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PREME / GOING INDEPENDENT & HIS NEW PROJECT “LINK UP” WITH POPCAAN

October 21, 2020

Read the full interview on Flaunt.com!

“DnF” by Preme, Drake, and Future was a moment in time. Not only was every club and radio station in the world playing the record, but it was a pivotal moment in Preme’s career — cementing his name in the music industry. Previously known as P Reign, the Canadian rapper, producer, A&R and now record label owner is the true definition of a musician, playing every hand possible in the studio.

Hailing from Toronto, the Grammy-nominated recording artist describes himself as one of the “few guys from a young age to come from this country and sign a major record deal, and is still going.”

While being Drizzy’s good friend and collaborated came with its own perks, which included A&Ring Drake’s fifth album Scorpion, Preme recently celebrates his newfound independence which includes a joint publishing company with Sony/ATV and his own label imprint in partnership with EMPIRE titled Reps Up Entertainment. Priding himself in his ability to rap above all else, he most recently teamed up with Jamaican star Popcaan for an entire EP titled Link Up, spearheaded by single “Comfortable” with Davido with additional features by Wiz Khalifa, French Montana and BEAM.

Ironically still, his biggest record to date might be the EDM song he did with Dzeko titled “Jackie Chan.” Above all else, his main priority in his life is fatherhood: homeschooling his 6-year-old daughter while he’s not doing music.

Flaunt caught up with Preme via FaceTime who was located in Toronto, informing us they declared going back to phase 2 with the recent spike in COVID cases. Read below as we discuss his journey from major label to independent, friendship with Drake, linking with Popcaan on Link Up, working with Dzeko on an EDM record, goals, and more!

“Frostbite” with Offset & Rich The Kid was a big record for you, how have you evolved since?

A major thing that happened since the release of that last project Light of Day, “Frostbite” being one of the singles, I went from being signed to a major record label to being independent.

Did RCA do you dirty? I hear a lot of horror stories.

Oh my God. They’re good people but to me, they’re good with R&B. I’m a rapper. A lot of the things I needed them to do for me as a hip-hop artist, they couldn’t.

But “DnF” went crazy! That’s more R&B right?

There’s a melodic thing to the shit we do, but I’m still a rapper. How did that not go #1? Are you kidding me? I was doing everything on my own, from everybody I knew and how hard I worked. All the success that when something did go well was because I did it so even stay signed to a label? I recently decided to go independent. The biggest thing was putting the weight on my own shoulders and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

PremeFLAUNT.jpg

“DnF” by Preme, Drake, and Future was a moment in time. Not only was every club and radio station in the world playing the record, but it was a pivotal moment in Preme’s career — cementing his name in the music industry. Previously known as P Reign, the Canadian rapper, producer, A&R and now record label owner is the true definition of a musician, playing every hand possible in the studio.

Hailing from Toronto, the Grammy-nominated recording artist describes himself as one of the “few guys from a young age to come from this country and sign a major record deal, and is still going.”

While being Drizzy’s good friend and collaborated came with its own perks, which included A&Ring Drake’s fifth album Scorpion, Preme recently celebrates his newfound independence which includes a joint publishing company with Sony/ATV and his own label imprint in partnership with EMPIRE titled Reps Up Entertainment. Priding himself in his ability to rap above all else, he most recently teamed up with Jamaican star Popcaan for an entire EP titled Link Up, spearheaded by single “Comfortable” with Davido with additional features by Wiz Khalifa, French Montana and BEAM.

Ironically still, his biggest record to date might be the EDM song he did with Dzeko titled “Jackie Chan.” Above all else, his main priority in his life is fatherhood: homeschooling his 6-year-old daughter while he’s not doing music.

Flaunt caught up with Preme via FaceTime who was located in Toronto, informing us they declared going back to phase 2 with the recent spike in COVID cases. Read below as we discuss his journey from major label to independent, friendship with Drake, linking with Popcaan on Link Up, working with Dzeko on an EDM record, goals, and more!

