Hesta Prynn

Vibe Exclusive: Vogue DJ Hesta Prynn Goes From Rhymes to Records

She's a feminist, a rapper, and a DJ - a whole new triple threat. Julie Potash, a.k.a. Hesta Prynn, has had quite a musical journey since her humble beginnings as the MC in the NYC-based band Northern State (basically a female version of the Beastie Boys). Her rhymes and style got her noticed by some of the top players in the industry, landing her tour appearances alongside Jay-Z, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Gym Class Heroes. Since then, she has laid down the mic and taken up some headphones, producing and spinning some of the hottest tracks. Her most recent EP "We Could Fall In Love," has even gained approval from the high-standard fashion industry, who had Julie DJ spin at the Vogue/Ford Fashion's Night Out after-party last week.

In all this excitement, VIBE got a chance to talk to Julie - who is also a reader and fan - about her transitioning career, unique influences in both music and style, and her dream collaboration today.

VIBE: You got your stage name from the novel “The Scarlet Letter.” How does that resonate with you?
Hesta Prynn: The reason I chose that name was that when my old band, Northern State, came up to me and asked me to join them, my reply, literally, was as long as they don’t call themselves something ultra-feminist like, Hesta Prynn, which was my joke on a feminist name but spoken in hip-hop language. And they were like, “That’s good, you’re made.” That was like a decade ago, and it still kind of stuck with me. I even have my bright red hair.

Vibe: Being a New York native, what are some are your favorite hangout spots in the city?
I really like a bar called Heathers in the East Village. There’s a jewelry store in Williamsburg called Catbird that I love. And then Questlove has a party at Brooklyn Bowl each week - he DJs every Thursday – so I go to that a lot. I toured with him for a year, and learned a lot from watching him. His knowledge of the hits in every genre over every decade is unbelievable.

You’re also a horror movie buff. What would you say are your top couple must-own thrillers? Have they ever influenced your music?
I really love horror movies from the 70s, including the Exorcist and Jaws. I also love Hostel with Eli Roth and The Others with Nicole Kidman. Last year, I worked with Clown from Slipknot, and we made a kind of a horror movie together. The director [Randy Scott Slavin], the one who does all my music videos, went out to Iowa with me to visit [Clown] and he took us to this crazy abandon farm. We were like these city kids in the middle of nowhere, and it was scary. As far as the music, I definitely like the dark stuff. I think when I put out a song, it comes off as a dance record that's more accessible and really fun - a great record to put on before you’re about to go out - but I there’s always a little bit of darkness. I’m a little bit off, and that’s a thing I’ve always been attracted to in everything that I do.

What message were you trying to get across in your recent EP “We Could Fall In Love?”
I wanted to write something about parallel lives. So the song is about if, for instance, when you meet someone and you're already in a relationship that you have a moment where you think if in another life you could have had a whole life together with this other person. That “what if” factor, where you can choose to change your destiny and the choices you make everyday could change your reality. I think that’s an interesting spiritual concept, but I wrote it in a fun way in this pop song.

VIBE: Having already a big rap/hip-hop background working with such icons as Questlove and the Beastie Boys, who would your dream collaboration be with in today’s music industry?
I really like Diplo and what he’s doing. I think the way he’s mixing music with hip-hop elements while bringing some pop influences is very exciting.

VIBE: How has hip-hop and EDM fused from your perspective?
I think the use of the Internet has made it so easy to be a fan of different genres. When it used to be where we had to buy records, you had to buy the whole record and it was a really big commitment. Now that we have the Internet where you can listen to the individual song, and its a lot more affordable. Then naturally creative people put it together, depending on their influences, to create these fusions. Now you have rappers rapping over dance songs, and it’s getting featured on the radio. I think it’s exciting and I love that, but now the question is “What’s next?” That’s what I really want to know.

VIBE: What was like playing at Fashion’s Night Out last Thursday?
It was great. I love DJing for a large audience, and making sure they have fun. It was cool because Anna Wintour was there for Vogue, and it was really exciting seeing her being followed around by all these people and photographers. Plus, it’s fun to dress up with a beautiful dress and amazing accessories. I take great pride in what I do, so it was great getting emails afterwards saying how much people loved the songs. I’ll play a hit they haven’t heard in 15 years, and bring that back into their lives - that there is a major success for me.

What are plans for 2013?
I’m going to DJ as much as I can, doing a lot of festivals and events. I’ll continue to make more music. The reaction to my latest EP has been great, and that has been really awesome and exciting. So I’ll keep writing and probably put something else out. Just continue brining the party as a DJ, which is what I love to do.

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Ella Mai Puts The Ball In Your Court With "Shot Clock" Visuals

Kobe, KD, Kyrie, how about Ella Mai?

Marking her third official single from her self-titled debut album, the 24-year-old dropped a new video from her charting project, bringing "Shot Clock" to life in her B-ball themed clip.

The Colin Tilley directed visual captures the essence of the young singer, framing her unique style and iridescent vocal abilities. The clip captures the various parts of Mai's magnetic energy, as she stars in her own thematic love story.

The two-time Grammy nominee goes through the many downs that occur in relationships while the red beams of shot clock shine in the background slowly reaching zero, a neon indicator of her lessening patience, the singer finds herself alone.

This visual was released in the midst of the "Boo'd Up" songstress' first debut tour currently venturing through the United States and Parts of Europe. Check out the tour dates below to see if R&B's new golden child is coming to a city near you and watch her video for "Shot Clock" above.

