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  • Writer's pictureEvan

A Talk with Thought Provokah

Updated: Mar 1

Following a prolific run of projects through 2023, New York’s Thought Provokah is already warming up for the release of a new album. Slated for an April release, Loosies is the latest addition to the MC’s catalogue, carrying all the same wit, charisma, and storytelling precision that have defined the rapper as an underground heavyweight.

Despite what the title may suggest, Loosies is far more than a collection of unused tracks. Regarding the album, Provokah said, “It’s sort of an ode to New York, and an ode to the underground, in a sense … It basically just speaks around New York City culture, interwoven with how we have to sell our products now for half price.”

The rapper has been careful not to include too many features on past projects, but a surprising number of guests flood the tracklist for Loosies. “I feel like I’ve had enough bodies of work for people to know me, to know of me, and get familiar with my work. So then I felt it was the perfect time to start collaborating and adding other people to the story.”

With Knowitall, Burnz, and Moe Carter among the guests listed, a few more features are being kept secret. “Just like some cigarettes that are sold in New York, sometimes you think you’re getting the minimal amount. You may get twelve in a pack, it may come with two extra cigarettes, or somebody may slip a blunt in the pack for you.”

Beyond more collaborations, Thought Provokah has concrete plans for his 2024. Having dropped a series of albums and EPs in 2023 such as Life’s A Blur and Poetry In Motion, the MC is looking to outdo himself this year. “My end goal is to get to eight projects. Not just eight EPs; I want eight solid bodies of work, and for those bodies of work to be highly rated, not just in my eyes, but to how people receive them, how people live with them in their daily lives.”

With projects planned and full collaborations on the cards, Provokah is also determined to continue the tale of Knaps Jones, the downtrodden character he created back on 2022’s I’M GOOD I’M GOOD. Diving into the character, he said:

“I work in social services in New York, and you may find there is a Knaps Jones. There’s somebody down on their luck, loses their job, comes into services. There were older HBO specials where you would have meth addicts and alcoholics – you would hear their stories, regular people trying to get by. I used a combination of those to make the character Knaps Jones. A regular guy down on his luck, drinking to ease the pain, the mundane repetition of life … Once you become broken by that cycle, and don’t break the cycle, that’s when you tend to have a downward spiral. I kind of showed between two albums of Knaps Jones, the ebbs and flows of life.”

Although Provokah has an array of characters and concepts to tackle in 2024, the same genuine struggles that face Knaps Jones are bound to pop up on all his projects. Deeply influenced by his role as a social worker outside the studio, staying true to oneself has become a necessity for the MC. “I don’t want to penalise poverty. I don’t want to penalise struggle. I want to embrace it; I want to talk about it; I want to discuss it, and want others to join the conversation through my music as well.

“We all want to party; we all want to have fun; there’s different avenues for music and different feelings. But as far as I am concerned, subject matter rules the day for me, and I am going to continue pressing upon my fans subject matter and the things people deal with every day.”

While the MC won’t complain about good analytics and the odd Bandcamp sale, numbers have never been the priority for Thought Provokah. He said: “Fans and critics alike can be fickle, but if these are albums that people can live with people and they take into their everyday lives, that they can pull something from … I feel like that’s the essence of a classic – how someone lives with that album. Not universal recognition because those things are fleeting … If they live with that person, they sit in their living room, they sit with it at dinner, it’s discourse throughout your day, throughout your year, then you made a classic.”

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