“Frostbite” with Offset & Rich The Kid was a big record for you, how have you evolved since?

A major thing that happened since the release of that last project Light of Day, “Frostbite” being one of the singles, I went from being signed to a major record label to being independent.

Did RCA do you dirty? I hear a lot of horror stories.

Oh my God. They’re good people but to me, they’re good with R&B. I’m a rapper. A lot of the things I needed them to do for me as a hip-hop artist, they couldn’t.

But “DnF” went crazy! That’s more R&B right?

There’s a melodic thing to the shit we do, but I’m still a rapper. How did that not go #1? Are you kidding me? I was doing everything on my own, from everybody I knew and how hard I worked. All the success that when something did go well was because I did it so even stay signed to a label? I recently decided to go independent. The biggest thing was putting the weight on my own shoulders and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Comfortable” is such a vibe, how’d that record come about?

It’s crazy, this is a single off the whole project with me and Popcaan called Link Up. We’re all so close in this whole OVO family, Popcaan’s signed to OVO. We did a song together. That song was actually “ALL I NEED,” Popcaan’s latest release featuring Drake. That was originally a song I’d done with Popcaan, it ended up being a record Popcaan put on his album and put Drake on it. He said “yo, we gotta get to the studio and do another record.” I said “yeah, whenever you’re in Toronto let’s get it!” We ended up doing 6 songs in 2 nights. Because we were friends first for such a long period of time, the chemistry was great.

How did you and Popcaan meet?

He was always in Toronto. He knew a lot of people, we’d go to shows. We’d always end up hanging out because we had mutual friends, it’s been years now and we never worked together musically. That really resonated with the whole project because we made 6 songs in 2 nights, they’re all amazing. Instead of doing one song, might as well drop a whole project. I remember I was in LA in the studio with Davido, I said “you gotta jump on this shit.” Him and Pop had already worked together so I knew they’re really close. I thought he’d sound great on it, he did that verse in 5 minutes. It’s weird how quick everybody is banging out, but you can hear in the music how seamless it is. It’s not forced, everybody sounds together.

I heard the Caribbean vibe, did they bring you into their world?

Yeah, I’m a rapper. I produce and I write, I can do anything. I’m very versatile. This for me was more fun. It was a challenge, something I don’t usually do. The whole island vibe, I’m not from the Carribean. [laughs]

That’s the wave now! 

It is the wave, but it’s kind of our wave. I can do it because if anything, Toronto is really the first n*ggas to really do shit like that. Obviously with Drake‘s “One Dance.” Even way before that, Kardinal has major success with it. Both my parents are from the Carribean. Both my parents are Guyanese, and Popcaan’s Jamaican. If I can’t do it, nobody should be able to do it. Davido being from Africa and the whole Afrobeats wave is blowing up, I thought he’d be a perfect fit.

How’d you link with Davido? 

We have mutual friends. We went to the studio, I had to get him on this tape because the whole Afrobeats movement. I know him and Popcaan have worked together already. He loved “Comfortable,” he said “pull this up.”

You say you have “too many n*ggas depending on me,” how many people are you taking care of? 

I take care of a lot. My mom, brothers, sister. My mom is one of 13 so I have 12 aunts and uncles. I have 8000 cousins I grew up with like my brothers and sisters, now they have kids! I’m from a neighborhood where loyalty is priceless, which is the slogan for my Reps Up crew. My friends are my family and there’s a lot. I do my best to help everyone I can. You have a personal responsibility if you’re the one that’s blessed and have people supporting you throughout that, if you can show love you should. A lot of the time, it doesn’t need to be financially.

Talk about getting French Montana on “MURDA.”

