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Name: Adam Bernard
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Vid Pick: Prozack Turner – Obsession
Friday, August 25, 2017

Few things rival the joy of an artist you’ve always loved, but haven’t heard new music from in years, finally releasing a new album. This is how I felt last month, when hip-hop artist Prozack Turner, of Foreign Legion fame, released Not Everybody Sleeps At Night, eleven years after his last solo effort, 2006’s Bangathon!.

Turner has a wild video for the single “Obsession,” and I caught up with him to learn more about the song, the video, and his extended absence from the mic. There also ended up talk of Thomas the Tank Engine, spilled nachos, and The Dogg Pound, because why wouldn’t there be?

“Obsession” is off of your just released album, Not Everybody Sleeps At Night. This is your first solo release since 2006’s Bangathon! What brought you back to your solo work, and your “Obsession?”
 
My “solo work” the last ten years consisted of getting married, opening a couple of bars in my city, and having children. I never stopped my studio work, though. I became really interested in producing beats, and focused on that when I did have time to work on music.

I started writing lyrics to songs again shortly after my brother died. I realized, again, how short and temporary life is, and that I am happiest when I make music.

Then, in 2015, Foreign Legion played the annual Hiero Day music festival in Oakland, and it was exhilarating. I forgot that we had all these fans, and people that enjoyed what we did, and it inspired me to start work on a new joint.

Some really difficult, as well as some beautiful, experiences fell into my life, and my pen stayed active.

Opening my own bar and music venue also set a fire within me. I was fortunate to see and hear so many of my fellow Oaklanders on the stage at The Legionnaire Saloon sharing their music, that I felt hungry to participate and share my voice during this crazy time in history.

My city has always been the fuel to my fire. I also got tired of hearing people who were not familiar with my previous work say, “Didn’t you used to rap?” 
 
Let’s talk about the video for “Obsession.” How did you come up with the concept for the video, and in what ways do you feel it represents the song?
 
The video is directed by a guy named Japhy Riddle, who I met on the way home from a Raider game. Kinda.

I was watching the game with my four year old son, Cassius, who was wearing a Raider shirt and a Thomas the Tank Engine hat. There was a loud, drunk, belligerent Chargers fan about five rows down from us, and when my son cheered this one time when the Raiders scored, this dude turned around, made eye contact with both of us, and yelled “Fuck the Raiders, and fuck Thomas the Tank!”

My son was crestfallen. There was only one thing to do – I had to kick this guys ass, not only for yelling obscenities at my boy, but for the blasphemous statement that he made about both the Raiders, and the island of Sodor.


I hopped up and started charging down the steps as this dude did the same, charging up the steps toward me. The fans were screaming, mostly in support of me, as we raced towards each other like the flag boxing gloves in the opening credits of Rocky 4! The closer he got, the bigger he got, and evidently he was pretty big. A lot bigger than he looked sitting down five rows below me only seconds ago.

We were about six feet away and I remember thinking, “Fuck, I’m about to get in another fight!” I dived at the last moment, hoping my downward momentum would benefit me upon landing on him. He sidestepped and I flew past him, straight up doing a belly flop onto the stairs, rolling, and knocking a whole plate of nachos out of some lady’s hands and onto her lap. I looked up, and she was panicked, brushing the food off her lap as she jumped up to avoid the burns of fake chili and cheese.

It was my fucking probation officer!


I had to get out of there before she recognized me. Luckily, the security guards hemmed me up, grabbed Cassius, and threw us both out of the stadium in a matter of seconds. Before my p.o. realized what had gone on, we were already being ushered away. No charges were pressed.

Long story short, I sent for a Lyft on my iPhone with a freshly cracked screen, and on the ride home, I found a business card on the floor of the car for “Japhy Riddle – film maker,” with a local number. I called the number a few weeks later, introduced myself, and told him that I needed a video for this song I wrote called “Obsession.”

We talked back and forth a few times via email. He actually came up with the concept of the stop animation stuff. We set a date to shoot, and as I met him for the first time in person, I walked into the studio and was floored as I realized it was the guy from the coliseum!

He didn’t recognize me in my sober form, so I never told him. He made a great video, and that’s all that counts.

The stop animation vibe is cool to me because it feels like it was made by someone who is obsessed. Parts of it remind me of Frankenstein, parts of it remind me of serial killer cut and paste letters. It’s unorthodox and that’s what I asked for.

That’s one of the best fake stories about meeting a music video director that I’ve ever heard! You can still weave an epic tale, sir!

Moving to the lyrical content of the song, you have some killer lines in “Obsession,” one of which is in the chorus, where you rap that you “will destroy negativity.” How much negativity do you feel you’ve already destroyed, either in your own life, or the lives of your friends, and what makes this a quest you’re passionate about?

 
I don’t know if I necessarily destroy the negativity, or just transform it into something better.

Usually, things that appear “negative” are a catalyst into greatness, if you want them to be. Our perception is so important. All of the wonderful things in my life are a product of losing something else.

I was on a record label that folded, it forced me to learn the indie music business.

The demise of most of the income in the music business forced me to open a bar with some friends.

The demise of that partnership forced me to open a business with no outside partners, and so on.

Success itself is a skill. Resilience is mostly a choice. Life is hard for everybody who ever had one, believe me. Keeping a positive attitude in the face of adversity is a survival skill. Things will always fall apart.

You also mention in that song that you’re “still pumpin’ Dogg Pound.” Is there anything you’d like to say to, or about, DPG, if they happen to come across this feature? Remember, when we spoke about “The Ballad of Adriana Sage” it ended up making her Wikipedia page!
 
I just have always loved DPG. It was more of a metaphor for still bumpin’ great hip-hop music. I have never really been into “conscious” rap, pop rap, or overly emotional introspective stuff. I like hip-hop. I like street shit. I also need rappers that can spit fire, and write great lyrics. I grew up listening to Nas, Dogg Pound, Mobb Deep, Ice Cube, etc. That’s the kinda hip-hop I love. 

For more Prozack Turner, check out his music on Bandcamp.

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