the world so we know that we’re not alone, number one. But number two, it’s more self-therapeutic for me. Those are things that I was holding in for a long time. That song was pretty much about my father passing away. Me being homeless for a time, and getting the apartment that I live in now, of which has been quite the struggle. I don’t have the best relationship with my landlord, so it’s kind of like painting the picture of night and day. She lives upstairs and I’m down there. She’s conservative and going on vacations and I’m down here really trying to do the right thing, spitting Hip-Hop, and really trying to figure out how I’m going to eat. A long time I just had to put on a smile and walk out my door.
The song was an easy way for me to be myself because I feel like I’ve been holding back while I’m living here the whole time. Now I don’t care anymore who it affects because I know I’m not intentionally hurting anyone. I’m very sensitive. I’m not so much worried about what people think of me, but I don’t want to hurt anyone’s’ feelings by being myself. That song was a way for me to understand that I can be myself and it’s okay because I’m not doing anything wrong, and at the same time help people. Self-therapy is important. Really we do things for selfish reasons. We have to take care of ourselves first and then we can help everyone around us. So when you put that out there the rest of the people can have an understanding and say, “Hey, I’m not the only one going through that.”
TRHH: Have you guys ever considered leaving New York for some place that’s cheaper to live? I know you guys are from New York and New York is the Mecca of Hip-Hop, but today you can live anywhere and make it. Have you guys pondered leaving for a more affordable and better life?
Prema777: Word. Absolutely. Actually we’re in the mid-state of that right now. At the same time we’re both getting grounded. A lot of things are taking off for us with music. Before we even developed our relationship in a music sense we both had years where we wanted to leave New York. Our ultimate goal is to go out to the west coast. We want to go to Cali and maybe in the far out future leave the country and buy real estate somewhere else. I think it’s important to explore. New York is amazing, but like you said it’s very costly. I can see why people give up on their dreams sometimes. I can’t personally but I can empathize with it. Finances and all that frustration can really lead a person to a lot of anxiety and stress. We get through it. Thankfully we have each other. Getting out of New York is key. I think movement is key in life.
TRHH: Financially, California is not a better option [laughs].
Prema777: This is true, but here’s the benefits I think about that; with that I feel like we are living longer, we’ll be healthier, it’s clean air, and good food. It’s a whole different vibe. It’s not so much the finances at the end of the day. We’d all like to cut down the cost of living, but it’s more like, “What am I getting for what I’m paying for?” We’ve thought about it and to be honest you’re right, but that will probably be our first move no matter what. We can ground our roots bi-coastally and then go wherever necessary to really continue to build where it’s a little bit cheaper. You learn as you go.
TRHH: Who is Poetic Premonition made for?
Prema777: Poetic Premonition is really made for me to be honest. It’s a balance for me and the people. I’m learning more and more with my music that music is my therapy. I want two things out of it; I want to feel better and I want to help people. That’s my goal with any creative project that I put my name on. It’s therapy first and foremost. If it feels good I want to do it. Poetic Premonition was something that felt good. I felt like it was a good time for me to put it out. I tend to kind of hoard my work so to speak. I’ve made a lot of music in my past and I don’t really put much out because I constantly feel like nothing is good enough. I finally said, “Fuck it!” We had a European tour that we were getting ready to leave on and at the last minute I decided it was now or never because I’d never put out one full project yet. This is my first, however I have one in the making that I’ve been working on for quite some time that’s pretty dope. It will be done at some point, but in the meantime Poetic Premonition just felt right. It was a way to get my words out and really speak my mind.
TRHH: What can fans expect to hear on your full-length album?
Prema777: Fire bars and dope melodics. Issa vibe. You’ll have to find out when it drops.
Stream: Prema777 – Poetic Premonition