Hip Hop is a culture that has shaped a lot people from generation to generation. A culture that exemplifies expression in many forms. It holds key principles that reflect on the world – from music, to sports, to politics. We can take Hip Hop and use it anywhere.
Hip Hop Adventures is a series I created to shine light on people in Hip Hop who do cool shit outside of Hip Hop. To tell the stories of the well-rounded, creative people in our culture who make impact and have so much to offer. In our first episode last Friday night, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Paranom, who is phenomenal MC, writer, and plant-based chef. He’s a long-time member of the infamous Tragic Allies, he’s done a bunch of work with Hybrid Thoughts who recorded the soundtrack on the most recent Dr. Stone anime, and he’s the owner of Saintz Kitchen, a plant-based food company that intertwines food, wellness & entertainment. Using Instagram live we took a deeper dive into what he has going on & documented some real gems. In this article we won’t cover every question, but I wanted to highlight some of the most influential parts of our conversation.
As a Paranom fan, one of the first questions I asked him was what the name Paranom represents, and how he describes himself in Hip Hop. “To me it’s something that’s continually unfolding” He answered. “As I got older, I wanted to infuse more of how I grew into my music & wanted to make something unique as well. Interesting thing is, it’s meaning kind of evolved over time for me. I pretty much figured out Paranom means ‘beyond the name’ or like a supreme name so to speak”. I always felt like he represented something larger than the music, so when he explained the name to me that kind of came back around full circle.
When I met Paranom in 2014 at a ProU event, my good friend and mentor Weapon E.S.P introduced us & at the time P’nom had a lot of momentum on his side with music. He had just come off touring with Killa Priest, as well as the release of one of his most notable albums “Life Outside the Frame” which was fully produced by Purpose of Tragic Allies and includes some of Paranom’s most popular joints like “Bee Stings” and “Dayz Go By”. I asked him where his confidence level was during that time. “My confidence level was definitely strong. I feel like there was a lot of youthful faith that I had. I really came up doing a lot of shit myself to be honest, man. In life period”. He continued by explaining how he started rapping young and “sucked for a long time”, so taking the craft into his own hands and doing the work himself for so many years, strengthened his proficiency. “I kind of had my cipher right, and I built off that. Especially once I started getting into my own spirituality and learning more about my ancestors, trying to incorporate deeper things within me, that is me, it really helped me be mindful of things outside of the game, and that kind of helped give me the confidence”.
2015 was the last time Paranom put out a solo project, so later in our conversation, I asked if we could expect any new music from him and if there will be another album. “There will be another album. I have a lot of music but I really kind of want to be in a space where it was sort of like it was a little bit when I was first out, and the frustration of different obstacles is not clouding my mind. There’s going to be a lot of music, a lot of music!”
Stream “Life Outside the Frame” here: https://pnom.bandcamp.com/album/life-outside-the-frame
As excited as I was talking about new Paranom music, I was equally intrigued to learn more about him outside the studio and in the kitchen. I was surprised when I heard that he had only been dabbling in cooking since 2017. “The idea for Saintz Kitchen came in 2016 though” said Paranom. “I was pretty much at work, and it was during a time where there was a lot of uncertainty. In between my work I spent a lot of time just going ham jotting down ideas and getting my frustration out that way. I was thinking about the things in my life that were positive and that I can control, and the thing that I could put love into, and the love comes back to me was food”. He followed up saying “I was also staying at Estee’s spot for about a year and some change, and I tried a lot of things there. That’s where things came off the ground, and he dubbed his spot ‘Heavens Kitchen’ and Saint is in my last name so that’s the brand I went with. Going back to your previous question about people not understanding me, I thought more about the energy I wanted to impact with in my community and doing this was an ill way of doing that with out even putting words to it”.
Paranom continued to explain how Saintz Kitchen is like a lifestyle brand, and it’s meant to build community in a way that brings people together to learn, collaborate, and make strong impact – changing our mind about different things and doing that through food and entertainment. “It’s basically a company that takes a holistic approach to combining wellness, healing, self-empowerment, and entertainment – and that’s based around plant-based meals. We want people to come chill and hangout, do the shit that we normally do, but there’s healthy food there”.
