interview by Alana Tutwiler
“We struggle for the dollar just to gain a sense of power, but the power’s in the knowledge so you gots to be a scholar.” –“Off Top” from Revolution Revalationz, The Prolegend Movement
The success of artists like T.I., Outkast, and Goodie Mob has proven that the Dirty South can hold its own in the hip-hop nation. Rap is no longer strictly in the domain of the East or West Coast, but has had to open its arms and embrace the South and its gritty, crunk sound.
The Prolegend Movement, a foursome straight from the streets of Jacksonville, FL, is looking to be the next big break-out group from the region and to put our city-not necessarily known for its music, on the map. Lankdizzim, J.Co, Laf Legend, and Mass Pro have joined forces to create a unique blend of hip-hop, funk, and soul that has set the underground scene on fire.
Founding members Mass Pro and Laf Legend started out producing beats and music together. After seeing Outkast perform at a concert, they were inspired to begin rapping also. When I asked how they came up with their names, Mass Pro replied that his name stands for “Weapons of Mass Production…musically, I was like a Sadaam Hussein. I got all the weapons.”
Laf Legend’s goal was to pay homage to past artists. “I wanted to put a legend in every rhyme,” he explained. Mass Pro’s brother suggested combining their names to form The Prolegend Movement.
The duo soon became a trio when Laf Legend’s younger brother, Langston joined them. He became Lankdizzim during an impromptu moment in a studio session. He brought along his childhood friend Jacorie-who would become J.Co, to round out the group.
2003 saw the release of their first studio effort, Revolution Revalationz. The mixtape was inspired by the music of Bob Marley, who spoke of revolutions and revelations. Revolution Revalationz is a hard-hitting, no holds barred commentary on the world as seen by Prolegend. They took inspiration from issues as varied as 9/11, the Enron scandal, and the upcoming Superbowl in Jacksonville, which led to what some viewed as police harassment in the neighborhoods surrounding the stadium in an effort to clean up the streets. The raw lyrics also took shots at then President Bush and the Iraq invasion.
According to Laf Legend, the group “felt like struggles in the street, being a black man, it’s like you in a battle. We felt like we were soldiers reporting on the front line.”
Revolution Revalationz wasn’t all grim, however. “Revelationz was like we saw the hope for the future,” said Mass Pro.
“The struggle to make your dreams come true is like being in a battle, like being a revolution,” Laf Legend added.
The group plans to re-release the album with updated material reflecting current events, a move that I think would be widely welcomed by old and new fans alike. Revolution Revalationz is an underground sleeper hit with conscious lyrics that are a breath of refreshing air after inhaling the stale bars of some artists today.
The Prolegend Movement’s most recent release was their mixtape Black Diamonds, which dropped online on Christmas Day 2009. With Black Diamonds, the group had come into their own, finding a comfortable groove that all of the members could work with. Landizzim noted that “we’re a lot more polished now. (On Revolution) we were more concerned about getting our point across.”
“Black diamonds are rare…they’re stronger than regular diamonds,” added Mass Pro.
With Black Diamonds, the group continued with their gritty lyrics, but ventured out into new territory as well, bringing in a reggae artist, Mosiah, on one track, “Oh Yes” and including something for the ladies with songs such as “One Too Many (Take Me Home)”, and “Ladies’ Choice”. Black Diamonds has become a hit online and in the club scene and the group was named as a Black Planet Featured Artist for 2009.
Prolegend has remained a united team throughout their successes as well as their struggles. J.Co explained that when he first joined up with them, he was headstrong and “I didn’t understand what they were trying to build.” He went on to add that he has found his niche in the group and is determined for them to stick together. “I know it’s a lot of dedication, blood, sweat, and tears that went into this project. I don’t want to see this fail, I want to see all of us succeed.”
“I want us to be a unit, a team, not a bunch of individuals,” he stated.
The group has dealt with their share of obstacles in their journey towards success. The hip-hop genre is a challenging one to break into, especially in Jacksonville, which has not really seen a major artist emerge since 69 Boys in the early 90’s. They are well aware of this fact, according to Lankdizzim, who noted that they must overcome “people’s preconceived notions about what they expect to be coming out of the region we’re in….we pretty much know what we’re up against, and we’re optimistic about getting into the game.”
For him, and also for the other members, it’s about “unity, us staying together, keeping ourselves together, running ourselves like a business…it’s almost more about being a business man than being an artist sometimes. Thus far, we’re doing very good for where we’re at.”