Prince Waly: Gangster or Gentleman?

We sat down with rising artist Prince Waly, a young rapper with an old soul, at his home in Montreuil. This interview reveals many of his characteristic oxymorons.

Who are your biggest influences in Rap? The artists that inspired you?

I began by listening to french rap. Groups like Lunatic and Xmen changed the way I thought. Their sincerity and intelligent lyrics influenced me. I related to those lyrics, and it really changed the way I thought, and my style. They were my role models! I got interested in American Rap a lot later, especially Mobb Deep: a dark and gangster atmosphere, which I love.

Your writing and your universe is very cinematic, very visual. Your videos too. Do you pull inspiration from US entertainment?

There are so many myths about the USA, especially for a guy like me—surrounded by American culture—who has never once set foot there. For me, the best films are american. I used to watch a lot of them that I call “black gangster” like Paid in Full or Boyz in the Hood. After that I got interested in Scorsese and other films of “white gangster.” My favorite was Goodfellas.

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

You have a lot of themes considered very gangsta, but it seems like there is another layer, as if you were playing a character without taking yourself too seriously?

It’s what I often say, music is entertainment. Listening to music is like watching a film. I’m not going to bore everyone to death with my daily life! There needs to be truth in the music to keep it sincere, but you have to play it cool and create stories where you mix reality and fiction. A kind of romanticized autobiography.

 

 

Your collaborations with Myth Syzer and the dudes from Bon Gamin prove it, you know how to make connections. How did the friendship with this crew begin?

We had a show together the same day in Paris. We didn’t know each other before that. That’s how I met the team. At the time we had a studio in Montreuil and the dudes in Grandville had their own. Syzer went there often, and one day he suggested I should come up there to check out some beats. One of the tracks was “Clean Shoes,” and that became the first part of our collaboration.

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

Like them, you have a fashion totally your own. Are clothes a passion? How would you describe your look? Where do you shop?

Today, looks play a huge role. Clothes are a way to express yourself as much as the music that you produce. And unfortunately there are a bunch of codes you have to follow in the music industry. I’ve rarely seen a dude that makes metal music wear Nikes and a doorag, and vice versa. Even if today things are changing a little. For me, I’ve always been obsessed with clothes deemed “retro” like Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Sport or Donna Karan even. I love the aesthetic of this era, especially the colors. As for shoes, I only wear Nikes. When I love something, I cling to it.

You talk about “changing the world.” Tell us what it’s like to be a young man of 25 in Montreuil in 2017?

A young man in Montreuil today chases after money because he’s afraid of the future. They search for tons of plans and often find themselves spending a lot of money to go along with it. They want to feel useful to society but no one trusts them. That’s the life of many of my best friends, but I have the luck to not have to deal with that. I make music, and it’s a luxury for a dude who comes from a modest family. Besides that I work in children’s animation. I find it very rewarding, especially the human side of it. It’s important for me to keep a balance, a rhythm of life, to stay grounded in reality. And also my dad would kill me if I stopped working! I work during the day and at night I work on my music, which makes it pretty complicated to manage shows, interviews, etc. At the moment I can handle it but in the future I’m going to have to make a choice.

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

What do you think about Paris? And the neighborhood where you took the photos with our photographer?

I honestly don’t know much about Paris. I go there for my concerts, but most of the time I’m in Montreuil, where we took the photos. I feel at home in my city, I know it by heart. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing to stay in your comfort zone, but I know that later on life I want to travel around. I want to go to the USA of course, but I also want to visit Asia and especially Mongolia, its nature and large spaces. When I became interested in Gengis Khan I fell in love with this country!

What’s on your agenda? Do you have projects: albums, videos, concerts?

I have a project with my group Big Budha Cheez, another with my boy Issaba. I’m also working on a solo project. And we have a bunch of upcoming shows, all the info is available on my Facebook page.

Prince Waly sur Facebook

Julien Giacalone As far as Julien can remember he always wanted to be a gangster. Unlike Henry Hill, he mostly became a writer. But a strong part of him is still anti-establishment. Which part? Only the good half.
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