ProU is proud to announce our selection for rapper of the year for 2014 – someone who has been crafting rhymes since before most of us had even developed a liking for the opposite sex (at the ripe age of NINE).
Still young and very young at spirit, at age 26 he has not close to reached his peak – though he has accomplished a fair amount. He’s the youngest rapper from the Boston area I know who has toured Europe. He goes by the name of “Paranom”. Short for Paranormal – with “Para” also meaning “Supreme” in Sanskrit – he came up with his rap name at the age of 16 when he was obsessed with conspiracies, ghosts, and anything to do with paranormal forces. Born Kerveen Saint-Phard, he is from Lynn, MA (20 minutes from Boston) – but resides now in Brockton.
Congratulations to the man – who is the first recipient of the award. This is the first year we are giving it out; And we at ProU like to recognize talent more than mainstream success – so don’t expect a legend in the game to ever get our award. Paranom is someone you will continue to hear more and more about as the years go by and hopefully by 2017, 2018 he will be in the mouths of everyone just like we hear about the underground success of Joey Badass today.
His recent successful campaign album “Life Outside the Frame” (listen on Spotify, dropped Dec. 2013) and the marketing of videos/tracks around it – stretching mainly through 2014 indicates that if he keeps it up, that type of success may very well be possible. What is sure is that his pure type of hip hop will help him be an artist that is synonymous with longevity in the industry – a la a Common or Jay-Z.
Here is “Dayz Go By” the first super-successful single/video off LOTF (produced entirely by Purpose — of Purpose & Confidence. You may recognize Confidence as the producer for the underground classic “Rashad and Confidence’s ‘Element of Surprise'”. I’m definitely a fan of Purpose’s beats – this one a shining example.
Like many who were heavily influenced artistically by their humble beginnings, Paranom – who is of Haitian descent, grew up in a single-parent household. He probably would not have had as much to talk about if he was born in Bel-Air. As quoted, “His ability to fuse different musical influence into a raw, but soulful sound of Hip-Hop has been received ACROSS gender and age lines”.
What solidified choosing the award – beyond recognizing his massive skill – hard work, humility and complete resume, was hearing two recent works by him. One, a track that has been impressing many “Blue Lotus”.
Listen to that and tell me you’re not wowed.
And also another, “What They Wanna Hear”, that has been performing very successfully in the blogosphere with Wendall Scott and Composition (of Glasshouse), produced by Jon Glass (our Producer Of The Year) choice. You can listen to the star-studded Massachusetts track below. This was done all on the spot, written in one night, in Glass’s studio. That is the most impressive part to me. P.S Composition (the second rapper) is only 17. The beat was made on the spot as well.
Recently he went on his first Europe tour — the Killah Priest of Wu Tang tour – visiting Germany, Austria, and Greece. Austria was his favorite country – and Athens, Greece was his favorite city. Note to self: visit Greece sometime. This is not the first time I’ve heard it’s nice.
With the success of Tragic Allies getting noticed (a Lynn, MA super-group consisting of him, Producer-emcee Purpose, Estee Nack and Code Nine) – they were able to grace the stages there. You could tell, when he came back, he still had excitement in his eyes from how much of a life-changing experience it was – and how badly he wanted to return. When you’ve been rapping since such a young age – you don’t take such an accomplishment lightly. That hunger is the 6th man element that you need to push yourself over the top in a saturated market.
He’s clearly plotting a return overseas. A very smart move. They appreciate underground hip hop a lot more over there it seems – or at least come out to support in doves. You will find rappers from our state such as M-Dot, Termanology and REKS constantly getting love out there.
His hit “Microphone Phenomenal” peaked at the #1 spot on Europe’s Underground Hip Hop chart while he was overseas with the Allies. I couldn’t believe it. I recently became involved in the hip hop scene in Boston – and am about the same age – so to see someone my age and in the same “class” of Boston hip hop acquiring such an achievement – it was surreal. It shows that even though he was not super known in our area – you are still able to make a splash and hang with the best overseas.
