Phresh James: "I'm Retiring Phresh James ... My Name Is Kaleem Muhammad"
Over the last few years, the so-called "New Miami" hip-hop scene has started to thrive, with artists J. Nics, Lil Fway Champ, Flight School Preps, Jigg, and 24-year-old Phresh James leading the charge.
A couple weeks ago, though, the scene seemed to take a big blow, when Phresh took to Twitter, announcing that upcoming The Greater Good would be his final project.
We here at Crossfade wanted to know if this retirement is real. So we hit up Phresh with some questions about his new slabs, quitting, and Miami's hip-hop movement.
Crossfade: Are you really calling it quits after the release of The Greater Good?
Phresh James: No, after Super Tunes From the Amazon, I'm retiring the Phresh James name. I just feel as an artist I've matured in terms of my music, my flows, my lyrical versatility. I feel like it's bigger than the Phresh James now. That's all that's changing. I'm still making the same music, just from another name. My real name actually.
What's the reason for the change?
Just all across the board, as a universal artist, you just want everything to be, you just strive for perfection. And I feel, under this name, I've done all that I can do in terms of trying to keep the Phresh James music and the Phresh James name hand-in-hand. I've allowed them to co-exist as long as they could. It's getting to a point where people would hear and critique the music and the first thing I hear from them is, "Well, if you went by another name..." or "You don't sound like this" or "Wow, this is surprising because your name is this."
I want to take the music to a whole other level now, and I don't think I can do that with a name like Phresh James.
How much thought went into this decision?
I've been thinking about this for a long time. Talked to the friends I have. I felt scared in a sense at first, because I was unsure with my situation, unsure of what people would think of me as an artist or if they would even fuck with me even after the fact.
My name is Kaleem Muhammad. My name means "speaker of God." It's a contradiction in itself somewhat, so that can play a big role into the industry where you got an artist that's like, "Well, he's this, but he talks about this."
You put up the post on Twitter that you would be done after The Greater Good. Did you do it intentionally to have people question if it was true?
Yes, because of the simple fact that this album, just like Universal Love Period, is my life. It's not a gimmick or a wave that I'm trying to give people. It's just me.
With this project, people may feel that way for the simple fact that it's real stuff I've never said before, and it's like, "Well, damn. I like him, but now I don't" or "I don't and now I do. So is there more after this?" These are the questions I want people to ask.
How is it your 'life'?
This is me showing the skeletons in the closet. I don't want you to like me for just this type of music, but I want you to like me for all. That's why I call it The Greater Good, because you take the good with the bad and make the best of that situation.
The Greater Good has been a project in the works for almost a year now. So what was the reason for releasing No Force Necessary with Sir Flywalker during that time?
The reason behind No Force Necessary with Flywalker, it was all spontaneous. He was like, "It's been a while since we've heard more than one song from you. What's up?" And he was like, "I got a few beats for you." He shot them. And it turned into what it is. It wasn't intentional to put out a five-track EP.
So, I guess, just to stay relevant. Not to say that I wasn't, but it was just after a while people get tired of that. They want the next thing, so I just felt like that was exactly the perfect time to give them new material from me.
How do you feel about the new Miami hip-hop music scene, having worked with artists like J. Nics, Ransom Note, and so on?
To see the level of artistry, not to mention as many artist do what they do, to come from three years ago putting together a project with Lil Fway Champ, the MIAlien joint, and thinking of artists we wanted to get featured on it and not having as many flame spitters that were artists that we know to now having our homies on MTV Rap Fix and MTV Jams. That's a blessing. That's awesome. I'm proud, man.
When is Super Tunes From the Amazon dropping?
In the upcoming weeks.
And The Greater Good?
This summer most definitely. I'm not sure if we're going to put it out mid-summer or late summer. So, it could be anywhere between June and August.
-- Lee Castro
Follow Lee Castro on Twitter @LeeMCastro