Interview: P-Money (New Zealand) on Multiple Releases, Travelling and NZ Hip-Hop Today

Twelve years is certainly a long time for P-Money. But during that time rather than looking for music work, music work looks for him. It all results in two releases with his name on it being released in quick succession. All the while, he expanded his hip-hop wings to take on dancehall with a collaboration with British artist Gappy Ranks for one of those release. He speaks here with Philippe Perez.

Where are you at the moment? The last I heard you were spending a bit of time in the US.

Yeah I was there last year and a bit of the year before. I was living in Manhattan and around a bouts New York City. I’ve been back here in Auckland for the most of this year though.

Is it difficult as a musician to travel back and forth, even if it is for a long time, or is it part of the game?

For me, living in America was something I always wanted to do so I’d been working towards it for a few years. I got the opportunity to do that and I’m happy that I did. I wouldn’t say it was necessarily easy but like anything in life, if you want to make it happen you work towards it and get it done.

You obviously got some connections over there and have a bunch of unique collaborations coming out in the next couple of months including the dancehall artist Gappy Ranks. What made you want to explore dancehall?

I just got the opportunity to do stuff with Gappy. Nothing more. We had a mutual friend who does both of our bookings in Australia and he put us in touch. It was his idea, really. He said, “You should collaborate. Your styles would be complimentary”. I didn’t think about doing anything reggae wise at the time.

I only heard of Gappy’s stuff at the time and I just liked it. I thought “Why not? Let’s give it a shot” and I gave him the tracks for the single ‘Baddest’ and he came back with the lyrics. It was just perfect. It sounded good and I was really excited from there to do more work with him.

Were you working with Buckshot at the same time?

Well the Gappy EP was released ten days ago and we did (the recording for) that this year. It was really, really quick. Besides the title track, which was recorded over the net, we did it all in a studio in one day. We lined Gappy up to get him over to New Zealand for a couple of days after we could get our schedules together.

We did all the work in the first day at Red Bull Studios in Auckland. We spent a whole day in there from the morning and we managed to knock out the other four songs that are on the EP. It was a really, really quick short recording process that turned out all the goods. We were ready to proceed with the release from there.

Switching tack with the Buckshot album – that was put together over the past eighteen months. So (it was) a longer process of little periods of recording where we’d record a song or two and then he’d go away with a bit of music with him, write some stuff and come back. A couple months later, we did that all over again and we just kept adding to this folder of music.

We eventually got ten songs we thought were great to make the album and that’s what is coming up next at the end of June.

How busy do you try to keep yourself in a general sense?

Well things are being released at the same time, which is kind of random with the timing, but it all turns out positive. It keeps momentum going. I think it is important with the current state of music to have a lot of activity going around.

We’ve got videos coming out and singles dropping here and there. It just makes for a fun period where people are paying attention. They’re actually asking questions and being interested in the process. They keep saying “Hey I like this song, I like this song, this is cool”. That’s really cool for me.

It’s nothing that I can’t handle too. I mean, my recording career has spanned nearly twelve years now. I’m very fortunate to still be active and juggle all these projects. It’s just fun and all I know in life. I don’t have any other job so I feel I have to stay with making music, and I am very happy doing it at a quick pace right now.

Would you have thought you’d be in the busy position you are now twelve years ago when you started out?

Well I definitely aspired to have a long career and I still aspire to continue. That was always in my mind – to not be a flash in the pan. Or be this guy who comes out and make an effort for a year and then disappears. I’ve always wanted to make music my career since I was in school.

For me I just take it one day at a time, or one month at a time. I just plan my projects. I’m not much of a long-term person. I don’t have anything booked up for the whole year so to speak. I just take on projects as they turn up and go with my inspirations at the time.

I just feel as if I stay working, I’m doing good for myself and not sitting around too long between projects.

Do you ever look for music projects?

Sometimes ideas will pop into my head, and I will set about making it happen. With the Gappy Ranks EP and Buckshot album projects, other people brought both of those opportunities to my attention. I already mentioned the story behind Gappy, but with Buckshot it was Drew “Dru Ha” Friedman who runs the Duck Down record label who contacted me a year and a half ago and said “Hey man, would you like to produce this record for Buck”?

I suppose I’m fortunate in that my reputation is solid with music production. People just contact me and if I can do it, and I’m excited by it, then I’ll take it on.

What’s the hip-hop scene in New Zealand looking like to you now that you’re back in the country after some time away?

It’s great! Particularly in Auckland I’ve noticed there is a new generation of rappers, producers and groups springing out of the woodwork. It’s exiting and positive to see these cats doing things.

There are groups like King Dynamite, Third Eye, @Peace all doing wonderful things. There’s a bunch of a lot of stuff coming out actually from all kinds of artists that I’m really digging. I think they’re all doing really good work. I think it’s as healthy as it’s ever been.

Anything exciting that you’ve noted abroad that you’re excited about?

It’s all coming to the surface. There are new talent like Joey Bada$$ and the Pro Era crew that feature on the Buckshot and P Money album who actually probably wouldn’t warrant the ‘coming to the surface’ tag. A few years ago, they would have been under the radar. Now they have come leaps and bounds and established themselves. Especially Joey. He’s a big deal nowadays, so it’s been great to see him come through the ranks.

There’s a lot of other great stuff out over there too. It’s like a flood, you know? Even the A$AP Mob, I mean, Rocky gets all the attention but Ferg’s singles are getting bigger. It’s been cool to see those guys coming up over the last few years.

So as far as New York rap and a younger generation – there’s a lot of cool cats doing great stuff on both the underground side and the more commercial side. New York is pretty strong right now despite what some purists and critics think.

What’s coming up next for you? You mentioned you take it one day at a time but is there anything concrete that you could give us a hint about?

I’m just really excited about the Buckshot and P-Money album that drops next week. I’m really excited to hear what people have to say about it.

A couple months away though there is a New Zealand film called ‘The Last Saint’ coming out. I’ve been involved with the score and I have a song on the soundtrack as well. It’s coming out August 28 here in New Zealand but will be coming out internationally after that. The film score kind of thing was a different project that I wanted to explore for a while and this was my first time to do that.

After that, who knows? Between now and the end of the year I hope to release one more EP or project. I’m not really sure what it will contain but it has music ready, which I still need to finish over the next couple of months and then get it out there eventually.

You know, I’m just taking it one day at a time really. I’ll just keep working.

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Baddest EP by P-Money & Gappy Ranks is out now. BackPack Travels by P-Money & Buckshot is released on the 24 June 2014.

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