After stepping into the national spotlight over the past few years, the South Florida rap scene is still on the rise. With the region's SoundCloud rappers leading the genre stylistically with their bouncy yet grunge-like sound and rap shows happening every weekend, the scene shows no signs of slowing. And although live sets still leave much to be desired, rappers such as Prospectt point to an evolution.
Christopher Cange, better known as Prospectt, was born in Brooklyn to Haitian parents. When he was 2 years old, his family relocated to Miami, and South Florida has been his home ever since. At an early age, he developed a passion for rap music. “I just loved the sound of rap so much as a kid,” the now-27-year-old says. “I would listen to DMX, Jay-Z, and Lil Wayne all the time and write down all the lyrics in a notebook. Then I’d recite the lyrics on this karaoke machine I got as a Christmas gift and re-record over the tape I put in. I still have those notebooks and tapes.”
Making original music came naturally to him. At 16, he spent his afternoons recording over beats and writing raps in his notebook after school. “My homeboy told me I really had something and should take my hobby more seriously. I think that’s why I don’t care so much about getting famous, because I truly love what I do,” Prospectt says. “It’s too easy to become a famous rapper nowadays."
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Being a famous rapper in 2019 does seem easy. The starter kit includes a “type beat” from YouTube, a DIY home recording studio, a music video shot from your homeboy’s iPhone in front of a car, and a social media following that can make you go viral overnight. The rise of social media has weakened the roles of traditional gatekeepers, so it’s easier for rappers to change their title to “artist” on Instagram and catapult to the top.
“There’s always been a lot of rappers, especially in Miami. But because we don’t look to gatekeepers like Poe Boy Entertainment and Slip-N-Slide Records anymore, this shit is like the wild, wild West. Anybody can rap," he says. “Of course, I want everyone to follow their dreams and do what they want, but this rap shit is not a game. I put in real grind and give quality shit. I put a lot of my own money into my music, so when you see a lot of people getting into rap because they want to be trendy or famous, it makes it harder for people who actually give a fuck.”
Giving a fuck about music has earned Prospectt more than 30,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and playlist-worthy singles that are a breath of fresh air in today’s rap rotation. His first EP, 2015's The Theory, contained the single “A.I.,” featuring Ace Hood. It put him on the map. From there, features and co-signs rolled in from DJ Khaled, Rick Ross, Tory Lanez, and others. While most SoundCloud rappers would dream of such features, Prospectt doesn't attribute his success to those connections.
“I’m not doing music to be famous overnight, and I didn’t get to where I am by posting on social media all the time. It’s quality,” he says. “It can take me three more years, but at least I can say that I’ve built my fan base off music and not this clout shit.”
Because his career is on the rise, it stands to reason that Prospectt would be representing South Florida nationally by now, but a recent, much-needed hiatus was more pressing for the rapper.
If you were looking for him on social media over the past year, you came up empty. His Twitter feed contains feel-good tweets from early 2018, and his Instagram was wiped clean. “I took a break from social media and distanced myself from everything to focus on myself. I did a lot of soul-searching, praying, and talking to God, trying to figure out what’s what. During that process, I realized 75 percent of people that you come across in life want to take from you. If they have nothing to gain from you in a materialistic way, they start to fall back. I lost a lot of people I thought were my friends. My phone stopped ringing, and I realized that people didn’t really wish me well.”
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Prospectt's realizations spawned the first single he released since his hiatus, “Wish Me Well.” The catchy hook and head-knocking beat produced by 30 Wav gave his fans a track to rap along to, but his lyrics reveal a deeper meaning. “I realized that I had to use my platform to give the people that are listening to this music something and remove self-interest. Once you start to think about rap as ‘What can I get from this?’ you’ve lost passion in music,” he says.
“'Wish Me Well' was the first song that came to me after a year of being out of the studio, and it really was deposited in my head. Despite all of the obstacles I’m faced with, I’m still going to overcome. But I had to call a few people out on their bullshit," he says of the negative people the song targets. "They are the people that wish me malice. They are my enemies. There are people that I know that don’t want to see me successful, not because it’s personal, but because I’m just doing better [than] them. This track is for them.”
Though he's got the catchy hooks and beats, Prospectt says his versatility and lyricism are what set him apart from other South Florida rappers. “What allows me to stand out is that my music is diverse,” he says. “I can sing, rap; I can do commercial rap, deep records; I can do it all. But one thing all of my music has in common is that it’s something everyone can relate to.”
His discography is also free of AutoTune, which is prevalent in today’s music. “I consider myself more of a lyricist, a conceptual rapper,” Prospectt says. “What’s popular right now is missing lyricism and creativity. My goal is to bridge the gap between commercial music and lyricism, because of course we all want good music, but if there’s no message, then what’s the point?”