Red Bull Studios spotlight: Mr Probz

With Mr Probz’s record sales and YouTube views stacking up we speak to him while we still can.

Mr Probz on the mic
Mr Probz on the mic
Just as we promised when we introduced him last week, we’ve managed to pin down the highly sought after Dutch rapper Mr Probz to find out more about his past and why he’s racking up the sort of YouTube views reserved for your Biebers and RiRis.
The hard-working wordsmith from Amsterdam has been plugging away on the mic for the past decade, working with Alchemist, Joe Budden and Raekwon, and released his English-language debut album The Treatment for free in 2013 to little fanfare.
It’s all change now, though, thanks to his current single Waves, which hit number one in Germany last week and is soon to be unleashed on the wider world. Ralf Theil had words with this fast-rising star.
A lot of your music deals with disappointment and failure on a very personal level. How autobiographical are your songs?
“One hundred per cent. Even the songs that are in third person are still within a degree of separation of that. I always try to keep it as personal and honest as possible. I see failure as a challenge to do better.”
In 2010, you got shot in Amsterdam. How did it affect you?
“It was a confrontation gone bad – I guess I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even though the physical damage was severe, the road to recovery gave me time to reflect. I always see a glass that’s half full.”
But then your home and studio burned down – how did you recover from that?
“I think the real reason I kept going was probably because music was all I had left at that point. Everything else burned to ashes and only my laptop and external hard drive, containing the album I was working on, survived. That, and a box with some papers and my passport in. How’s that for motivation? I continued with the songs I could recover and shot a video for Waves at Red Bull Studio Amsterdam while I was in the process of mixing the album. They’ve facilitated recording and mixing sessions, as well as press days.”
The video for Hate You shows violent fantasies and suicide, while I’m Right Here mimics a graphic novel. How important are visuals?
“For me it’s just as important as the song, just like a good soundtrack to a movie can make you really experience a story instead of just watching it. I always get a short movie scene in my head before I start writing so in my case the egg always comes before the chicken.”
What got you so seriously into music in the first place?
“It’s hard to explain, the feeling you get when someone relates to something you’ve written. I got so much positive feedback, so many personal stories, that it felt only right to take it as far as I could. Hip hop was the perfect platform in the beginning and now I don’t even look at a genre, I just let it happen.”
What’s it like being an underground hip-hop artist and mainstream success at the same time?
“It only makes a difference if you’re making way more concessions than before. I try not to let it influence me too much, it kills the growth. You can’t keep everyone happy so I think it’s more important to follow your own intuition. That way you can never lose.”