LU: I heard Don is a great chef. Does it make recording more pleasurable working with someone who can cook you tasty food?
Protoje: He’s a master chef. He’s as good a chef as he is a producer. He should open a restaurant, he’d do very good. It does make it more pleasurable when you’re in studio and you know the food is turned all the way up.
LU: What’s his top dish?
Protoje: It’s impossible to name one. I’m not joking. Anything. If I had to say it would be curry tofu with breadfruit salad.
LU: You said you were influenced by hip-hop. Do you still watch hip-hop?
Protoje: Not as much as I used to. I just bought that Kendrick Lamar record and I kinda like that whole Top Dawg movement, Ab-Soul. My messages and what I’m thinking about now—the spirit of Rastafari has taken over my life, so a lot of the stuff that I hear in hip-hop it doesn’t really resonate to me anymore. I don’t want to hear guns and drugs, I want to hear upliftment. If there’s hip-hop out there that has that, I’ll be into it but I don’t search as much for that music.
LU: What was the hip-hop that impacted you?
Protoje: Nas and Jay-Z were big for me, Tupac was huge, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Slick Rick. I really studied those artists—their flow, their patterning, the way they put their words together. That’s the thing I learned most from hip-hop-the flow, the patterning, the metaphors and wittiness.
LU: I noticed you mention some of your peers in the songs, like No-Maddz for one. That is very hip-hop, to name names, especially current ones.
Protoje: I’m just trying to keep the unity. If it comes to me, I’m saying it. Everything around me is material. I always tell my friends listen, if you don’t want to be in a song or something happening, don’t do it around me because I take inspiration anywhere I get it. If I do a song and somebody’s name comes in my head, it’s going on record.
I’m really just a simple youth, a country youth, I’m not really into all of this music industry stuff. I just like to make music and perform. A lot of people think when you’re in music you really love attention. I really don’t love attention, that’s why I made sure to form a band so other musicians can take the spotlight from me and we can share this journey together. I just always wanted to do music and tour the world and have fun being onstage with my brothers, and share that. When the time has passed, I want to know that I enjoyed myself doing it.