Me and French are beyond tight, for a decade now. French was in Toronoto, we’re in the studio fucking around working on his shit and my shit. I said “I’m doing this Popcaan song,” he said “let me get on one.”  I said “there’s only one hip-hop record and that’s “MURDA,” you’d body that.” He did that on the spot. When I did the Link Up tape with Popcaan, the whole thing was 6 songs. I took the responsibility because Popcaan’s in Jamaica, I’m always moving around  Toronto and LA, the whole states, I took the responsibility to get a couple features. I made a couple calls to close friends, French, Davido, to give it some spice.

Your label situation is so interesting to me. You’re with EMPIRE, but you also have a joint venture with Columbia? 

I just started my own label, Reps Up Entertainment, a joint venture with Columbia. I’m not signed to it, I own it.

What’s the meaning behind Reps Up?

Reps is short for representatives, that’s me and a bunch of my friends from the neighborhood trying to be rappers. I was in a group first called The Reps. A bunch of young kids from high school and the neighborhood saying “we gotta rep out neighborhood, rep our city.” Represent what we believe in at the time. It stuck, it’s been that since that. Reps up is a thing we say. You’re not going to say Reps Down, Reps Up is where we’re headed.

What’s your partnership with EMPIRE?

I’m independent but I have a joint thing with EMPIRE, distribution for whenever I want to release a project. I never want to sign a contract again. This is album by album, let’s do a partnership. I can own all my masters.

And you do publishing with Sony/ATV.

Once you get in your mind that I’m the boss, [laughs] it becomes very easy. It’s fucked how all this happened at once by the way. I produce and write so I’ve written and produced from Drake to Chris Brown to Post Malone, anyone you can think of. Living in LA for 3 years, I wanted to go find some producers and writers from Toronto and really put the city on. Everybody’s a noname producer or writer until they get that one hit. Toronto’s bubbling with new guys who don’t have the opportunity or connection. Lemme go find some n*ggas from the dirt, use my little black book and my word to put their shit out there, then build my own company. Working with people a lot of times, you write or produce a song with this person, their manager or publishing company is reaping most of the benefits on their side. Why wouldn’t I do that with people who really need it? I started a joint venture with Sony ATV,  l started a company I built to sign producers and writers.

How do you do all of this and still be your own artist? And father!

I don’t know. I signed up for this shit, and it’s hell. It’s all brand new. I got this label deal and joint venture within the last 30 days. I’m trying to figure out how to do it all and still be a father, I got a girl. It’s a crazy world, but I’ve been in it at the highest level. Being part of OVO at such a young age, I’ve already seen the world 10 times. I’ve been doing this, you learn to balance and make time for what you care for.

What’s your favorite song that you’ve contributed to?

I don’t have a favorite honestly, this shit is fun for me. If I could do this for the rest of my life, I’d be a happy man. Your favorite record is what you’re making that night you’re working. Because you’ll hear 50 beats, then “let’s write!” Every night, you have a new favorite depending on what mood you’re in or vibe you’re fucking with. I have 6 reggae songs I’m putting out. If you told me this a year ago, no way I’m even dabbling in that world. Depending on my vibe, I have a different favorite song every day.

Anyone that you haven’t worked with that you want to? 

I’m lucky, I’ve got to work with everybody I’ve wanted to work with honestly. I’d have to list my favorite rappers growing up and the top would be Tupac. That might never happen obviously unless I’m able to get a verse out there he has laying around. Other than that, Nas. For me growing up, Nas was in my headphones 23 hours a day. If there’s anybody out here, it’d be Nas.

“DnF” is so nostalgic, fondest memories from those days?

That was my first big budget video, that shit was at least a quarter million dollars. I couldn’t go to America at the time so we flew to Saint Martin Island. We had to get a private jet, I took a lot of homies.

Oh, you had to get a PJ…

Drake doesn’t fly commercial so I actually had to get a PJ. It’s not cheap to take a PJ to an Island. We took mad people with us from the neighborhood, rented that mansion for the video. We had to get the girls out there, crazy. When you’re first coming out and put out a huge record, the experience of shooting the video starts hitting you “this is really happening.” Being on an island with 50 of your friends and these video girls, you’re partying, it was insane.

