"We all had the passion from the jump. If it wasn't for the passion, it wouldn't be possible." -Joey Bada$$
Pro Era members Joey Bada$$, CJ Fly, Nyck Caution, Dessy Hinds, Kirk Knight and A La $ole recently caught up with DJ Hyphen and J. Moore for an interview on Seattle's KUBE 93 Sunday Night Sound Session. While discussing the origins of the group, their influences, aspirations outside of hip hop and tour life, they also revealed that CJ would be releasing his debut project in May. Captial Steez' posthumous mixtape King Capital is due out this summer, and Joey's B4.DA.$$ album is scheduled to drop in the fall.
The Pro Era collective came together at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, of which director Darren Aronofsky and artist Jean Michel Basquiat are notable alumni. Joey had this to say of their beginnings:
"It got to a point where we were all continuously hanging out, all partaking in the same musical activities and creations… and then one day we were like 'yo, we need to make it official, we need to put a stamp on it... I traded in my Nikes for a new mic, and then all the homies used to come to my crib, my room, and record shit there."
When asked about their musical influences, they described Nas' Illmatic as a blueprint, and named him, Jay-Z, MF Doom, Madlib, the Wu-Tang Clan and Q-Tip as primary influences. As for their awareness of Golden Era hip hop, they attributed their exposure to friends, family and the 'hood.
"The 'hood, it puts you on to a lot, because I remember on Flatbush Ave back in '98 or '99, they used to have these bootleggers with the CDs on the corner, and you was just copping what was lyrically impressive," said Dessy Hinds. "It doesn't matter if you're late or early, as long as you get put on to the influences."
Although we haven't seen much evidence yet, Joey also reiterated his pursuit of acting during the interview: "I've always been doing the music thing, but when I was going to high school I decided that I just wanted to do the acting, and that's how I got into the school that I was going to," Joey said. "But when I got there, I met everybody… and they influenced me so much to just keep doing music... but it [the acting] isn't on hold - it's progressing."
Nyck Caution took the opportunity to mention his role in an independent film called "It Felt Like Love," which screened at this year's Sundance Film Festival. With Joey's position as Creative Director of Ecko Clothing, it's become clear that Pro Era is about more than just the music.
Watch the full interview below. Although Joey claims there are as many as 47 members in the Pro Era collective, frontmen not present during the interview were Dyemond Lewis, Chuck Strangers, Kwon and Rockamouth. If you look closely, you'll notice Statik Selektah holding it down in the background - he's their official tour DJ at the moment.