Rap is A Martial Art – Philippe Prosper
“Hip-hop has a real focus on authenticity, but I hadn’t seen the authentic martial arts combined with hip-hop. As a martial artist coming into hip-hop, I really felt like I was embodying the mantra of rap is a martial art.” – Philippe Prosper
SHAOLIN JAZZ got a chance this week to chop it up with internationally decorated kung-fu artist and rapper, Philippe Prosper, aka Rap is A Martial Art.
Interview by Mychal Estrada. For the full read click:
Growing up in a military family based out of Haiti, Prosper got into martial arts at a very young age via his father, who was an instructor at one of the first mixed martial arts gyms in the country. From jiu jitsu to muay thai, and eventually Shaolin kung fu, Prosper took to the martial arts and quickly moved on from it being a hobby to something integral to his life. His introduction to hip-hop wasn’t as smooth.
“When I came to the U.S. as a kid, my father hated rap music; all he saw were the stereotypes in music videos and when rap came on the radio he’d always change the channel. It was seen as a bad thing.”
Eventually, through friends who were into rap music, he was exposed to the Slim Shady LP from Eminem. It was this album that showed Prosper the more technical side of rapping, which he gravitated towards.
“It blew my mind that someone could do that with words. I was always into poetry and I just thought to myself ‘how did [Eminem] do that?’ That got me into writing my own rhymes and the itch stuck with me. I also saw the impact of the arts on culture, rappers had so much influence on people and that was big draw for me. People would be so responsive to the rappers.”
Just like with his martial arts training, Prosper threw himself fully into mastering his craft as an emcee. His early influences, along with Eminem, were artists like Big Pun and MF DOOM. It was then that he realized similarities between the swaggering fighters like Jet Li, from his favorite film Fist Of Legend, who would fight a room full of challengers without breaking a sweat, and the rappers who carried the same boldness on the mic.
“Hip-hop is very competitive and comes from a revolutionary place. So some of the things that attracted me to martial arts movies were the same with hip-hop: having a lot of bravado and mastering your craft. The people I looked up to in rap – you could tell they spent so much time mastering their craft, really putting time and work into their music. Just like the martial artists in the movies I saw as a kid.”
Already a decorated kung fu practitioner, who trained in the southern style hung fut under Grandmaster Tai Yim, Prosper now combines his expertise in martial arts with his music, under the banner Rap is A Martial Art. Aside from choreographing fight scenes in martial arts movies and live kung fu demonstrations, Prosper is preparing to release his first mixtape.
“With this mixtape, my goal was just to rap my head off. With my music, I want you to feel what I felt when I first got into martial arts. I want to raise the bar and challenge people. I don’t want to impress you, but inspire you. I’m a competitive person and I want people to feel that. I think about how the music will affect people, trying to write music that won’t be passive. With the more intricate flows, you really have to pay attention to what I’m saying to catch it and once you do, you can get to the deeper stories and issues.”
Prosper is now linking up with SHAOLIN JAZZ for their final CAN I KICK IT? summer film screening, in conjunction with Downtown DC Bid. When asked what audiences can expect from a Rap is A Martial Art demonstration, Prosper says “there’s a mix of kung-fu and rapping. I’ll be doing a weapon’s set, with a demonstration fight scene.”
Much like DJ 2-Tone Jones’ live mixing of hip-hop music and classic martial arts movies, Prosper is bringing together the two worlds into a seamless, exciting experience for all.
Catch Philippe “Rap is A Martial Art” Prosper performing live, this Tuesday, June 27th at SHAOLIN JAZZ’s summer CAN I KICK IT? screening of the film Big Trouble in Little China, in conjunction with Downtown DC Bid. Festivities begin at Freedom Plaza starting at 7:30 PM, with the film starting at 8:30 PM.
To learn more about Philippe Prosper, check out his music, and learn about his upcoming projects click here.
And to learn more about SHAOLIN JAZZ, our upcoming screening of Big Trouble in Little China, and all projects click here.
Posted on June 25, 2017, in Uncategorized and tagged art, bigtroubleinlittlechina, canikickitdowntowndc, craft, creative, culture, dj, dj2tonejones, downtowndcbid, eminem, fistoflegend, haiti, hiphop, hiphopculture, jazz, jetli, kungfu, martialarts, mfdoom, movienight, moviescreening, movietime, philippeprosper, rap, rapisamartialart, raplyrics, rapmusic, shaolin, shaolinjazz, washingtondc. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.