Canadian hip hop star Prevail can remember clearly the moment his school teacher came in to his classroom to announce that he was now an uncle. His older sister Tantrelle had given birth while he was in class, and he felt all the eyes in the room turn in his direction.
“I was only 14 at the time, but I instantly became the oldest kid in class,” said Prevail, who is best known as a member of Swollen Members. The Juno-winning rapper will hit Nelson for an energetic set at Spiritbar on Nov. 14.
“There’s been a connection there between us since he was born. Neph really has his head on straight. He’s a young kid, 25, and he’s been watching my career grow. He’s had a view into that life, the industry side of thing. He’s uniquely positioned, amazingly skilled and really studying.”
That’s why Prevail, while embarking on a solo career, has also started performing and writing alongside his nephew who is, yes, known as Neph.
For his latest album, Alpha Omega, which is scheduled to be released in early 2015, Prevail teamed up with beat artists Tyler Durden and Professional Sinnerz. He said the creative process was extremely satisfying, as he could work with Neph from a place of mutual respect and understanding.
“We were about 9 songs in and we thought `let’s keep recording’. That was always the Swollen mantra. If you’re on a roll, why stop? The goal is to make a better song every time you step into the studio, and keep your work ethic up.”
Prevail describes the album as high-energy, with some songs having a “powerful, almost apocalyptic feel”.
The Spiritbar show will be Nelson residents’ first opportunity to hear the new tracks. The pair will also perform some of their earlier work.
“I’m going to be doing some Prevail stuff, some Swollen stuff, and Neph and I will have an Alpha Omega set embedded within,” said Prevail.
He said he’s extremely grateful for the network of fans, known as Battle Axe Warriors, who fanatically follow Swollen Members.
“It’s a crew of very loyal people. We pay each other this mutual respect all across the board, and now it’s grown to so many members around the world. I love to have a chance to meet fans, sign autographs, but it’s more about conversation and dialogue. Nobody’s going to be more honest than they are,” he said.
Some expressed reservations about him pursuing a solo career, but Prevail said the trajectory falls in line with his original plans.
“We had a very clear conversation from the beginning about everybody’s aspirations and where we’re at in life. We want to help each other and help each other be better, to explore our individual creativity. We support each other,” he said, noting that his relationship with rapper Madchild is lifelong.
He said he’s still working on perfecting his act, and getting used to a more solo-based career and he’s feeling optimistic creatively.
“Every show you learn something,” he said.