Proh Mic is a musician/producer who has been in my scope for a few years, but with his debut album I learned something new: he is the son of Dan Reed Network‘s Brion James. A few of you might say “who?” but I loved Dan Reed Network’s “Get To You”, thought the song was incredible (still do), thought the lady in the video was sexy, and I wanted to be down for the cause. The group really didn’t explode in a major way in the late 80’s/early 90’s but they did back a part of the Pacific Northwest’s rich musical history. I became a fan of Proh Mic without ever knowing this, and a part of me cares only to know that information, not as a means of validity. After hearing his debut album and enjoying its richness and groove, before getting this information, I now understand why it made an impact on me.
I grew up with a good amount of soul and funk, thanks to parents, uncles, and aunties who embraced the music, along with hearing a good amount of it on the radio. It was a part of my upbringing, one did not have to actively seek it hard, it was in “front” of me. Proh Mic creates the kind of funky production that is perfect for that party vibe of hip-hop, but also showing that he is part of a young generation of funkateers who play not only to emulate, but because they understand the magic of the music by weaving themselves from beneath. It’s a soulful style of production that fits in with other producers like Nicolay, Madlib, Kwame Holland, Van Hunt, and ?uestlove, so while one can hear his influences throughout, it could easily fit in with the sounds of Detroit funk, Philly soul, or the West Coast sound. That West Coast sound comes close in “Hit The Floor” which features Imani of Pharcyde and Coultrain, and the track comes off a bit like a much more authentic G-Fun, opposed to other producers who faked the funk for the sake of making a profit from funk and soul prophets. My favorite song here is the incredible “I Remember”, featuring the awesome and beautiful Georgia Anne Muldrow, and in fact I found myself putting this song (track #2) on repeat before I got into the rest of the album. Muldrow is a musician and producer who understands how to get in, out, around, and within the pockets of groove so her union with Proh Mic sounds superb, the kind of song that would become an anthem in year’s past (but very much deserves to be an anthem from now until the end of time). His Seattle upbringing allows him to be involved with the scene there, and he brings in one of the best Seattle producers around, the awesome Vitamin D, for the song “Optimistic”. It would have been even better if someone brought in Samson S to rhyme, but this was not to be. Maybe next time. “Tha Mothership” may have hints of the P-Funk but also reminds me of groups like Lakeside and Zapp.
Proh Mic attacks Yarbrough and Peoples‘s “Can’t Stop The Music” and shows how powerful the song’s melody and inner vibe still works today. If there is ever a time Proh Mic is able to work with Erykah Badu, I hope Proh Mic does this song, making it possible to show the Texas connection (Yarbrough, Peoples, and Badu originated from Dallas).
If you love soul, funk, and hip-hop, and are a production junkie as I am, Rhythm For Days (All Natural Inc.) will be an album that should be a representation of how it should be done. Proh Mic, who some may be familiar with as a member of Hawthorne Headhunters, also makes production music on the side, so this could be listened to as a “resume tape” towards bigger and better. He’s fully capable of making dope tracks, giving some music to Justin Bieber, while creating soundtracks and getting involved with a lot of great collaborations. The CD version also comes with a second disc featuring instrumentals of everything on the main album.
You know what this also sounds like? Music that represents a side of the Pacific Northwest that time and other journalists tend to forget or ignore. You may know the inner workings of grunge, garage rock, and punk, but when it comes to the region’s love of soul and funk, it tends to get passed up. What I also like is that, even knowing Proh Mic’s roots and upbringing, the music very much meets and surpasses his mission of making it sound more than his location, or as stated in the bio, “other-worldly”. The best soul and funk was about truly freeing your mom and allowing your true wishes (often involving your ass) to follow, and Proh Mic is part of the pack that uses his instinctive travels towards creating his own paths of rhythm. Funky, soulful, eclectic, and nasty (and if you listen to “Turn It Over” there’s even some nice gospel influences): you’ll make a funk face without really noticing it, until someone will look at you and say “damn, is it that good? You’re making a nasty funky face.” Take Proh Mic and let him grow, and yes, he’ll make it funk some more.