As the third act to emerge from the Oakland label and collective Play Runners Assocation, Prada Mack and Geechi are ready to capitalize on the momentum birthed by the recent rises of their partners-in-rhyme and close friends ALLBLACK and Offset Jim with an upcoming joint project known as Tag Team Champions. Produced entirely by PRA’s go-to sonic architect and beatsmith DTB, Tag Team Champions boasts features from its creators’ PRA cohorts ALLBLACK and Offset Jim and is set to serve up ten new tracks in total. To support their forthcoming album and introduce its sound, Prada Mack and Geechi are debuting a new visual and single, “TLC.”
“My brothers, my family, my daughter, my mom, everything I been through in life, that’s what motivates me when I rap. There’s not a rapper out here that will motivate me, because I really feel like we’re the realest — I don’t feel like nobody else realer,” Geechi explains to us. “When I’m in the studio, everything comes from the heart. This is all the shit I’ve been though, and ain’t no one been through that shit with me except Prada and BLACK and them.”
“My motivation is my family every time,” Prada Mack shares. “I look up to my n***as and who I see in the mirror. That’s just how much I love me and the gang, and how much I believe in us.”
You can check out the video for Prada Mack and Geechi’s new Tag Team Champions single “TLC” above, while the album itself is scheduled to see release on April 12 and is currently available for pre-order.
So both of you grew up with ALLBLACK, Offset Jim and all of them?
Geechi: Those are my real big brothers — Black my real big brother, blood wouldn’t made us no closer. Offset Jim is a known legend around everywhere here. We all grew up together.
Prada Mack: We grew up together; we went to school together; played sports together; we been tied in since youngins.
How was it like growing up out there?
Prada Mack: I kind of grew up in a real average kind of environment — in the sense of, I wasn’t necessarily poor or nothing like that, but n***as wasn’t rich. We all grew up on the same sort of playing field — sports and shits like that. With street shit, as you get older, you can’t get away from certain shit.
Since I was 13, I’ve been getting my own money — that’s a personal thing. We were all f*cking with sports, but I always told myself I was gonna get money on my own, I didn’t like asking nobody for money, that’s me.
Geechi: To me, Oakland is home. It’s definitely wild; you lose so many people you are close with due to gang violence and people hating. That’s probably the hardest thing about coming out of Oakland, the losses you take. But, it makes you stronger and shapes you and makes you the person you are today. Through sports and the little things that you do have in Oakland, it unites us and brings us closer together. Rather than the streets, rather than anything else, it was sports that shaped me more than anything.
When you’re bringing up Oakland … how music is right now, football, basketball and all these types of sports and activities were the major things back then and in our lives back then — other than each other.
Why do you think sports was so big out there?
Geechi: Well, at that time, it was every young kid’s dream. You’re watching Barry Sanders, Michael Vick … at that time, if you look at our older brothers and cousins, music wasn’t what they did, it was football and basketball, and that’s what we were following too. For me and my life, it was always my big brother Marquis that I looked to for references on what I want to do. Even now, that’s my role model. Everything about that shaped me.
Prada Mack: Basketball was always my shit. To be honest, when you’re growing up, the only people you see that are successful with your skin color and that come from your background are the athletes or the dope dealers. Even when we were young, music wasn’t really too much of a dream because we didn’t have an industry out here. It’s not like you could go up the street and go see your favorite rapper. In LA, you have a chance to see your favorite entertainer at the restaurant. For us, that ain’t how it is out here. The only positive options we seen that was positive for us were drugs or something illegal or sports shit. When you’re young, drugs are accessible, but my mama was a queen and she raised me to be a king. My mom was in my life, so it wasn’t a thing where it was like, “oh, you’re gonna be outside and wilding and crazy.” My mama don’t play that shit, so sports was the option that was best suited for us as kids. But, when you get older, other things start to come into play.
When you got older and got into your teenage years, was sports still big or did you begin to drift off into other venues?
