South Cali rapper El Prez recently released his song and video for 20 Karats On The Wrist, a double entendre in its lyrics and imagery. A wavy Cali instrumental beneath a smooth flow so signature to West Coast Rap delivers his message like a double-sided coin, lending this aspirational record its character. The song teeters a tightrope between the highest of highs and lowest of lows, dreams and nightmares of reaching the top and facing the fear of failure, yet choosing to courageously climb and move mountains despite one’s obstacles. Perseverance is the only thing that sets us apart from our highest achievements, and only those willing to trust the journey succeed.
I asked El Prez to DeCypher a sentimental verse from his song Lose Some, Win Some that brought a conversation of perseverance to mind:
“ This’ for those without no recognition //
And all the kids who’s just too broke to even pay attention//
They think nobody hear ‘em screamin’ //
But just know I’m listenin’//
Don’t have no pennies for that well //
But please keep on wishin’ ”
It sparked in me the thought of how often I come up against this idea that there should be no reason why people cannot succeed in an era of instant access to information. “Telling someone things are out there in an age where everyone should have ‘access to resources’ is not enough” says El Prez, “Kids need to be led to The Well to know it exists and that it’s there. My nephew came home one day in middle school and asked for help because the teacher had to pool money together to get supplies! When I attended that school it was never like that. But that’s how it is for kids these days, and so you have a lot of kids that might give up and block it all out, or they will switch into that other person, and we don’t want people to do that. A lot of kids don’t have a path to the Lake to drink, so they need guidance. We can complain or come up with our own solutions so we have to provide the kinds that go into action”
The astounding discrepancies in our public schools when it comes to the youth not having enough school supplies hardly makes sense, considering the ample amount of tax dollars our city collects (which should more than solve the issue), yet we barely seem to see these funds trickle down past support services in such ways that struggling communities can help themselves. However, El Prez shares a golden key to unlock Success for any one, anywhere, at any time, and it boils down to standing in the confidence of one’s destiny;
“I don’t chase dreams //
I let dreams chase me”
he says in his song 20 Karats on the Wrist. “The line is spoken to myself as much as everybody else. Especially in Entertainment, you find the most peace within yourself by letting things happen. Just because one person’s success is that person’s success doesn’t define what is meant to be your success. So just be yourself because when you do what you do, the opportunities will pop up when your time comes. Could take 10 years, could take 10 months but just be sure to stay prepared. Take your natural course and tap into your natural abilities to execute and deliver your best. I let my dreams fuel me, rather than getting stuck in fueling the dream and neglecting the Art whenever the business gets overwhelming. You can’t help no one else if you can’t help yourself, so it’s important to learn how to monetize your career. You don’t have to chase your audience though, because they will catch up to you. It’s good to keep a little mystique sometimes.”
You can find more of @elprezdela at elprez.bandcamp.com where his latest record with @jettimasstyr for a Belly tribute entitled “So Sincere” pays homage to the classic film and its lead character, Sincere.