How crazy was it?

Insane. With big highs come big lows, a Category 6 fucking hurricane came out of nowhere. Two days before the trip was supposed to be done, it hit the island. I’m sleeping in bed at 7am then Drake and 10 people bust down my door and goes “If we don’t get on the jet within 10 minutes, we’re stuck in this Level 6 Hurricane for a week with no power or running water.” I didn’t even pack, got on the jet out of there. I had 40 friends who didn’t come on the jet, had to fly commercial and were stuck for a week. It ended in the worst situation, they’re in a hotel with no running water boarding up windows with no running water. I dodged a hurricane, it’s a good story. [laughs]

What did it mean to A&R Drake’s Scorpion? 

It means a lot because I didn’t set out to A&R Scorpion. I didn’t set out to A&R anything in my life. I’m sitting there with him, helping him work on his album. I produce and write too, so I was really trying to get a beat on that motherfucker. I produced on his album, which most people don’t know, a song called “Is There More.” We’re working in Miami for 3 to 4 months, living there and working every night.

Drake’s not a guy to bring people in the studio. No matter how close of friends you are, he’s always on his own. In the studio, he likes to work alone. Doesn’t let people hear it until it’s out.  I’m one of the few people he lets be part of that creative process. Him looking at it as I brought value: helping him find beats, dealing with producers, being an ear “is this good or not?” He looked at me one day and said “I want you to be the A&R on my project.” I asked “don’t you have an A&R?” He said “n*gga, I haven’t even met anybody from my label ever. I’m Drake. When my album is done, I send it to them and they put it out.” That made sense.

You actually linked with Dzeko, talk about exploring this EDM side.

He’s in Toronto, me and Dzeko have been friends for a little bit. We have a mutual friend named Mickey who introduced us. He said “you both do both shit in different worlds, you guys should try something one day.” I’m like “EDM? Probably fucking not.” But he’s a cool guy, we became friends. He’s in LA one day while I was living there, he asked “what you working on?” I said “I finished my album, wanna come hear it?”

I played him the album. He said “yo this fucking ‘Jackie Chan’ song…” There’s a hip-hop version on my actual album, I don’t have the EDM version on my album. I wasn’t even into the idea but they pointed a gun to my head, thank God I listened. He said “you should do a remix to this. You don’t gotta put it on your album but trust me, what do you have to lose?” They made it first, I thought it could be way better so I sat down and helped really produce it. Rewrite it and get it done. Now it’s almost triple Platinum in America alone, Platinum in every country in the world. Thank God, this royalty check is really different. I owe Dzeko forever because he forced me to do that, I was totally against that EDM vibe. I didn’t put my name on it first. Put me as a feature, I don’t really want n*ggas to know I did this.

Do you have any goals?

I do. I never hit the level as a solo rapper that I’m supposed to have been at. The biggest reason is I didn’t get to America until I was 30. I wasn’t living the life I lived in Toronto, I couldn’t even cross the border. My whole adult life until 3 years ago, I couldn’t even go to America and that destroyed me. It’s so hard, you can only tour Canada and Europe so many times and I did that so many times. Now that I can finally go to America, I really have unfinished business. I’m in a position where I can do everything else music-related — produce, write, start my own company, sign my own artists, producers, writers. Now I’m finally independent, which I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But I still want to be that guy! You put out that album and get nominated for a Grammy. I got all those nominations for “Jackie Chan,” but it was for a EDM song. I don’t want to look back and say that was it. I’ve had mediocre success as a rapper, I still get stopped at any mall I go to or anywhere I go. Even in LA, my first day in LA I got stopped. People asking for pictures. No matter where I go, I still get that love, but it’s not like Drake love where people are falling on the floor crying.

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