We all have separate history with food usually depending on how we grow up. I asked Paranom if there was inspiration that came from his family culture. “Yeah, yeah definitely man. It’s something that I’m even more so thinking about now, kind of how we connect over food and we create memories with food. It could be a special occasion when your grandma come through with a recipe that she barely makes. Things like that I started to experience.” He also told us how inspiration came from taking initiative of his own diet and helped him become more disciplined eventually becoming the change he wanted to see.
After completing a business class, the MC/Chef has been able to connect with some industry folks with similar goals and he also now works at Rhythm & Wraps, a Hip-Hop Inspired plant-based cuisine. Through both opportunities, P has found mentorship and guidance in what he’s working towards. “I pretty much have full creative freedom. So, we have some things that are in the works right now on the food side, and the music side too. A lot of what they do, is pretty much a different spectrum of what I want to do”. I asked him if he would ever go brook & mortar and he responded saying he will eventually get to that point but it’s going to be different. “I really want it to be community based, I don’t really want the bottom line being about business, so to speak”.
Saintz Kitchen is currently not available for small catering but for larger events/parties’ people can feel free to reach out via Instagram @saintzkitchen. Otherwise the best place to catch them is vending at a local event! The specialty dishes are the “Quinoa Djon Djon” which is a remix of Haitian black rice, and a jack fruit dish with a Haitian homemade spice sauce. I asked Paranom if there was anything that we should expect going forward or anything that he would like to announce or share with us regarding this venture. “Not necessarily man, you know. I’m really big on, you know, just doing it when its ready. I have gained a lot of inner power with that. What I do know now and that I can tell is that we will have some really dope and innovative events sooner than later. The website will be coming soon, and the YouTube channel will be up as well”.
Graduating into the end of our conversation, we spent a little bit of time talking about another side project called “Sumele”. A platform Paranom created where he publishes writing pieces that root from different experiences and thoughts. A page for the knowledge seekers. “That idea came from a dream, a really profound dream. I wanted a platform where I can really explain what I’m talking about, you know. So, things aren’t muddled up and I’m not left trying to explain myself through the art so to speak. I wanted something that was more upfront about what’s in my mind”.
I am a big fan of this page personally, and we both agreed that it’s something that is needed today – A page dedicated to higher knowledge. Paranom has been writing in this form for many years, taking notes, and using research to add on to his personal spirit, and it helped keep him going with rap and food through out time. “A lot of what inspired me was the deeper meanings that I discovered and found within Hip Hop. That’s even connected to the reason why original people, the so-called black people even exist or do the things they do, or like invent music. That’s where that comes from”.
I asked P if he had any book recommendations for the knowledge seekers out there like myself, and he mentioned a few including The Falsification of African Consciousness, Think and Grow Rich, and The Way of The Superior Man.
To end the very first episode of Hip Hop Adventures with a splash, and to make the foundation of Hip Hop come back full circle with some of my earlier inspiration running a Hip Hop radio show in college – the last question I asked was something I used to finish off interviews with back then. What is your favorite thing about Hip Hop? Quickly P’nom answered “The history, man. The history. It pervades so much more than Hip Hop, man. Like you know, when you meet people who are from different eras of Hip Hop, and you hear their stories. All kinds of people man. Dudes from the projects or the hood, or even the burbs. People who are from the burbs and moved to the hood. Even hearing different things, they know historically about different verses. There could be a song playing and the MC spits something, and the person who knows that history will know more about what he’s talking about. It’s so much more than the music, and that’s where the power is. Then you have the aspect of the history of the different art forms that came before it. That can kind of lay a context of who you are on the inside. You can create shit that the whole world ends up loving. I feel like that’s a superpower that we can tap into”.
In conclusion, this interview was a great reflection of what I’m trying to showcase here through Hip Hop Adventures. Through music, food, and writing – Paranom gives us inspiration to stay creative while aligning with our spiritual side and becoming the change we want to see.
Be sure to follow Paranom on social media to stay updated on all the cool things unfolding!
Follow Hip Hop Adventures for updates and more interviews @thehiphopadventures
I want to highlight the new album "Total Recall" by Poet Ov War (Shalom & Plots) of Cathartic Productions. Plus...