THE DEBUT TOUR

Jan 18 – Berlin, DE- Festsaal Kreuzberg Jan 20 – Hamburg, DE- Grosse Freiheit Jan 21 – Copenhagen, DK – Vega Main Hall Jan 22 – Stockholm, SE - Berns Jan 24 – Oslo, NO – Rockefeller Music Hall Feb 12 - Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom Feb 14 – Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo Feb 15 – Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom Feb 17 – Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades Feb 19 – Oakland, CA – Fox Theater Feb 20 – Santa Cruz, CA – The Catalyst Feb 22 – Phoenix, AZ – The Marquee Feb 23 – Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues Feb 25 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre Feb 27 – Lawrence, KS – The Granada Feb 28 – Minneapolis, MN – Varsity Theater Mar 2 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrew’s Hall Mar 3 – Chicago, IL – Concord Music Hall Mar 5 – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues Mar 6 – Toronto, ON – The Danforth Mar 7 – Montreal, QC – Club Soda Mar 9 – Boston, MA - Royale Mar 11 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Steel Mar 13 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts Mar 15 – Silver Spring, M.D. – The Fillmore Silver Spring Mar 16 – Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Sound Stage Mar 19 – Atlanta, GA - Tabernacle Mar 20 – Orlando, FL – The Plaza Live Mar 21 – Fort Lauderdale, FL – Revolution Live Mar 24 – Houston, TX – House of Blues Mar 26 – Dallas, TX – House of Blues Mar 27 – Austin, TX – Emo’s Mar 28 – San Antonio, TX – The Aztec Theatre

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Smif N Wessun

9th Wonder Talks Collabo Album With Smif N Wessun And The Soul Council

A few weeks fresh off the 23rd anniversary of their classic debut album, Da Shinin', Brooklyn duo Smif N Wessun (Steele and Tek) have released the video for the soul smacking single, "Testify" produced by Khrysis, off their newest album, The All. The project, produced entirely by Grammy-nominated producer 9th Wonder and his Soul Council team, brings the hardcore feel of SNW's best work to the forefront.

“9th Wonder and the Soul Council provide the perfect backdrop for Tek and I to deliver heartfelt lyrical content,” Steele reveals directly. “It’s a true tale of ups and downs, wins and losses, growth and acceptance. It speaks to the hearts and minds of all people; particularly our followers and fans of all ages and ethnicities.”

When artists who rep a certain quality sector of hip-hop music resurface to offer newness to an audience, the longtime fans are looking to bring that old thing back while looking to reflect and push forward at the same time.

"'Testify' is a realistic reflective look back on our accomplishments and failures throughout our career and serves as a precursor to what you will experience on The All,” Steele continues. "This project is a reality check for SNW, one that reflects the struggles and obstacles that we’ve had to endure to survive at the level we occupy in the hip-hop arena."

9th Wonder took the project on as a lover of the group, "My goal is to make sure that we cement the legacy of the artist, but at the same time update the artist. We came up with the concept of  The All (based on a speech from Louis Farrakhan), you can never underestimate the essence of Islam in Hip-Hop. Given the fact that SNW are both Muslim and so many others are as well, we couldn't forget that part."

Going into new chambers of living is needed when you have been recording albums for over 20 years. 9th explains, "we wanted them to talk about stuff they wouldn't normally talk about on records, as they are in a different point in their lives, very grown man. It gives something to our generation to listen to, appreciate and celebrate without feeling old, without feeling outdated. We also wanted to let them know, the legends can still do it."

As the word legend gets thrown around a lot, it's not a far off title for the duo of Tek and Steele. "Some bestow the 'legend' tag upon us (we are very appreciative of that)," says Steele. "And we are chronicling that journey throughout the album.”

The full project will be dropping on February 22nd, 2019 on Duck Down Records. You can pre-order the album here and group merch here.

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Photo Rob

Premiere: Duck Down Records' Smif-N-Wessun Returns With Khrysis-Produced 'Testify'

It's been nearly 25 years to the day since their classic debut Dah Shinin' impacted in January 1995, but legendary Brooklyn duo Smif-N-Wessun is still representing the culture with authority and authenticity. "Testify," the premiere music video from their upcoming album The All, adds another notch to their storied catalogs.

"Testify" begins with old photos of group members Tek and Steele in their 90s heyday, but they don't spend much time there before getting busy with present day rhymes. Over a backdrop from Khrysis, the Duck Down Records duo confidently announces their return while solidifying their legendary pedigree. The song gives a short but sweet taste from The All, their upcoming album produced entirely by 9th Wonder and the Soul Council.

“9th Wonder and the Soul Council provide the perfect backdrop for Tek and I to deliver heartfelt lyrical content,” Steele told VIBE. “It’s a true tale of ups and downs, wins and losses, growth and acceptance. It speaks to the hearts and minds of ALL people; particularly our followers and fans of ALL ages and ethnicities.”

‘Testify” is a realistic reflective look back on our accomplishments and failures throughout our career and serves as a precursor to what you will experience on The All,” Steele continued. "This project is a reality check for SNW, one that reflects the struggles and obstacles that we’ve had to endure to survive at the level we occupy in the hip-hop arena. Some, bestow the “Legend” tag upon us (we are very appreciative of that) and we are chronicling that journey throughout the album.”

The All is scheduled for a February 22, 2019 release on Duck Down Records, and is available for pre-order.

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