By Rachel Nishikawa
Rose Navalta, Graphic Designer
Among the up-and-coming musicians of today, Prince Ea stands for something that some may consider different, and expresses that through his social commentary, song writing ability and thought-provoking punch lines.
The YouTube sensation hit almost ten million viewers with his music video, “Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?” This in turn landed him loads of publicity and invites on to national talk shows hosted by stars like Queen Latifah and Glenn Beck.
In his interview with Glenn Beck, Prince Ea spoke on his motivation to write the words to his video titled, “Why I Want This World To End.”
“Honestly, before I wrote that piece I thought about death, as morbid as that sounds,” Prince Ea explains. “I thought about death. That’s something we all have to think about, and I thought, ‘If I was gonna die in a week and I had one last message to give to humanity, what would it be?’ And that came out.”
In honor of Black History Month, The University of Hawaii Hilo Minority Access and Achievement Program (MAAP) is putting on an event at the Campus Center Plaza featuring Prince Ea. It begins at 6:00 p.m. on Feb. 17 and is free to the public.
“Unfortunately, racism still exists in this world and in working for MAAP I hear about the issues that our minority students face,” said Claire Akau, who personally invited Prince Ea for the event. “With Prince Ea on campus, I think it will create dialogue that we are all one race – the human race.”
According to his official website, Richard Williams derived his stage name “Prince Ea” from Sumerian culture meaning “The prince of the Earth”.
“When I stumbled upon a YouTube video by Prince Ea, I was inspired because he found a way to bring all of the thoughts that linger in the back of my mind to the forefront of our generations attention; to get people to take a good look at the obstacles we are faced with today.” Spoke recent UH Hilo Psychology graduate, T.J. Dela Cruz.
Leading up to his viral YouTube series, Prince Ea entered and won various song-writing contests for VICE online magazine and he was featured on Discover Magazine, which dubbed him the “King of brainy hip-hop”. In 2011, he graduated Summa Cum Laude from University of Missouri St. Louis with a B.A. in Anthropology.
As an activist for positive social change, Prince Ea confronts today’s challenges with astounding verbal eloquence. This is an excerpt from his single titled “Letter To The President [To: Obama, From: The People]”
“We’re in your hands Mr. President, this is your task
Cause we the people selected you
Did you forget about the decent people that elected you
I read your book on Page 63 you quoted King
But did you know the last speech he wrote before he died wasn’t about a dream
It was about poverty, greed and great dispair
And he named the sermon, “Why America May Go To Hell”
We want this country restored
Left or right wing, which ever you lean towards we need reform
We need more than the Supreme Court
More than a corrupt police force that abuses people without remorse
So many lost overseas we can’t keep scores
It’s like peace has become just intervals between wars
See these are reasons why we fight for a cause Fight for the country with the stripes and the stars
Not for the legislators that write up the laws”
As Prince Ea addresses historical figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. in his lyrics, it is evident that the battle of civil rights continues, and the words that King preached in 1963 seem to remain unresolved.
What do they both have in common? The inability to remain silent on issues that matter, on the mistreatment of brothers, and on bringing submerged wounds of humanity to the surface. They have the drive to see the big picture rather than be consumed in things at face-value, though that is still hard for most of us to do we can recognize greatness when we see it.
“The American dream is still just a dream,” said Hanoa Puaa-Freitas, Hawaii Community College Forestry TEAM (Tropical Ecosystems and Agro-forestry Management) student, “but the first step is recognizing that, and Prince Ea is taking it to a whole new level.”
Current events such as the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo. hit close to home for Prince Ea and he has no reservations speaking out about it on the Q&A style video featured on his YouTube channel, “What no one wants to say about Ferguson”.
“We have been conditioned to the culture that we were born in; this culture taught us that race is real, and we believed it. It taught us that war and violence creates peace, and we believed it. It taught us that love is weakness, and we believed it!”
In an attempt to raise awareness about politics, social change, media literacy, etc. Prince Ea founded the organization Make SMART Cool, which is an acronym for Sophisticating Millions and Revolutionizing Thought. To do so the movement holds community events, benefit performances, and works with schools and mentor-ship programs.
“The fact that Prince Ea says what everyone else wants to or is too afraid to say out loud is what makes him awesome. I can’t wait to see his show.” Commented Tanner Shigeta, an HCC student.