Prada Mack: I played sports in high school, but I changed high schools a lot. I played, but I got caught up with other things and wanted to make money for myself; I wasn’t that committed and I was less focused on sports.
Geechi: Sports was my thing, it was 24/7 for me. I had no time for nothing, all I did was wake up, football; go to sleep, football. My mom Lisa was the anchor in that, playing mom and dad. She made sure I ate, she made sure I woke up, she made sure I went to run. Football, other than rap now, was my life, but the streets were always in me because of my family — my dad was some ism, he was always in the streets big. He spent 13 years of my life in prison, behind bars. That [football] was always something he wanted for me too.
Once I graduated, I went to Eureka towards Humboldt, but there was a lot of racism going on out there, and that was when I lost my guide for football. I got did so scandalous due to racism, I was just always like, “I don’t ever want that to become a problem, I don’t ever want no man to be in control of my future.” So, I took my own route and took a different route at that time. Once I graduated, it was like, “what can I do for me?” I felt like football was my mom and dad’s dream, so I stopped living it and created my own.
So the temptation of the streets was bigger than sports once you hit adult age?
Prada Mack: It wasn’t even temptation, it was just moreso the flow of life. Especially with where we’re from, once you get to that age, you get to a point where you’re trying to to figure out what you want to do with your life. Sports, that sounds nice, it’s competitive and fun and whatnot, but then you start to go through with experiences like Geechi had. I had my own experiences with sports where I battled injury … and I had to deal with the politics of the coaching staff. It’s kind of like a forceful sort of thing … you don’t really have many choices at that age, especially because we look ourselves as young kings. I see the crown on my head when I look into the mirror when I first wake up in the morning, so even back then, I had that notion of myself and who I was. I would calculate certain risks in my head for the lifestyle that I wanted and what I I wanted in my life. Sometimes it’s wrong because you’re young and you just want to have shit, and that’s why that transition happens … society telling you you have to “keep up with the Joneses.” That effects a person, that effected me for sure. You walk outside and everyone has the new J’s on … I’m gonna go get them. It’s more of that than just the temptation to “get into some shit.”
Geechi: With me, the temptation was always second because my older brother ran the streets wild — always in trouble. He was always in that realm and he was kind of my example. Once I lost interest in football and all that … the only thing I was really laced with was the streets. My dad was a pimp, and I’ve been around him and watching him … seeing thousands and thousands of dollars. It was always in the back of my mind, and I was tired of sitting in class, so it was like, “why not? Why not chase a dream?” That’s how I looked at it, that’s what I knew; that was the only other thing I knew, and I looked at it as my own business.
Oakland seems like a real hustler’s city. Why do you think that is?
Prada Mack: On the map, where we’re at, we’re by the water so we’re by ports, and we’re by South America. So, we just so happen to be at a location where drugs and a bunch of that shit is at. We’ve always kinda been known for pimping, it’s just a lot of game out here. It’s a fast-paced lifestyle out here, and it’s expensive, so there’s no way you can sit on your ass out here. It’s always been that way, and it kind of just became a part of the fabric of what Oakland is, that’s in the DNA out here. If you not trying to get into something, then we look at you like something’s wrong with you cause you ain’t trying to get it.
Geechi: We’re right here in the middle of California and everything comes through us. Oakland might look like it’s small on the map, but it’s so big in life. Everyone comes here for game. Even right now, you’ll catch a lot of the Detroit artists coming through our streets. Why are they out here? They’re out here because everything from drugs to game to pimping is running through Oakland. All we’re ever taught was hustle, nothing was given to us. All we know is hustle, we gotta hustle for whatever it is we want. You gotta take it or hustle for it, or you’re gonna be a bum.
What made you guys want to get into rapping?
