Try Wait: Prie learns the ropes

Jun. 24, 2013 | 2 Comments

Rapper Prie at Fresh Cafe on June 15. (Star-Advertiser photo by Krystle Marcellus)

Rapper Prie at Fresh Cafe on June 15. (Star-Advertiser photo by Krystle Marcellus)

BY GARY CHUN / gchun@staradvertiser.com

Prie is learning the truth of the old adage, what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger.

In his 21 years, that’s been a hard challenge at times for him, once as an actual death of a family member that awoke him to the wrong path he was taking, and more recently, finding out who really has his back as one of the up-and-coming hip-hop artists in Hawaii.

The rapper born Shaheem Falaniko has steadily made a name for himself since he came on the local scene in 2007. He had been putting out his music on Facebook and YouTube when Tassho Pearce, founder and creator of Flip the Bird Entertainment, reached out and invited him to join his hip-hop ohana.

2013, in particular, has shaped up to be a critical year for Prie. He’s opened for Nas (both nights at his concerts at The Republik in March) and Big Sean (in April at the first “Legion of Boom” at Aloha Tower Marketplace), and will be back for “Legion of Boom II” on Wednesday, July 3, as one of the opening acts for Trinidad James.

Local hip-hop artist Prie opened the concert. (Photo by Joah Buley, Special to the Star-Advertiser)

Prie opens for Nas at The Republik in May. (Star-Advertiser File)

In late April, his video for the track, “The Life & a Day of a Mad N—a,” was posted on YouTube, shot with the help of the talented Novel Reel film company.

The video is a home run, a great combination of masterful flow and solid video production values, as it tells of the trials and triumphs of his life as it relates to family and friends on his turf of Kuhio Park Terrace (newly dubbed the Towers at Kuhio Park after a multimillion dollar renovation … but it will always be KPT).

Prie lives in the housing project with his grandparents, representatives of his immediate family. His hip-hop family are his friends and mentors like Tassho, Creed Chameleon, Graves, Kwalified and DJs Jimmy Taco and Compose.

Prie. (Star-Advertiser photo by Krystle Marcellus)

Rapper Prie at Fresh Cafe on June 15. (Star-Advertiser photo by Krystle Marcellus)

“These are all my homies,” Prie said on a recent Saturday at Fresh Cafe. “There’s no envy. We all support each other in getting to the next level, and they’ve given me the opportunity to open up for an artist like Nas.”

Prie is particularly proud of how the video turned out.

“Compared to the others I did, I wanted this one to be a little more creative and thinking outside of the box. I like the clever transitions in it.”

“In telling my story, I felt I had to use the word ‘n—a.’ I know it’s a controversial word, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t offend me,” he said. “All the BS I’ve been going through, it’s just going to make for better music.”

While Prie doesn’t live with his mother and father, they’ve both influenced his rap game with the music that the two of them personally loved and listened to.

“I grew up listening to Tupac from my mother, and my dad’s old school, he loves Al Green.”

Prie (who’s a mix of African-American, German, Samoan and Fijian) grew up living with his mom in Las Vegas, where in 2006, his younger brother, who was 14 at the time, was murdered. According to Prie, he was walking with a friend from an uncle’s home when there was an attempted robbery.

His brother’s tragic end was a wake-up call.

“I’d been running streets with friends, gangs, and that told me that I had to take the music route seriously. Honestly, if that hadn’t happened, I probably would be dead by now, or in jail.”

It seems Mom’s got a lot to do in helping her son’s life — so much so that his upcoming mixtape, “MCMXCI,” not only represents his birth year of 1991, but he’s planning to drop it on Aug. 12, his mother’s birthday.

“It’s going to go deeper with my story, more lyrical content,” Prie said. “I’m reaching out from the street. There will be no radio-ish raps here, just dope lyrics.”

Rapper Prie at Fresh Cafe on June 15. (Star-Advertiser photo by Krystle Marcellus)

Prie. (Star-Advertiser photo by Krystle Marcellus)

Just before the mixtape’s release, he hopes to tour the East Coast with the help of Curators of Hip-Hop co-founder Jermaine Fletcher, who since its inception in Hawaii in 2009 is attempting to showcase artists from “unique territories” like the islands. Fletcher has since moved to New York City and is working on a documentary around the group’s idea for the past three years.

“He shot my first video, ‘For You,’ back when I was 18,” Prie said.

Throughout his life’s journey in hip-hop, Prie said that it’s been “humbling.”

“I’ve learned so much, so much wisdom, especially from my grandparents. They’re religious, but respectful with what I’m trying to do with my life. I don’t take that for granted. Besides, I’m glad that my grandmother puts up with the loud music and cussing that comes out of my room.”
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Gary Chun is a features reporter at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Email him at gchun@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter.

  • Christa Wittmier

    GO PRIE!!!!

  • Eddie Sua Villa Falaniko

    AMEN NEPHEW!..I LOVE YOU WITH ALL YOU DO!..1 LUV