Making these accomplishments known on social media (like hitting #1 in Europe) – he started getting more respect locally too. Two weeks ago he just came off headlining a Mind Spray concert in Boston (a $100 monthly open mic), and is always getting shows around here. So slowly he is getting more recognized. I would like to see him killing it in New York and all around the country – California – and different festivals this year. Maybe a big act will get him featured. The main thing is that the Boston hip hop scene is on the rise – and as the artists here grow – he will also have more opportunities. He makes sure to give back. He is a member of the Wreck Shop Movement (founder Justice Born, who was one of the first to support and give him a platform), and is always repping the Wreck Shop gear. He is a very humble guy – and it’s always a pleasure knowing that one of your favorite rappers is down to earth.
Simply put, Paranom is your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper. On his Wreck Shop/SonicBids profile his sound is described as a soulful sound “akin to the likes of John Coltrane meets Black Thought meets Nas”. Many compare him to Black Thought, and see the similarities between the two but I think he’s more of a Nas. That may be my bias of me liking Nas more. But what I do know, though, is that him and Nas are of the only two rappers that could pull off a song such as “All Ideas Subliminal”. When myself and Mr. Fritz (a rising Boston hip hop artist) saw him perform that live – we were both flabbergasted. Which is a white man’s term for saying “we were in awe”. The amount of breath control it takes to perform that live is just simply CRAZY. That is why I said he’s your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper. I think it’s something like 52 bars straight! You had to see it in person to inhale the full worth of such a performance.
Regardless, you’d have to be deaf to not like his music (considering you are a hip hop fan). I haven’t seen anyone get mad when myself or someone compares him to Nas or a great. They see Nom’s talent – so it is not an insult to the greats. They see HIM as a potential great. So it’s not surprising to reveal that I haven’t showed anyone Nom’s music who hasn’t liked it. He is just one of those rappers – and only needs more publicity. Which will come with the right marketing techniques and consistent output. We hope that this award pushes him further – and to work so hard that by the end of next year he has 5 more just like it.
Random tidbit: from an interview he did with “Ok-Tho”. They asked “If there were ever an album you wish you had recorded, what would it be?”. He said “Moment of Truth” by Gang Starr. My man.
I asked him a little about how he got into hip hop and his most proud accomplishments:
I initially got into it because my big brother used to write and do music when I was a kid and he gave me the idea to try it. Ever since then I would record songs on the radio and write out the lyrics the best I could. Then one night I heard Canibus for the first time on 88.9 when I was 9 and it blew my mind. And ever since then I’ve been into Hip-Hop.
I’ve always been writing little songs here and there but decided to make a project at 15 when I was a Freshman and I sold them at my school, and the rest just went from there. My favorite accomplishment I can say is that I got to personally know, travel with, go to places neither of us have been before, get on a song with, party with, AND hypeman for one of my favorite MCs and biggest influences in life itself, Killah Priest. Not many people can say that. A close 2nd is collaborating with amazing MCs from different countries who barely even speak English. I love that.
Oldies are goodies. His two favorite songs he has written include “My Plateau” off his “Revenge of the All In” mixtape and “Death Is Not The End”, a personal song released in 2011 – one verse about his grandfather’s passing – another one about his best friend that passed when he was 17. It also just shows that even though you may have new songs recorded with incredible quality – there will be certain songs that will always be the most meaningful for you because of what you said on them.
About his best friend he said:
It was an event that changed my life and pretty much every project I did had at least one mention dedicated to him either directly or indirectly. At that time I had learned a lot about life and death and just reality itself and it’s kind of a song I did for my own therapy. It’s one of my favorites now because when I listen to the lyrics I feel like they are perfect. And it takes me back to how I felt at that moment. It was something I did to help others who might already know that all is mind, and we are eternal and not just bodies, even though we go through the pain anyway while we are here.
I love what he says there: “We are eternal and not just bodies. All is mind”. Beautiful. We need messages like this. It’s important for us to learn through other’s experiences and I know this song will be helpful in others recognizing that there are people out there going through and feeling exactly how they are.
Purchase his album “Life Outside The Frame” here (4.8 stars), and check out his new “777” EP produced by Al Divino here. You can also rewind and check his first album release “Five Seasons” (and sometimes our first is one of our bests).
Happy 15 years of Voodoo.