Prada Mack: I always had love for music. My uncle was like my role model growing up … he was pimping, drug dealing, doing a lot of shit, and he had ended up going on the run and moved to Arizona. One summer, I went out there and he had a studio in his garage and it was just so crazy to me — it blew my mind. I used to sit there every day — at least 8-12 hours. There were some days where I wouldn’t write but eight bars, but I would just listen to beats all day. That was my happy place. After that, I came back home … studios weren’t as accessible, which didn’t make it easy for us to take it serious, so I would just be playful with it and I would go rap if it was available and everyone was going to the studio. My cousin got murdered in 2014, and that shit fucked me up, so I told myself I was gonna dedicate my music career and all the success I got musically to him. I’ve been biting down ever since.
Geechi: My partners and I used to be in the same music class, and they were rapping, but they were on more gang-related type rap — throwing shots at the opposition, the people we didn’t like. But, I always had a thing for poetry and I used to write poems. I used to read them to my mom late night, and my mom used to always be like,”you’re gifted, you got a lot in your brain, have you ever thought about putting it into music?” I brushed it off like, “I ain’t no rapper, that ain’t what I do.” It was a joke to me, but I liked expressing my feelings on paper. I grew up with my brother, and my brother wasn’t really that type of person to listen to what I got going on or nothing like that, so it [poetry] was a way for me to express myself. Once I started listening to my partner, he was real and he was my favorite rapper. He was like my brother, blood wouldn’t make us no closer either. BLACK will tell you, out of all of us, I was one of the first ones to rap – I got BLACK in the studio. When I listened to BLACK, he was like the next Tupac. When he talk, everything is so genuine. When I listen to his music, I swear to God there’s not a time when I don’t get chills. The shit that he talk about, I been though right there with him through that shit. I tell him every day you the closest thing to Pac that we got out here in the streets. Pac my favorite rapper of all time — you know how it feels to have your brother right here like that? I tell him all the time, “you sound like Pac, you have to be in this studio!” He got in that studio and when I tell you he perfected it — it’s crazy. But everyone will tell you, I’ve been making music for a long, long, long, long time. It just became a passionate thing — I just put my poems on a beat. That’s why I love my gang, because the shit that we rapping about, the shit that we talking about, this shit is real — I’m seeing it. I know a lot of people out here lie about their lives in their music and I see it, but for me to be with my gang living this shit and running this shit everyday and we put everything in this music and it’s legit, it’s 1000, ain’t no one telling no lies, I love this shit. That’s why, to me, my gang’s the realest.
That man [ALLBLACK] is a legend. He’s one of the realest n***as and he’ll tell you, “Geechi got me in the studio.” That’s heavy on me because he sounds like my idol! He’s so real and humble, he’ll look up to all of us and he’ll tell us that. We all deserve everything we got.
How did this collab-project Tag Team Champions come to be?
Geechi: I been telling Prada our voices together are wild there’s nothing like it. Prada came to me with a song, “Sue Me,” and I listened to his verse, the hook and the beat, and it was my type of song. We did that, shot that video, and I was like, “brother, we need more. We can’t stop there. This some crazy shit.” Me and Prada were getting high, and it just came about. My boy from the San Jose area, Tone G, I started getting beats from him, and I started telling Prada, “we should probably get a project with this dude, we could probably have something with this.” We got that studio time and got in the studio together, and it was like God was on our side, it was magic. We started back-and-forth freestyling … that’s how it ran off. Delency and BLACK heard it, and they were like, “hold on!” Delency wanted us to do a tape with DTB and I got to talking to DTB. I got out here [Los Angeles] and we did our first song with DTB and DTB was like, “ya’ll got something. This shit is crazy.” Even now, DTB will say the hardest beats he ever made were on our project.
Prada Mack: We already had been tied in and f*cking with each other, then we did “Sue Me,” and we were like, “this is a crazy sound, we need more.” We just started putting it down and recording. We were going back and forth and it was just so natural and crazy and we just went running with it. Everything happened so organically and it was just powerful. We recorded so many damn songs and so fast that even we were like, “damn, hold on now!” Everything we did just turned out crazy.
Prada Mack: Me and Prada, this is a golden sound. When ya’ll hear this project, it’s going to be crazy; ya’ll have never heard music like this.
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